Ruckus Scooter Love

Ruckus Scooter Love
Scootin' For A Slower Pace of Life...

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Homestead: It Went WHERE?

Once we got out into our country home, the wonders of rural living began to unfold.

One of these wonders was the septic system.

No, I had never really heard of, or thought about, this "system" existing on the planet. I should have known about it. I'd seen those silver and white capsule-shaped things sitting out next to farm houses for years.

I just had no clue what they were and never gave them a thought. Maybe it was a fuel tank or a water tank or a septic tank. I didn't know.

It was a tank of some sort and it was not mine to deal with, so who cared?

We moved to the farm in May and by November, we began to really care about septic systems as much as we cared about using the toilet and getting it to empty out after a flush EVERY TIME.

And that was all because we flushed one Friday evening on a cold November night and it DID NOT GO DOWN AT ALL! It didn't even move. Neither toilet bowl would work!

Ok, what IS this issue here? Does it have something to do with the "blub blub" sounds that we heard in the toilet when the washer emptied?

Did it have something to do with those 2 round concrete disks out there in the side yard that looked like alien pods but served as pedestals for the flower pots?

Did it have something to do with the fact that mushrooms grew in a straight line down the yard's length FROM those round disks?

Inquiring minds wanted to know all along and those minds soon got a quick "down and dirty" (no pun intended!) education on "All Things Septic Tank".

So here it is Friday night, we are out in the boonies, not really knowing our neighbors, but I call one up that I met during the summer and explained our situation.

"Help! What do we do?"

She told me that these septic tank thingies often needed "cleaning out". We'd have to call a guy out to do just that.

All righty then. But just what did that mean?

It meant, she said, that a service comes out with a big old tanker truck and runs a big old hose down into those two holes covered by concrete disks out in the side yard and SUCKS OUT all the poo, pee, etc. that has accumulated down there over the years.

WHAT? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? That is SOOOOOO GROSS! I almost gagged at the mere image of it all.

Then she went on to graphically elaborate about how OUR septic tank probably had NEVER been "sucked out" as the old man had never really lived here full time and what WAS in there had clogged up, dried and caked, and now was awash with our gleanings.

More gagging sounds...

Ok. But, ya know, it's Friday, and we have to be able to use the toilet and I can't get one of these septic truck guys out here until Monday because the sidewalks roll up here in the little villages over the weekend, so how are WE going to use the toilet for 72 hours?

It was a logical, good question. Well, for about 6 hours we went to the nearest McDonald's, which was 9 miles away down the mountain. That got old fast. We'd linger around hoping to squeeze one more drop out of our bladders after our burgers and fries. Nope, not gonna get us through Monday.

THEN I got a "scathingly brilliant idea" and called my golfing friend in the next county over.

Her husband had just come out of the hospital a few weeks ago and he had used a bedside commode seat in his room. He was done with it now and it was in the shed and "could we use it for a few days?"

Of course, and so we drove the 30 plus miles one way to get it late that Friday night.

So my partner used that and I had an old drywall bucket that I put kitty litter in for night time rituals in my room. I have to confess a few times I trotted out into the "piney woods" behind the garage and brought along my little garden shovel and flashlight.

It was an exciting weekend with snow flurries and pine needles and Fresh Step scattered over the bedroom floor in blue and gray mosaic. Nifty.

Then on Monday the "septic guy" came out and entered upon the property in his smelly tanker truck. The "Shit Wagon", if you will. Buzzards swarmed around him as he dismounted in the side yard after almost leveling a few cedar trees along the driveway.

Amazingly, he was clean and well groomed for a country gentleman who made his living sucking out septic tanks at $135 for a half hour's labor.

I couldn't resist watching as the giant hose drooped into the round holes and began it's laborious roar and slurp. After about thirty seconds I went back into the house.

After he finished he educated us as to the "nutritional needs" of the millions of bacteria that live in the septic tank. Really? Who knew?

Seems these little boogers need to be fed "good bacteria" just like our intestinal tract! He provided us with a blue product to put into the toilets once a month to ensure that the little bacteria are happy and will continue to munch and crunch on our waste products in order to keep the love flowing.

