It's hard to believe that I can be so thrilled at such an unglamorous 'renovation', but, well, I am!
We didn't leave the city until the wee hours of Saturday morning, so arrived 9-ish. We took advantage of the 'business hours' arrival to run several errands. We made 7 stops before we got home! Exactly the kind of day we hate, but it needed doing.
Sunday, we dove into the clearing of the 12 foot wide swath down to the stream for the septic system's discharge pipe. We had chosen a path that involved the removal of mostly quite small trees and only two medium-large ones. We would have been all done by suppertime, but the chainsaw quit on us again. During our holidays, it did the same thing and when DS unloaded it at the dealer, it started on the first pull. She was quite reluctant to suffer the same embarrassment again.
The tanks arrived bright and early Monday morning: by 8:30 AM they had been unloaded and were sitting there, waiting to be sunk into the ground. While unloading, one brace-foot sunk into the ground beside the garage quite a bit. It looked suspicious, and I was concerned that the
weight might shift suddenly and endanger the driver, or drop the tank. All went well, though. I went over to take a look after he left and there seems to be yet another underground wooden structure. However, what purpose it serves and where it goes, we have no clue. That's a puzzle for another day, some time in the distant (I hope) future.
Tuesday was spent picking up two cords of stove-length hardwood at $55.00 each, helping some friends load a cord of their wood into their truck, and dropping off and picking up the recalcitrant chainsaw. Best we could all figure out, our gas was too old (5 months) so we decided to mix in smaller quantities. We also stacked most of our bought wood and some of our spring cull wood in the shed as well.
A quick call at the end of the day confirmed that the contractor would not be at our place before Thursday AM, so we finished our felling, bucking and removal of the wood culled from the swath on Wednesday. The two medium-large trees were Paper Birch, which will make for good burning. They were at the bottom of the hill, though, and without any other means of getting them out of the way, we carried and toted by hand. We burned a couple-three calories that day! We also had to get all the longer, but much smaller lengths out of the way. By suppertime we were exhausted, but all the wood was waiting to be stacked and bucked. And this spring's cull was stacked in the woodshed. When we were all done, we hauled out the 300' tape measure and checked. I had estimated 300' based on the plans, and I was within a foot. These trees netted us close to two cords of wood for next winter, and we bucked and stacked it while we watched the work progress.
Now, you might think that I, an overweight, under-exercised pencil-pushing girl from the city would perform such heavy physical labour only under pain of death, but that is just not the case. I find such tiring and sweat-producing efforts quite rewarding. We both do, and look forward to the days when we get to do this full-time. Busman's holiday, I guess. Anyway, I get a sense of accomplishment from such activities that I really treasure.
Thursday morning dawned grey and dreary. By 8:30 AM, digging had started. Once the top was off the old holding tank, we learned that both the inlet and overflow tubes were underwater, which should not have been. It was quite surprising that our toilet wasn't flushing slowly. A quick call to the local firm and the poop-sucking truck would be there in an hour. He just happened to be in the village.
Steve, our contractor, moved over and started digging where the tanks were planned to go. About a foot deeper than the soil test hole dug in July, he hit bedrock. He followed it along, and it went deeper for a bit, then headed back up. There was no way to set up the system with a gravity feed unless the tanks were placed at least 100' away from the house, and even then, we weren't positive that would work because there was another 'wave' of bedrock along the way. We opted for a sewage pumping station near the house. Not the best scenario, but in our case, quite likely the only solution. This also means that the tanks cause a rise in the ground level a bit higher than the slope that was already there. And, we have one of those u-g-l-y vent pipes that end in an upside-down 'U'. It will be a challenge to hide that puppy, and it's right in the middle of the slope to the clearing at the end of the house. We have plenty of room for our 'road' between the tanks and the pumping station at the end of the house, so it's all good.
On the plus side, Steve dug up all the old cast iron piping and hauled it away, as well as the really putrid soil and timbers from the old holding tank. The exchange was that he didn't charge us travelling time on the shovel, worth $110. I had asked him to put any large rocks he found while digging off to the side, and DS had spoken to him about making the pile of old timbers from the greenhouse more manageable for us. He found quite a few rocks, which was great. He dug up the huge one we'd found bulldozing and hadn't been able to move with the 'dozer, and ended up standing it on it's side and placing it almost exactly where I would have put it. I couldn't have asked for better. He also dug a huge hole and dumped all the greenhouse junk into it and covered it back up, so we don't have to worry about dealing with that come spring.
Also, he reworked the crest of the slope between the clearing and the 'path' to the stream so it is now a gentle and manageable one. Next spring, we'll haul out the bulldozer and rework the clearing and the 'path' a bit and then we'll be able to sow grass seed. The winter snow and spring melt will cause the soil to compact and settle, so there wouldn't be much point in re-working it now. We'll need some topsoil for the area around the tanks, because it's very much clay there, but from beyond there, right through the clearing, it's beautiful soil.
I'd like to plant some trees along the 'path' because it is a lot wider than it needs to be, and I picked out a nice spot for a campsite. We might make a couple, actually. They are not too far from the planned firepit, yet enough under the trees to be really attractive.
Anyway, it is great to have that worry off our minds. The total bill is more than we hoped, but less than we feared, so that's good, too. From what was found, we would have had problems this winter. Now, it's done.
We had some ducks and even four geese visit. I also got some footage of Oscar the Castor. We got lots of footage of the excavator, too, for the great-nephews. Notice I say footage and not photos. I bought the family Christmas present early: a hard-disc drive camcorder. Of course we forgot all about taking still shots, so unless I can figure out a way to cull a still shot from the footage, there's nothing for the blog!
Unfortunately, we didn't get any work done on the window. That's for next time. Our bedroom may have to wait until the holiday season vacation starts, but we will still be able to get it done before the big family party; we may just not have it done for our own family celebration.