We Built a Sand Mountain! Septic Done.


May 23, 2020. Have you ever seen a septic field get built? Neither have I, until now. It’s an admittedly odd thing to celebrate, but there is something satisfying about creating your own infrastructure and figuring out how to follow the requirements. The permit calls for 400 square feet of field, so we start with a lot of sand, pushed into the right shape by Jeff on the ‘dozer. Then, rock above the sand. Then, top soil above the rock. In total, it required 13 loads of sand, 2 loads of topsoil, 2 loads of stone, 14 bales of hay, 34 feet of fabric, 90 feet of drain pipe…and at least a dozen hours of labor. It also required a lot of raking and shoveling. Jeff did most of it. I helped as much as a 5-foot-2 woman of 60ish can. I may be rugged–but I’m small, too.

It also required $4,000, which doesn’t count the labor — or the tank itself, which we’ll add later. To do this by contract, as most people do, would cost a lot more.

Next step: Plant grass to make it look at least a bit more “natural.” But of course there is nothing natural about this! At various points in this process, I’ve wondered about my choices. This was to be a “rugged” camp. As time goes on, it’s less and less rugged. But I want to welcome visitors, too — that is part of my vision for this place — and most will require the basic comforts. Like a flush toilet.

So, development continues. I remain conflicted about that. I have learned that, when conflicted about choices, pick one. $4,000 and 400 square feet later, I still wonder if this was the right choice–but at least I picked one. And I feel proud of the result.

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