Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The starting month to my new year...

I have a large trench dug through my back yard. But its ok, it means we can do normal things like flush the toilet and take showers. Some of you may have read my post from Jan 1st, about the septic issue... well, pumping the septic tank only helped for a day or so, then everything went right back to the way it was.

We knew from the guys that pumped the tank that the tank itself was in good shape. We knew it wasn't sludge build up in the tank, as we just had it pumped. We had been told the drain field line was working from what they could tell, as they could see water flowing back into the tank from the drain lines, which they said was normal.

So we researched. Groundwater build up?? Maybe. We spent a couple days digging a "one shovel head" deep trench from the back of the property to the side yard area that stays so wet, and were delighted when it slowly started to dry up that small area, moving the water to the back where it absorbed right into the ground. But that didn't help at all with the plumbing issue, which was getting worse- we could flush one toilet one time a day. That was it. If we flushed more than that or put any other water down a drain, it ended up either filling the other toilet or in the bathtub. Not a clog. So hubby was showering etc. at work. Which left daughter and I to be creative.

The One Shovel Trench 
I washed dishes in the 2 large mixing bowls, one for wash, one for rinse, and emptied them into a bucket, then emptied that outside, across the driveway into the woods. No shower, just bucket baths. Old hay and a muck tub for the other deed, then buried that. For 2 weeks... this was getting old old old.

Side yard still wasn't really draining out, always seemed to be wet even though there was a constant stream down the little trench we had made. During the 2 weeks, every time I started looking into possible solution's, drain field failure came up. But the guys that pumped the septic had said the drain lines were OK. We decided we needed a second opinion, and started calling places again. I found out on the third call that we needed a permit for anyone to do anything other than look, so I called the  county permit place, which is the health department, and BINGO seems like everything is going better sense then. The health department guy came out, looked around, gave me several numbers of local people to call that don't charge an arm and a leg- he looked a little pissed when I told him how much we payed for the plumber who poked the ground, and then to the company that pumped the septic tank. He asked me to let him know what the folks I call from the list think need to be done so he would know what permit I need.

So I called the first name on the list. The guy asked questions, then told me if we give him some patience he would be able to come out over the weekend to dig it up and see what the problem was. He quoted me a price on one possible solution, which was a heck of a lot lower than anything we had seen during research. So we gave him patience, and he came out Saturday evening, looked around, looked at the ground and where it was wet. He brought his tractor over on Sunday and dug a real trench (2 buckets deep) to get the groundwater gone- he took it across the yard to meet with the much smaller one we had dug, and then made ours bigger. While digging that trench he found what was supposed to be the drain line- the hose was crumpled and filled with rock/root/dirt. He also found the distributor box, but there was so much water everywhere that was really all he could do until the water went down a bit. They watched the water level for a bit, then had us flush both toilets- we did, and the tub started filling. So they started digging to the septic tank lid, and water suddenly gushed up everywhere- the tank had been so full that the pipes leading into the house were also full, and when the pressure shifted, the water lines to the house emptied. Im glad we had the tank pumped on the 1st- it would have been so much more disgusting had it not been. So now we are playing the waiting game again, The distributor box should have water moving through it, but it doesn't. The drain line they found should have been in much better condition as it was installed in 2002, but it wasn't. They haven't found the other drain lines, there should be more than one.

The start of the 2 bucket trench

Pieces of the drain field hose

Originally, after site evaluation on Saturday, he was going to dig the trench Sunday to install a drain hose for excess ground water during our wet season. The issue is more than that though.

This is where his 2 bucket trench meets our 1 shovel trench, he made his gradually less deep as he went, but kept the bottom sloping. These pictures were taken the day after he dug this out.

It has been 3 days, the drain pipe has a bare trickle of water coming out, the ground in the side yard is actually for the first time sense we have been here (mid Nov) dry enough to walk across without stepping in a  grassy water puddle, but the septic tank (they left the lid up a bit) keeps re-filling overnight. We do not know where the excess water is coming from. But I have been able to shower and flush toilets and run the dishwasher at will for the last 3 days, so that is an improvement.

