One man sand bag filler upper thingee

Submitted to Community Café

We live about thirty miles northeast of downtown San Diego, California about 1,600 feet above sea level. Our region is defined as desert and our annual, non-drought year rain fall is 9-11 inches. We are in our fifth consecutive year of drought conditions so our annual rain fall averages, which are updated on a yearly / ten-year average are coming down but I hold to the 100-year average of 9-11 inches. Having lived here 28 years now we have been in drought years 23. Hmmm. I think they need to rethink “drought years.”

The area is basically decomposed granite, “DG,” which has no nutritional value at all, basically crushed rock which hard packs to the point that digging post holes is a task beyond most homeowners. The five, eighteen-inch-deep holes for the mailbox rail took over four hours with a power auger. If it is growing around here it is either planted in imported dirt and soil, then irrigated or desert plant.

Due to the non-absorption property of DG, almost all of our rainfall, when it comes, runs downhill. In 2015 we received a fluke rainstorm during monsoon season and got more than 5 ½” of rain in less than 36 hours. And we were still under 9” for the year.

Directing and controlling water is actually a BIG issue. An acre is 43,560 square feet and most of the lots in our area are basic acre lots. If we were to get one inch of rain, that is 3,630 cubic feet of water or 27,152.4 gallons of water weighing 226,179.5 pounds. And not much soaks in so it is moving. Fortunately, we usually get nice light rains and it moves nicely DOWNHILL. I live on the side of a hill and before my house floods my neighbor will be under twelve feet of water. July 2015 was not a nice, light rain.

However, sand bags are always around. Ever try to fill a sand bag? Someone holds it and gets dust and dirt thrown in their face while someone else shovels and smacks the holder’s hands. Preparing for the winter rains, expecting another dry winter, I got tired of dirt face. So I made a one-man sand bag filler from scrap sitting around the house. Several sand bags were filled and it works GREAT!!!

There are three large clips at the bottom of the upside-down roof furnace flashing. The frame is old wood that was destined for neighbors’ desert camp fires but never went. The height allows the bags to sit on the ground while the clips holds the top of the bags to the flashing without folding the material.

Two test bags worked great. If it works out, one person can attach the bag, then tie off the previously filled bag while the filler fills the new bag. Then the new bag will be full and ready for replacement.

What fun. I have unsuccessfully tried the Huck Finn / Tom Sawyer “paint the fence” tactic on people in the past.

FYI – One third of the “El Ninos” (Little Boys) which should be wet are dry and one third of the “La Ninas” (Little Girls) which should be dry are wet. This last fall / winter, 2015-2016, we were supposed to have a “Super El Nino” and get tons of water in Southern California. Northern California, Oregon, and Washington state got slammed and those of us in Southern California were left high and dry for the most part. El Ninos and La Ninas are based on Pacific Ocean temperatures just north of the equator. Warmer than average – El Nino and expect water, cooler than average – La Nina and expect dry weather.

Some photos of our July 2015 fun are provided.

Thanks,

Rex