Every farmhouse had a rain barrel in the old days.

Alabama Contributing Author, Dorothy Graham Gast, brings a memory back from the old days.

Farmhouses had rain barrels


Dorothy Graham Gast

Every farmhouse had a rain barrel. The hot dusty days of summer were modified by the 50-gallon barrel that caught rainwater and held it for the time when the sky turned brass and evening lightning on the far horizon was a mockery to the parched earth. The daily rains of Dog Days that left steamy afternoons and sticky evenings disappeared. Lakes and creek beds became cracked slabs of mud where clear and refreshing water had earlier splashed with life and activity.rain-barrel-1

Gourd dippers quenched the thirst

The water pumped by a hand pump in the well shelter was too precious to waste. Well water taken into the farm kitchen was in buckets and held water. Gourd dippers to quench the human thirst or cook meals. Well water was pumped for Monday’s washing, but the used water was used for flowers and scrubbing floors after clothes were clean.

Rainwater was used for washing

Rainwater caught in the barrel from the gutters along the roof, was just the right purity for washing hair and watering the dozens of pots of flowers on the porch. After the sunset breezes began, a child could dip the bucket in the barrel and sparingly water the wilted plants around the edge of the porch. The smell of gasoline and dust from the gravel road going past dissipated when dew touched the grass and sweet smells from night blossoms hung in the air around the talkers rocking in the deepening darkness.old-rain-barrel

When summer rains returned, the tin roof and rain barrel echoed the sounds of abundance of water, and farmers slept grateful for rain to bless their crops.

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