I was going to go with a Milli Vanilli inspired title, but I guess our “Toddler Radio” Pandora station won out. Have to admit it’s been wearing me down… wearing me down in a glittery, high pitched, Sillies-Shaking-Out, psychological torture type of way. Who knew psychological torture usually involved ukelele accompaniment?
But you’re not here for hilarious post title puns, right? No, you’re here to be wowed with yet another of my awesome projects.
I assembled a Rain Barrel.
Let’s chat a little about why you also want one.
A buddy of mine had “a guy” that got him food grade 55-gallon drums dirt cheap last year. I bought quite a few and moved them with us to the new Homestead.
How much water can be harvested? It depends on the size of your house/roof and works out that for every
1 Inch of Rain falling on 1000 Square Feet of Roof Footprint =
600 Gallons of Water
Nice! That’s a lot of valuable water, (almost) free for the taking. So let’s get to catching it.
The particular barrel pictured above is thanks to a couple hours of uninterrupted toddler nap-time, and the EarthMinded Rain Barrel Kit I purchased as part of a workshop hosted by our local Parks Department. I will write a detailed post stepping you through the quick and easy process in case you’d like to pick up this specific kit for yourself… but first, here are some thoughts on why I want as many rain barrels as possible connected to my gutters.
Rain barrels help us implement a few key Permaculture Principles, and I could throw in a few others if I wanted to flex my rationalization muscles a little:
- Catch and Store Energy
- Obtain a Yield
- Use & Value Renewable Resources
- Produce No Waste
- Use Small & Slow Solutions
In practical terms, rain water is ideal for irrigating our garden beds and food systems, plus any other wet job around the home.
If you’re tied to a municipal water source, turning the faucet ain’t free. Plus that stuff includes chemicals like fluoride and chlorine you might not want in your veggie bed, even in trace amounts. If you use a water softener, it sucks to buy those forty pound yellow bags, lug them to the tank, then watch it all be piped out a garden hose.
If you’re on a well like us, using rain catchment for garden irrigation saves the cost of running a well pump, plus wear and tear on that expensive household necessity.
I use a barrel off the garage to wash the vehicles and dogs and irrigate our small apple patch.
I use a barrel to irrigate my wife’s wildflower and songbird flower beds. This one is also used to water my barley fodder I sprout for the chickens.
I use another barrel to water the food forest I’m putting in. I fill their swales the day before a guaranteed downpour to keep the contents fresh.
I am just now installing and will use two barrels fed from my chicken coop’s metal roof to keep a five gallon bucket topped off for their nipple waterers, and irrigate the whole garden.
I made the plunge into the deep end as I personally feel it’s best if each of us do what we can to keep as much water on our property as possible, so long as it’s managed and not damaging any structures. That goal not only benefits our soil, vegetation, and trees… but it helps alleviate the massive problems we have with constant run-off further away. Run-off that violently erodes top soil and contaminates fresh water sources. Yes, it’s much better to keep our water local and help it seep into the landscape.
For some reason us modern folks want to get water away from us as fast as possible out a downspout, quickly to the curb, and happily watch it rush swirling into a storm sewer, relieved it’s gone.
Photo credited to Wikipedia.
All the while that torrent picks up lawn herbicides, chemicals and oil from the street, and agricultural run-off, before flushing into our creeks, streams, rivers, and finally oceans – merrily merrily merrily merrily polluting all the way.
Photo credited to Wikipedia.
Did you know there is a confirmed Dead Zone void of all life in the Gulf of Mexico usually the size of Connecticut? Nothing. Nada. Dead. Caput. No oxygen. So no plant life. So no fish life. One primary culprit is the excess fertilizer and nutrient run off that comes gushing out the Mighty Mississipi.
Of all water gracing earth, only a tiny (and shrinking) percentage is potable. We short-sightedly do our best to get it away from us as fast as possible when it falls as rain. Then we pay money to get it piped back to our house. That doesn’t quite compute.
Last, I’ll mention that water is pretty essential for Family Resilience in short-term (or longer-term) tough times. I don’t know about you, but I like to have a glass of it every now and then. If you’re lucky enough to have a metal roof harvesting rain, you can pretty much drink straight from these barrels if you had to. With a good water filter like the Katadyn Hiker Pro or Big Berkey (like I mentioned here), you can drink the water collected off any roof, even asphalt shingled, since those introduce undesirable chemicals and debris that should be filtered out.
All that stored water is comforting to have on hand if your city water main breaks, or the tap stops working for whatever reason… or our well pump blows up.
One word of warning now that we’re all excited to go out and start sprouting barrels. You need to research your local regulations. Apparently there are some incredibly over-reaching, meddling, nanny states (I’m looking at you Oregon and Colorado) where it is illegal to capture the rain water coming off your roof. That completely boggles my mind and I can only imagine what other crazy anti-Liberty, and perhaps well-intentioned but environmentally ignorant, laws might be lurking there. So if you don’t live in a free state, you might want to check local statutes in case your tax dollars kit out a government Hydrogen and Oxygen Compound Rationing Jack-Booted Brigade or something.
Sigh……..Sorry, got a little worked up there……
Join me next time for a full review of the EarthMinded Rain Barrel Kit and a step-by-step DIY tutorial on hooking it up for yourself.
Update: Here is that tutorial and review.
Do you have rain barrels or other catchment? What creative ways do you use the stored water? Nothing makes me happier than washing a muddy dog without help from our well pump.