We woke up one morning, a few weeks ago and discovered we had no water. Not one drop came out of our taps!
Our water comes from a well in our yard (about 125′ deep) and services our house, Amy’s house, both barns and the greenhouse. Not having any water is a big problem.
It was a CSA pick up day so there were lots of vegetables that needed to be washed & prepped. It was also the hottest week of the summer. Water was a necessity!
We formulated a plan. Friends who live one road over and have town water allowed us to wash our vegetables in their yard. My in-laws around the corner let us shower at their house, and my sister, who lives in the city brought us pails of water for drinking. It was awkward & inconvenient but it worked.
Water is something can be easily taken for granted – until it’s in short supply!
On our farm we are mostly dependant on the rains to provide enough moisture for the crops. While we have no control over the amount or rain that falls, there are steps we have taken to make the best use of the precipitation we receive.
The most important is to build up our soil.
By using manure & compost (instead of just chemical fertilizers) we increase not only fertility but also the soil’s organic matter which improves its ability to hold moisture. Because manure is increasingly difficult to source, we grow cover crops and green manures. These are non-vegetable producing plants that we grow for a season or part season and then work into the ground to add organic matter. A portion of our farm is always growing cover crop instead of vegetables. The next season we grow vegetables there and plant cover crop on another area.
We also use a lot of straw mulch. This keeps the moisture in the soil and prevents it from evaporating and drying in the hot sun. In fall the straw is worked into the ground again providing organic matter & improving the soil.
Cultivating or disturbing the soil is something we try to do less & less of. Keeping the ground covered with something – be it cover crop, vegetables or even weeds – keeps it from drying out. It doesn’t always make the farm look as nice as freshly worked dirt, but it’s healthier for the farm.
This summer has been quite dry overall and we can see how our soil improvements are helping to retain moisture and save our crops.
We collect water as well, so it is available when needed for watering vegetables & crops. Most of the rain that falls on our barn roofs is saved in cisterns – one at the end of each barn.
From there we pump it into a raised tank from which we can easily fill the sprayer/water tank and then water new transplants or other vegetables as needed.
We wash all our vegetables outside, beside the barn (an indoor washing room is in the plans for the future). The dirty water is sent to our water garden – a sunken area filled with moisture-loving native plants that use all this waste water and thrive!
Beautiful in early spring too!
Our well was not fixed (new pump) until later the following day. We were 2 days without running water, and still marvel each time we turn the tap and water flows out!