Saturday, May 24, 2008

the making of a rain barrel

every morning i wake up about the same time with my mind filled with thoughts, i go to the bathroom and come back to bed and try to sleep but it never happens. i lay there and think and think and think. this morning, my thoughts were about yesterday and how it was the best and worst day i've had in awhile. i was hormonal, i was emotional, i was irritable. there were tears, lots of 'em. fun stuff! but the day got better as i got it all out and we had an evening planned with friends and so i was getting it together by the time we had to leave. we went to see a wonderful dance recital that our friend iris was part of. it was really wonderful to watch all those little dancers. afterwards, we went to o'charley's to eat and hang out and talk and laugh. i called scotty after we ordered since it was getting late and he would probably be leaving work soon. he was actually leaving when i called and i asked him if he wanted to come meet us there and he did, which was really awesome because he so rarely gets to socialize. it was so so so good, so exactly what i needed. the funny thing is that earlier i told myself that we would just come home after the recital because i was just not in the mood to be around people. shows what i know. i really do never know what i need and often gravitate away from what i do and towards what i don't.

so these are the thoughts on my mind as i lay there hoping to go back to sleep. i thought about a conversation with iris' dad (and nesta and audrey's as well) about gas which led to talking about oil companies and his secret desire that everything does finally go in the crapper. he says i've got chopped wood and food put up from the garden, it's all good. which got us talking about gardens and how this is my first year doing a garden and we talked about that for a bit and he told us about ruth stout and how he's been doing her style of garden now for 3 years and it's great. we're going to look into that for next year as i want to do a much larger garden!!

this led me to thinking about it being a good year of rain so far and then i thought about my rain barrel and how i wanted to blog about making it today. and i was thinking about how i wouldn't know until it rained again whether my seal was good...when it started raining!!! at first i was bummed to hear the rain because i wanted to walk to the park today with the kids. we recently found out that we have a school nearby with an awesome playground. it's just down the street!! so that thought came to me but immediately i realized that i had just been hoping for rain. that was so weird how quickly i forgot that.

last month, my friend jess had offered to pick up barrels for anyone in our homeschooling group interested in having something that could be made into a rain barrel. i had no idea how i would do that but i jumped on getting one!! so some of you already know, i cut the top section out of the rain barrel to fit on the gutter drain spout some time ago. i put it up under the spout to be sure it fit and then i got busy doing birthday party preparations and left it there. then it rained and rained again and then rained some more...all before i ever got the spigot put on!!! so the other day i finally got my spigot supplies, drilled the hole and let it slowly drain (most of which i caught in a low bowl and poured into my 5 gallon watering buckets). initially i thought i was going to have to cut the top off to put in the spigot because i didn't know if the barrel was thick enough for the spigot to thread i had gotten together with the guy from lowe's and we came up with a 3 part system that i would put in from both sides and seal with silicone. after seeing how thick the barrel was i knew i would be able to just screw the spigot directly into the barrel...easy peasy no cutting off the top (which is what i was hoping for all along!!) so i screwed in the spigot, rinsed the barrel some more and then let it dry before adding the silicone seal. it got to dry for 2 days before the rain came this morning. i went out and checked it and it seems to be holding!!!! and already the barrel is 1/3 full.

so there ya go, the long and short of it...the making of my rain barrel. here are some pictures for you to enjoy!!:

the top hole that i made using the cutting wheel on my dremel

all the supplies i thought i would need

the supplies i actually needed (plus the spigot above)...i already had the drill bit
drilling the hole
the newly screwed in spigot
putting on the silicone
all siliconed up
my pretty rain barrel, ready for rain


CG said...

just a question -- did you screen the barrel and the downspout? If you didn't, the water in the barrel with breed mosquitoes and the downspout will wash things into the barrel that won't come out the spout.

Glad you got out and had a good time!

Aquabarrel said...

Take a look at the rain barrel kits offered at - Mosquito larvae will wash down from the gutters so you will always be fighting them - use Mosquito Bits - U can purchase just the overflow port for your rain barrel order part number: abpPOFP from's shopping cart area

Ren said...

I will be linking my two barrels but what I can't decide is about the spigot. I think it's a good idea, but my method of delivery will probably be through syphoning. It's nice to know the spigot is fairly easy to attach....I figured as much but haven't messed with it just yet.

I am purchasing a diverter for the downspout once my barrels are full the drainage will go the way it currently does, away from the house.

laura said...

we also thought about doing a syphon, as well as an old fashioned style pump...for the top. i think that is the best way to go now that i've got it set up. the spigot may be easy but you have to have a full barrel to get good gravity feed. i may still do the syphon in the end. and maybe get those mosquito rings. i don't know if the netting i have is tight enough to stop mosquito eggs!!

Lynch Family said...

A fabulous rain barrel kit (complete with hole saw) and a list of where to get barrels can be found at

Yay rain barrels!

CG said...

well, you know, tons of people lived (and live) on cistern systems and I bet their screening was none too tight. I brought that up because of other stuff I have read, but I don't know that it isn't another thing that is a magnified modern concern. I think mosquito rings are just pyrethrin and I'm not sure I'd want to put that on my earthworms. A bit of bleach would likely work too and might be less toxic. ???

laura said...

you know CG i'm glad you brought that up. i have done this type of thinking on so many many occasions...the "what did people used to do" thinking.

and you're right, bleach would probably be best. i look inside my barrel and i see that it is none too pretty in there and i wonder "is this good for my plants?" surely it can't be all bad. but bleach would take care of anything bad growing and still be diluted enough to be safe for the plants.

and another thing, i find myself being irritated by kits of all sorts. it seems like there is a kit for everything now. sadie wants to "grow a butterfly" like they're doing at the library right now. she found a gorgeous caterpillar that we've yet to identify and she's keeping it. i look up how to care for it, feed it, all that and i find endless kits to buy butterflies and the cages to keep them in!!! ah well.

but i'm sure the kits for rain barrels are excellent and make them more useful than mine will be. still, i tend to always want to figure things out on my own. that can bring me to a lot of frustration sometimes. but i'm learning to ask questions. at least where the garden is concerned. and i'm glad i have you to ask!!

speaking of which. i had plantains out of my yard for lunch yesterday. i sauteed them up with some garlic oil that i had made and the cut up green onions from my garden...and an egg on the side. it was so very good!! tell J thanks for helping me identify it! i might blog about that today since i took pictures. what did we do before digital cameras made us want to document the hell out of everything?