Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Septic Woes

You want to know what the funnest part of cleaning out a shower filled with septic tank back up is? Here's the answer: none of it. Absolutely none of it was fun. I spent over an hour scooping, trashing, mopping, scrubbing, bleaching and trying to clean out the only bathroom shower this place has and I did it fighting back tears. This was the last thing I needed.

Septic tanks are part of living in the country. They need care and upkeep just like any other working part of a farm. Mine was overdue for a checkup and this was my big fat reminder. I called the guys who pump out tanks and it looks like three hundred bucks till its all said and done. As far as home improvement bills it could be much worse, and that is the positive spin I hope to take on this lump of bad luck.

I don't think I'll ever shower without flip flops again.

I'm not going to lie, things are tough here. But I see no reason to write about that at all besides that poop rant. Let me tell you what is good instead, because that is what I need to focus on. If I sit down and write about all the hurdles I need to jump over before Mabon I'll be useless to myself and this farm. If I write about the good stuff I'll have the energy to edit another chapter, work another few hours on graphic design, pitch more workshops and classes, muck out the goat pen, or just sit back and realize some important stuff. Important stuff like I am wasting my time on this farm worrying about keeping it and rarely breathing deep and loving the time I still have here.

SO here is some good news. If you helped out last month by being part of the Kiva Loan for the "new" truck then you should have seen your first repayment made today. Thank you. Thank you so much for making that truck possible and for being the reason I can drive around the county. Every month you'll see the money repaid and emails sent to announce it (from Kiva, not me). Know that Big Red is running well, was inspected and is road safe and legal in NY, and I adore her. She's what we trapped Anna Kendrick in, where Friday takes her naps on my thigh as we drive home from the hay banks, where Gibson hangs his head out the window at dusk, where I listen to your cassette tapes (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire right now, thanks Lane R!), and what gets me to book signings, speaking events and general shenanigans. I am so thankful for the truck and so proud to make that payment.

Other good news: my agent has two possible book proposals he is pitching and a book deal before winter would be a godsend. I haven't had an substantial income since the Birchthorn Kickstarter a year ago and another book deal would be a morale booster, for sure. Speaking of Birchthorn, the novel has a professional editor I hired who will be combing through it for polish and presentation (as well as story notes) and then the digital version will be in all of the backers hands as soon as possible after that. Once every backer has their copy I will offer it for sale online for a few dollars if anyone is interested in buying it. Finishing that project will be another point of pride for this farm. I can't wait to hold the hardcover in my hands!

As for the farm in general - things are good here for all the animals. The sheep are fat and no longer escaping, thanks to better fencing and apples as far as the eye can see. (It was a great year for apples!). I have two new ewes coming to the farm in a few weeks, wool ewes from Patty's farm, and I am glad to have some breeding animals under 5 years old in the flock! Sal and Joseph are doing well, and Monday and his gals are too.

The pigs are outside in the woods behind the barn. (I have a great story about one of them getting drunk, but I'll share that later.) All of the pigs are enjoying their newly-improved outdoor shelter and time in the forest. I just got a new piglet delivered this weekend and he is the barn waiting a roommate. He's a red wattle mix and sweet as a lamb.

Merlin is bonnie, rides like the wind, and looks dashing with his salt and pepper beard and mane. He's getting older but handsome as Clooney in a kilt with a wind machine blowing through his hair. Swoon.

Anna Kendrick is eating off my glove, used to me and the farm, and is going to be a great hunting partner! Can't wait to see her fly to the glove and she will get there soon.

The kailyard is being planted with winter greens and getting ready for season extension with hoops and cloth and plastic coverings. I'll give it a go. This farm loves kale!

The poultry CSA went smashingly this year! Still another 40+ birds out there in tractors but they are doing well and growing fat and this farm should have a nice stash of chickens even after all the shares are out. I delivered birds to four families so far (one trip by horse cart to a neighbor!) and people are enjoying the homegrown meat and I am proud of that too.

Firewood (a month's worth) is already stacked and dry and I contacted a friend from the Draft Horse Club who has another 2 cords to sell me for $400 - a good price for 2-year old dry hardwood custom cut to fit my bunbaker's 14' firebox. I have not bought the wood yet but it is easier to find $400 than it is to find dry wood at that price!

Hay is waiting for me in barns, set aside and that is a blessing. Patty's farm, Common Sense Farm, and Greene Farm all have plenty and my animals will be set. Big Red is 4 Wheel Drive and can get us there and carry so much more than the broken down Dodge ever could. I'm grateful for that!

Okay, just writing all this has me feeling better. I'll figure it out and keep you all posted. If you want to help just read the post below this one for some ideas. If you want to sit back and just watch the chaos - well, I appreciate that as well! Some people like watching my story to cheer me on and others like watching it to hope I cave in and quit. Either way, that's some fine entertainment free of charge and I'm glad you're reading.

Time to milk the goats. Be good.


Blogger kbrow said...

Hang in there. I grew up in a house with a septic tank, and we had the occasional backup flood in our downstairs bathroom. It is truly nasty. We were fortunate enough to have an upstairs shower, but we used a chamber pot for a few days on occasion, before we could get the thing pumped out. Country living is not for the faint of heart...

September 8, 2015 at 5:15 PM  
Blogger Nushi said...

I am SO glad you're going to make Birchthorn available to us schmucks who missed out on backing it! I'll be one of the first to invest!! Can't wait! (good update all around too, thanks for that! I've been wondering how Sal, Joseph and Monday were doing!)

September 8, 2015 at 5:16 PM  
Blogger rebecca allers said...

