Published in Eumundi Green Issue 190

Life on a Better Ridge Precious Precipitation

At the moment I’m not sure which is frying my brain more, the actual temperature registering on the gauge, the sky’s hint at a quenching storm or the Bureau’s methods of enticing us into a belief that a spot of rain might relieve the humidity.

The thing that gets me almost every time is when I check the long-range forecast and momentarily get excited when I see HIGH or even 90 per cent in the box marked ‘chance of rain’. It pays to have a closer look, because what becomes apparent is the depressing realisation that in the ‘rainfall amount’ box, it usually says 1-5mm, or worse still, 0-2mm!

It’s at this time of the year the old ‘tank thump’ becomes a part of our morning routine and we take a good long look at the washing pile to make a very educated guess about just how long we can get away without doing a load of washing, in the vain hope it will rain before clean clothes become well and truly necessary.

The kids in all their helpful wisdom often offer to go without bathing, but as most mothers know this is just a very skilful ruse to skip a chore in favour of a little more playtime!

During the building process, there are times that I have been less than grateful for my makeshift laundry and bathroom, but at the moment, I have renewed my respect for its ‘outdooredness’. It is very easy, when you only have limited plumbing whisking water off to the septic tank, to collect washing machine wastewater in large buckets and deliver it to the gasping garden beds that need it most. Admittedly, this isn’t quite the grey-water diversion I have in mind for the new house but is probably more effective with its timing and accuracy.

When I’m in the ‘praying for precipitation’ mode, I’m reminded of the small jobs that can be done now to get the most out of any rain that does come. Although it seems such a short time since we did this last, it’s good to take another look at the gutters. The wind that sucked the moisture from our soil brought with it a lot of leaves and debris and the last thing we want is to inhibit the flow of the precious few drops that do fall. Cleaning the screens on any downpipe leaf traps is also a good idea. The dust that has come with the winds is better rinsed into a thirsty pot plan than washed into your tank by the first storm.

If the morning ‘tank thump’ leaves you feeling hollow and empty and you are lucky enough to have more than one reservoir, it might be a good time to consider cleaning them out. This can be a reasonably easy DIY job in which you first siphon your water supply into one of the tanks, leaving a little in the bottom, and then drain or siphon out what remains (along with any debris) and use this to give the garden a good water. If you’re not up to doing this yourself, there are several local tank cleaners and water suppliers that will do it for you with the promise of minimal water loss.

This is also a good time to double-check things like raincoats and umbrellas and to get your gumboots out of the back of the cupboard in readiness for the rains.

If that doesn’t open the skies up then perhaps we could all go out and wash our cars in unison or organise a community rain dance, with all proceeds going toward topping up the emptiest of tanks.