Drought! ~Tanya Hanson

MarryingMinda Crop to UseWhen I hear the word historic, I think of vintage Main Streets, museum pieces, and Route 66. Not drought. Yet here in California, well, earthquakes are so–yesterday.

(I know other areas of the west are suffering, too)

Historic around here means  that the years between 2011-2015 have been the driest period in California since record keeping started in 1895. I’m using a few pictures today from our recent drought-friendly re-landscaping. We are down to only 300 square feet of grass.

2015-07-30 08.37.01 HDR


Well, looking into historic droughts, of course, this one isn’t the first. From approx 1855-1865, the West and Great Plains got hit hard by severe drought. Drought conditions in the 1870’s invited swarms of Rocky Mountain Locusts to devour the countryside as thoroughly as green fence posts and lace curtains. The grasshoppers are normally held at bay by fungal diseases that had dried out.

On the boot heels of 1886’s deadly blizzards across the West’s rangelands, the droughts of the 1890’s marched in.

Throughout the settlement of the West, homesteaders had relied on “dry farming” the arid lands under the very unscientific philosophy of “rain follows the plow.” By the end of the 19th century, however, this method defeated the single family farmer. He could no longer physically handle his land’s irrigation needs all by himself. The Reclamation Act of 1902 led to federal management of water resources, agricultural irrigation, and power.

So…what’s happening at my suburban homestead in 2015?

Front tree new

Well, improved water management, education, and conservation are working. Although this past June was the warmest June ever recorded, the amount of water saved was six times the same month the year before.

For the second straight month, Californians have saved more gallons than our mandated water cuts. The governor ordered a 25% cut in urban water usage but overall, we’re hitting 31%! My town–we have a diversion program that saves rain whenever we get it–was told to save 12%.  We hit 20.6% in July!

Hubs and I removed 1,100 square feet of thirsty sod and replaced it with drought-friendly plants like cotoneaster, ceanothus horizontalis, and dwarfwheel pittosporum.

Front crop

The bathroom renovation included low-flow flushers and shower heads. Since showering uses 17% of a household’s water, we catch the cold water in a bucket while the shower heats up. The bucketfuls then irrigate Hubs’ little veggie garden. And I turn the water off while I lather up.

Shower Bucket

We water outdoors only on Wednesdays and Saturdays, early morning or after six p.m. (city mandate). We have drip systems on timers that slowly deep-water root systems. Sprinklers tend to “rain” on vegetation, leaving drops to sit there and evaporate.

One idea I found on Pinterest to deep-water areas like our former dog-run: inverted plastic bottles with a couple of holes drilled in the lid and the bottom cut away for easy filling with a hose or watering can.

water drip

So…what happens next? Everybody is using these conditions as a warning about the future–and praying for El Nino. Basically, El Nino is a series of winter storms caused by unusually-warmed Pacific waters. El Nino is predicted, but not a sure thing. It’s a nickname for the Christ Child, and some rain sure would be an awesome Christmas present.

How about you? Tell us about some weather extremes in your neck of the woods.  


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22 thoughts on “Drought! ~Tanya Hanson”

  1. Wow, Tanya, I’m impressed! All great ideas for water conservation. Go CA!!! And Pinterest comes through again! 😀

    Seriously, I hope and pray you’ll get the rain you need to overcome such horrific drought conditions, my friend. Love ya!

    • Hi Dora, oh yeah. Please, God. We are at Lake Tahoe right now and the lake levels are so unbelievably low. Still gorgeous though. When we were in South Carolina last fall, we got totally soaked in a rainstorm and loved every second. Thanks so much for commenting. ???

  2. These are some great ideas. We just got past our drought in May when we had rain every single day. But it also caused a lot of problems with flooding in different areas of the state. I hope rain comes soon for California too.

  3. Hi Tanya, as you know I live pretty much in your neck of the woods. Of course you know it won’t just rain, it’ll pour. Next year we’ll be writing about historic floods.

    Love your water conservation ideas!

    • Hi Margaret, yup, you, Charlene and I are definitely drought partners. I do know everything’s is cyclical and we will one day have historic flooding…I just feel bad about all the drought stricken trees and how wildlife tries to find water and gets into neighborhoods and then people freak. Sheesh. Thanks for the post.

      My iPad is really acting up. Please forgive typos and weird spellings.

