What happened to our Monsoon season? One storm that drops only enough water to dirty the truck is not going to cut it! I need my rain because, other than my ancient flood irrigation system that I keep patching up, I don’t have any way to satisfactorily water anything anywhere on the farm. What a strange thing, to have on a property that is crossed by three blue lines: Page Spring, the Mason Ditch, and Oak Creek, and no way to get any of that water to where I need it without dragging hoses.
I’m not the only one who failed to install a working irrigation system here. When I arrived there were six defunct systems that sought to (and failed) to put water where the flooding didn’t reach. Some of them used pop ups sprayers, some standing sprayers, some large turning spray heads. Most of the pipes and heads had baked in the summer sun along with the plants, and cracked and broken. I discovered two more systems, with two different sets of supply pipes, in the orchard. They died a long time ago and the ground was allowed to uppen over them. (“Uppen” is Joel Salatin’s term for how soil grows–it doesn’t deepen, it uppens.) Every so often I discover another set of pipes and spray nozzles as I’m digging.
Even if they hadn’t been already defunct, I wouldn’t have kept those systems. That’s because all of them used water from the wrong end of my pump house, after it had been filtered and treated, turning magical alive spring water into chlorinated dead water. That chlorine system is gone now, replaced by UV, which is no better. The water is “safe” to drink but just about as dead as chlorine makes it. Ugh. I have amazing spring water here. That’s what I want to use on my plants.
Which is how I ended up with miles and miles of hoses. I bought a few 1/8 horsepower sump pumps and dropped them into my two spring boxes, attached the hoses and started dragging. I pull them down to the big garden. I pull them up to the front of the house. I use them to water the roses above the propane tank and the little garden I built for my birthday some years ago. I drag them back beyond the pump house to water my cherry and plum trees, and those #*@% fig trees that are once again refusing to set fruit. I really am going to cut them back this year. And in a never-ending cycle, I pull them across the elderberry and apple orchards on the middle hillside.
You might be wondering why I stick with hoses rather than installing my own in-ground system. That’s because my magical, live spring water comes with a few add-ons, like dirt, the occasional mushy fruit, a few crayfish, a dead owl (I was so sad when I found it), and such like. I make a number of attempts. I tried Netafim which I had used in a prior life and loved. Clogged up. A length of regular blue stripe drip system followed. Clogged up. Soaker hose. No-go. That’s when I came across the Wobblers. These are sprinkler heads with a single large opening. The pressure of the water moving through that opening causes them to wobble on top of their support, sending huge water droplets out in a wide circle. Well, until some unfortunate bug gets sucked in through the spring pump, down the hose, and into the channel of the wobbling head to the point where the water exits. That’s where they all get stuck, clogging up the sprinkler head. It’s a very messy end for them and they’re really hard to remove. While wobblers are a good tool for my watering tool box, they work best in wide open spaces. They don’t do spot watering and I need water to hit the roots of my trees, bushes, and plants.
For the record, I had to stop typing this post four times to move hoses. That’s it. Somewhere, someone has to have a solution for this problem of mine. I need something more permanent, something that stays put, that I can turn on with a flick of a switch or even– gasp!– use a timer for automation! Until then…well, I’ll be draggin’ hoses.