Where we live here in California, we have been experiencing a terrible drought. During our rainy months of December, January and most of February we were dry, dry, dry. The weather was beautiful – in the 60’s and 70’s – so at first no one was complaining. Then the news reports began to show the level of our reservoirs, and let me tell you, it’s not pretty. It’s actually kinda scary! On our way up to our future homestead, we pass over one of California’s major reservoirs and recently got some sad pictures:
This whole area should be full of water, not a little creek down at the bottom! There are many exposed items of interest that haven’t seen the light of day for years! Below is a picture of a wall built by the Chinese during California’s gold rush days. The park rangers have also had to patrol areas where Native American artifacts have been exposed because ignorant (the nicest word I could think of) people have been vandalizing and stealing them!
Our biggest concern is that our well will dry up this year. The likelihood of this happening is pretty good because of the drought and the fact that the neighbor to our south has been farming a crop that takes a lot of water these last two years. Last year his generator ran pretty much nonstop to pump water out of his well, which is directly below ours, to irrigate said crops! Of course, there really isn’t anything we can do about this (at least I don’t think there is) except prepare for the worst!
A couple of weeks ago, our storm door finally opened! Yay! We have actually had a few rainy days! Since we had planned to eventually place a water storage tank behind our new outhouse, to collect water from the metal outhouse roof, down the gutter and into the storage tank, and our other two tanks were finally full (finally!), we decided now was as good a time as ever!
We checked around for prices and, of course, the price had gone up everywhere! Apparently a lot of people have had the same idea. I understand the principals of supply and demand, but that is just so unfair! When we found the most reasonably priced tank nearby at 1,100 gallons, we loaded it up on our truck (they fit perfectly in our F150 pickup) and headed up to our future homestead.
The first thing we had to do was clear an area behind the outhouse to place the tank. We measured the footprint of the tank to determine how big of an area that needed to be cleared and leveled. The area was full of decaying wood, small bushes, poison oak and little critters. Of course, two days later I found a few spots of poison oak on my arm, just above the area protected by my glove! Grrrrrrr. Right now is the worst time to get exposed to the nasty stuff because as the poison oak is just starting to sprout new leaves, the resins are flowing quite freely in the vine! One think I have noticed over the years, however, is that lavender essential oil takes out some of the itch. Luckily I only got a few spots this time.
We found several critters when we moved a decaying stump to clear this area, and the first was this little salamander. Salamanders live in cool, moist areas. I am not sure what type of salamander this is, but judging by it’s coloration and from what I have read on the internet, this one might have some poison in it’s skin as a defense mechanism. We spotted a total of five of these little critters and relocated them to a safer place.
Another critter that we found in abundance were millipedes! We must have found at least two dozen of them in this small area! We also saved the millipedes as we found them because they are wonderful composters of all the leafy duff found on the forest floor. Even though they look big (some are easily 6 inches long) and scary, the millipede is perfectly safe to pick up with a bare hand – unlike a centipede!
Once the area was cleared of duff, downed wood, bushes, poison oak, millipedes and salamanders, we needed to get the base leveled. We dug dirt from the back and threw to the front and added just a bit extra to the lower front half, because we knew that the weight of water in the tank would squash down the freshly fluffed up dirt.
After just a few hours of preparation, we were able to roll to tank into position. These plastic water storage tanks are surprising light and easy to handle! Just tip on it’s side and roll wherever you need them to be!
We haven’t attached a rain gutter system to our outhouse yet, so right now the new tank can’t collect rainwater. But, since another storm was on it’s way, we decided to pump the water from the middle tank, which collects rainwater from the tool shed roof, into this new water tank. That way, we can collect more rainwater in the middle tank. Pumping the water took just a few hours.
So, we now have three 1,100 gallon water storage tanks: One right next to our fruit and nut orchard, another behind our tool shed, and the third (the one we just installed) behind the outhouse. We have a spot to put a fourth tank, near the orchard and above the first orchard tank, but that may have to wait until this next fall. These water storage tanks provide water for our fruit and nut orchard through a gravity fed automatic watering system, which is necessary because we don’t live there yet and can’t be there to water the trees as often as necessary. If you would like to read about how we set up our gravity fed automatic watering system, you can click here and here.
The morning after we set up this new tank, as we were preparing to leave, it started to rain! Cool. 🙂
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