Monday, 15 March 2010

Drought Thyme?

It's been really warm around here lately, and the snow is melting really quickly. When I went outside this morning I noticed that a lot of my herb/flower garden was uncovered, even though I have been moving snow on top of it when I get the chance. When I scrunched down to take a closer look today, lo and behold the thyme was greening up already. Usually the chives are the first things to get growing, but not this year.

Seeing green this early in the year - it's not even technically Spring yet - is a relief to the eyes, which have seen just white, brown and gray for so many months. But I'm worried actually. Because we have had so little snow this Winter. So little precipitation of any kind for much of the past year. Last year's growing conditions were tough, and I worry that we're in for yet more drought.

Last week we got another batch of propaganda from the local MP, and in it was something useful for a change: a link to Agriculture Canada's website on drought monitoring. I checked it out and came across several disturbing maps, showing just how dry its been and for how long. Here's one that shows data for this past Winter. You can see that everywhere in the prairies has had lower than average rain fall, and in the Edmonton area (where it's brown on the map) we have had between 40 - 60% of the average. Areas further north are even worse off.

World Water Day is coming up on March 22nd. I'm going to see how little water I can use on that day. We do fairly well around our house for conserving water, but we could still do better. Canada's per capita water consumption is quite dismal. I think we have the false perception that we have an abundance of fresh water in this country. But maps like this one show that appearances can be deceiving.

How much water does your household use? Could you use less?


Jerry said...

This is highly worrisome indeed. The weather is incredibly pleasant and seems like it could extend our growing season by at least a month...but what good is that with no rainfall?

It's actually got me looking at farmland for sale in Ontario, though not yet seriously.

Theresa said...

It is worrisome, isn't it? People are all happy and smiling that the winter seems over, but it could be a different story come July. A local farmer here has said that all the fog we've had signals a wet Spring, so I hope he is right.

Liz said...

We had more rain than you can imagine the last couple of summers. But just a year or two before that, our neighbours dug well was way down and they had to plan showers and laundry.

I hope we all have wet springs. And temps above 20 this summer, would be nice too. ;-)

Theresa said...

I'll second that Liz, thanks. Living here on an acreage where we have to have our water trucked in, I have a much better appreciation for it than I used to, just like your friends with the well, I'm sure. Are you also on a well or cistern?

Liz said...

We have a drilled well and, quite honestly, have water coming out our ying yangs. I suspect the neighbour's well isn't nearly as deep and they ran into problems.

Liz said...

We had to have a flow rate of so many gallons per minute - wish I could remember what it was - to get a mortgage. Do you not have to show that?

Theresa said...

Glad to hear your water situation is good! We are on a cistern, which means that a truck brings us 3000 gallons about every two months to store in the underground cistern which is plumbed to the house. We are considering digging a well though.

Jerry said...

I hope that he was right too but I think all the fog was just a sign that it was highly humid. That in itself was odd. I don't ever remember a winter here where the relative humidity was over 90% anywhere near so often.

But on the topic of wells, the small house I grew up in has never had plumbing. All our water was carried to the house in pails. You wanna conserve water? That's the way to do it.

It's interesting how the quality of the water from that well has changed though. We don't even drink it anymore. I'd bet a large sum of money that its all the frac-drilling activity. Our wonderful energy income is certainly the largest danger to our groundwater supply.

Amber said...

We've had record temperatures in the mid teens here in Eastern Ontario when they are usually around 5 degrees. All our snow is melted and there is actually forest fire alerts in the Gatineau hills because it is so dry already!

I'm still up to my usual conservation techniques: navy showers, letting the mellow yellow, saving my kitchen greywater to flush the toilet, no bottled water ever...

New things on the to do list for this year is to get a rain barrel for the garden and practice better water conservation in the garden!

Theresa said...

Hi Jerry - I'd bet on the same thing re: frac drilling. I find humans very odd to prefer oil for convenience over water for life.

We had so much fog here this winter - more than I can ever remember. It would not be good if that was the only moisture we are going to get.

Carrying water would certainly change one's perspective of how much is "needed" that's for sure!

Amber - we had a thunderstorm here yesterday which made me worry about forest fire season again already. Last year we almost had to evacuate because of how close a wildfire had come to our place. Scary stuff.

We have to get cracking with our rain barrels too - we have them but not hooked up to the downspouts yet, which minimizes their use significantly -thanks for the reminder!

Apple Jack Creek said...

You are right - it is DRY! My husband is a volunteer firefighter, and they are geared up for grass fire season (had several calls). There's a burn ban in Sturgeon, and other counties nearby are being very cautious about fire permits as well ... too easy for it to get away with it so dry.

We managed to score two of the large 'cubes' for storing water, and I'm working with my husband to figure out how to attach them to the downspouts. We do have some smaller barrels we used for stock watering last year (fill the big barrel, which then slowly fills the trough, then you don't have to water daily). I took one into the garden and filled it with the hose, it's got threaded spout on the bottom so just hooked up a hose and I can water by gravity-feed ... just lift the the top of the overhead to stop the flow, and stuff the hose end into the barrel when done. I figure that sort of arrangement with the rain barrels will give me at least a bit of extra water in the garden.

If you want to try the modification to a barrel, DH just used bits from the hardware store - drilled a hole in the barrel, put the hose piece in, and glued it in place with generous amounts of goop. Let it dry for a day or so then voila, watering barrel.

Theresa said...

Hi AJC! It is so, so dry here, and on Twitter tonight there is talk of grass fires in Edmonton, being started by an arsonist - great! Arg!

We do have some tap thingies to attach into a couple potential water barrels - we're looking forward to getting some of these things done now that Gord's hip has healed sufficiently since his surgery last year. Now all we need is some rain to fill them up!