I strongly suspect that the excess water that keeps re-filling the tank is coming from the other drain lines. I suspect that the other 2 areas that have been wet sense we have been here are where the other drain lines are at and that they are in just as bad shape as the one that they found was in. I suspect that it is going to take longer for the area to dry up than what any of us think it will, especially with the rain we are about to get on Friday. But that's OK. This guy intends to find the problem and fix it, before he is done. So long as we can give him patience. Which I have tons of. The price he quoted was in case he had to put in a new drain field line, which is what it sounded like to him. It looks like the distributor box isn't working, and that they may need to repair the line running from septic tank to the distributor box, or at the very least unclog it. I do not know how much these things are going to add to what he quoted, I hope not to much as we are out of money.

Turned out the previous homeowner installed their own drain field line, possibly without a permit- the health dept doesn't have one on record. But they had a friend with a backhoe... Hubby is looking into the legalities of that.

On to other things, right? So my horses are doing great, we still haven't gotten the other pasture complete, what with hand washing and bucket lugging and trench digging going on. But they are feeling frisky, and oh my gosh, look right on the other side of this fence, there is some grass still growing! One morning as I am making an attempt at putting more t-posts in place, a weird reflection catches my eye... somehow a horse or two (no names mentioned) CRUMPLED 2 sections of fence. Not far enough over that they could get out of the pasture, but the grass that was trying to grow on the outside of the pasture was decidedly shorter than the grass around it, in two arch like shapes..... so instead of putting in more t-posts for the new pasture, I un-bent fence, added 2 more t-posts, pulled out the 2 that were in the area of crumple with the intention of re-positioning them.. THEY BENT THE T-POSTS. So now that little section of fence has 4 new t-posts holing it in place. And the fence is only a little bent.

I really hope that the rest of this year goes better. 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Springtime In January

So today I turned the compost pile, and it let off so much heat that my hubby felt it as he walked the dog about 10ft away. The main component in it is horse manure, with about an equal amount of leaves, hay and the odd bit of kitchen scraps and garden waste.

And I finished another garden bed, with a third started. I'm putting all the manure that has hay with it in the compost, and the stuff with leaves or dirt in the garden.

2nd bed, I added another 2 wheelbarrows and covered it. 1st bed is in the back.

Start of the 3rd

1st bed, threw sticks on it to keep the wind from blowing off the last layer. That dug up area behind it is where the original kitchen grease trap is, we have to get a new lid for it before we can re-bury it.
Then I wandered around out front taking pictures of all the bushes in bloom. I cant get over this crazy winter. It did hit 30 overnight, and will be mid 30s at some point tonight, but these plants are thinking springtime already!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Introducing Roxy

When I woke up this morning I had no idea that the day would go as it did.

I was in the midst of my normal routine, and was about to start a new lasagna garden bed, when my hubby popped outside and asked if I still wanted to go look at dogs. Which I did, with full intention of going slow and finding the right match for us, multiple visits, etc.

Off we went to the Petco in Statesboro, where the local humane society has their adoptable dogs at on Saturdays. The first dog I saw took my breath away- huge 6 yr old brindle mastiff style dog, mild mannered, curious, house broken, OK with cats, everything we were looking for... except he already has had surgery on his back legs, and is not allowed to run so he does not re-tear the weakened muscles. He is with a foster who loves him now, and so we moved on to the next pup.

The next little guy stole my heart, and I about cried reading through his info- thrown away at 3 months old. Found and received medical care at 6 months, in the foster program sense then. Also good with cats. But- he jumps on people and doesn't listen when told no, no matter how firm the foster mom makes her voice. Which we could work through. He also cowers away from anything, which we cant really work through as part of what we are looking for is a guard dog.

