|Connecting cistern to house|
|On the train out west!|
I could see this first hand when my sister and I would go for hikes around her home: just when it seemed like it was just us, the sagebrush and the pinions and junipers climbing up the mountains, we would round a hill and a bright green golf course would pop up before us. I was shocked to learn that in her town of New Castle, water use is five times greater in the summer than in the winter. The difference is due to irrigation of lawns and golf courses composed of water guzzling Kentucky bluegrass. If more people were like my sister they would replace non-native bluegrass with native grass varieties and native plants that don’t need irrigation, a practice called zero-scaping. But evidently just about everyone wants their front yard to look exactly the same, the whole country over, despite huge variations in local climates.
Well we are “going native” with our land here in Missouri. This is another way of saying that we moved onto land that already had native grasses and wildflowers on it and we aren’t doing much in the way of mowing. Not only are native species beautiful, at least to us, they are pretty useful for dye plants (for me) and for nourishing birds and butterflies that migrate through this area. Most folks here prefer to climb atop riding mowers and mow huge swaths of their land around their houses, but we (in our community) have been trying to educate people about the importance of wildflowers like milkweed for the declining monarch population. At any rate, having a pond that can gravity-feed downhill to source many of our homestead water needs (like watering animals and gardens) gives us a huge water buffer in drier years, and thus a fair bit of resiliency long-term. But for those without pond-digging potential at their homes, even having a few rainwater collection barrels under gutters would allow just about any home owner anywhere to mitigate some of their backyard water use. Embracing water-thrifty native varieties of flowers and plants instead of non-native ornamentals is also a good way to conserve water and save time standing around with a hose!
At any rate, our quest for homestead water security is nearing a close. The next chapter might involve figuring out what to do with too much water: finding a way to responsibly divert the greywater coming out of our house downhill!