Even though we garden, our existence often relies on hunter/gatherer mentality. Particularly, anthropologists tell us that hunter/gatherer societies operated on feast or famine. Relying on found foods, they sometimes went without. Other times they had more food than they would normally eat, but no means of preserving it, storing, or carrying it. That meant that the general pattern of life became one that vacillated between carefully conserving scarcity, and indulging in occasional excess.
This is why our generally frugal diet is punctuated with extravagance, particularly in the warm months, when leftovers don’t linger. But the pattern extends way beyond food.
Alternative power follows feast or famine patterns for us. We get by on very little electricity, which is fine during times of low intake—calm, heavily overcast days. However, during our many high wind days, and especially sunny windy days, we literally have power to burn.
Water collection follows the same pattern. I’ve described here our late husbandry of the water supply, trying to make the dwindling summer water supply last as long as possible into the autumn, while trying to avoid draining the full tank at the end of the season. We began to take unusual pains to maximize the available water for drinking, washing, watering the garden, and keeping the compost piles alive. We plumbed the tank on August 11, the first day of serious rain in a long time, and found that we had 17 inches remaining in the bottom of the tank. A few days later a thin trickle developed in the intake, and we began to hope.
That day of rain slowly built into close to monsoon levels. We recorded 2.3″ in a 24-hour period Saturday morning. I checked the water tank and found water literally gushing out the top, a massive overflow! Even if we did not receive anymore, we are guaranteed plenty of water up to the first hard freeze of the coming winter.
In fact, we suddenly have water to waste. We’re having to shift from conservation to lavish use, in order to take maximum advantage of the available water. It feels almost shameful, but it makes better sense than continuing to conserve.
As I say, feast or famine.