Monday, April 14, 2008

Ode to my new Rain Barrels

I have decided to broaden this months theme to include all sorts of yard greenness, not just the lawn. This way I actually have more to contribute as my general lawn care method involves mowing when the grass needs it and, um, yeah, that’s about it. So I’m getting a bit liberal with our "green your lawn" theme. Last week I finally got something I’ve been coveting for years… a real, fancy pants rain barrel. Two rain barrels, actually. We have tried assorted rain collection things in the past… from a bucket under the rain spout (filled up way to quick, lovely habitat for mosquitoes), a cement cistern by the front door (terrible idea, it has now been converted to a planter box, for which it is much better suited), an old water softener barrel under the spout (functional, but really, really ugly) and a very ill-advised experiment involving an old water heater which I will spare you the details of. So, these fancy pants rain barrels have been a long time coming. We have paid our dues and now we have finally entered the realm of upscale rain collection. I am way more excited about these than any rational person should be, but I know from our assorted rain collection experiments that watering your garden with rain collected from our roof is one of life’s simple pleasure. There isn’t the guilt that comes with turning on the house on a 90 degree day after 3 weeks with no rain. You begin to feel like you actually made the water yourself, it feels that self-sufficient. Anyway, I can’t wait to hook these up to our downspouts and I look forward to years worth of smug and happy garden watering.

After reading this post I’m certain you are jumping up and down, raising your hand, yelling at the computer, “Courtney! Courtney! Where can I get a super cool, fancy pants rain barrel?”. Well, dear readers, I suggest you hurry up and get in touch with Robert Frost at Someday Gardens in Jefferson and he can hook you up with a rain barrel. Last year they ran out, much to my dismay and summer-long sadness. They do cost a bit ($125 a barrel, which includes delivery), but I think it is well worth it because they are so sturdy and look great (I realize this is subjective as some people might not think an old whiskey barrel in their yard looks ‘great’ but beauty is a) in the eye of the beholder and b) more than skin deep… and both sayings apply here). There are other, cheaper options available, like plastic rain barrels, but I don’t know of a local source. Does anyone know of a source for local, plastic rain barrels... one where you don't have to be a resident of Milwaukee county?


Thayer Coburn said...

The Scharine Group, a dairy supply company in Whitewater (phone 608-883-2880), always has ads in the paper for free blue plastic barrels. They are leftover iodine teat dip barrels, so they usually have some anti-bacterial residue in them. This is probably bad for the beneficial soil microorganisms, but a good rinse should take care of most of that. They also don't come with spigots or filtered inlets, but those wouldn't take too long to install.

Kris said...

Kyle Gomon of Mason Creek Winery in Hartland converts his wine barrels to rain barrels for sale. I don't know what they are made of though. I think he used to get these from the dairy industry, but not sure now that their production has grown.

We got ours through Milwaukee County through a friend who was a resident. Very cheap.