Going through the motions

This blog comes with a HEALTH WARNING; some parts are not for the faint hearted and nor would we recommend it is read before or at mealtimes. I should also say that this time last week I had hoped to be writing about bees, our new beehive, the arrival of the majority of our organic vegetable seeds from Tamar Organics and the start of planting. However I regret to inform you that the past week has been about septic tanks and brown scum on the surface of one of the burns. Another case of two steps forward, one step back.

It all started a couple of weeks when we noticed the dreaded grey water flecked with mashed up toilet paper bubbling up in the paddock adjacent to the house. In my early childhood I grew up with a septic tank so should have know better than to just turn a blind and hope it would sort itself. But it gradually got worse, with a nice pong to go with it and last week we had to call in Scottish Water with the whale tanker.

A great spectator sport

Once again the kids loved the whole experience regardless of the smell and appearance and then merrily trooped in for lunch afterwards without any sense of adult disgust. Neither did the cheery septic cleaning chap. He was a delight to have around, joking with the kids and full of the joys of spring. Most of us would turn our noses up at such jobs and some may even look down theirs which reminded me of a TED talk I once heard by an American called Mike Rowe about the satisfaction that is often gained from manual, dirty jobs. For those with a spare 20 minutes I have included a link to it below. Well worth a listen if you feel you're wasting your time in pointless meetings or conference calls.

The talk struck a chord with me because I understand the pleasure, sometimes only retrospective, in manual work. However when the slurping noise of the septic hose increased and we neared the bottom the chap announced, "Yer cone's knackered". What? "Aye, yer cone's fallen doon. It's a dig oot and replacement job". As soon as I heard the word dig I instantly saw pound signs and any pleasure fast disappeared. So we now have to dig out our 750 gallon septic tank - which is only fourteen years old I hasten to add - because it hasn't been cleaned out in years and at some point this cone or float thing has been damaged. The joys - and cost - of self sufficiency and rural life.

Brown diatom algae or something less pleasant?

I mentioned brown scum in a burn. Normally I wouldn't have bothered too much - given all our other tasks - but with the heavy rain last week it progressively got worse. We also had our septic tank problem and while that goes to a soakaway and is over 100 yards away I wanted to make to doubly sure this wasn't linked. That's because we're going to repair a small weir to draw a good quality water supply for the veg garden. The scum didn't look good quality to me! This time it was was a call to SEPA. Like Scottish Water they were incredibly efficient and helpful and on Friday one of their officers came down, scratched his head, looked on with a bit of uncertainty and took samples. His colleagues think it is a single cell algae and from a bit of googling diatoms seems to be an aquarium owners nightmare. As long as it's not chemical or effluent then i'm not too worried. We shall see what the lab analysis comes back with.

Muddy puddles (and broken gates)

The rain of the past week has really been the first proper rain we have had since we arrived in December last year. As a result new things have appeared along with the first signs of Spring. Mostly large muddy puddles but also flowing burns, geese and oyster catchers, buds on trees, the first signs of blossom and new grass shoots. All very exciting.We even have all ten hens now laying, albeit not every day. Omlette for breakfast, egg mayo for lunch (with fresh wild garlic picked from the woods) and the odd frittata for dinner. How long will it be until we become sick of eggs? Anyway that's the kids up and breakfast calls. Who's for eggs then?

Until next time I shall leave you with a wee video of our frisky cockerel. He certainl;y knows how to ruffle a few feathers.


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