Sun Tea & Sprouts

With spring slowly yawning it’s way awake this year, and a good portion of our yard snow free, once I saw Sunday was suppose to be a 48 degree high I knew I was headed outside to work in the yard. Potential snow be damned, it was time to get this spring thing started.

First, I decided to set up our table and chairs that we often eat most every dinner meal on once it gets warm enough, and that I will happily read at all bundled up until then. Second, nothing symbolizes spring more at our house than sun tea. The warm sun heats up tea bags and brews it slowly. Whether you drink sun tea warm when the evenings are still cold, or more often chilled on a hot summer day, it’s downright delightful.

DSC_9049-01After just a few hours of working in the yard and reading at the table, it becomes a happy sign of the sun at work.

DSC_9047-01DSC_9077-01 While I let the sun do it’s job I mulled around the yard and started cleaning up certain beds and saying hello to the plants that snuggled in during this long winter we had.

One mild concern is our three rows of garlic. The frost heaved many of the cloves out of the soil. They seem to be well rooted and some are sprouting so keep your fingers crossed.

DSC_9055-01I also found our strawberry plants had quite surprisingly made it through the fall and winter. We battled some grass wanting a strong takeover last year, and I half expected between the grass and the winter we would have lost them. The grass seemed to have protected each little plant to my happiness. Under the long dead grass laid small green leaves. This year we really will have to transplant these strawberries. After two years it’s clear our original spot next to this particular stone wall simply isn’t the best option. While not an ideal time of year to do so, in another week or so I’ll be transplanting them into the blueberry beds which also enjoy an acidic soil. Given the slow start to spring I expect they may not yield a lot, but they will be okay and take root.

DSC_9059-01 DSC_9056-01In preparation for moving these strawberries, I cleaned up the blueberry bed and found these little flowers growing. I believe these might be the peonies but I’m not quite sure. While peonies and tulips are my two favorite flowers I have to admit that if I can’t eat it, I don’t pay much attention to it. In other words, my focus is really on my vegetables in the summer time and anything else is something Andy or mother nature has likely taken the time to transplant.

DSC_9062-01Speaking of the veggies, inside the house they are starting to peek up. I decided to try seriously under-taking seed starting this year and doing it in soil blocks. I bought my soil blocker from Johnny Seeds (2″ – 4 blocks) but there are many seed catalogs that sell them. It’s a method that helps the plant from becoming root bound, but requires a little more care.

Currently I have celery and celeriac seed sprouting, neither of which I’ve ever grown before, and  45 tomato seeds started on Saturday (15 pink beauty, 15 granadero, 15 defiant). I’m not sure how many of the tomato seeds will actually germinate but I had a pretty decent germination rate last year when I tried starting just a couple indoors. Keep your fingers crossed! If they all germinate I’ll likely give a few away and I’m still going to have a lot of tomatoes which makes me happy. To me there are few things symbolizing summer more than how delicious a fresh off the vine tomato is while you’re still standing in the garden’s warm soil.

DSC_9082-01 DSC_9081-01Overall it was a very relaxing and productive Sunday.

DSC_9060-01I hope you all had a beautiful weekend, and if not, that this helped put a smile on your face.

xo,

Heather

Retro Post: Septic Replacement

Some of the grossest jobs around here happened long before this blog existed. You could call yourself lucky, except for one thing – I had a digital camera. You’ve already been subjected to the high-quality musings of why my husband can’t stand certain fake scented apple products. Get ready for round two: replacing our septic system.

Preface: When I say “we” in reference to any work I very much 100% mean “Andy”. He replaced the entire septic, and built a new septic field, by himself. He took an entire week off of work to do it. Hell of a man? You bet.

When we bought this place we weren’t sure what state the septic was in. We weren’t sure what it looked like, if it was up to code, or the last time it had been pumped. This place was a fixer-upper, and a couple things were a crap shoot. Pun intended.

We knew one fact about our septic system: there was a pipe that came out in the side of the yard next to the garage. Gray water flowed out of this. For those unfamiliar, gray water is the runoff. It was, uhm, maybe a bit more gray than a normal septic system. On certain days it just didn’t smell right. Or rather, it smelled right, in the wrong spot. The neighbors even knew this. A good septic system should NOT smell.

Have you lost your appetite yet? If not, you’re going to.

We had a general idea of where the “septic tank” was. When the time came to fix the septic we first had to dig it up with our good and faithful Mahinda, as well as by hand.

IMG_1055First, we found an old well cover that was sketchy at best. Then we found this.

IMG_1056It turns out our “septic tank” was a cylinder block square, covered in a piece of round granite, covered in a well cover. An open pipe from the house flowed into it. Like all septics, the solids went to the bottom. The pipe by the side yard with the gray water? A pipe flowing out. Solids went to the bottom, liquids came out the second pipe.

Lovely.

For your viewing pleasure, the actual tank.

IMG_1057Now to assuage your shock I should tell this this is post pumping. Guys, I would never show you the tank pre-pumping. Even I have lines that I won’t cross on a blog. I don’t even have a photo of it. Ew. I can tell you this, the guy who pumped it said it was the worst tank he’d ever seen, and second, it probably had never been pumped.

Let me reiterate this:

Never.

Been.

Pumped.

How long was it in service? 15 plus years. I’ll wait here while you go hurl.

I think we need a visual break before we move on. Given that this is a retro post, I’ll give you a retro photo of me in college. I was having a nice, quiet, refined evening out full of intellectual conversation with my friends. We discussed great philosophy all night. We may have imbibed in a few couple drinks.

IMG_0044Have you stopped laughing yet at my college photo, and stopped hurling yet at the photo of the septic?

