Water – the very essence of life itself. One can go for days without food, but without water, life ends in a short time.
Right now, according to what figures I can find, over 25 states and maybe even more have areas of drought. The state I live in is drought-stricken. The land is parched, and not only are we very short on rain, but we also have hordes grasshoppers infesting crop and pasture land, and some folks have had alfalfa weevils that decimated the crop almost before it could grow. Our thermometer has consistently shown temperatures ranging in the 90 to 100 degree range, with winds whipping at 20 to 40 miles an hour, drying out crops and grassland. Stock dams and wells are drying up, and ranchers have begun to haul hay to the cattle in pastures in some areas.
The wildlife appreciates the food and water also. Deer, coyote and birds flock to the water tanks for bathing and drinking. They sometimes help themselves to the hay bales and rest in the shade away from the heat of the hot sun. Those who managed to get some hay put up earlier in the year have stated that they simply left many hay fields alone, as there was nothing to harvest, and what few fields they did cut had an average of 20% of last years crop.
We have had thousands of acres of forest and grasslands burn so far this year, and the wildfires are not over yet! There are thousands of acres of dead pine trees as a result of pine beetle infestations, and the fire danger in these areas is extremely high as a result of no rain.
Is another ‘Dust Bowl’ like there was in the 1930’s just around the corner? Only time will tell.
Over the years I have listened to stories told to me by elderly neighbors who homesteaded this area and raised their families here. They tell of walking upwards of a half mile just to dip a bucket of scummy, warm water out of a drying up creek or slough, taking it back to the homestead shack and skimming/straining the wigglers out before giving their children a drink of the warm brackish water. These same women told of carrying bucket after bucket of water to heat on a wood stove to wash kids, clothes, and then the wooden floor with that same water, and then pouring what was left on their parched garden plants. “We wore the water out!” was the remark.
This got me to thinking about how much we take our seemingly unlimited supply of clean, fresh water for granted.
How much water did your great-grandparents use in a day’s time? How much water did your grandparents or great-grandparents use in one day? Do you know how much water your family uses during the course of just one day? One gallon? 25 gallons? 100 gallons? Most people haven’t a clue. According to the USDA, the amount is between 60 and 80 gallons per day, per person – and that amount has tripled in the last 100 years.
Think about it: today, we have indoor plumbing with all the extras, like garden tubs and spas, dishwashers, automatic washing machines, air conditioners, swimming pools, lawn sprinklers – some even built right in to the lawn with timers so it get watered automatically!
We also have miles and miles and miles of public parks and golf courses that are sprinkler irrigated, and untold acres of lush green lawns – plus the irrigated farmland that was almost non-existent 100 years ago.
Can you imagine what would happen if you got up tomorrow morning, turned on the tap and nothing came out? A far-fetched idea? Perhaps not so much these days…
Given this fact, this month’s hints and ideas are about water. I’ve collected these ideas over the years, and I hope that some of these can be implemented in your homes to conserve this precious resource that we all depend on for our very life itself.
Note from Pennywise:
As always, if you have tips or ideas to share, send them to me at Pennywise, Box 518, Kadoka, SD 57543 or better yet, email me at [email protected].
P.S.: Please be sure to mention the "Farm And Livestock Directory" when you respond!