Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Great Camping Weather!

A friend's boy scout troop is going on their cold weather survival campout this weekend. So are we, only for real...and without packing...and we get to sleep in our own comfy beds

As I write, a light skiff of snow dusts the ground. Tonight I did before-snow chores: find the ice melt and snow shovel; put gas-line antifreeze in the truck, filled up the tank, bought water softener salt to use as ballast in the back of the pickup; check once more for things that might collect water, or might be lost in the snow. And peek under the tarps coveing the partially-uprooted septic system.

The saga continues to unfold...

At Dawdie House, I turned on the portable electric heater, made sure a slow drip was running in the bathroom faucets, flushed a bucket of hot water down the toilet, and checked the kitchen sink drain after putting a powerful draincleaner down it last night. Hallelujah! It drains better than it has in years! The down side is, there is seepage from the cobbled mess of plastic drian pipe underneath. That should be "easy" to fix. I haven't looked in the cellar yet to see any effect there....

The work on Dawdie House may be hurried along a bit faster than anticipated, because that may be our best place to wash dishes, take sponge baths, and use the toilet.

It seems that water is not moving from the septic tank to the lateral field, so we will need to minimize water use at Industry until that's $$$olved.

Frustrating, because we need to do a bunch of water-intensive work before the Farmer's Market Holiday Sale this Saturday.

But we are lucky. We have many resources that most folks don't have, even not counting Dawdie House. In addition to the regulation septic tank, we have a "French drain" that drains the basement sink. We can also run the washing machine into it. From past experience, its capacity is small...but still useful, with care.

We also have a sump in the basement with a portable sump pump...in fact, the same pump that a local water garden store uses to empty ponds. So the washing machine can run into a barrel, and the water be pumped out through a hose...somewhere far from the septic tank. I was thinking that would require opening a window, until I remembered the opening for the now-unused dryer. It's just plugged with a plastic bag full of wool, which has nicely insulated and water-proofed it for years. A hose can squeeze in with the wool and not have any air gap. The unused sheep paddock east of the house will be sufficiently far from the septic and other concerns.

The outhouse, once again, is a real blessing. There is no real security like KNOWING you have a decent place to poop, no matter what. The TP is in a coffee can to keep it from getting damp. Of course, there is that long, cold walk to the outhouse, out behind the barn...that's where chamber pots come into play. I raided the stash of plastic buckets, found some lids, labeled each one boldly "NO FOOD USE" and now we each have our own. Pee TP (for us ladies) goes in a plastic bag and into the trash, though I suppose we could burn it in the burn barrel with other paper waste.

We also have a wide range of water sources. In addition to city water at Dawdie House, the one pump in the basement supplies both unsoftened (farm hydrants, cold in the shower, drinking water in the kitchen) and softened (everything else) water. We can wash veggies in the high tunnel, and the waste water will be appreciated by the plants.

It IS a shame that this is unfolding just as the coldest weather sets in...low teens forecast on Wed.

It will be an interesting adventure (if we let it) to see how much we can change our water use habits for a limited time, and then to see what "sticks" after the system is back to normal.

We have never been highly motivated to conserve water here before. After all, we just borrow it for a little while and then put it back...and there's no monthly water bill. The cost of our water is hidden in the electric bill (to run the pump) and the grocery bill (to purchase salt for the softener). So it really wouldn't hurt to be more judicious in our use. It will be interesting if we can tell the difference.

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