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"When a stream becomes a river" by Beth Weick, as published in North Country News, May 2010

It's May, yes, but I'm going to start this off by stating that I feel really good about snow. Working in the snow, walking in the snow, shoveling the snow, etc etc. Not to mention I find it pleasant to look at. Rain, however, couldn't steel my heart more. A few degrees difference, and the fluffy white stuff becomes persistent moisture that I just can't grow fond of.

Well, that's not quite what I mean. Rain is essential to life, and certainly to growing food. Both of which – to keep things broad - are what consume my hours and my efforts. So in that regard, rain is near, dear, and much appreciated. How to direct water, how to collect water, how to use water: these are all questions that are central to how things flow and function here at D Acres Organic Farm & Educational Homestead.

But from a very personal perspective, I just don't like being in it. The first few hours of working under raindrops I can wish it wasn't so and continue on my way. If we're struck with consecutive days of rain, I can resign myself to the reality and get done what needs doing. But when the memory of sunshine loses its freshness, when streams become rivers and ditches have whitecaps…can you see where I'm heading with this?

Here's to hoping we're not out and about in the deluge of water we've had the past two summers. I want to be careful what I write, lest I jinx us to parched soil and dry ponds. But a few more days of sun, a few less days of rain; a few more gentle showers, a few less pounding storms…well, it would be nice, wouldn't it?

Who am I to wish for something so grand?

So instead, let's talk about water. And how we use it. Even say, hypothetically, that it rains the months of June and July. Hard to imagine, I know, but try…Think how many raindrops you could harness in that time. For watering indoor plants, for doing dishes, for flushing your toilet (it you've yet to convert to the non-flush system – seriously), the list goes on.

While the skies are still clear, get yourself set up. Do you have gutters in place? Instead of draining roof runoff down to the ground, direct it to a tank or garbage can. Use a bucket to scoop out what you need when you need it. No gutters? You still have options. Set up a bucket brigade along your drip line. You'd be amazed at how fast they fill up.

If it's another summer of rain that's ahead of us, it strikes me that harnessing a portion of it makes the gray skies a little less dismal. But if it's merely average rainfall or less that will greet us in June, that water collection is all the more important. Don't let it go to waste. Quick! Roust up some buckets, see what you can do. We can all claim a little Yankee ingenuity around here.

Beth Weick is a resident of D Acres Organic Farm & Educational Homestead, a non-profit service organization. She first came to the farm in April 2008 as an intern, and now focuses her work on gardening, tending to the animals, and writing. Learn more about the programs at D Acres by visiting www.dacres.org.

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