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Notes from the Farm

Posted 10/23/2007 11:23pm by Leaf Myczack.

Last week I talked about pulling the emergency lever as our farm water reserves had dwindled to under 30%. In the water storage world, the storage pool is the top 60%, and then one is in the life maintenance pool. This is the water held back to support all the critters that are now calling our rainwater catchments home. Some we placed there (fish to eat mosquitos), some came on their own (frogs & turtles), and others flew in (dragonflies, kingfisher, and green heron).

We moved our two inch gasoline powered water pump to the back of the nearby river slough and set it up. Water sucked out of the Tennessee River is then pumped slightly uphill through two-hundred feet of 1.5 inch fire hose to a pipe connection that runs under the county lane and onto our farm property. From that feeder pipe, we can direct water to the main pond through a two inch pipe, or to the two feeder ponds through one inch pipes. It's not a fast process, but it is steady and it gives us a tremendous advantage to be able to replenish the ponds during drought conditions.

Tonight as I write this Blog, rainwater is dripping off of the house roof from many gutters, pipes, and spouts into overflowing cisterns and barrels. It is sweet music to our ears and it fills us with new found hope. Over the previous thirty-six hours, we have received two inches of rain. It is the perfect rain for sowing winter greens, and earlier in the day, Hawk and I walked through the rain, broadcasting a mix of kale, turnip and mustard seed over newly moist soil.

All through the summer we have been tweaking our rainwater collection system, constantly improving the delivery path from rooftop to container. To behold it in action is a wonderful validation of our design efforts. Without lifting anything more than the end of a garden-type hose, and opening and closing a couple of valves, we can strategically place hundreds upon hundreds of gallons of captured rainwater where we can most effectively use them to water our poultry flock, our fruit and vegetable crops, and our wind screen landscaping plants.

We all know about Jack & Jill going up the hill to fetch a pail of water. If their parents had utilized good design, then they might have used gravity to deliver the water downhill, unspilt, and right to their doorstep. Good design begets efficiency, and efficiency saves energy. Saving energy is the gateway to sustainability; whether it be human, mechanical, or electrical energy being conserved.

A poorly designed farm or homestead will wear down the occupants by forcing them to endlessly repeat wasted motion. Our teaching farm is a living example that a poorly designed enterprise can be successfully restructured by following perma-culture (permanent agriculture) based guidelines. Our energy-free, gravity powered rainwater collection and transfer / storage system is our best proof.


Although this recent rainfall is nowhere near enough to end the drought, it has given us the needed soil moisture to resume field work and the delayed planting of fall crops.