I understand that September was preparedness month. It is just like me to sneak in a little bit late with my preparations. No, I never procrastinate, not me. Seriously I am proud of myself because I met my summer goal of having a sustainable water source on the homestead even if it is a bit late.
I always set a goal for each season. This is above and beyond the normal gardening, animal raising and anything else that pokes it’s head up for attention. Like the city telling me I need a fence permit for my front yard garden for instance! Yes, it was a busy summer season. When I look back, I realized, that we got a lot accomplished!
Here is how I set up my rain barrel:
First I had to find a 55 gal food grade barrel, hopefully with a removable top. It is important to get one that is not white because of algae growth, so you are stuck with bright blue. No bother, just an opportunity to get creative with paint, right? I found mine on craigslist for 20 dollars. It originally held green tea and still had the label to prove it, so it was safe to use. I am talking to a place to get them for free but have not nailed that down yet. My barrel has a metal ring around it that ,when removed allows the whole top to come off. This is important for easy access when adding the water spigot.
Next I had to find a water spigot and a bulkhead fitting to attach at the bottom of barrel. Here is what I used:
Pick up some plumbers tape while your there. You will also need some fine mesh nylon or metal screen to keep mosquitoes from breeding in your barrel.
When I got home I removed the lid from my barrel, rinsed it out and drilled a 1 inch hole near the bottom where I wanted the spigot to go. I then put one side of the bulkhead fitting on the inside and screwed the other part from the outside. The bulkhead comes with it’s own washers and easily makes a secure seal so no messy sealant was needed. Then I wrapped plumbers tape around the hose bibb and screwed it in. It was all surprisingly easy so far.
Now the next part was a little bit tricky only because I don’t have gutters around my house. For a long time I let that stop me. Now days I don’t let much stop me. A’hem, you might have noticed that I am a bit headstrong. I like to call it determined because that sounds so much more positive to me. If I had gutters I would have simply sawed off the downspout put a extender on and cut a square hole in the top of my barrel for it to fit into, putting a bit of mesh on the end of the extender to keep things out. But since I don’t I picked the spot where the water comes down the most from a V in the roof. I brainstormed on several different ways to fix my lid to accept rainwater while not letting the mosquitoes in. In the end I decided to drill lots of 1 inch holes in the lid and clamp the mesh screen under the whole lid. I would have put in more holes but my drill bit thing broke. Perhaps it wasn’t meant for this purpose. oops. Or perhaps it was just a cheap badly made gadget. I will go with the later.
The project completed, all I needed was rain. Wouldn’t you know it, it hasn’t rained since! Well we have been spit upon, so to speak, but that doesn’t count. So I cannot report to you the success of the project until a good rainstorm comes my way. After a few weeks passed without rain, I figured I could always update you later. Whole project cost about $40.00.
What does this project have to do with preparedness month? Well people always look at my gardens and animals and say, “You are set if some disaster or something comes your way.” I look around and know better. Having a garden and raising animals really makes you realize how dependent you are on water. Without it, even for a short time, we and our animals are completely done in. I have a lot of kids and animals depending on me, so in the big picture this rain barrel makes me feel a bit more prepared. In the smaller picture my Grandfather told me that the secret to growing strawberries is; you guessed it, rainwater.
I am researching a water filter to have on hand just in case. After all it would be sad to have all this water and not be able to drink it. If you know of a good one, please shout it out in the comments. I also would love to hear how you have prepared this month or any month. I will be sure to put out an update when it finally rains here.