Onto the next one, a retriever mix that was cute, but had a happy family swarming him at that point... the next one, who barks a lot, at everything... and the next who is a vicious little ankle bitter... and the next was a retriever puppy, cute, but not quite what we were looking for, followed by 2 cats, one pissed at everyone and the other crashed out asleep, and then a little copper pittmix, 2 years old.

The little copper pittmix's name is Roxy. She is calm, even when the vicious little ankle bitter was walked past, yapping ferociously at her. She doesn't bark at anything, doesn't chew anything, is alert and pays attention to everything, doesn't jump on people, isn't overly excitable, gets along with cats, has been around horses with no problems. Is house broken.

 And is also currently asleep on a pillow beside my husbands desk. 
In the back of the barn car

Looking for a better view

Asleep, after a pretty long day.
She is small- 37 pounds. She was a stray before being found- she wandered up the driveway to the farm house of the people who became her fosters. They have had her for 3 or 4 months - absolutely love her but have several other dogs, and Roxy's only vice is that she doesn't like other dogs. She has had puppys before, but no idea how long ago. She is positive for heartworms, had the big treatment for them last month, and will have the monthly treatment forever.

We are fostering her, and if she turns out to be a good fit, we will adopt. Currently way to soon to tell. Hubby walked her past the horses, on the outside of the fence, and Litta who spooks at everything could care less as she has been around dogs before. Sierra was very interested, ears so far forward they could have touched her muzzle. She walked to the fence- stalked really- and intently watched Roxy then looked to Litta, and looked back at the strange little chestnut colored thing on 4 legs. Hubby walked her closer, so she was almost at the fence. Sierra lowered her head closer, sniffed, snorted and decided to ignore her.

One of the cats (Oak) came down the hall, saw Roxy, arched his back and walked sideways/backwards up the hall. Oak came back out a little later, arched his back again, hissed, and walked up the hall again. Roxy saw him this time, and went down the hall to say hi. Oak turned, arched back, arched higher, hissed. Roxy retreated, then came back again, a little slower. Oak - still arched - hissed again, and this time when Roxy backed away, Oak went after her and struck claws across nose, hissing louder. Roxy "fell" to the floor, barking a little, snarling, and still backing away. Daughter and I intervened, yelling "NO" at both of them. Oak retreated to a bedroom doorway, Roxy to my hubbys feet. 

I strongly suspect she will fit in OK, the cats and she will work it out. I was very impressed that instead of biting this orange ball of fluff that had just scratched her, she just barked and backed away, though it was a little dramatic with the "falling" bit... 

Friday, January 1, 2016

It could have been worse!