Jenna, a few things:
First, birchthorn, at least the bits that I got to read, is an awesome story and I really hope it gets published. I like your books, but your fiction is really incredible and I hope you keep at it.
Second, as a first generation college student who had to put herself through college, I understand how much it sucks to have zero money in the bank. I really hope things work out, but if it's looking impossible financially , really don't take a conventional job off the table. And I'm sure that's probably the last thing you want to hear, so I'm sorry about that. But I also want you to know that I really admire you and thank that what you're doing is really really cool, especially since you're a female and I don't think women get nearly enough credit for what they can do with agriculture or in the homesteading life.

September 8, 2015 at 5:50 PM  
Blogger elizabeth said...

Oh my goodness. I'm so sorry. All I can do is send hugs

September 8, 2015 at 8:01 PM  
Blogger Ann'Re said...

It's just a season. And seasons change. :) Hang in there, and thanks for the update.

September 8, 2015 at 8:42 PM  
Blogger Goose Goose said...

What about the rabbits? Are they still present or are they elsewhere? (am I behind the times?)

September 8, 2015 at 8:45 PM  
Blogger Karen from CT said...

It is so sad that there are people who would want you to quit. I love that fact that you are focusing on the good and there is so much good!!!! So much to be proud of and grateful for. We all have problems big and small. I read your blog because you are not a poser and are not afraid to admit to mistakes or being afraid. I am a devoted fan of yours, hope to meet you in the near future as I am not that far away. Keep on truckin Jenna!!

September 8, 2015 at 9:11 PM  
Blogger Kyler and Sylvia said...

Shitty dy. Glad you're able to see all the silver linings.

September 8, 2015 at 11:29 PM  
Blogger KiwiGirl said...

Given a typical septic tank only needs a full pumpout once every few years, you should be right for several years once it gets done. That said, getting up close with the contents is a rather character-building experience, isnt it? (been there myself!).

September 9, 2015 at 12:40 AM  
Blogger HeidePB said...

Hi there, I read often but never comment. Just want to say you should add looking better than ever to your list. Your pics of you on your blog have you looking healthier and happier than I've ever seen you! Also I just reread Gene Logsdon's "Holy Shit". It's a great read( believe it or not) all about manure handling and his section on outhouses, even for only partial use, had me wishing I had one. Seems right up your alley!

Hang in there! From a fellow woman farmer in Maine.

September 9, 2015 at 5:03 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Guys, thanks so much for these kind words!

September 9, 2015 at 6:07 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Heide, thanks for leaving that comment. I've been running a lot, and eating differently and it is making a difference for sure. Down about 20 pounds and my goal is to lose 35. Feeling a lot better!

September 9, 2015 at 6:09 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Kiwi- I am hoping that is the problem and once it is pumped all will be smooth sailing for a few years.

September 9, 2015 at 6:17 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

K&S - I'd go nuts if I didn't look for silver linings!

September 9, 2015 at 6:18 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Karen you are just a few hours away! Come on over!

And thanks, I don't think it's that people want me to quit farming/writing - they want me to either not talk about the hardships (animal problems, money problems, anxiety, mistakes, etc) or change my lifestyle so I don't have them. If I never wrote about the bad things people would have a different opinion of me, for sure. But I don't hide the dead sheep or chickens. I admit to being broke and happy. I'm okay with people being patrons of my writing. I am okay being disliked for those things.

My goal is to learn from those mistakes, find prosperity, heal anxiety, get healthier and become a better farmer while still living the life I love here on the farm. This blog is one hell of a bumpy road and I think a lot of folks just want there to be less bumps. That comes across as thinking I am either stubborn, crazy, selfish, or stupid. I might be all those things but man do I love this life I am chipping away at, and feel like I grew more as a person in the past 3 years since leaving Orvis on a dark horse (literally) than I did in the ten before that.

September 9, 2015 at 6:25 AM  
Blogger Gina said...

hey at least you know all that poop you cleaned up was yours, right?

September 9, 2015 at 9:15 AM  
Blogger Ashley Thompson said...

Hmmm, trying to think of something that would help out. Have you considered a room mate? As much as it is annoying and takes away from your peacefull privacy, maybe it will help with the bills for awhile? You can throw up some ads in town, or online and screen the people before agreeing to it. Just a thought....

September 9, 2015 at 12:23 PM  
Blogger Paulette said...

When we lived on the coast of Oregon, we were on a septic that backed up in our bathtub. Our hamster lived in a plastic cage that we kept in the bath, as he was an escape artist but unable to scale the high slippery sides of the tub. I still smile when I remember finding him sailing in his cage-cum-boat.

Hopefully you will be able to look back and laugh at this trying time. Our good thoughts are with you.

September 9, 2015 at 3:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sewage problems are really nasty. A few years ago our aging sewer line that connects our house to the municipal sewer line 60 feet from our property line collapsed and had to be dug up and replaced. $6000. And it was out of service for several days. Gives new meaning to "yuck".

September 9, 2015 at 5:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sewage problems are really nasty. A few years ago our aging sewer line that connects our house to the municipal sewer line 60 feet from our property line collapsed and had to be dug up and replaced. $6000. And it was out of service for several days. Gives new meaning to "yuck".

September 9, 2015 at 5:34 PM  
Blogger jkc said...

Rid-X every month down the toilet is a great maintenance measure for older septic systems...I, too, have that horrible personal experience and it's something that was recommended by my plumber.

September 9, 2015 at 7:54 PM  
Blogger HeidePB said...

20 lbs!! Good for you! I've been a runner my whole life, and used to do marathons before farming. I totally recommend marathoning. My first one I'd never run further than 5 miles when I started training. Anyway I've barely run since we started the farm 3 yrs ago, it's so hard to make time, and I miss it. I'm up 10lbs. Ill always think of myself as a runner. My advice, stick with it. Once you stop its SO hard to start again.

September 10, 2015 at 8:34 PM  

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