My Calculations Go Down the Drain

By , July 28, 2011

I measured carefully. I quantified all the factors involved. I made a couple of best-guess assumptions, and quantified them. Then, I calculated a figure that has, since the project’s completion, been shot all to hell. And I couldn’t be happier.

It’s been a very dry summer. We’ve had almost no rain in the forecast, and those forecasts have hardly had the ring of truth when they do come. The day before we drove to Canada to retrieve Aly, the Haines and marine forecasts both announced, unequivocally, “rain.” We watched in frustration as the clouds lowered and the sky darkened on the Coast Range across Lynn Canal from our homestead, and rain showers began to fall on that shore, while we remained dry. Neighbors told us they heard showers one night while we were gone—”for about 10 seconds.”

We learned long ago that this is a common weather pattern for our area. Before we moved here, we watched the steady progression of rain squalls north along the mountains across the fjord, while our homestead remained dry. We soon learned that when the Haines forecast called for “a chance of rain,” for our homestead that means “(almost) no chance.”

I checked the water left in the summer water tank, and calculated that it would  run out on or around August 16th. After that, we’ll switch to the winter water tank, which is full.

Nevertheless, we’ve taken steps to conserve water. We have been collecting gray water—dishwater, rinse water and the like. Some of it waters the plants, but much of it goes on the compost piles. We’d never had to think much about it, but composting actually requires a lot of water. Without moisture, the composting process actually shuts down. A slow-leaking bucket full of gray water sitting on top of the compost pile helps keep it going.

We aren’t able to collect every drop, but that’s all right. Anything that goes down our drains waters our cherry trees, which, at their current crucial fruit-forming stage, need a lot of water as well.

A couple of days ago, everything changed: real rain started falling. Not a lot, but a blessed fine mist that slowly began to revive the parched ground. Yesterday, we had a drier morning, just in time for new friends to visit the homestead, then the wind died and a steady rain settled in. We’ve had a half inch of rain on the homestead in the last 24 hours.

The day after the first rains, I went up to the summer water intake. I blew the pipe and set it back in the intake bucket; after a moment a slow, steady drip developed. It wouldn’t fill the bucket, but it was an improvement. I haven’t checked the flow this morning, but it’s likely that it’s filling as I write this. My estimate on when the tank will run out is completely out the window, but that’s just fine with me!

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