Adventures of a Septic Variety

You know any Saturday is going to be good that starts with the question “what is that smell?” Why, it’s sewage in the basement of course! Commence a few hours of frantic activity, including a frenzied shopping trip to get a shop-vac, mop, and look for a good plumbers “snake” for drain clearing. We were successful on the first two, but not the third. So on the way home we stopped off at a neighbors house, as he happened to run his own drains-laying company. We borrowed his drain-cleaning stuff, and got to work. Yummy work, dealing with that stuff. Ick!!!

In the end we were unsuccessful, and returned his equipment. John (the neighbor) gave some suggestions, and said we would drop by Sunday morning. Sunday we started digging. We found the septic tank, and after John arrived we dug many more holes (under his direction). We knew from Yvonne, the horse-boarder, that there had been “issues” with the septic system in the past- like raw sewage running down the driveway, now we understand just how half-assed the system was. Seems when they added the cattery and kennel 10 years ago they did a fair bit of earth moving, which put an extra meter or two of dirt over the drainage field for the septic system, rendering it ineffective. So the tank started backing up and sewage would run down the driveway. This went on for years (to Yvonnes horror, keeping her kids from playing in the “puddles”), until eventually Dave (previous owner) laid a bit of pipe so that the semi-raw sewage went over the hillside, which I guess was better than down the driveway.

So over the next month we get to gid a ditch 18 inches wide, 1 foot deep, and 100 feet long. At least the clay soil is easy to dig (unlike New Engalnd’s 50-50 rock to dirt ratio). When we get the ditch dug John will come back and help us lay the gravel (metal as they call it here) and drain pipe for a new and operation field. Woo! Digging the ditch ourselves saves lots of money, and considering all the ongoing “high priority” fixes we are doing to the house, that is a good thing! In the mean time we have restored the “over the hillside” expedient, which at least allows us to shower and flush the toilets, which is a very good thing.

Ah, the excitement of living on a farm!

5 thoughts on “Adventures of a Septic Variety

  1. Good news is you probably have a really fertile driveway if you ever want to grow anything there…

    Okay, there is no real bright side. Sewage sucks. :\

  2. Tam says:

    Well, really, the good news is we don’t have to worry about it anymore. We *know* it’s busted, and we know what needs to be done to fix it, so we can do that and be done with it.

    Plus, the whole system is no longer a black box to us, now that John’s shown us how it all goes together. So if we want to take advantage of all that “fertility” and install a gray water irrigation system for the garden or whatever, we totally can.

  3. Angus says:

    Speaking of which – what’s Alpaca poop like as a fertilizer? I imagine camelids have pretty efficient little digestive systems, so is there much “feritility” left?

  4. Tam says:

    I don’t actually know. I’ve read that horse poop (properly composted) actually makes the best, but then horse poop is still mostly grass. Alpaca deposit little black jelly beans similar to sheep. Harder to pick up than horse poop, and so less likely to end up added to the compost pile (by me, anyway).

  5. Bill Brickman says:

    You know, that makes twice you’ve moved somewhere completely new and different, and had a house that fountained sewage. At this point, you have two choices: never move again, or hope that the third time’s the charm.

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