  4. Hi Tanya,
    Well, I often wonder how people in history managed during droughts. They don’t have the luxuries we do today. I’m taking 2 min showers, using bath water to water the lawns, and we’re doing more masonry in our front to take up the space of our grass. It’ll be pretty pavers that don’t require watering! I do miss driving a cleaner car, though…I loved to give my car a bath, when I couldn’t make it to the car wash. Have a great day!! Loved what you did to your home!

  5. Hi. Charlene. The pavers sound beautiful! I can’t begin to imagine drought in old times, especially when wells dried up. The concept of dry farming makes no sense to me although I guess it worked for a while. My friend Nancy’s homesteading ancestors got criticized when they started putting out irrigation pipes because they weren’t ” trusting God” . Sheesh. Thanks for,posting!

  6. After a record setting wet spring in North Texas, we have gone 40+ days without rain. Temps in the low 100’s have finally dropped to a cool 97 or so. Fall here begins in late September, so we have a few more weeks of hot weather ahead.

    I love what you’ve done with your yard. I’d like to do that here (since I hate to move the hose and water.) My lawn is yellow to brown right now, from its lush spring green.

    • Hi Connie, yup, the brown and yellow lawns are no longer a think of scorn around here LOL. We had so much grass including two very long parkways the city owns but of course, does not maintain. Our autumn months are the hottest around here, too. Yikes! Thanks so much for stopping by today.

  7. Proud of your water conservation efforts. Good Work. Your yard looks great. No drought problem here in Indiana–this year. We have had them in the past and it plays havoc on the farmers corn crops. But this year it’s rained and rained and rained more. Lot’s of flooding. Although the Ohio river still runs a bit high, the rain has finally slowed and given way to heat. All that rain has made my back yard a weed farm. They grow out of the tiny cracks in my front porch. Still–I feel the need to turn the water off while I brush my teeth. I pray this water would run it’s course and hurry to meet your needs, because with the humidity so high–it’s a steam bath outside. Having said that, your book looks great, and I wish you the best.

    • Hi CA. Yikes, I get us about the humidity. We are spared extremes of that, at least. One of my editors was buried in snow this past winter and we decided we need pipelines to get water, not oil, to places where it’s needed! Thanks for posting!

  8. All good ideas and we do a lot of these too. We catch water in garbage cans from roof runoff. Your shower bucket looks just like mine!

  9. Well we have had lot of rain and storms this year. We’ve had to mow our lawns every 4 to 5 days and sometime I couldn’t mow part of it for the water standing in the lawn. Every ones veggy gardens drowned so we didn’t get many tomatoes or anything. Now the rain has stopped and it getting dry here, its been about two weeks of dry weather and its very hot. I plan on mowing tomorrow and it going to be in the 90’s. We seem to go from on extreem to another. Had a very bad winter this past year also, lot of snow.

    • Hi Quilt Lady, wow, you’ve been busy. I sure wish the rain could spread around. I am inTajoe now and the lake levels are radix. It’s still gorgeous though. Thanks for stopping by.

  10. I live in the same state you do, Tanya, and I’m very aware of the drought. We are on a well. Up until a couple of years ago we felt confident it would last us our lifetime and more. As more and more farmers switch to drilling wells to irrigate their orchards and row crops, we now wonder if we are looking at refinancing our house to drill another well in the next few years.

    Yes, lets pray for El Nino, but not for flood conditions like what happened further east last year. Like my husband says, a half inch every 3-5, long enough for it to soak into the ground, for several months would really be nice.

    Robyn Echols w/a Zina Abbott

  11. I think I am in your neck of the woods, too – California drought. Same things you are going through, just looking for the best ways to save water. And getting really irked with those neighbors who must think it’s not really wasting water to wash your car in the dark.

  12. The weather certainly has been crazy all over. Here in TN, we had some of the coldest winter months ever and some of the warmest. This summer has been the hottest ever. We don’t have a bad drought, but have been a few inches behind the past 2 months. We are having one of the hottest Septembers ever right now. We have had to do a lot of garden watering the past few weeks. Then to day we go 1 inch of rain in about 10 minutes. We will be pushing 90 for a few more days yet.
    We have tried to conserve water for years. I have been filling a bucket with water both from the shower and the sinks when I let it run to warm up. We fill the dogs bowls and water the plants with it. We also turn the shower off when lathering up. We have used soaker hoses for years, but also regular sprinklers. When it is really dry and water is short, we use only the soaker hoses. Luckily, we haven’t experienced anywhere near the severity of drought that the West has. When we wash the cars, we pull them up onto the grass so the water douse double duty.

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