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Pool Time!

The weather forecasters and locals are going crazy! We’re in heavy drought conditions and it’s HOT! Now, I can get on board with the fact that there’s a drought. Last year, we had a total of just under 70 inches of rain. This year, so far, we’re at a total of about 6 inches, with a whopping 1/4 inch for the month of June. So, yeah, it’s dry!

The whole “hot” thing, I’m having a little more trouble with. It’s getting into the mid- to high-80s, and flirting with the low 90s for a few days over the upcoming weeks. Not having air conditioning does make the afternoon high a little uncomfortable, but the evenings still get down into the 50s and 60s. I can open up the house and let the cool air in, and I love it! OK, ok, it’s hot. But it’s not lose-your-mind-HOT! (Remember, I grew up in Palm Springs. This week, they’re getting up to 115, and their overnight lows are the same as our daily highs.)

The trick is to balance the drought and the heat issues. I was running the sprinkler in the animal yard for a while everyday, but it’s getting too hot for that, and the sprinkler would need to be on too long. We got a wading pool for the kids a couple weeks ago, so I figured it was time to get a few for the animals.

All the kids like playing in the water, but Reta Jean LOVES it! She says, “Gabba, I love the huge, huge bathtub!” The boys eventually want to go play at the troll bridge, or run up and down the hill, but not Reta Jean. She’s a mermaid princess!

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The animals weren’t quite as sure about the pools. Even the ducks studied them for awhile. Tajo loves the water as much as Reta Jean, so he was the first to head over and check it out. The hose was his first clue that something cool was happening.

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Spike came over next, but I’m pretty sure he was just looking for food. He likes the water, but he likes food MUCH more.

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The ducks crack me up all the time. They always quack-quack-quack around together. I’ll very rarely seen one away from the others, unless one is laying an egg. They held true to form in checking out the pool. Their quacking is usually very soft and soothing. The more the pool filled up, the more excited their quacking got.

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Even though the ducks were getting loud, they still weren’t getting in the water. I decided I would need to step back and let them do their thing. Once I wasn’t hanging over the fence, more of the gang came around. Tajo didn’t want to get in, but he enjoyed drinking the water.

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I think Spike was mad at me because it wasn’t food.

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The ducks eventually got in, and then they were really happy. There was so much splashing around, Spike decided he needed to keep his distance. He was like the mom hanging by the pool with the kids, but not wanting to get wet.

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I had to hang out and watch the fun. There was another pool in the yard, but everybody liked this one. Probably because it was in the shade.

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We have chairs set out by the animal yard, in the shade of pines and a flowery plant (I still don’t know what that plant is called). It was already one of my favorite spots in the yard, and now it’s even more so. When the days get to their hottest around 3 or 4 in the afternoon, this spot is shady and cool. I sit and watch the critters playing in the water, and wait for the heat to pass.

Life really is that simple.



Water Works

The local fairgrounds are 20 minutes away, and across the street from our local feed store. They have shows and events all year, which is really cool. We’ve been to goat, poultry, rabbit, and fiber shows. Wood carving, mineral and quilt shows. Garage sales, barn sales and plant sales. At every event, we’ve learned more about living in the country.0903141013a


One of the most useful things we learned about was water barrels. At the spring plant sale, the Snohomish Conservation District was selling rain barrels, all set up and ready to be used. With a screen-covered hole on top, pvc spigot connection on the bottom, and an overflow connection with hose attachment at the top, all we had to do was set it outside under a rain spout.

For more information, here is the SCD website: http://snohomishcd.org/

We got the rain barrels before we put the roof on the animal shed, so we were able to get it right. The roof has a slight angle to it, one gutter across the back, and a rain spout that comes down right above the top hole in the barrel.


Because it rains so much in Washington, we thought we were quite clever getting two 50-gallon barrels. We can move the hose in the first one to drain into the second barrel or the 55-gallon trough. I use the hose at the bottom to fill up other water containers as needed.

Here’s the really cool part! I water 16 chickens and 2 alpacas daily. We’ve only had 2 good rains since June, and I had enough water to get through the whole summer. Before last night’s rain the trough was only about half full, one barrel was empty, and the other was on it’s very last gurgle. It took just 1/2″ of rain to fill one 50-gallon barrel. When I got up this morning, the other barrel, the trough, and a large tub were overflowing, and I had to bring another tub over to start filling.

The ready-to-use barrels were just $35 each, and the roof is only about 12′ X 15′. Just think how easy that is! Even if you live in a place without a lot of rain, a backyard shade structure or shed could be set up to collect water. If 1/2″ can equal 50 gallons, that’s a pretty good investment.