This could only happen in California.
Ray and I are always checking out Craigslist to see if there is anything we need for our future homestead at a discounted price. When we saw that someone was selling water storage tanks for more than half the price we would pay for new, Ray called the seller right away, and made arrangements to pick them up the next day. The tanks were located several miles down the road from our future homestead, so we figured it would be easy to get the tanks into the truck, one at a time, and take up to our property.
We use the tanks to store rainwater collected off the metal toolshed roof and also the metal outhouse roof, which during the summer, waters our orchard automatically with zero pressure, battery run timers. If you would like to see our system, click HERE.
The next afternoon we set off with cash to meet the seller. It takes about 1-1/2 hours to get from our current home in the valley up to our future homestead and we arrived about four o’clock in the afternoon at the bottom of the road to meet the seller, then followed him up the hill to his property. When we drove through his gate, we found ourselves smack dab in the middle of a HUGE marijuana field.
The seller and his girlfriend explained that they had just bought the tanks the previous month, because their well had gone dry and were getting water trucked in, but now they were harvesting and no longer needed the tanks. He went on to say that they were harvesting a bit early because they didn’t trust their landlord, who seemed a bit shady and scary to them.
Right in front of us were the tanks, pretty brand spankin new. In fact, the insides still smelled like new plastic and the purchase tags were still on the outside of the tank. The larger tank was 1,100 gallons – just like the other three that we already have on the future homestead. The other was 550 gallons. We had just paid about $650 for a 1,100 gallon tank a few months ago, and this guy was asking only $400… for both. Cash (of course).
Just then a helicopter flew overhead very slow and very low.
All we could think of was that these guys were going to get busted RIGHT NOW and we would get caught in the middle! They might think we were buyers!!!
“Well no, officer…. you see, we were just here to buy water tanks”.
The seller could see our nervousness and laughed, saying that they fly over several times a day, but that he was perfectly legal according to California laws, and that we shouldn’t worry.
R i i i i i i ght.
We handed him the $400 and loaded up the smaller tank so fast it would have made your head spin. We left quickly (the truck engine was still running) explaining that we would be back within the hour for the second tank. It only took about twenty minutes to get up to our property. We unloaded the small tank, grabbed some ramps we had to make it easier to roll the large tank into the back of the truck (we actually bought them to load the quad into the back of the truck, but have found them handy for a number of other reasons), and then took the ladder rack off the truck so the larger tank would fit in sideways. Within thirty-five minutes we were driving back up the road to get the other tank.
When we got about 100 feet from the gate going into the seller’s property, we saw that the road was blocked by two cars full of the roughest looking guys you have ever seen. They ignored us at first, then reluctantly moved their cars so we could get by. We waved and thanked them but avoided eye contact. When we got to the seller’s gate, however, we could see that it was closed, chained and padlocked! Oh no – had we been scammed?! We already gave the guy the cash (nervousness can make you stupid), but we didn’t get the bigger, more expensive tank! On top of that, there were two pit bulls and two German shepherds circling our truck.
Just wait – this gets better!
That’s when things really started to get sticky. Ray got out of the truck (the pit bulls started wagging their tails) and walked through the gate, into the property. Afterall, we wanted our water tank! He was able to catch the attention of the seller’s girlfriend, who came over and explained she had locked the gate because the guys down the road (the ones we saw in the cars) were scaring her. She was afraid they might try to take her “crop” and she was there by herself.
Unfortunately, she didn’t have a key to the gate, but said her boyfriend would be back soon with the key. That’s okay, we said. We’ll wait. A few minutes later, one of the cars that had blocked the road pulled up, and inside was a woman along with three of the thugs we had seen about 10 minutes earlier. The woman got out of the car, introduced herself as the “landlord” and explained that the seller and his girlfriend were renting the land from her. She questioned who we were and when we told her we were buying the water tanks, she seemed satisfied with our answer and left with her carload of thugs. A few minutes later the seller came back and unlocked the gate.
We drove in to the property where our large tank was and discovered that there was still at least a foot of water in it. Water weighs about 8 pounds per gallon, so you can imagine that there was no way we were going to be able to move this tank until it was empty. The seller appologized (he though it was already empty) got a sump pump and started pumping out the tank, while we stood around and chit-chatted. I did learn a little bit about his “crop”. What was especially interesting was the fact that he said he had about 50 plants (looked like a lot more than that to me), which required approximately 1,400-1,600 gallons of water per week.
PER WEEK! No wonder his well went dry!
At our home in the valley, we are only allowed to use water outside two times a week, along with quite a few other restrictions, and this guy is using at least 1,400 gallons of water PER WEEK on a marijuana crop! At our valley home our water is on a meter and we pay for every drop. But this guy could use as much water as his well would pump. We have been reading reports about how some commercial marijuana growers are diverting creeks and streams for their crops, which is causing serious environmental disasters here in California. It wasn’t such a problem several years ago, but now that we are in a serious drought, the problem of illegal growers killing fish populations by draining and polluting streams and lakes is coming to the forefront. Unfortunately, these lakes and streams are also where our drinking water supply comes from.
Don’t misunderstand – I am not totally against using marijuana as a medicinal herb if you really need it. But, I believe these big commercial grows are wrong. Just sayin’
So, as we were finally getting the big tank loaded up, the seller tells us how they think their landlord is trying to “bump them off” so she could have their crop, and that they had been hearing strange noises at night. They pointed out five trailers that had been left on the property by the previous “farmers”, full of clothes, food, etc., and wondered if they had left in such a hurry they couldn’t take their belongings.
Well… who do you think shows up just then? The landlord! The seller met her out of hearing range, but it was evident that they were not happy with each other. Luckily the thugs stayed in the car. In the meantime, his girlfriend quietly retreated into their trailer. Ray and I put our heads down and tried to pay attention to our own business, rolling the tank onto it’s side so the last of the water was poured out, and positioning the tank where it could be rolled up into the truck. Just then, the girlfriend came out of their trailer with an AK-47 strapped across her shoulder, and started walking through the “farm” as if she were guarding a prison gate!
Seriously! Cross my heart, this is a true story!
We were no longer nervous at this point, we were just plain scared. What had we gotten ourselves into? It was time to go. The tank wasn’t completely empty, but we muscled that sucker into the back of the truck anyway! Ray and the seller shook hands, we hopped into the truck and pulled out of the “farm” onto the driveway, afraid that the road would be blocked again. It wasn’t. Whew! I don’t think I actually took a breath until we got to the end of the road and turned onto the highway to get up to our future homestead!
Will we ever do that again? HECK NO!
But we did get some nice water storage tanks for $400!
We now have four 1,100 gallon tanks, one 550 gallon tank and another 325 gallon tank for a total of 5,275 gallons of water storage space! This should be plenty of water to get the orchard through our arid California summers. We will also provide a map of our property and placement of our tanks with our local CalFire office, just in case they need it to fight a wildfire on our property.
So, what do you think – are we crazy or not!
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