Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Septic System Sampling: The Final Chapter

It is with great joy that we announce the receipt of the postcard pictured above. Even though we only have eight months until we submit another sample, I think the folks at the Health Department have been pretty patient and helpful through our ordeal. We thank the Lord for blessings big and small, and I'm sure everyone downstream is a bit relieved now too.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Construction update #29

There's not a lot to report on construction around the house and barn, but since the weather has been delightful this week, we have accomplished a bit outside. The last few days have been spent transplanting a couple of sun-loving plants from a shady side of the house to the middle of the yard, throwing down some grass seed, and moving some dirt.

Before I filled in the hole that used to be on the right side of the meter, we straightened the conduit running up into the base of the meter. Several wheelbarrows of dirt later, the hole was filled near to the level of the surrounding dirt. The pile of dirt above grade came out of the ditch I dug today for the conduit that runs out to the barn. My buddy Bud (is that redundant?) pulled the wires from the disconnect pictured here to the panel in the garage a few weeks ago so I could have temporary power out there. Now that the ditch is dug, we can finish running the conduit and call the outdoor wiring complete.

Here's a little wider shot that shows the old disconnect on the pole along with a nice roll of used wire hanging above it. It won't be long and all the dirt will be back underground where it belongs.

Lastly, a shot of the barn just after sunset so you don't forget what it looks like. Another accomplishment in the last couple weeks was spreading the last couple tons of the gravel on the drive. Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

It's kinda windy here today

The Peoria airport recorded 57 mph winds this afternoon, and I would estimate our winds at least as strong as that. I temporarily nailed these down before they separated themselves from the roof, but it looks like we'll have some roofing work to do later this spring.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Swimmin' in the septic system

Regular readers of this blog may remember a post about fishing last September. I described my device for gathering water samples from the discharge of our septic system, and how we are required to submit a sample at least once a year. We submitted a sample last September. It failed. We added chlorine to the discharge and sampled again. It also failed. We flushed the chlorinator and contact tank, added chlorine, and sampled again. It also failed. I've lost count of how many times we've flushed, sampled, and failed, but evidently the County Health Department hasn't lost count. They sent a representative out to take a look on Friday.

Taking a look at the contact tank in our system involves removing about a foot of earth on top of the 24" diameter concrete tank lid, and of course, removing the lid itself. The expert recommended we pump the contact tank, which if everything is working correctly, should only contain relatively clean and clear water. Ours was pretty muddy. After pumping about 40 gallons of water out of the tank, it was apparent that our pump was ingesting sediment, and that we needed a different method to remove water and muck from the tank. Being short on industrial pumping equipment and long on dim wits and energy, yours truly took a bucket into the hole. Even though water continued to trickle into the hole from the inlet and outlet tubes, I was able to stay ahead of the inflow and remove most of the sediment on the bottom of the tank. Photographic evidence of the adventure is included below for your enjoyment.

This was our routine: I would gather as much sediment and water in my little bucket as I could, while Karen's dad lowered a larger bucket into which I could empty mine. Because of the tight quarters, he would need to raise his bucket above my head so I could stoop back down to get another collection, stand up, direct the second bucket down in front of me, empty into it, repeat ad nauseum.

This demonstrates how far I could bend over inside the contact tank: just far enough to scrape my pail on the bottom while wedging my body against the sides of the tank, and trying to keep the inflowing water from running into my boots.

"Sure it's comfortable down here, why do you ask?"

Why am I smiling? Because I'm finally out of the hole!

Evidently tucking my pants legs inside the boots was not the way to keep the water out....

Square Root Day

In case you didn't notice, last Tuesday was Square Root Day. You'll probably not see a special designation on your calendar, but as the third day of the third month of the year 09 we thought we better celebrate this one since the next Square Root Day doesn't come around for another seven years! The extent of our celebrating was limited to our supper meal which is described below.

Our main course was Square Root Soup which was comprised of a creamy base and "root vegetables" (carrots, potatoes and onions) cut into square pieces. I apologize that the picture does not do the soup justice, it really is very good.

Corn bread goes well with many soups, so the girls made that as well, and cut it into square pieces, of course.

Dessert was chocolate brownies baked in a square pan, cut into squares, and decorated with square root symbols. We decided the pieces might be too large if we divided the pan into only 9 pieces, so we cut it into 16 in anticipation of the next Square Root Day. We didn't originate this idea, so I wonder how many other families celebrated Square Root Day, and how they celebrated? Did any of our readers celebrate?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Karen's modeling career continues...

Most of Karen's friends are not aware that in addition to educating our children, keeping our family well fed and comfortable, and making our house a home, she also maintains a career in fashion modeling. Her latest project is currently visible on the home page of Folkwear.com where she is pictured in one of her latest sewing projects.

In case you're looking for a little larger image, here's the image a little closer to the way Karen submitted it. Click on the image to enlarge.

Although there are no trips to Paris or Milan planned, keep your eyes open for future projects!