He explained that the mushroom field sprang up along the septic drainage lines and that also explained why the "grass is always greener over the septic tank" as once questioned by Erma Bombeck.

It really was true! Next time you see a "Rid Ex" commercial, pay close attention and you will learn of the wonders of the septic system and the hungry critters that dwell within.

It was truly amazing and after all that we never had another problem in seven seasons out there. I would dump a few food items in the toilet every once in awhile for our septic friends to keep them happy and they in turn never put us through "clogging and bogging hell" again.

We'd still get the "blub blubs" every once in a while, but we just took that as a lip-smacking "thank you" from our septic pets.

(photos courtesy of internet photo bucket)


  1. Oh my! I've never had a septic tank. What an experience. Blub, blub a.k.a. Thank you!

  2. Oh, a septic system is a fascinating thing! I admire those "Stool Bus" guys. Never met one who wasn't bright and cheerful. And if you ask questions they just light up with enthusiasm!

    This silver capsule you refer to...isn't that the propane tank or do you have something I'm not familiar with.

    Ever hear of a "holding tank"? Those are in Door County, but not as many as what are called "mound systems". I had a mound system and that's pretty interesting. A holding tank is something you never, ever want. Every drip of water goes in there and you have to have everything emptied when the tank fills. Talk about wanting to go to the gas station!

    Living in the city you can't imagine what rural waste disposal is all about. When you get used to living in the country and then move back to the city, you miss the well and septic system. And HATE paying for water and sewer!

    1. No, I don't miss the septic system, though I must admit it is an ingenious creation when you think about it!

      We did not have well water out there, so I can't speak to that experience.

      I never heard of a holding tank. What was the purpose of that little dittie?

      The Amish out there used barrels to catch rain water to water their horses and cattle. It was positioned up high on a bard or shed and then a long spout ran down and out into the corral or barnyard.

      During a time of drought I guess it got rough for the animals and they had to tote water out to them.

    2. A holding tank is simply that- it holds all of your waste water and sewage. It's an underground tank and when it is full or near full, you have it "pumped" out. And then you can fill it up all over again. It's expensive. And I have avoided buying houses just because they have holding tanks.

  3. Deb, holding tanks are used in areas where the soil won't 'perk' (percolate). Areas with high water tables, heavy soil, denser housing, etc. sometimes have soil conditions where the water won't sufficiently soak up the fluids that 'rise to the top' in the septic tank and flow out to the drain field. Number of bathrooms/bedrooms determine rates that must be met when tested and if soil conditions don't allow, a holding tank is used. As Martha states, nothing flows out, everything is contained, just like in an RV and it needs to be emptied periodically.

    Where we ideally wanted our septic tank and drain field the soil conditions would not accept our 'load', so we ended up with a hybrid system, having to pump the effluent to a drain field a distance away.

    In the city, everything just magically goes away (if you pay your water/sewer bill). :)

  4. I know I'm letting myself in for a bunch of hate mail.

    But I'm old enough to remember outhouses. At least when they still existed in rural areas. They weren't all bad. Worst thing about them was they weren't heated in the winter.

    I'm not suggesting we all go back to that. But there's probably still a place for outhouses in select circumstances. One plus is that, unlike septic tanks and sewer systems, outhouses need virtually no upkeep, never wear out, and use zero energy.

    Indeed, I recently visited a remote island off the coast of Maine. There had once been a small farm community on the island. The island has been deserted for 100 years. But there was still an outhouse on the island. I used it. Still very serviceable after all these years.

    David Reese

  5. I'm laughing out loud here remember a trip I took on year. My (soon to be ex) wife at the time, and I were staying in a "rustic lodge" in the wilds of North Carolina for a weekend.

    We arrive Friday afternoon only to find the septic system is out. A couple of calls lead nowhere. So we ended up "roughing it" in more ways than one the entire weekend.

  6. We used to have septic tanks when we were kids, I am thankful for my city sewer system now.

    The joys of living in the country. Of course the cost of one septic drain every few years is cheaper than the cost of city sewer overall.

    I am glad you can look back with humor.