While most of the USA has been having a grand New Year, we have had a different kind of New Year...
 2 days ago (Dec 30th) we noticed that when I flushed the one toilet, the other started gurgling, and the tub in the hall bath started filling, and the flushed toilet didn't actually flush. We thought "perhaps a clog?" so while my hubby made plans to pick up some draino or something along those lines, I typed the issue into google to see what might pop up, as it would have to be a pretty impressive clog for the results we were getting.
 This Old House suggested it might be the vent, and this guy backed them up. So up to the roof top my hubby went, armed with a set of eyeballs and nothing more. He looked down the vent, and saw water. So I hooked up the hose, passed it up to him (did I say he has a problem with heights?) and into the vent it went. Water on, hubby moving the hose up and down to break through a clog, and presto, clog broke! Hubby pushed the hose in further, to make sure everything was good- stopped. Complete halt. Not budging. after a few min, I started thinking we were maybe forgetting some crucial part of the video, and suddenly hubby looks down and says "err, maybe you should go check the water in the toilets?" YIKES!
 So I rush off, back through the house, and sure enough, toilet almost overflowing! And nasty brown water flowing into tub, through the overflow!!! I run back out, yelling to him to get the hose out as I rush to the spigot. He got the end of the hose out of the pipe as I turned the faucet its final twist. Very close call. So hubby decides yes- definitely a clog, a big one, need liquid plumber. And a longer snake. And maybe a plumber. We started looking for and calling plumbers. No answer, disconnected phones, voice mails, and one guy that wasn't a plumber anymore.
 The next morning (Dec 31st) off to the nearest town I went, deciding on Tractor Supply as I needed to get a outdoor fan (MY HAY WAS STARTING TO MILDEW!!) And I make it home a couple hours later with fan, a couple hay nets, some soft cat food, a few other things. I'm outside hooking up the fan, when hubby pops out asking for the liquid plumber / draino.. which I had completely forgotten. So back to the store we go- stopping along the way to look and see if petco had any dogs available for adoption- and get back home with liquid plumber and a longer snake as it is starting to get dark, Hubby starts the liquid plumber while I start the grill (It was New Year's Eve, after all) and take care of the horses.
  Meanwhile the day is ending, and I am thinking about the saturation levels of the ground and that maybe things will flush better in the morning....
 Hubby forgot to turn off his alarm setting, so at 3:00 am I am wide awake, listening to him try to get his alarm off on a day he doesn't have to work. And needing to pee. Really really bad. So I go, and then flush.... and then panic as the water fills the toilet. I rush out to grab the plunger- knowing it is to full to use it without creating a massive mess, when the hall bathroom starts gurgling.. glug glug.. not knowing what to expect, I slowly lift the lid- it is almost empty, glug glug.. I go back into our bathroom, and the water is maybe 2 hair widths below the very top of the bowl..stopped. Yay! I put the lid back down so the cats do not decide to drink from it, climb back in bed as though nothing were going on and decide that maybe I just had a vivid dream.
 About 15 min later I go ahead and get up, coffee was calling. It was the start of not just a new day, but a New Year! And I have decided today will be a different kind of day, thinking about enviro-lets and the compost pile and the muck tub and the bits of hay that I had pulled out of my bales the were mildewing.... a plan.
 Hubby got up a few hours later and was on the roof, trying again without the water and with the longer snake. I came up from setting T-posts in place to pester him and make sure he didn't fall off the roof somehow. No luck with the longer snake, so we started calling again. Finally, someone answered that was a plumber, and wasn't booked full and whos truck/van was actually running. He arrived about 2 hours later, poked the ground with his stick, looked under the house (from the outside, just bent over a bit), said "oh- its your septic, I don't work on them" charged us $150.00 and drove away. We start looking for septic tank repair places, and I pull up the closing contract and home warranty info- plumbing is covered! Yay! So as my hubby calls them and is put on hold, I read further... septic tanks are not covered unless the option was selected, which it was not (realtors did the policy)... So back to calling places. We finally reach a guy, but his truck has a flat and hes waiting on another guy to bring him a tire. He gave us the number for someone else, but that guy cant make it til tomorrow, so hubby calls the flat tire guy back. He says he can do it, but it will be late, like 4:30. YAY!!!
 Septic guys get to the house, start poking the ground, then digging. They are nice guys, and noticing something isn't right- the size they determined by poking is to small, and their seemed to be no lid- just something kind of spongy/rotting... liquid everywhere, so they start pumping as they dig. It was the original to the house grease trap for the kitchen. Filled with yuck.

The lid was some sort of metal, but so rusted away that if anyone had stepped on the ground above it they would have fallen through. It was handmade of cinder blocks, bricks, and cement.

 They started poking the ground some more, and finally found the septic tank, which was definitely full. And it made the grease trap smell like.. well, it still stunk but the septic was a lot worse- 'burn the hair out of your nose' worse. But instead of looking at a new septic tank install- which is what we were faced with before they realized the grease trap was a grease trap- we only got a $500.00 bill. so Yay! Showers all around! Flushing toilets! Laundry going! Dishwasher waiting its turn! Happy New Year Everyone! Appreciate the little things in life- like the little silver handle that is attached to the side of the commode!

And- in case you wondered- yes. muck tub + a little hay + a shovel... :)