Friday, February 28, 2014

The Bird Bath Had to Go

As most of you know California is in the middle of a drought. I say middle with a bit of optimism but honestly I have no idea how long it will last or if it will ever end. The drought might even be over for all I know. Mother Nature keeps her own counsel and we humans have to adjust as best we can. If we’re smart.
 If today is any indication there’s hope that it will end. Our rain gauge in the back yard registered about 3-1/2” of rain in the last 24 hours. It was the first significant rain since September 2013 when we had almost an inch. Big Whoop. Tomorrow the weatherman promises heavy rain. We’ll believe it when we see it because we’ve been disappointed too many times to bite that hook.
Speaking of optimism I am one. An optimist that is. So in keeping with that philosophy I decided that it was time to really put some effort into the rain catchment system. We’re trying out a simple system of roof, rain barrel and downspout. This is the possible first step in making a substantial rain catchment system. We were inspired by how they do it in Hawaii. There they have metal roofs and good gutters and 10,000 gallon above ground cement cisterns or if push comes to shove a great big above ground swimming pool.

My system is a large barrel positioned smack dab underneath the downspout of our house rain gutter. I’ve got one at every downspout. Inside each barrel is a cheap submersible pump that can be had for about $15 on sale at Harbor Freight. When I want to decant some of the precious water into a bucket or trough I plug the pump in and away she goes! I just have to be there when it’s done and elevate the hose into the air otherwise we get this annoying effect of siphoning all the water out of the barrel. I almost did that the other day when I got distracted by the phone. Mid-way through conversation I say Hold on got to go be right back! Only a few gallons siphoned so it wasn’t a disaster. Just a wake up call to Pay Attention.
So now I’ve got a motley assortment of barrels, buckets and tubs all chock full of rain water. Remember when we lived in the garret above the dimestore in days of yore and whenever it rained we set out pots and pans to catch the water from the leaky ceiling? Well, now, just imagine that outside around my house. It’s got to be the latest news in landscaping.
This leads me to the birdbath. During the period when we were getting no rain for months on end I felt sorry for the birds and constructed a casual bird bath out of found objects: a planter pot platter on top of a plastic garbage can with a rock inside to hold it down in the wind. I filled the platter with water and it’s true if you build it they will come because they did. But now that it’s raining bird baths are all over the place in the form of puddles and stuff. The birds don’t need it. So the bird bath had to go. It’s now under the downspout in front of my house with its maw wide open so when the down pour happens I’ll get a garbage can full of water. The Rain Man Cometh! Hallelujah. Praise the Lord.

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