April 10, 2014

Rain Barrels. Harder, and More Expensive, than You Think.

But totally worth it.

As the late Sam Kinison would have pointed out, I LIVE IN THE (expletive) DESERT!  In 2012, the state of New Mexico got 5.46 inches of rain.  Last year, in the Florida panhandle, the backyard where I said my wedding vows got that much in a day.  In...a...day.  This year we've received .43 inches and that's only because of the 10,000 + foot Sandia Mountains on the east side of town forcing those clouds up and over.  Some New Mexican towns have yet to feel a drop in 2014.  Yes Sam, we do have deserts in America, and for some reason, some of us have decided to live here.
The Sandias:  Making it Rain.

What do I need:

50 gallon barrel
Power drill and bits
Hose bibb
A hundred and fifty bucks

Before kids (read:  two incomes), we were more apt to drop money on things deemed immediately "important".  So our rain barrel cost us something north of $150.  Okay.  It was $170.99 with tax.  But it was a locally-made barrel from a local provider and came with a hose and overflow valve.  So we rationalized it.  But truth be told, we weren't about to spend our limited free time (two incomes = two 9-5s) drilling holes or caulking or making four trips to the Home Depot and back.  IF that's your thing, you can save yourself some dough like these guys.

What do I do now:

Well, what I did was throw my hands in the air and give in to gender stereotypes.  The hubs went at one of our downspouts with a hacksaw, or something manly, to get it to fit the barrel.

We then placed the rain barrel on some leftover 4x4s to get it high enough to let the water flow out.  Physics class...trying to come back to me....something about dissipating potential energy to kinetic or something.  Physics about as popular with me as biology and chemistry (see post in next paragraph).

What do I put into it:

Okay, now this is just a gimmick to make this like the past post.  YOU don't put anything into it.  GOD does. And God doesn't take long to fill a 50 gallon rain barrel.  So you might consider using it quickly before the clouds go grey again or it will just spill over and go to waste.
Not in New Mexico.
How do I take care of it:

When the nights threaten to start freezing, that's November around here, drain out all the water.  We take off the hose and open the valve so if we do get a late rain, the water runs out and we don't have to worry about remembering to drain it before it freezes and cracks our $170.99 investment.

How do I use it:

Already better at Physics.
We simply fill buckets and water anything in the yard that doesn't get sprinkler love.  You can attach a nozzle (expect much lower pressure than you are used to though) or even a soaker hose to give your lawn or flower garden a little extra sumpin sumpin.  If you live in an area with frequent water usage restrictions (like, the entire Southwest), you can hoard and use your stash when everyone else has reached their maximum usage for the week.

If you are hardcore, you could wash your car, or windows or even collect to flush your toilets.  For those of you that have Norm Abram living next door.

We DON'T drink the water or use it on our veggie garden.  Even our chickens, who eat our icky table scraps don't get the rain barrel water because the flat, tar and glue roofs of New Mexico give off a brown, well, tar and glue-y water.

But....we DO feed our fish with the rain barrel.  Hear me out.  When the water level gets high enough, and sits there for a few days, Mother Nature likes to use our barrel to reproduce the most annoying winged-creature to man and animal alike, the mosquito.  And believe it or not, to the Betta fish, aka Siamese fighting fish, aka Lowly the Fish in our house, mosquito larvae are a natural delicacy.  So we fish out a bunch before they get their wings, drop them into Lowly's bowl, and watch the bloodbath begin.
Better than TV.


  1. Can you put a cover on it to prevent the mosquitos?

    1. Yes. Ours came with a hard, plastic screen to keep mosquitoes in. Now, if you are going to try to harvest the larvae, you can lift off the screen and scoop them out. JUST make sure they aren't yet ready for flight. We've made this mistake once when we waited to long.

  2. I'm thinking about putting a rain barrel in our backyard. Might try and make one or find a deal on Amazon.

    1. I just looked on Ebay and there's a guy or girl selling collapsible ones for $49.99. Only $15 shipping. Interesting idea. I'd be curious if they work.

      Even better, if you are so inclined, there are a bunch of rain barrels for sale on Craigslist in your area. Then you can go and check out the spout and make sure it's not a POS.