Wednesday, March 18, 2009

You can't holler down my rain barrel ...

If you are lucky enough to have had a Grandmother that sang to you, you may remember these words:

You can't holler down my rain barrel,
You can't climb my apple tree,
I don't want to play in your yard,
If you won't be good to me.

I thought of this old song (circa 1894) when Margie and I were at Enchanted Forest a few weeks ago and saw this lovely rain barrel (fortunately, Margie snapped this photo - click to enlarge so you can see all the details).

Then I happened upon more rain barrels during my visit to The Green Marketplace last weekend (full field trip report coming soon). In talking with Sylvia Eppig (shown above), who sells her barrels at there, I mentioned that a young friend had constructed rain barrels for his Eagle Scout project a few years ago. He donated them to his Mom's garden club, and the garden club sold them to raise funds for their community activities. With the usual six degrees of separation, it turns out that Sylvia got her first barrel at that garden club sale and was so taken with it that she started making them herself!

When I spent summers on the farm with my Grandmother, we pumped drinking water by hand, but collected rainwater for washing our hair, as it was much softer water. These days, rainwater is more likely to be collected for watering plants and lawns. According to the Naturewise web site, Rain barrels are an easy way to collect the rain water that runs off your roof top and hold the water until you are ready to use it. Rain water is better for plants than municipal water, as it has not been treated with chemicals, and it contains lots of great micronutrients for plants. Rain barrels are easy to install, and can be as easy as just placing them under a valley where water collects and runs off. The barrels also help prevent soil erosion from water splashing on the ground.

This photo shows Connor in the production phase of his Eagle Scout project.

And here's Connor (waaay in the back) with the fruits of his labor. He was justifiably pleased when I called to tell him about Sylvia Eppig starting her affair with rain barrels after purchasing one of his! (Thanks to Connor's Dad for the photos.)

During my rain barrel research, I came across an interesting Wiki-type site titled Demesne. There are directions for making your own barrels there, or you can attend one of the rain barrel-making workshops held here in Brevard County fairly frequently - I'll start including them in my Calendar of Events. Or, you can visit The Green Marketplace and get one of Sylvia's!


  1. The version of that old song that my grammy sang to me was much friendlier! Seems to me the singer was inviting a playmate to come and "shout down my rain barrel, slide down my cellar door." It ended, "And we'll be jolly friends forevermore." She must have been sheltering me from the harsh realities of life at the rain barrel. Margie

  2. In doing more research on this, it seems everybody's grandmother sang a version of this song to them! From what I can determine, "I Don't Want to Play in Your Yard" dates back to 1894 - and it appears on a Peggy Lee album! The song "Playmate" that Margie remembers was copyrighted in 1940. So we have two different but similar songs.,1758 has a whole string of interesting comments, and you can even download an MP3 of "I Don't Want to Play in Your Yard" from Amazon! Gotta love the Internet!

  3. Great idea, I wonder if I can talk my husband into rigging up one here.

  4. The two "versions" are actually different parts of the same song,part of it appears to be a duet.
    It's about how even the best of playmates quarrel,then make up. Here is a link to the full lyrics:

  5. Dear dlodge: welcome to the site, and thanks for the link. Followed it and read the whole song - that's a pretty vicious song! marge

  6. Just out of curiosity, does anyone know why you would want to shout down a rain barrel?

    I guess it is just a silly game that kids played in the 19th century but I wonder if there is something more to it than that.


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