Whether you live in the humid east or the arid west, water is an issue – and likely to become more so in the future. In the more humid regions, the issue is often too much. It rains when you’re trying to get the hay in. It rains when you’re trying to plant. It floods during the winter and the spring thaw, and sometimes even in the summer. In my part of the country, although it may rain when you’re trying to get the hay in, a more likely problem is not enough rain to grow the crop without irrigation. Or, if the spring rains come late and you’re planting something like spring oats, you can’t get into the field (which is why it’s more common to fall seed grains out here). Then there is the normal six-month dry spell between the last spring rain and the first fall rain; without irrigation you are limited in what you can grow.
I was reminded of this issue just today when a severe windstorm blew off the tires we had holding down a tarp. One landed on a water standpipe and broke it off below ground level. Luckily this wind was not because of a major storm, so at least we’re working in dry conditions. No water meant we couldn’t feed pigs or chickens, since we mix their screenings with water to make a mash, nor could we water them. And most irritating – at least to me – I couldn’t take a shower. Hubby dug out the pipe, discovered he didn’t have the fittings he needed and had to go to town. Before he went to town he made a run to the spring and brought back a five gallon cooler of water.
When you know that five gallons is all you have, you get creative. I heated water in the big stockpot on the stove, poured in about a third of what I would usually use into the sink and washed dishes. Then I dipped water out of the pot to rinse them, holding each glass or plate so the rinse water would run off onto other dishes in the sink. Next step was to wash the milker, so I could go down and milk the cow. I scrubbed extra hard to make up for my inability to get things clean with surplus water. Again, rinse so the water does double duty. Then I dipped out the remaining wash water and used it to flush the toilet.
When a minor disaster like this occurs, there are always good things and bad things. Good thing, as I already mentioned, was not having it happen in the middle of a driving rainstorm. Bad thing, no shower. Good thing, we store drinking water from the spring in glass jars in the washhouse, so we had drinking water. Bad thing, the nearest source of water was the spring almost a mile away. Good thing, the pipe was relatively easy to fix once we had the necessary parts and my husband is an excellent fixer of many things so it didn’t take him long. And now, please excuse me, I really want a shower.