Tuesday, 31 July 2012

When water is a treasure.

It was early in the growing season last year that I had started putting the irrigation plan together.
The weather was hot and dry.
The gardens were just getting underway when it looked as though
there would be no rain.
One hot afternoon, I frantically cobbled together what I had on hand in order to pump water from the pond up to where the gardens are.
And then it rained.
The rest of the season was wet, and so I neglected to finish putting the pump system together.

In all fairness, it's a pretty challenging job.
It was simple enough to get the pump and pressure tank out of storage, and build a platform for them near the pond.
But to get everything going, there needed to be a trench dug to the house for the hundred feet of pipe and the wire to provide electricity to the pump.
Hoses needed to be joined, and the wire run into the house and hooked to the panel.
I had also built the water pick up last year, but it had failed to work properly even before the system was put together.
I remember now. That's when I gave up.

This time, I waited until the last minute.
There would be no produce at all if I didn't get some water to the gardens.
Sure, there is the well, but even that is getting low and would likely run dry if we were to put as much moisture to the plants as we wanted to.
Besides, the pond is the logical choice for water supply because the water is warmer and contains additional nutrients that the well water lacks.
Despite being the lowest that we have ever seen it, the pond still holds enough water to liberally soak the gardens and fruit.

So now, the pump is hooked up and running.
The gardens have been given lots water.
And it's raining.
Yes. Merciful rain.
And though it is late, the rain is still welcome.
The irrigation system is still a necessary part of the farm, however.
Regardless of whether or not we continue to use an electric pump,
the pipe from the pond up to the gardens will continue to be needed.
The goal is to have water run to every corner so that we don't need to drag
two-hundred feet of garden hose all over the place.
There is also the option of setting up self-watering stations for the animals,
thus eliminating one of the daily chores.

This all depends on there being enough water in the pond.
If it gets that bad, we'll be going to plan F, if you get what I mean.
In truth, there are options beyond the abundant water that we have become accustomed to.
Alternative moisture harvesting and conservation techniques are used throughout the world where water is a treasure.
We would simply modify our current irrigation system as necessary.
Interestingly, I am already working on a plan to maintain a consistent pond level, as well as make the pond suitable for swimming.
This would involve some of the same practices needed to cope
in a semi-arid climate.

Even now, as I write, it rains.
Today is the first substantial rainfall we've had for a very long time.
It's enough to make me forget that there has even been a drought.
But by not finishing the water project last year,
I put us at risk when the rain did not fall this season.
It's a lesson, to be sure.
I mustn't take our water for granted,
for it may not always be there when we need it.
And so the job isn't done until we're better prepared.
This drought may have been mild compared to what is to come.

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