Irrigation hell, and other news…

Garden hoses are stupid. If I’d invented garden hoses, they’d have female connectors on both ends, and anything that isn’t a hose would have male connectors. The reality today, though, is that garden hoses have a male connector on one end, and a female connector on the other, while practically all non-hose components have male connectors. So, if you want to connect two non-hose components with a hose, you’re screwed (or, unscrewed, as the case may be). It’d be less of an issue if they had a coupler that’d connect two male connectors, but I can’t seem to find such a thing anywhere. *sigh* Instead, I got a female connector “repair kit”, so I’m going cut off the male connector from one of my hoses to replace it with a female connector, and make a hose with female connectors on both ends, the way God should’ve intended them to be. While I’m ranting about garden hoses, WTF is the deal with garden hose connectors containing lead? Are they trying to kill us?

I admit, I’m a complete idiot when it comes to plumbing. I’m like the opposite of this XKCD comic. I can write software, I can sorta build stuff out of lumber, but when it comes to water through tubes, I know nothing. But, I’m learning, and hopefully I have all the right parts to make some kind of contraption. In my defense, what I’m doing is relatively rare, I think. Most irrigation solutions out there assume you have, you know, water. Out of a spigot. With pressure. I’m sure if I did research, I’d find someone who did exactly what I’m trying to do, but then, what’s the fun in that?

The picture you see here was my first experiment. I got a garden hose, and used a 3/4″-hose-to 1/4″-tube adapter to connect a 1/4″ soaker hose to it. I then siphoned water out of a water carrier perched on top of my car, to see if the water pressure would be enough to force water out of the soaker hose. Well, it failed, quite miserably, but I claim the experiment a success because I learned a lot. The main issue I saw was that the adapter was leaky, and most of my water (and pressure, with it) was leaking out of the adapter. The adapter was also faulty in that, the inside diameter of the 1/4″ end was too small for the soaker hose, so water also leaked from there too.

My second experiment was to use a different method for attaching the 1/4″ soaker hose to my garden hose. I used these 1/4″-to-1/4″ barbed connectors, and poked one end into the middle of my garden hose through a tiny hole I drilled in it, and the other end into the 1/4″ soaker hose. That connection worked much better than the adapter. But, I noticed two problems with this. One was that the soaker hose only released water from a few points, separated by over a foot in places. The other thing I realized was that siphoning is unreliable. I guess air bubbles somehow form or get into the hose, and stops the flow of water.

So, I figured I needed a water container that had a 3/4″ hose connector at the bottom, instead of relying on siphoning action. I was originally thinking of using my 55 gallon drum, but the threading on the lid is kinda weird, so I wasn’t sure how to get a 3/4″ hose connector onto it. So, today, I came out to Redding, hoping to find a water container that already had a 3/4″ connector at the bottom, and some kind of vent up top. I first stopped by J and J Pumps, but the smallest containers they had were over 300 gallons, and cost a little under $300. The guy I talked to suggested that I check out Tractor Supply, and there, I found a 50 gallon rain barrel on clearance for $50 (pictured right). It’s got a 3/4″ male connector at the bottom, and a hole at top, as well as a mesh-covered opening in the lid. I’ll be pumping water into the hole at the top, using a 12V water pump, out of the 7 gallon water cubes I use to haul water from town. From there, the water will be fed into my soaker hoses, attached to a garden hose as the main line, by gravity.

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In other news, I woke up yesterday to the rumbling of thunder. I listening to it for a while, then jumped awake. Thunder (usually) means rain. My roof is currently not water proof. Oh no! I hastily put up a couple more 1×3 cross-pieces on the roof, and started laying down asphalt impregnated paper. Ominous dark clouds hung in the sky. The rumbling of the thunder continued incessantly, gradually approaching closer, like artillery fire of an invading army. Put up the barricades! Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough tar paper. I’d used up most of the roll wrapping up my hut for the winter. I’d finished putting up two of the 5 pieces that would’ve been required to cover the whole roof, when it started raining. I had no other option but to cover the rest of the roof with the tarp again…

Unfortunately, it didn’t rain much. Not even enough to completely moisten the ground. Dry lightning rumbled and crackled throughout the day, and by early afternoon, I could see smoke to the south, the south east, and on a ridge line to the north east. The smoke to the south was somewhat disturbing, because prevailing winds could push it my way. I could see firefighting planes circling the smoke low, only several miles away. Fortunately, the smoke in that area cleared fairly quickly, to be replaced by a thicker plume to the south east. On my way into town, I saw half a dozen fire engines heading in the opposite direction, and this morning, I passed a huge convoy of 30 or so assorted fire trucks heading that way, probably to mop up after yesterday.