Let it rain … please, and thank you

Those that prognosticate the weather are calling for precipitation. They say it will begin as snow, transition to sleet, and then end as rain … lots of it apparently. It will be messy and uncomfortable to be sure but I welcome both the mess and the discomfort. Our agricultural water supply flows from a drilled well at the barn while our domestic water is drawn from a shallow lens which rides above the underlying aquifer. Although we have never been certain whether this latter supply is sourced from the adjacent aquifer or from mountain springs there has never been any doubt that, whatever its source, this water is precious to us. Like many, I never thought about water and where it came from when I was growing up; I knew that cold came out of the right faucet and that hot came from the left and that seemed well enough. Given that my parent’s home was served by a municipal supply I do not believe we were ever without, even on the rare occasion we would lose power. Water just was. I know better now that water is a privilege, not a right, and that it doesn’t just happen. It is something we think about, here on the farm, every day. Neither we, nor all of the living things with which we share our ground, can do without it for very long. I make these observations because the weather promises to be wet over the next few days; and on those same days I’ve got to get to work, butcher turkeys, do chores morning and evening, and both friends and family will be traveling the roads to celebrate the coming Holiday. But I would not stop the rain. I would not stop it because it has been dry in our part of the world for the last little bit and I have been watching the level of our water supply drop, slowly, steadily, inexorably, since September. We are fortunate that the immediate source of our water collects in a spring house conveniently situated in a natural swale surrounded by Birch, Chestnut, and Walnut trees. I have written about this place before and mentioned that if you peer into the reservoir you will see salamanders and newts darting to and fro, kicking up clouds of dusty sediment as they scuttle along the silty accumulations of years. We were told, by previous owners of the farm, that back in the day folks took to putting a Trout or two down into the water in spring time. They’d allow these to feed and to fatten. In addition to providing a succulent feast come autumn we suppose these beasts were also Canaries in the Coal Mine and would act as valuable indicators of water quality as well. I check the level of our reserve several times each week. The pipe to the house is set six inches from the silty bottom and the water level is currently six inches above the pipe.  A sink full of dishes may drop the level an inch while a load of laundry or a shower may use twice that amount;  so, you see how our supply is limited. Although water in the spring house is recharged within an hour or so the reserve will never rise above the level of the surrounding water table which is dependent upon rain. So you see, I welcome the coming storm. I welcome it gladly. If you do not live with nature or close to it, if you are not dependent upon it in a very immediate and intimate way, you may think that rain is necessary only as an end to the successful production of food crops. While that is certainly true, there is ever so much more to our dependence upon rain in good measure. I don’t mean to come across as some sort of elitist but it seems to me that if you have grown accustomed to turning a faucet and expecting water you are less likely to appreciate its scarcity and its value. If you have, by chance, experienced water rationing in your part of the world perhaps you know of what I speak. As I write I note that many locations far west of here are, and have been, experiencing severe drought conditions. As I look out my window I see snow falling from a very dark and foreboding sky. I am delighted … and very grateful indeed … let it rain.

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