Grit Blogs > Backyard Baers

The Hard Working Fool

Benjamin BaerRecently we had our septic tank pumped. After speaking to the previous owners of the house, they said it had never been pumped, which meant it was going on 15 years. So, I decided to be proactive, and have the tank pumped prior to a disaster, and simple research online suggested a tank should be pumped every 3-5 years, so based on that estimate, we were already on borrowed time.

Unfortunately, upon reviewing the design plans for the house and going out and inspecting the location of the septic tank, we discovered it was actually about 5 feet underground.  So, we had to hire a guy with an excavator to dig it out in order for the plumbing company to get access to it. Once all was said and done, the septic tank was pumped, and there was about a 6 x 6-foot hole, about 5 feet on the backside of our house. I’ll be honest; I was a little annoyed with the whole situation, and was bound not to spend another dime on the process. So, I spent any free time I had filling that massive hole. And since it’s been winter, half the time the two piles of dirt were frozen, and I had to use a digging bar to break it apart. The manual filling process was a series of highs and lows. At times I felt frustrated thinking I’m a fool for not paying that guy to come back and fill the hole, other times I felt so entrenched in not paying any more money, the time and effort filling the hole seemed totally worth it. Not to mention I got some quality time outdoors ... even if it was freezing.

A few days ago I finally finished it. And all I can say is I sure hope it’s another 15 years before I have to have that septic pumped again, especially since I opted not to have a riser installed. A riser would have removed the need to have an excavator dig out the septic tank (essentially it would have made the opening of the septic tank level with the ground), which would save me $225 each pumping. But the riser cost $550, which meant if the septic tank continued to last 15 years before needing to be pumped; the riser wouldn’t pay for itself until 2061. So, fiscally thinking, it made sense not to have the riser installed, and just continue to pay the $225 when I need it dug out to be pumped ... of course, that means I’ll continue to have to fill in the hole myself. Which is fine; I’ll just make sure next time we have it pumped before winter.

This gives you an idea of the hole...

This at least gives you an idea of the size of the hole ... the slope didn't make things any easier.

In other news, my current project is working on the chicken coop. Again, I have found myself wondering, “Am I a hard worker, or just a fool?” I’ve prepared a section in our backyard that is about 11 x 6 feet, which is fine, that is plenty of space and I feel good about it. The issue is that the slope that virtually our entire property is on makes every project harder than it already is. Leveling out the area has proved to be a lot of work, and time-consuming ... and I haven’t even started building the actual structure yet, I’m just trying to get the surface-area ready. I briefly contemplated purchasing one of the prebuilt chicken coops, but I just couldn’t pull the trigger. The prebuilt ones look nice, but the coops that impress me most are the ones where someone drew up some plans on a napkin and just went to work. And besides, buying a coop wouldn’t resolve the issue I have with our sloping land. I imagine I will eventually give in to some degree of slope in the run, and I guess our chickens will just grow to have one leg longer than the other.

I like to think I always consider the value of my time spent working on a project, but sometimes, no matter the job, no matter how frustrating at times, it just seems more fulfilling doing it yourself.