Sunrise of Cesspool

Salt Spring Island, home to artisans, vineyards, B&B’s galore. In fact, if you are not a B&B owner then you are running a yoga studio out of your home, or both while crafting crafts for the Saturday Market while drinking local wine. It all sounds lovely huh. Well, folks there is also the reality of island life, country life that isn’t as romantic. Certainly all of the above applies here, including the spectacular hiking and of course kayaking available. However, this was a week when the dirty smelly hidden underbelly of reality of rural living snuck in to my routine, or more to the point percolated up, disrupting it somewhat.Sunrise of Septic

I live in a cabin on a sheep farm and have done for many years. It is the perfect spot, close to town but far enough away to allow tranquil escape during the heat of the summer tourist season. If I stick my head out the window this morning I hear the baying of newly born lamb, the chatter above my head of eagles and the munching of deer nibbling grass. The cabin is old. Built in 1967 and remarkably sound all things considered. As was the septic tank until yesterday morning. While enjoying a shower I heard something strange. Blurbling. It was a sound that like the howling of a wolf on a full moon night brought some primal rural-living fears to the surface. I shut off the water immediately and peeked out from behind the shower curtain to see bubbles, rather large ones at that in the toilet bowl. Random, strange and fearful bubbles. They stopped and then all the water drained from the bowl leaving only a half cup at the bottom making gasping sounds. I manually filled the bowl only to watch it begin to drain once more! I flushed and it practically overflowed. Not a good thing. A call to the landlord who only ever hears from me if something has gone wrong beyond my capability to fix, usually wiring or water.

It pays to live in a farm, he owns his own backhoe and began in earnest to excavate the lid of the septic tank once we realized his 17-year-old patch job had now failed on the pipe leading to the tank. There was considerable backflow…and of course the tank was underneath the chicken run that I had built and hastily had to dismantle. Right now there are angry mutterings from inside the closed coop.

The tank had not been emptied in the two decades I have lived in the cabin. I asked the silly question and his answer was what I expected. It had not been looked at since, 1967. wow. I helped as best I could and leaving them to it for a half hour I returned to find more holes, piles of earth and trenches dug, and the lid of the tank removed. A broken pipe leads to this in the country. The septic field is toast as well.

The pumping truck arrived the following day operated by an over-all clad fellow with a sour disposition. You can understand why. However, he was driven to ultimate sourpussiness when faced with a tank that has never been flushed. Each time his hose clogged with a stone, or some dirt it sent him into muttering while shaking the line all the way back to the tanker. His behaviour did cheer me up. At least I would have this all taken care of soon and never have to gaze into a cesspool again. He would do it again tomorrow.

If all goes as planned we will be able to flush but this afternoon! The backyard will be leveled out and the piles will be flattened, holes filled and order, which seems to be in perpetual back order around here, restored. Maybe by early next week I can release the chickens!

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