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Ontario is in the middle of a pretty severe drought, the likes of which we haven’t seen in over a decade.  As I pen this entry I’m hoping beyond hope that the rain forecasted for this afternoon actually comes to pass. I’m not holding my breath though as we’ve seen many a storm promised but not delivered.  Our grass is scorched and dry. Our rain barrels are empty save a few inches at the bottom to keep the goldfish alive (I’ll tell you about that another day) and the stories from farmers around us are sobering.

Living in a farming community during a drought is a very different experience than living in the suburbs. Sure my parents’ grass is dead and brown like ours, but they don’t seem to be feeling it the way we are. In fact many of my city friends are completely unaware that we’re even in a drought. However in our small town it’s impossible to go a day without talking to someone who is impacted by this.

 

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The price of hay has skyrocketed and some of my farming friends are becoming worried that they won’t be able to feed their animals. Yields are low for vegetable and fruit farmers and disease is a real problem for some crops. Yesterday we drove out to a local farm in hopes of getting just a few more U-Pick raspberries for the freezer. We were saddened to learn that their season ended weeks early because of the lack of rain. Every raspberry bush on their property was brown and dying.

All of this being said, we have come up with some strategies for our homestead and farm to weather this lack of weather.

 

Our Situation

  • Well water
  • Three person family
  • 2000+ square feet of gardens total

 

How to Manage Water During a Drought

Not that I’m an expert by any stretch! This is the first time that a drought has really impacted me and my life, but we have developed a decent enough system that has prevented us from having to pay to top up our well. This of course wouldn’t work for a large production farm, but it has worked well for us so far.

 

One of three rain barrels on the property

One of three rain barrels on the property

 

Water Conservation

First and foremost is the conservation of our well water. I know more than a dozen people who have had to pay to have their wells filled this summer. Not only is it expensive, the wait for water can be days. Imagine no toilet flushing, showers, laundry, dishes… for days! This is definitely a scenario we need to avoid at all costs.

We have been rationing our showers all summer. This not only means shorter and faster showers, but fewer as well. My son’s nightly baths are only 2-3 times a week and with a lot less water. We are also doing laundry less frequently and only flushing the toilets when necessary (except when we have guests of course).

Water conservation also means prioritizing what we need to water and what we don’t.  Anything that isn’t growing food (besides my medicinal/teaching herb garden) needs to make due with rain water. That means our grass is brown and all the gardens in the front are dying.

 

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The sad state of my largest front yard garden

 

Rain Collection and Grey Water 

We have three rain barrels on the property and we have been able to meet our gardens watering needs almost exclusively with them. We have also been collecting grey water for over a month now and filling our barrels whenever we can. Some sources of grey water include:

  • dehumidifers
  • bath and dishes water
  • cooking water
  • canning water

 

Cabbage Water

Cooking cabbage water :)

 

Dehumidifer

Our dehumidifier

 

Mulch, Mulch, Mulch 

I cannot express how glad I am that we mulched our garden as thoroughly and deeply as we did. Thanks to the hefty layer of straw covering every bed, we have been able to stretch our watering to every three days.

In addition to mulching we test the soil dampness before we water anything; if it doesn’t need it than we don’t water. Watering our gardens by hand also helps us to reduce water wastage and allows us to be picky as to what gets previous rain barrel water and what does not.

Thanks for joining me for another blog entry! I hope how our family has been dealing with the drought provides you with some tips and tricks if you are ever in the same situation.

 

Until next time,

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P.S. It rained for five whole minutes :(