Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Old Bag with a bucket

Lately I've been seeing the back garden as being an earthy metaphor for myself.

It takes a lot of hard work to keep it going but I haven't given up yet.

It was planted by the previous owners with good intentions and as a way of making the most of a smallish patch of green in a largely crowded and built in suburb. For the past year all of my efforts have gone into keeping it watered without having to turn on the mains tap to do so.

Y'see, in our South Australian house, we had an intricate water-saving dripper system that was planted under the grass and only operated for an hour at midnight. We also had two underground rain water tanks installed that could hold 10,000 litres. It was only when they were empty that the magic that is plumbing automatically switched the house over to mainswater; old copper pipes rumbling and squeaking indignantly against the outside wall as they did so.

Here in Melbourne the size of our property is less than one-third of what it was in Adelaide and our single water tank is attached to our modest workshop. This little plastic green fella holds only 850 litres or just enough to fill up the green watering can and sprinkle non-soapy sustenance on our three infant citrus trees, two herb pots and four ailing rosemary bushes.

Everything I can gather via greywater is saved for the lawn, four pencil pines, four manchurian pear trees, hedging provided by a fusion of lavender bushes and avunculus flowers and a determined group of flax plants.

So, every morning the shower base (or the bath, in our case) gets the plug put in and afterwards I load up three buckets worth with the aid of a plastic jug and then carry them through the house (after I've got dressed, of course, no need to frighten the neighbours smoking on their balconies), hoik the heavy buckets down the hall, through the loungeroom, into the kitchen, past the pergola and outside to fling the precious contents onto selected spots in the garden. Back and forth, back and forth.

When Love Chunks or Sapphire are in the bathroom, I'll call out in my old-crone voice, "Make sure you put the plug in and save the water for me!"

I also direct the nozzle from the washing machine into the laundry trough and stand there during the emptying and rinse cycles to fill up bucket after bucket of sudsy water. It reminds me of what it must have been like for my grandmother and newly-married mother to have a Wringer washing machine grinding away and having to feed individual items of clothing through the rollers in order to squeeze the moisture out.

In my case, the machine is angrily thumping when it is on 'spin', the noise increased threefold by the vibration of the clothes-horses shoved against the wall alongside the white metal box. I stand there in the din, thinking that my efforts to reduce our water usage and save our garden are tiny and insignificant and take up a lot of time.

But I feel proud when the bill arrives and we're way below the '155' litres limit per person. I feel proud when our lawn has enough green on it for this little guy to eat and play on....

....and our wild, crazy (and arthritic) beast can chew her dinosaur bone on some cool green....

.....and I'm proud of the new (but still miniscule) muscles that have emerged in my arms and that Sapphire is seeing how seriously we are treating the resources we have.

All of this guff was in my mind when I decided to take the above photos for this article. I just needed one more; a slightly artier one with the SLR on the tripod. A weird angle that takes in the living and the dead bits of the grass, so that the simile is revealed.

It was all set. I just needed to re-work the focus and -----

---- click!

Milly's arse makes it seem even more appropriate, actually. I laughed so hard I farted. And that's a good sign.


jan said...

And a very creative way of saying "The End." :)

LJP said...

Very arty! (tee hee!) :-)

Benjamin Solah said...

Wow, that DSLR takes some fancy pictures. The colours are so crisp.

Karen Fayeth said...

And in reading your post, I laughed so hard I farted.

That is some cross cultural bonding right there!

(By the way, I'm rather impressed by the water conservation you are doing. Well done!)

Lorna Lilo said...

Nice arse shot

Baino said...

Ilike to think we're conservationists with water as well but the bills seem to be getting higher! I share water with my bro next door and they don't have an environmental bone in their bodies. Very frustrating. Dry as a bone here but some good rain yesterday and a little more forecast so hopefully we'll have some grass soon! The horses certainly hope so! Nice smile Milly!

River said...