While I understand you’ve just regained your composition, I’m sorry to explain that I’m now going to go into destruction of the septic. Instead of showing you the video, I took a screen shot. I’ll just explain that we were knocking the blocks back into the hole, and then we back filled the hole in.

Old SepticOnce the old septic had been taken care of, it was time to start the new septic.

Andy ordered the tank, and in the mean time he dug the hole for the new tank which was placed next to the house – where it should have been all along – and dug up the yard to install the proper up to code septic field.

IMG_0085 IMG_0100As he dug up, we found the old pipe coming out of the house (the length of this was eventually removed as he dug up the new septic field as well, which the pipe ran through).

IMG_0088The brand new tank came in and was dropped into the hole, ready to be hooked up.

IMG_1014 IMG_1015 IMG_1017A few pipe fittings and hook ups later…

IMG_1019…and it was onto building the new septic (leech) field. This system brings the gray water (real gray water this time) out of the tank and disperses it properly into this area of the lawn through a series of piping. Yes, we have very nice green grass on this part of the lawn now, but no, it never gets wet (from below, rain yes), it never smells, and you’re never stepping “in” anything at all. It might surprise you to learn it’s the driest part of our entire yard.

To build the field Andy used both the bucket on the Mahindra, and the tiller attached to our 67′ holder.

IMG_1024IMG_1027 IMG_1028These photos really show just how much earth was moved.

IMG_1036 IMG_1037More earth was removed to create a fully level area, and then laser sighted in.

IMG_1045 IMG_1046Winnie & Rosie approved.

IMG_1049Next up came filter fabric, topped with stone for filtration of gray water as it slowly seeps out of the piping system.

IMG_1065Piping was laid, and then more stone.

IMG_1067 IMG_1069 IMG_1071The box in the photo directly above is the d-box (distribution box). This distributes the gray water from the septic tank into the other pipes which will, as the name says, distribute it throughout the leech field. The d-box is then covered in layers of insulation to help keep gray water flowing.

IMG_1073A final cover of stone and filter fabric, and the field and septic tank were ready to be back filled with all of the earth originally removed.

IMG_1074 IMG_1081 IMG_1082Andy then put a layer of soil on, seeded it with grass, watered, and covered it with seasoned hay. With the septic field done, Andy was able to grade out the area where the gray water used to flow, and use some of the left over earth to help grade our lawn in some areas that had been rough previously.

IMG_1091Years later and we’re quite happy with how everything has been performing. By “very happy” I mean “nothing has gone wrong”. We’ve since done a lot more to our yard. We took trees down and now have some fruit trees, and a soon to be (hopefully) second garden area where the leech field used to be. The new leech field? Well, it has lush grass since you can’t actually grow anything on top of it.

I might not look as ecstatic about the new septic as I lseemed to have been having during a very mature night out with my friends in college, but inside, I have the same big smile. Septic is a big deal. Trust me. You don’t want that shit hitting the fan.

Now let’s never discuss this again. Just thinking of the old system is gag worthy.

xo,

Heather

A Dogs Ode To Snow

Watching your dogs age isn’t easy, but you have to push that back and enjoy the now—just like they are. It’s thrilling to still have them at an age (6 & 6 1/2) where they act like puppies and are silly, even if Winnie is starting to get some joint issues from running so much and so hard as a puppy (thankfully no hip dysplasia or anything), including how much they love snow. Rosie shows no signs of slowing down, and Winnie—just as she did as a puppy—still absolutely loves riding on the snowmobile.

I thought you all might enjoy these photos as much as I enjoyed taking them. With that said it’s snowing as I’m writing this, for perhaps one of the last times before real spring weather hits, so I’m going to head out with the ladies again for a romp.

 DSC_8896-01 DSC_8888-01 DSC_8866-01 DSC_8920-01 DSC_8916-01 DSC_8912-01Here’s to enjoying the now, and not wishing our time away even if that wishing is for better weather.

xo,

Heather

 

Spring Has Sprung?

I am not convinced spring is here.

IMG_8592I am, however, convinced spring is here.

IMG_8726Now if the outside could start to match the inside, things would be a bit better. I am pleased to say this morning made me start to believe that mud season (the season in Maine between winter and spring) may be making it’s unfashionably-late arrival. I woke up to rain, wet snow, and mud.

This can mean one thing—there is hope for a spring garden. Perhaps, however, just not as early as I anticipated.

So, I suppose I hesitantly say, “happy first day of spring!”

xo,
Heather

Your Three Favorite Things

The fact this blog gets about 5,000 unique hits a month is mind boggling to me. I know that it’s peons compared to the other kabillion that exist, but I still like to analyze the data and the most recent social media/blog data suggests you guys have three clear preferences, in no particular order.

1.) Donuts. Whether it’s Facebook or Instagram, you guys seem to like donuts as much as I do. If there’s a donut around there’s a 99% chance I’m going to eat it. This has nothing to do with self control, otherwise I’d eat three. I just really enjoy donuts from the local bakeries. Guilty pleasure confirmed.

Donuts 2.) You guys are my kind of weirdo. Your appreciation for donuts is only matched by your appreciation for running. I carry the same sentiment. Donuts are awesome, but running during sunset on a trail is down right magnificent.

Run3.) You are dog people, whether you own one or not. Particularly, you really seem to like the Two Goons who fit the perfect “Sneaky Lab” stereotype. Posts with the dogs in them, whether social media or blog, seem to be liked by more people than average. I’m pretty sure the goofy nature of a Labrador Retriever is the reason behind this one, but I’ll pretend it’s specific to my two hounds.

dogsWhat other things do you guys like reading about? What other blogs do you love? Maybe I should start a Tumblr just about donuts, running and dogs. What would it be called? The Sneaky Donut Thief? I don’t know.

xo,

Heather

P.S.) By the way, I like that this blog is small, it feels like we’re just hanging out together.