September 25 , 1999
really does roll down hill
This week's news was highlighted by the installation of the septic and cistern systems. When we first bought our land, it was contingent upon passing a perc test for a standard septic system. If you are in the market for buying land, it is very important to find out what type of soil exists near your building site and get an idea of how deep you will need to drill for water. Septic systems are a big deal now days and regulations have become tighter as to the placement and design for such a system.
Jeff and Leon arrived on Wednesday and began digging the trenches necessary for both a septic tank and cistern. The septic system is quite typical for the area. Our septic system is designed to meet the needs of a three bedroom house. This is a bit oversized for our needs, but it's better to oversize a bit instead of undersize. Hopefully, our system will last a long time before needing any major work. Our plans are not to use a garbage disposal and we will be very careful what we put down the drains to keep the bacteria in the septic tank alive and happy.
By early afternoon on Wednesday, Al's Concrete Products came by with the 1,000 gallon septic tank. Jeff had just finished digging the hole when the tank arrived. The septic tank went in quite easily with the assistance of a remote controlled crane.
After the septic tank was placed, it was time for the driver to go back and get the cistern tank. The original plan was to have a 1,500 gallon tank installed for the cistern, but after doing some calculations it became apparent that 1,500 gallons was a bit too small. I calculated that a 2,000 square foot roof would fill that tank up with a rain of about 1.5 inches. The next size up was 2,440 gallons. So I decided to go with the larger tank.
This tank is BIG. It measures 7' wide by 12' long and 59" deep. It has two man hole covers and three access pipes. The trick was to get the truck near the back of the house where I wanted the tank placed. Jeff had no problem digging the hole for the tank, but the truck had a problem getting far enough back to place the tank. So I used the rusty, trusty Bobcat to dig the sides of the hill so the truck could get in. It was a tight fit, but the tank went in with no problems.
Both the septic sewer pipe and the cistern water pipe were routed under the house footings (foundation) through 6" PVC pipe that was installed a year ago before the rock bed was poured for the rubble trench foundation. This made life much easier that trying to dig a hole under the footings.
use a cistern?
Cisterns were commonly used on farms back in the 1800's as a source for fresh water in areas where wells could not be dug deep enough for water. Today they are quite commonly used in the Caribbean and other areas where well water is scarce or too costly. The state of Texas has quite a substantial web site devoted to the installation of cisterns and some of the cities offer rebate programs for those who harvest rain water. If you are interested in learning more about cisterns, you can download a booklet in pdf format: Texas Guide to Rainwater Harvesting.
Our intentions for using a cistern are as follows:
1) It will provide a source of soft water for washing clothes, taking showers and using on plants and eliminates the need for a water softener. (If properly filtered, rain water can be a safe source of drinking water. We will wait and see what the quality of the well water is before determining our approach to this.)
2) It provides a backup source of water from our well (yet to be installed) or visa versa.
3) It will provide a storage facility for water that could be used to help put out a fire. I have yet checked with our insurance company but I have been told that it may reduce our fire insurance costs.
Next week I will start boarding up the lower sides of the house to prepare it for winter. The upper storey will stay open until the roof, soffit and fascia work has been completed. It looks like the end of October until that work gets done.
week's Beanie Baby
As I mowed the fields over the last week, I was amazed by some of the mice that were trying to get out of the path of the tractor. Some of these mice were hopping instead of running. After the trench was dug for the cistern, I noticed that a mouse had fallen into the trench. To my delight, it appeared to be one of those hopping mice. It must have been in shock or stunned in some way because it let me pick it up without much of a struggle. I placed it in the sunlight and took its picture. From what I have been able to find on the Internet, it appears to be a meadow jumping mouse. Anyone out there know for sure? They have a very long tail and a strange snout of a nose. Cute though!