Wow, there's not much green grass there is there? Is there a chance that your soapy suds may be too much for it? Maybe you should just throw on the less soapier stuff from the second rinsing cycle? Have you thought about paving the dusty dead area and focussing on feeding and watering the green bit to improve it? I'm hunting up a magazine article/advertisement that I read earlier this week and I'll email it to you.
What exactly does SLR-DSLR mean? How is it different from my point and shoot camera?

Cat J B said...

Hehe, lovely shot of Milly, that dog has a certain sense of timing :)

The Walrus said...

You could sacfrice your principles. The dripper hose is readily available, and a timer tap to run it once a week for an hour will cost little. Then put a tap / hose fitting on the end, and move it to the area of greatest need.

I'm finding that 5 years of washing water on the lawn is taking its toll. Salt and crap builds up, and the lawns are getting burned dead patches in.

OOOOH or that could be the organic not tested on anything shampoo and detergent. The old stuff never did this. I worry about the not tested on anything stuff. It could do anything. If it kills the grass, whats it doing to us?

River said...

Bugger, I can't find the article. It's about a grey water saving system that can be installed in your garden, it has valves, taps, pumps, whatever, you can set it to take the soapy water straight to the main sewer and then switch it to let the rinse water and shower water flow into the system and water your garden via a drip system. if I owned this place instead of renting, I'd have one installed.
P.S. lavenders and flax lilies, plus the big trees can probably survive on very little water, concentrate your efforts on the grass areas.

Kate the Retail Girl said...

Awww, your dog is so cute. Well, the front end of her anyways. :) And thanks for your kind words and comment. I know it'll all work out in the end, but right now it's a little crazy. :)

Kath Lockett said...

We're actually looking into getting a modest greywater tank/collection/pump thing in. Well, as soon as they can be shagged to contact us back. Even 'green' plumbers are as tardy as the normal variety!

I use the proper 'green stuff' in the washing machine, but you're right, River, in that I've never checked what kinds of stuff lurks in our shampoo and shower gel. Surely there's some green stuff available we can use for the garden?

Oh and it's raining outside as I type this - finally!

eleanor bloom said...

Hey that's what my lawn is looking like.

Oh, and, HI!!! I'm back!!!! (finally!) *waves*

I've just inherited this garden (ie. for a few days now) and am still learning what's what. Especially with the vegie patches. When you've got these long rambling and intertwining lots of pumpkins, zucchini, cucumbers and they're all interspersed with other things it's hard to see what originates from where and, ergo, hard to know where to put the water!

Also, there's not much retic. None for the lawn. So I'm running around back and forth from various taps and outlets (there's many - it's freakin' weird) and sprinklers and just forgetting what the hell is connected where. I think the parrots are finding it amusing.

River said...

Also, maybe do a little research into drought hardy lawn grasses, you may find one more suited to your area that's still okay for Skipper to nibble on.

Helen said...

Wow, it's been raining non-stop here for about a month... so we stopped watering the garden completely! The main issue is that the dogs get a bit excited and sprint around and then dig their feet in to stop and the grass goes flying. Nothing much we can do about that, at least they stopped digging some nice ankle-breakers in the lawn now!

I'm glad you're laughing again :)

nuttynotons said...

oh some sunand warm weather, not snow and ice! Still we must be graeteful for all this wet stuff we are getting, keep up the good work on saving the water

Rowe said...

Kath, great ending. Milly has comic timing. So do your farts.

Mrs Dump - Adelaide said...

Welcome back from the dark side Kath!
Glad to hear that you are feeling a little better. Good on Milly for being able to highlight the joy in life. She is a powerful force against that old black dog (in conjunction with LC and Sapphire and your strong spirit of course).

JennyMac said...

That was a very clever "the end."

LOL. Rowe sent me. Thanks for the giggle. :)

Lilly said...

Visiting from Rowes. Very clever post. And I agree good on you for using water wisely - its not easy..I live in Canberra and its dry as all hell.

The Plastic Mancunian said...

Love the photo of the dog's arse, Kath


Hopefully you are also seeing the arse of the black dog as it retreats to the sound of your laughter (and the fart of course).




Kath Lockett said...

Thanks guys. Yep, there's nothing like a real dog's arse to get you smiling again!