It’s raining. Quite a bit actually, for this neck of the woods, 8mm so far today, and it’s only mid afternoon. What else is a blogger to do in this sort of weather but…. blog! The green manure crop is doing well, and should be plainly visible by the time Glenda arrives here next weekend…..
On Friday, I drove my French wwoofer to Buckland, a whole 130km away. I did this because she agreed to pay me her bus fare towards my petrol costs, and I wanted to see the permaculture property she was moving to. It also meant she’d only have to spend an hour and a half in my ute as opposed to four hours in buses… Then on the way back, I could conveniently pick up two IBC’s (which stands for the enigmatic intermediate bulk container) and are basically 1000L plastic cubes inside a metal cage for holding, in my case, water. Then while driving back through Hobart, I was able to pick up a second dipole circuit breaker for the power station, and a new pump for filling above mentioned IBC’s from the dam….
Paul, who owns and runs the Tiger Hill property I took Laureen to, took the time to show me around…. What I found fascinating was the way some permies take on challenges, just because they can! Paul, it turns out, comes from a heavy machinery driving background, working in mines. Not the sort of bloke one would expect to turn into a permaculture greenie, but there you go…..
Over the past five years, Paul has concentrated on earthworks, which this place really needs, as it’s normally dry as a bone, with only 300mm of annual rainfall. Not that this was evident on my visit, Tiger Hill had just been blessed with 65mm of rain just the day before, and there was water everywhere, which clearly demonstrated the efficacy of his swales….
His biggest issue, as far as I was concerned, is the prolific wildlife. The grass looked like it had been mown to within an inch of its life, and there were wallaby scats everywhere….. and I mean, everywhere! This means his extensive garden – he sometimes has as many as 12 wwoofers working there – has to be entirely covered with poly pipe hoops and netting… and because he still has no animals of his own yet because he apparently flies in and out of Tasmania frequently, most of his efforts go to feeding the wildlife, except for the netted bits. He compensates for the lack of animal manures by having more composting toilets than I cared to count, he is indeed big in humanure!
The reason I bought another dipole circuit breaker for the power station is that I have moved the freezer into the container. Everything is now switched on and operational, but the freezer alone is not enough to load up the batteries, so I have put a breaker on each string of panels so I can switch one off when there’s an overabundance of sun…. this not being the case today, both strings generated barely enough to cover the 1.3kWh that the freezer consumed in the past 24 hours.
Mind you, the freezer probably worked extra hard after being moved, and later filled with (almost) a whole lamb purchased from next door.
Soon, I will also have my new pump hooked up to fill one of those ICB’s so that I can water the crops that will be planted in the new poly tunnel. Which leads me to the excitement…….
I recently found a two inch poly pipe going under the road, from the apple orchard to the base of the dam wall. The dam has a 100mm sewer plastic pipe going through it, with this weird S bend glued to the pipe, which has a garden variety tap attached to it, and I mean literally. I’ve been using this water for the chooks, and filling bathtubs whenever I’ve been agisting other people’s animals on our land. The whole setup, I thought, was very dodgy, but I was about to find out how dodgy very soon.
I unloaded one of the IBC’s next to the pipe outlet in the orchard; this will be very handy come the day I have ducks and geese in there, which need copious amounts of water.
I then fed a garden hose through the pipe, and pulled it out the other end to connect to the tap where the dam water comes out….. There’s a lot of friction in a twenty metre long garden hose, and not that much water pressure when the outlet of said hose is only a couple of metres below the dam water level…. the result was a mere trickle coming out the hose.
Dissatisfied with the flow rate, I went back to the tap to make sure it had been turned on properly……. and the whole end of the dodgy connection simply fell off the pipe! The S bend and the sewer pipes are made of different plastics, and gluing them together was never going to work. I could throttle whoever did this…!
To say I had a brain meltdown is an understatement. I tried to push it back on, but the non existent pressure suddenly made its presence felt, and there was no way I was going to fix this on my own. Terror set in… visions of an empty dam upon Glenda’s arrival next weekend clouded all the thinking I was still capable of, and I rang my trusty neighbour for help. Except his phone was flat! So I drove over to find him, which wasn’t easy without the spectacles I discarded after being sprayed with water from head to toe!
Matt understandingly jumped in my ute, and as he, unlike me, was thinking clearly, came up with a plan that I can now report worked to perfection. I guided the fittings into position, and while I was sprayed with water, he levered them into place against the pressure with a crowbar…… a few self tapping screws to replace the glue that failed, and voila, problem solved.
I wish I had taken photos of the gushing water….. it must have been coming out at easily twenty litres a second, but I sort of had my hands full at the time, and I can only show you what the repaired outlet looks like. Which reminds me, I must put some screws into the other end that didn’t fall off, before it does! Then I can get rid of that ridiculous tap, replace it with a proper valve, and put a bit of one inch poly pipe on it instead of that useless garden hose…. the IBC did eventually fill up, but it is very very slow.
Having calmed down, I then started wondering how long it would have actually taken to drain my 10 million litre pond at twenty litres a second…… and it turns out, it would be about three weeks! All that panic and adrenaline for absolutely nothing….. after fixing the problem, Matt and I walked up the dam wall to inspect the damage…… and you couldn’t even tell it had happened, even after a good thirty minute flush.
Life is full of little lessons, and you learn them one at a time.