March 24, 2011

Skunks, Septic Tanks, and Dogs Who Don't Learn

Sometimes, I think my life could be a sitcom.

Living in Rural Suburbia certainly has its perks.  For one, you can see a ton of stars...most nights anyway!  Just twenty minutes away, the lights of the city seem to make so many of them disappear.  Another great thing is that our houses spaced-out pretty well.  No one is so close to anyone else that they have to watch the volume of their television or anything like that.  We do have a few neighbors who like to occasionally blast mariachi music into the wee hours of the morning, but I don't care as long as it's on a weekend.  We can, if we so choose to, have chickens and goats and horses get my point.

The upside of living out here is so apparent that it's often easy to take for granted.  The downsides aren't so obvious most days.  We rely on a well for our water, which basically means that running the sprinklers too much can affect our power bill as well as the life of our well.  (Can you just pull $20,000 or so out of your arse to dig a new well?  I certainly can't....)  We also have to have a propane tank for our heater and hot water heater to function.  We live too far out to be able to hook up to our local power company for gas.  We have the option to buy appliances that only require electricity, but we just use what we have and spend a large chunk of money to fill our propane tank annually.  (Always buy it in the summer.  The more you need it, the more they can charge you!)  Another detail that keeps us separate from most of modern civilization is the need to have our own septic tank.  Since we are already accustomed to being responsible with our water use, our septic tank is normally not something we worry too much about.  A toilet left running or something like that could cause some expensive problems to our septic system...not too mention some foul-smelling side effects!

Evidently, too much rain can cause very similar problems.  It appears that our septic tank became full of water recently.  A few days ago, David noticed that the toilet in our back bathroom was flushing 'more slowly.'  It would still flush and a plunger made no difference whatsoever, but it hesitated before the water would actually flush down.

Red flag.

It was also pointed out to me (by David) that, when our front toilet was flushed, the back toilet would gurlge. 

Another red flag.

The final straw was yesterday morning when David discovered the front bathroom to have a large puddle of water in the floor.  It's still not clear whether that water was from the toilet or the shower.  15YO had just taken a shower and isn't always good about closing the curtain the right way.  It was, however, the motivation we needed to realize we could really have a problem on our hands if we didn't get it corrected soon.  David went outside and discovered that the mud directly over the location of the septic tank smelled like it belonged IN the septic tank.  It's been raining a TON for our area.  We are not used to this much rain, even if we do need it.  We have a dry well that branches off from the septic tank and collects any overflow from said tank  David was able to get the day off so he could stay home and figure out the situation.  He started digging down to the tank itself and looking for the cap.  He knew he could open it up and see if it were actually full or if there were some other problem.  It's not easy to find the cap for the septic tank, but if the guy who came out to pump it had to so much as pick up a shovel and find it himself, it would cost anywhere up to another $100.00. 

Yeah, ouch!

From what he could tell us, the tank WAS full...but it was mostly water.  We have some cracks in the top of the tank, but nothing he's really concerned about.  All that rainwater might have been able to seep into those cracks and fill the tank.  (That's just a theory, though!)  We don't really know for sure, but things seem to be back to normal now.  We won't really know for another month or so when then rain dries up enough for things to go back to 'normal' around here. 

Whatever that means!

To be safe, we have to tighten our belts on water use even more.  We will be taking what David likes to call 'RV SHOWERS' for the next 2-4 weeks.  (Wet your hair and body, turn off the water.  Wash hair, lather body, turn on water.  Rinse off, turn off water.  You see where this is's like CAMPING!)  He also wants us to limit our toilet flushing, but I have hard time accepting that one.  (That one is WAY too much like camping for me!  Why don't we just dig a hole in the ground and build a little shed around it?)

I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.

As it was, 8YO stayed home from school because she didn't feel well.  It was cold and rainy and windy and all we really wanted to do was lie around snuggled under a blanket together reading or watching television.  We had just finished dinner and were sitting around in the living room watching 'The Middle' when the dogs went outside.  They weren't out there but a minute or so, but came back in after being sprayed by a SKUNK.

Because our day needed more excitement, right?

I had been burning candles all day to keep the smell of HUMAN EXCREMENT at bay and it had worked, but those poor candles didn't stand a chance next to that freshly-sprayed skunk smell.  The dogs are hunkered down in the dog house outside and I am cranking up the heater so I can bring them in the house (one at a time, of course!) and treat them for the smell.   This is the second time this year that I have had to treat these dogs after being sprayed by a skunk.  I'm just glad I have plenty of baking soda, peroxide, and dish soap on hand.  Despite what we have always been told, tomato juice doesn't really work. 

And the peroxide will give them some lovely 'highlights' in their coat, just in time for spring!


wildtomato said...

This is my old blog theme! I moved on to something Springlike now. You know, since it's all Springy outside...

All I can say is, "Gross!"

Laura said...

Oh, Leann. It all sounds horrible!