My Jugs Are Bigger Than Your Jugs

My Big Jugs

Water jars and water tower

We had been in Bangkok for several weeks anticipating the possible floods again this year. The remnants of two typhoons have passed through adding to the monsoon rains, but they past to the south a bit and didn’t produce heavy flooding in this area.

We’re back at the farm again and it rains every night but this is the highlands and flooding isn’t a problem.

As I walk around I’ve started to notice the things around me in a new light. Before I didn’t give it much thought as I’ve become accustomed to odd things about life in Thailand. When I first came to Thailand I rode my motorcycle around and saw these giant pots beside every rural house. They fascinated me because I couldn’t decipher their use. I wanted to see what in the world they planted in these monster jugs. And then I wondered how the people moved them about. Silly me. Even though I didn’t know their purpose, I wanted one!

As it turns out, they are to catch rain water to carry the household through the dry season. Many places around the world have cisterns for this purpose but they are usually hidden from view.

Now in a more modern age many places in Thailand have local water supplies that are piped to each house, but the large Tuums are still kept because the water supply isn’t always reliable. And, I guess, how would one go about getting rid of them?

On the farm, we had a well drilled down 40 meters and built a water tower to store the water, but my all-knowing wife wanted more water for watering out plants in the dry season.

We purchased a number of these giant pots and they each cost less than $30 US—what a deal. I was excited but wondered how we would get them to higher ground. The tuums arrived and the men just lifted them off the truck, turned then on their side and rolled them. These pots are incredibly strong. We piped water from our water storage tank and they fill by gravity. We also irrigate from the tuums using gravity feed. We do have a pump but only use it during the driest of times to water trees a bit higher in elevation. We now have a total of around 4000 gallons of water to use as needed. We also use this storage to supplement our ponds to keep them from drying out. The dry season here last for six months or more.

For me these exotic things only add to the wonders of life in Thailand. If we ever return to the States I will certainly consider catching rain water for plants and lawn—think of the savings in the water bill.

I hope you enjoyed this post about a writer’s life in Thailand.

Banana fruit and flower

Jugs for rainwater

Blackpepper ready to dry


34 responses to “My Jugs Are Bigger Than Your Jugs

  1. Not so fast cousin. It seems things are just not that simple in the USA anymore. Read on:
    A couple weeks ago we told you the story of Oregon landowner Gary Harrington, who was sentenced to 30 days in jail for collecting rain water on his property.

    After fighting the state of Oregon for the last 11 years and refusing to empty his rain water collection, Harrington has voluntarily surrendered himself to the state. He will serve the next 30 days in jail for what amounts to collecting rainwater and runoff from his own property.

    As unreal as it may sound, at least 9 states have made it illegal to collect rainwater on your own land. Utah, Oregon, Colorado and a number of other states have passed rainwater laws that either limit or all out ban the collection of rainwater.

    • Hi to my favorite cousin. Wow! I would never believe that collecting rainwater could be illegal! What’s the world coming to? I lived in the Marshall Islands for two years and we lived on rain collection. Sure glad Oregon didn’t hear about that! Really great to hear from you, Susan. Hope all is well back home.

      • Hi cuz. I love reading your blog – keep the great stories coming. Saw your mom and she looks wonderful, I wish she lived closer because we would get into so much trouble. Most of all I think we would laugh ourselves silly.

  2. Like letizia, the post’s title had me snorting. I read about the flooding in Thailand last year, but it sounds like you’re doing okay so far. There’s nothing like rainwater for watering plants and drinking.

    • Hi Tim. Glad I got a few laughs from the title. The non-flooding in our area has been a load off my wife and my minds. There is always flooding in the rainy season but at least it moves around the country. I know how the people affected feel now and my heart goes out to them. The government seems to be doing a bit better at flood control this year– maybe they learned something.

      Those big jars filled with rainwater are essential for many in the rural areas.

  3. We had ‘tuuns’ in Spain on our little bit of land in the middle of nowhere – more or less same system, just plastic. Far less attractive, but easy to handle and clean from time to time.

    • Thank you, Rose Mary. I know many countries use this system– of course I didn’t know this until I moved to Thailand. Even during droughts a family is assured they will at least have drinking water. Your life in Spain sounds fascinating! I’ve always wanted to visit there.

    • I must say your blog about life in Peru is great! The picutres put me there. What a beautiful place. Thanks for adding your link. I thought I was following but I am now!

  4. Nice jugs, Dannie! Crossing my fingers that the flooding there is much lighter than last years. I’m on my way to Thailand for Christmas. Taking the long way via Australia and New Zealand and blogging as I go. I plan to be in Thailand for awhile so maybe I’ll have an opportunity to meet you.

    • By Christmas the dry season will be in full. Beautiful blue skies, cooler weather and many smiles! My sister lives in New Zealand and most houses there have cisterns to catch rain water. It’s a magical place.

      I hope you will tell me about your visits. I know you will enjoy Thailand, OZ and Kiwi land.

  5. Loved your post, Dannie! But, my mind is somewhat boggled by the fact that rain water collection is illegal in some US states. What on earth? It’s just ridiculous! I actually laughed when I read that (right after reading the title of your post that is, lol). Just when I think I’ve either seen or heard it all, it’s definitely not so. I hope you are doing well, Dannie. 🙂

    • Thank you, Sandra. My world has turned bright and I’m enjoying life. I agree about the collecting rainwater– hard to believe. I know my cousin Susan knows what’s she talking about. I would think most of the laws are for Western States where almost every drop of water heads for LA or San Francisco. Almost no water from the mighty Colorado River reaches the sea.

      I wondered how the title to the post would go over. I thought it might bring in more readers, lol. And it did. Glad you got a laugh from it.

  6. Love your entertaining writing style as usual..What very cool pots indeed. In the 70s when I was on a ‘back to nature’ lifestyle I use to collect rain water in trash cans for shampooing my hair and water my houseplants & garden.. Sure could have used these pots.

    • As soon as I saw them I knew I would have at least one. Now that we’re back in the States and living in Florida I have rain catchments at three downspouts. I actually learned something, ha!

      Dorianna, it’s so good to hear from you. Every time I see the title of your blog I smile. It is something you do so well.

    • We have the same in the Sates, but only for garden water. In rural Thailand a family has to prepare for the dry season which can last for 6 months, so they need lots of water. For us we also have a small farm that we have to irrigate. Thank you for visiting. I do enjoy your blog.

  7. Dannie, this is a great post. I got to it from your recent interview about reading in Thailand (most excellent read), and it’s just amazing. I know the snakes in Colorado… and it’s true, but sad. My grandfather was very active on a board (REA) that helped keep some of this at bay, but we were lucky– he had full rights under the homestead rules (of the time), but it’s because he knew not to… now, the water is redirected, the land is contaminated from fracking… as is the water… it broke my heart to see the cost of a greedy child’s glee over making easy money once her dad was out of the way. Stewardship is… I’m just really glad to find this post. Thank you for talking about your jugs… and you’re right, they’re bigger. You win. Happily, this is a win\ win challenge– we all get to be better off in our awareness.
    You’re awesome, Dannie. Meredith.

    • I’m so happy you like this post. It is terrible what we are doing to the Earth. My cousin told me that in places out West they fine you and even put you in jail for capturing rain water. Hard to believe

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