Anyone who has ever spent time deprived of basic needs hits hard up against the reality that water is at the top—right after air. You may hallucinate food; I smelled pecan pie for three days once and watched another guy try to pluck candy bars from trees. Lack of sleep will drive you temporarily neurotic; results vary, but cranky and confused cloak your every thought. I recall the poor, hapless Ranger who filled in his foxhole at oh-dark-thirty, but left his M-16 at the bottom of it when we evacuated the night defensive position (NDP). Hunger and sleep-deprivation wreak havoc, but, go without water for a time, and finding water becomes your imperative.
All of that is prelude to the last weekend’s project: installation of the new rain barrel. Meant to do some more research, but there it was at Home Depot; the day was clear and sunny; I was in get-’er-done mode. Bought it. Here are a few observations, if you are thinking about having a supply of water independent of “the infrastructure” or if you just want to save some money.
This was one of those very few projects that actually went as planned. Installation was simple. With this barrel, you must, however, cut a section out of one of your downspouts so that you can insert the “diverter.” A hacksaw or similar cutter is necessary.
The instructions were not just straightforward; they were pictographs. Diagrams. Almost cartoon-like. No clutter, no verbiage in some contorted translation: “Hose end must greater height achieve, or flood of the waters will occur.” Nothing funny like that. Just pictures that got the point across.
As with all things, more research was in order. I see today that a higher-tech diverter is out there: one that ingeniously stops leaf-litter, lets the water through, and ejects the chaff that lands incessantly on your roof–for $40. The standard diverter that came with my kit, I saw immediately, will be problematic, catching all of those tulip poplar seeds, and maple wings, and tons of leaves.
But, it’s in. Yes, I hear about these blue industrial barrels that you can sign up for and pick up, and I understand that you can collect parts and make your own, without a commercial kit. This one will be visible on the deck, and it needed to look nice.
How long does it take for a 50-gallon rain barrel to fill? Mine filled overnight. Yep. It rained Saturday night, and the thing was filled up in the morning!
I spent the next day cobbling together a PVC-pipe faucet and watering system. If you have ever worked with PVC, gluing together pipes is the easy part. Standing there in the hardware store, baffled by the combination you must assemble from all of those bushings, couplings, unions, elbows, tees, and threaded ends is something else. Understand: If you are like me, and you pride yourself in your planning, you might as well just concede that you will make multiple trips to the store for this piece or that.
Outdoor barrels: letting them fill and freeze may split them, so there goes your winter-time water supply.
If you live in the south, one final word of caution: the black widow spiders are out.