Hello to our family and friends, and thanks to Mick and Bee for prodding on the entry-writing front. I would like to offer an official Interweb welcome to Gib, the long-awaited newest member of our household, and I hope to be channeling his excellent writing skills, which you may sample at http://adventuresoficenine.blogspot.com/, here. Seth and I returned a week ago from our sabbatical month in beautiful North Carolina and are rushing headlong, with our co-farmers, into the noble drama of barn-house-land caretaking.
Sunday the 7th of February was a busy day. In the morning, while Elsie and Tyler killed trees with chainsaws for firewood, Seth and I almost completed our NEW OUTHOUSE.
Now, we would choose to use an outhouse anyway for many logical reasons, but the reason we need to have one right now is because of our septic system, or lack thereof. In December, our sinks wouldn't drain. Seth took apart the u-bends under both sinks, and they were---to our amazement--clear! So as he dismantled plumbing in the basement farther and farther from the sinks, he discovered that the pipe where all the drains joined up had clogged to about a half-inch diameter opening, down from the two-inch diameter pipe. No wonder things weren't doing so hot. And in the process of exploring the plumbing, Seth noticed that a cleanout-access to the drain from the toilet was backed up to within inches of overflowing into our basement. Seth and I thought, "We need to get this septic tank pumped." We placed a five-dollar bet: Seth thought the tank would be shot and need replacing, and I thought it would still be usable. So we dug up the lid to the tank, called the pumping company, and waited for the weekend to be over to find resolution to our wager.
Come Monday, the pump truck arrived, lifted the concrete lid, and pumped out hundreds of gallons of sewage to expose not a septic tank but what the pump-man technically termed a Cesspool: a pit in the ground lined with rocks. No separation of liquids from solids, no obvious pipe out to a leach field of any kind. All bets were off. So now we throw dirty dishwater on the lawn, take bucket baths, and are looking forward to our classy new outhouse. Elsie says it can even have a standing-seam metal roof to match the barn.
Top view, pre-roof and pre-seat.
After lunch, the five of us took off on snowshoe for a two-hour tromp through the woods. Gib talked to us about sustainable forestry practices, and Seth climbed a leaning dead gray birch for a chaga mushroom. It was beautiful and cold and I found traces suggesting we have a LOT of critters in our woods--deer, rabbits, porcupines, foxes, and probably musk oxen and polar bears too.