I can’t believe it’s March already even though the winter days seem to drag. The first signs have been springing up all round and my early evenings in front of the fire or the TV are drawing to a close for another year.
First of all, the crocuses and snowdrops showed themselves and the crocuses have their own rhythm too. The white ones appear first, then the various shades of yellow and finally the royal purple ones.
A few days of nice weather meant time outside – really good as it combats SAD – but being outside means I saw the first of the cranes migrating north again after their winter vacation to the south. As ever I heard them long before they appear in view but this year I also saw silent cranes. I couldn’t get the binoculars quickly enough to try and identify them but they looked a bit smaller than the other cranes and flew in total silence so I only saw them by chance when I looked up. After that I made sure I scanned the skies without waiting for the cacophony that heralds the cranes and also spotted other migrating flocks trekking north.
The trees are now beginning to break into blossom as well, both the almond and the apricots are speckled with the first flowers. There was a slight frost last night but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it wasn’t deep enough to cause damage and that we won’t have any more bad frosts or spring hail to ruin the flowers.
Work over the last few months has been lots of bits and pieces and the now obligatory crisis – I do wonder when, if ever, life will run smoothly
In January the ground dried out enough and the day temperature warmed enough to carry on with the tree pruning. This is the basic kit; electric chainsaw, pole pruner, long handled loppers x 2, secateurs x 2 and pruning saw!
Despite the weather only holding for a day or so here and there I made a good start on the trees but there was nowhere near enough time to finish them before the buds started to break – next year maybe?
The persistent damp weather of the autumn meant I didn’t get the potager rotovated before winter, in fact the soil was so wet I couldn’t even get on it to weed until February. However a week or so of dry weather and the first half has been done as can bee seen in the first picture.
Since the beginning of the year, the toilet has blocked twice; I was half expecting it although hoping I was wrong, since it blocked last May. The guys who pumped the septic tank for me last year, (I thought that as the tank hadn’t been emptied for 3 years to my knowledge that build-up was the problem) said it wasn’t a problem with the tank but it might be that the toilet was old and the calcium in the water had scaled up the pipework around the U-bed.
So when it happened this time, I bought the ‘thing’ to unblock u-bends and you guessed it – not the problem. In the end I found a plumber and I replaced the toilet. It wasn’t the problem but the only way to rod the foul drain was to take the toilet out and I as I’m not really keen on the dusty rose colour and it is around 20 years old and the matching sink is cracked and will need to be replaced etc. etc. I though I would bite the bullet and buy a new toilet. Of course mine wasn’t one of the standard horizontal exit (and therefore cheap) ones, it was a vertical exit. Well that worked for about a month and then blocked again!!!
All the work so far has implied that it isn’t a problem at the loo end so I headed for the septic tank and dug back towards the house.
With a helper of course.
It’s now a bit more obvious what the problem is likely to be. The thing we had realised when rodding and looking at the layout the first time was that there was a 90 degree bend in the pipework just before the tank. But as I had to keep reminding myself, the system had worked fine for the first 3 years I had been here so while not engineeringly sound it had worked.
Digging back towards the house it became obvious that in the 30 cm from the tank to the 90 degree bend the pipe also went uphill for a height of 10-15 cm, oh and between the bend and the house the pipe has been slightly flattened too.
My first thoughts are not printable , my second was “why on earth did they put it in like that” and then I again reminded myself that it had worked fine for 3 years. So what I think has happened is that the unusually dry weather spell we had combined with the unusually wet one has caused the ground to move a bit and the ballast that should have been under the pipe had moved into the soil. I have soil with a high clay content and as I dug round the pipe there were voids underneath it.
So with that theory in mind my kind plumber is coming back soon to put a flexible coupling in the pipe so that we can re-align it and reduce if not totally remove the uphill section and we are also going to incorporate a rodding point as having to remove the toilet to rod is more than a bit inconvenient!