There’s a saying here in north Texas, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait a couple of hours.” The old timers aren’t kidding. We can have highs in the 80° Fs, then, if a cold front comes in, the temperature can drop 40°F. We can have summer-like temperatures and then snow, like we got on Christmas Day. The weather folks on the news channels must channel all of their meteorological education and check out their crystal balls daily. They are usually wrong, as are the weather apps (remember yesterday’s post?).
When it rains, it rains Texas-style. A lot. All at once. Big drops. Flash flooding. We all get swampy yards thanks to the amount of clay in our soil (this is also the reason that most home vegetable gardeners have raised beds vs planting directly into the ground).
It’s been raining since late yesterday morning. Guinness, our water-hating 100% lab usually cringes when he sees it’s raining and refuses to go outside unless absolutely necessary. Not this week. Maybe he knows that we need the rain. Or that’s going to continue for a while. We’re in a drought situation so despite the roadway issues and swampy yards, most people are happy for the inches of rain that have already fallen. We’ll get a couple more later today. Boaters are especially happy since it will mean a longer season before the lakes decrease. You see, our lakes are all man-made and were created to collect water for the surrounding cities.
Collecting water for later can be critical for home gardeners since drought means water restrictions. Specific days based on your house number that you can water your plants. Although no one mandates California-style water saving measures like the “if it’s yellow, let it mellow, if it’s brown, flush it down” rule I learned as a kid in Southern California, it’s in residents’ best interest to do what they can to reduce their water use.
Or save it themselves. Because of the unpredictable weather, last year we installed four rain barrels to save what we could. We use the water to irrigate the Urban Farm, to fill the bird baths (we have 2 and they are used year ’round by every kind of bird you can imagine from hummingbirds to owls), to water the patio containers, to irrigate the fruit trees. We water by hand until its gone and only then do we switch to the modified sprinkler system which focuses on the farm.
Despite what some might think, the rain barrels were easy to install and are not ugly. Two of our barrels are reused food storage containers, repurposed by an enterprising entrepreneur and covered with a durable cloth cover that blends in with the surrounding colors of our house. Two are space saving designs, created to maximize storage in a place where seeing a tall barrel may not be desirable (one is under our kitchen bay window for example).
The water saved is relatively clean. Leaves, acorns and other large things are filtered out by the gutter system. Dust and like debris from the roof does wash in, but usually settles at the bottom of the barrel. Each month when the temperature is consistently above 50° F, I treat the water with mosquito dunks to reduce the chances of the water becoming a breeding ground for those damn mozzies that love my blood so much.
At the office, people will grumble about the messy commute and getting wet. Their kids unable to play outside and sports practice cancelled. But I love the rain. I love the sound it makes. I love the free carwash. I love the smell of the wet dirt, grass and plants. But most of all, I love what it promises: quiet time in the garden in the morning before work, checking out what’s going on while I’m watering.