Water is the key to life. I know it’s true, ’cause that’s what I read in the literature I got from this chick who was hawking some kind of ionized water as part of a MLM scheme or something.
Anyhow, if it isn’t the key, it’s at least the ignition, gas tank, chassis, windows, pistons and alternator of life. Life doesn’t work very well without water – particularly plant life – so one of your primary concerns on a survival-oriented homestead needs to be hoarding as much water as possible.
If things get ugly, you’re going to need water for yourself, for your animals and your garden. I’m a cheapskate, so I’ll tell you what I’m doing on my property… and how inexpensive saving water can be.
Rain barrels are the hip thing to do these days. It’s green! It’s sustainable! Blah blah blah. It’s gotten so silly that you can buy designer models at places like Target and totally blow the month’s beans and rice budget on a single purchase. Of course, that purchase will look like it’s made from Real Faux Stone with hand-engraved niblets.
Forget that silliness. It’s good to have a rain barrel because it’s a back-up water source in case of grid collapse, plus it can save you a few cents on your water bill. It doesn’t need to be anything amazing, though. My rain barrels cost me $16.00 each. I bought some used barrels that had formerly contained a non-toxic water treatment polymer, then I bought a little silicone and some brass spigots and cut the tops to allow the rain from my gutters to get in them. Over the hole in the top, I glued some metal window screening to keep the mosquitoes out. Simple. The only thing I would do differently is to make the diameter of the spigots larger – the ones I have let water through too slowly. I want instant results!
Once you have your rain barrels, raising them up is a good idea. If you do, gravity will provide the water pressure you need to reach plants further away. Back in TN, I had a two-story house so I put the barrel on an eight-foot platform at one corner of the roof. The pressure was excellent.
The only problem I see with rain barrels is that they don’t hold enough water. One little shower and they’re overflowing. A roof can seriously catch a lot of water… and if you want to hold on to that water, you need to step up.
Ponds, Pools and Cisterns
Pond-building is an art all its own. I’ve fiddled around with it, but my sandy soil here makes building a conventional clay-lined pond an expensive pain. I also don’t like the cost of proper pond liners, plus I have little children and I don’t want them drowning one afternoon. So, instead of in-ground ponds, I’ve used the cast-away debris of our empty consumer society to keep extra water around for the homestead. What kind of cast-off debris? Old jacuzzis! I have three of them right now, one of which is finished being patched and filled with water, plants and goldfish. If you’re really clever, you can turn your pond into a full-on aquaponics system, but I’m not really clever. I’m satisfied with a few edible plants and $0.10 feeder goldfish from the pet store. They eat the mosquito larvae and manage to live in un-aerated water. Plus, they’re pretty. If you’re lucky enough to have a large in-ground pool, you can do the same with that… unless you’re planning on having bikini and beer parties throughout TEOTWAWKI. If so, please send an invitation to:
c/o Econopocalypse Ranch
1313 Tick Road
Ready-made ponds can be made from basically anything that holds water. Except for that excuse you’re gonna make to not invite me to your party.
When I traveled to the Caribbean recently, I saw a lot of cisterns. Almost every house had one, and they were a lot bigger than the little rainbarrels we have here. There, people know that the government may not be able to keep their water on in an emergency. How high is your trust level?
Mulching and Double-digging
This is simple, and it ties into my previous Gardening Without Electricity article. If you punch lots of good airspace into the ground, loosening it nicely, the ground will hold more moisture when it rains… and when it doesn’t. Mulch is another way to keep things moist, particularly deep mulch. Pile it on and pile it deep… just water really well first, to make sure you’re not blocking water from the ground with all that mulch.
If there’s any way you can keep a little more of the water God sends your way, take it. You never know what the future holds, but if it’s anything like the past, there will be grid disruptions, droughts and brutal heat waves.