I announced yesterday with immense pride that our 'foul water' (sewerage) was better than everyone else's 'foul water'. This certainty came about when we opened our septic tank and found that no disgusting odours emanated from it.
Well, things changed today. For the worst.
And because I desire to be a writer of the truth, I feel compelled to share the grisley details with you...
This morning, I phoned our geometra to ask him to view the maze of pipes that we'd uncovered while we'd been looking for our septic tank. We wanted him to suggest how and where we should proceed. With acres of land and no idea where our septic tank was, there was a great risk that we would dig up the entire property before we found it.
He came within an hour. In the bitter cold of a heavy frost, he walked around the pipes, leaned over them, measured and estimated distances, falls and likely locations for pipes and tanks.
Finally, he suggested that we do more digging.
As Murphy would have it, he wanted us to dig in exactly the place where we'd thrown all the dirt from the previous holes we'd dug. The mound was so huge and heavy (it had been soaked by recent rain) that it took us a full hour to move it.
By the time we'd cleared the dirt off the chosen spot, we were already tired, our arms barely able to be lifted, our backs fragile.
We needed a break so we staggered into the warmth of the rustico for lunch.
An hour later, the frost still had not melted. We had no choice but to layer ourselves with clothing and emerge.
We had agreed to take turns at working. Stu would use a heavy crowbar to spear and loosen the hard earth, then I would collect the loose dirt on my shovel and throw it onto a new pile.
The cold sun was now making its way into the valley. Feeling the light on my face and listening to the dull thuds on the clay was relaxing.
Suddenly, the dull thuds stopped and I heard a grunt.
I looked across just in time to see Stu recoil.
Cautiously, I advanced with my shovel, unaware of the revolting sight that awaited me.
Stu had broken through a pipe. And there was absolutely no doubt that this pipe was backed up, alive and pumping with gas. As he poked in the hole, I watched all manner of half decomposed fetid crap ooze out of the pipe and creep down our driveway.
I hoped the neighbour wouldn't be out today.
I wondered about cholera and black death.
Then the stench hit me and I was forced to retreat a few metres (Stu said afterwards that I dropped tools and 'fled' inside the rustico).
After a few minutes spent gathering myself, I ventured back out, sensitive that we were in this thing together. There was also the small possibility that I may have been personally responsible for some of the ooze.
I circled the area, careful not to come within smelling distance (approx 5 metres).
While I provided spiritual support (talking, gagging), Stu waded in the mess, occasionally slipping in the mustard-like ooze. His gloves were wet and the soles of his gumboots were caked.
For some reason (probably a need to be distracted from the work at hand), I noticed that the broken pipe had a crack through it. The crack was discoloured so it must have been leaking for a while. Indeed, we had noticed some strange water levels in our toilet recently and our plumber had hinted that we may have had a broken pipe.
I phoned our geometra again and told him we'd found the septic and a cracked/broken pipe. He confirmed that he would send a drainlayer and a supersucker tomorrow.
While this was a really horrible experience, this afternoon we agreed that it was a good thing to have discovered both our septic and the cracked pipe. We now had an opportunity to have the world's strongest and cleanest sewer pipe as well as the world's cleanest septic!
Morals of the Story:
If your septic tank smells good, there is something wrong!
If you ever need to get close to your sewerage, remember that no matter how good you think you are, your excrement stinks!