Looking out my windows at about 14 inches of pristine snow with more snow every day this week and a furious cold front for next week, I realize that I have a massive 5 acre temporary cistern. Free water to me.
My part of New Mexico hasn’t gotten this much snow in at least 15 years. Especially with the 11 year drought we had. We are not well prepared to deal with quite so much snow at one time and I am well aware that I have a lot of paths to shovel just to get to my truck and chickens. My long term answer is my small house and greenhouse that open directly into the garage. For now, it is a shovel.
I have taken snow into account in my design, but mostly as welcome winter moisture for my plants and occasional nuisance on the roads. I planned my garage to take off 24 feet of icy driveway, among other things.
I lived in Alaska as a kid and loved all that snow that I part time shoveled (thank you mom and dad). My dad and I piled up snow edges and ran the hose to create an all winter ice rink.
During wet winters like this one, when water pipes sometimes freeze, acres of snow provide a large free water cistern. I have been bringing in snow and using the melt but it is a slow process.
I have been pricing water cisterns to capture rainwater from my proposed home roof. I am looking in the 750 gallon range. My monthly rain is from 1 to 2 inches. My total water for the year is about 9600 gallons. Not much for one American, Little Guy, and gazillion plants. That favors using laundry water for plants. It also favors using mostly native edibles that require no extra water. So I can use roof water for me!
“On short rations of 20 gallons per day, this would last about 37 days, a month between rains. I have a separate setup for 100 gallons directed to raised beds and chickens and other livestock. Not much, but as it fills, the garden will be watered at the same time.
As I shovel pathways, I am careful to direct the snow to my raised beds. If I get 16 inches average moisture, tossing snow in the beds can shift that to 18-24 inches annually. Works for me.
Meantime, I collect snow and let it melt. I washed this week’s laundry over 2 days in snow melt. Drip dry. I reused the water on my raised beds and this morning I used the last rinse water to mop the kitchen floor.
Since I am getting such inclement weather I am practicing my survival skills. It snowed again all day yesterday. One of the neighbor’s hired a huge grader to come in again today. I am going to stay home and play pioneer.
I remember when the Katrina refugees came through Dallas. My office made a big collection and I volunteered my pickup to haul stuff over to the arena where they were camping. It was terrible, they were totally dependent on the government and charities. Many just laid down on their floor cots and gave up to despair. I don’t know what happened to them all but in the end they were absorbed back into the US.
If practicing pioneer skills makes me a bit more resilient, it is worth the time and effort. It is better entertainment than watching Survivor on television.