I had to call the guy who pumps out our septic tank this morning. He was supposed to do it at the end of October, but early November would have been fine. Apparently, he forgot. He has been coming here annually to take care of our personal ecological system since we moved here, so there’s nothing unusual about this request. In fact, he sent me a card to remind me it was “that time of the year” again.
Some time between the changing of the leaves and the falling of the snow, it’s time to pump the septic. It has gotten a bit crispy outside, so it is definitely that time of year. Humorously, today’s word is “sludge” and if what lays at the bottom of that tank isn’t sludge, I don’t know what you would call it. In the course of living here, we have had to replace the well pump twice, once because it got old. The second time because it was hit by lightning.
“What? How does a well-pump that is located 500 feet underground, get hit by lightning?” I asked the insurance guy. That was when we had insurance. Unfortunately, after they replaced the well pump, three computers and the hot water heater — all following one very special electrical storm — they didn’t want to insure us anymore and strangely, neither does anyone else. Pity.
It turns out that the well pump is a magical combination of electricity, iron, and water. It has an almost gravitational effect on the fire from the sky. It isn’t even unusual and the insurance adjuster instantly recognized the problem, though I certainly though it was kind of strange.
“Lightning,” he said, nodding. I knew about the lightning, of course because when lightning hits your home or even near your home, it is VERY LOUD. If it sounds like anything in this world, it sounds like your house has been hit by lightning. Not like a gun, a bomb, or an oncoming freight train. Lightning. House shakes. Curls of black smoke rise from your electrical and expensive technological wonders. I don’t care what kind of electrical surge protection you’ve got — a bolt of lightning beats it all to hell and back.
These days, what without insurance, I get palpitations if we have a bad electrical storm. Replacing a destroyed well pump is not a job for amateurs. Pumps are huge, heavy … and living, as they do, deep in the water of your well, they get even heavier. Because water is heavy.
But I digress. The well is part one of the ecosystem. The septic is (pardon the pun), part two and that is the part with which we need to deal today.
The Darlings who pump our septic are also the people who service our well. One big family and they live just up the street, which is locally convenient, but makes it hard to figure out the number to call since they all live in one big rambling house on a farm. I have them labeled as Jeff (DON’T CALL JEFF, HE RETIRED) and John (THIS IS THE RIGHT ONE, CALL THIS NUMBER) and David (THE WELL GUY).
If you need a hole dug, they are your guys. The fixers of all home ecosystem management. The ones to call.
So today is indeed sludge and home ecological maintenance day.
The thing is, when we moved here, we were city folk. I never imagined living a life with a well and a backyard sewage system. I thought that somehow, the town took care of all of that. Considering the terrible condition of the water of the town, we are incredibly lucky we have our own water and septic system. Not only would we be paying a ton of money to let the city make a mess of it, but we’d have disgusting fluoridated water! Yuck.
The city’s wells are not in great condition and since they have been digging things up all over town, the water situation has deteriorated and everyone is complaining. We are not complaining. I love our water. Although it is a bit rich in iron ore and makes my white hair turn a little bit orange, it is delicious and my dogs will testify it is the best water ever. Comes from deep underground and it is always icy cold.
Unlike so much of the world, we have great water. And by the end of the day, a clean system, too. Ready to go for another year, barring lightning.