The Septic System – Completed

Our friend J came out last Monday to install the drain field baffles and then backfill everything. I assumed all went well and picked up some seed on my way down Tuesday thinking I could get it spread on all of the bare soil and topped with straw to help keep erosion at bay. J was locking the gate when I drove up.

“There’s been a problem” said J as I walked up. My heart sank. It turns out J’s trackhoe broke down right after he started to backfill. A mobile tractor guy had been out earlier that day and after 6 hours and trips to a parts store a couple of hours away… thought it was fixed. Thirty minutes after the repair guy left it broke down again. Poor J! He had taken Monday off from work to finish this part of the job up, had to leave work early Tuesday to meet the repair guy and now he had to take another day off of work to [hopefully] get the trackhoe fixed and finish the backfilling.

Wednesday morning J and the repair guy showed up – another trip to yet another part store a few hours away and about 6 hours later the trackhoe was operational. It was pretty late in the day by then and with dusk coming on between 400 – 430 pm, I didn’t think J was going to get much done. The dry weather he was counting on was disappearing that night with rain in the forecast.  Another project that was planned for completion during the summer was creeping into the wet, muddy days of November… It must be our thing.

I jumped in the trench with a shovel and the roll of CAUTION tape and nearly sunk in up to my knees! All of the water from the previous weekend rains had wreaked havoc on the open trenches. Although it was sunny and dry, water was still pouring down the hill. The septic line trenches and all around the tanks were filled with water. Unfortunately, the water coming from the west side of the curtain drain was perfectly lined up with the septic drain line and making matters worse.

The dirt was now heavy clay mud and it took so much more effort to shovel it in and lay the CAUTION tape. Hell, it took more effort to just take one step – the mud was so soupy in places it would suck your boot right off it you weren’t careful. I just kept telling myself I’m building character.

and hopefully some muscle.

and unfortunately some searing low back pain.

Good thing the tanks were filled with water, otherwise they may have floated away! Seriously – the septic design specifically instructs you to fill the tanks immediately upon setting them in the ground for this reason.

A channel had to be dug on the other side of the pump tank so some of the water could drain out before backfilling

We hand shoveled dirt on the septic line about 6″ deep, then laid the tape. It was awful. It was hard. But it got done and J was able to backfill about 80% before it got too dark. He is a wizard with that machine. He came back Sunday and finished the backfilling (thanks goodness the rain let up for the afternoon), loaded his trackhoe up  and headed off into the sunset. Turns out this was the last job for the trackhoe as S & J have closed their company and are selling off all of their heavy equipment. Another “sweet & sorrow” parting me thinks.

Drain field baffles installed. Inspector Magpie checking J’s work

All of the dirt (at least the stuff that didn’t get washed down the hill) back in its place.

In the meantime, I did get the chicken manure/straw mix spread on my Cistern Garden beds, mixed my compost tea, neem oil and fish emulsion concoction and sprayed the fruit and nut trees, plus finished my rock border around the recently planted “roundabound” garden. No seeding though but all in all, a pretty productive mid-week visit.

Bay tree in the center with rosemary on either side, purple sage here and there, Berseem clover for ground cover and black mondo grass around the edges. More plants will be added next spring.

M and I headed back down over the weekend and checked a few more things off of our to do list. M spread a truck load of gravel I had delivered while I was there mid-week. He rode his motorcycle down Friday night after work and did it in the dark with a headlamp and the tractor headlights. I was impressed!

night time gravel

We really need to dig in a swale to redirect that water coming out of the curtain drain – which is doing its job of keeping all of that water away from the barn and our future house site – but the ground is way too wet and muddy now so will have to wait until next summer. The next best thing we could think of to do was to put up a silt fence to try and redirect some of the water away from the bare soil.

We sprinkled about 8 bales of old hay on the bare soil but ran out of time before we could get it all covered. We will have to finish it up next trip down.

So the septic system is completed but we have nothing to hook up to it yet. We are planning on starting the farm prep area buildout next month – just as soon as we check off all of the existing items on the to do list.


About La Femme Farmer

Starting up a small farm is the goal for the second half of my life. It's a late start I know, but better late than NEVER! Growing food, cooking and eating are my passions and now I get to do it full-time (and then some). and yes, that's a tomato from my garden!
This entry was posted in Construction, Farm Machines, Preparing the land, Uncategorized, Water Management. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The Septic System – Completed

  1. Yet again blown away by the amount you two get done in a short weekend. No wonder your back hurts.

    I am super curious about the caution tape – which doesn’t appear in the photos – what was it for?

    And the roundabound bed looks awesome – such a positive after all that mud. We didn’t get as much rain as you did south of us, thankfully, but I am crossing my fingers as we brace ourselves for some septic work beginning next week – about 2 months after we planned. I sincerely hope we don’t have the mud or breakdown issues you endured, but it IS November on the Wet Coast, so I’m not holding my breath on that one.

  2. Thanks SSF 😌
    The caution tape is just plastic yellow tape a couple of inches wide that you lay in a trench about 6″ -12″ above any utility lines (electric, water, septic, etc… so that after it is all buried and forgotten and you (or future occupants) start to dig in the area – you will see the tape before you hit the lines. Our next task is to GPS where all of these things are and prepare a map of the property showing where everything is buried.
    Wet Coast – ha! I can’t believe I’ve never heard that one before!
    I’ll keep my fingers crossed that your septic project goes well.

  3. Wow! I agree, you guys are workhorses! Looking good 😀

    SSF, we always say the Pacific Northwet down here 😉 I like Wet Coast too!

  4. Thanks MOH – I have to say I wouldn’t mind being a pampered little pony for a few days 😉

  5. Bill says:

    There is something especially satisfying about going to bed at night, exhausted from a day of good and meaningful work. Well done. But a word of caution (even though I’m sure you know it already)–be careful with your back. I’ve been foolish with mine before and risked disabling myself. A farmer needs a strong, healthy back.

  6. Unfortunately, that ship sailed a long time ago. A couple of injuries during childhood and years of slinging heavy boxes of documents while working on large litigation cases wrecked my back. All I can do now is try to manage it more carefully. Thank goodness M has a strong back!

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