I can make the noise pretty well.

The , bbullluup, bbullluup that the washing machine has been making for a few weeks each time it drains.  And, the downstairs toilet just isn’t flushing very well.  It keeps clogging.

We have trouble with our plumbing every once and a while, so The Animal Whisperer almost called the guys to snake out our lines.  The guys that use that long, really long, snakey thing that they stick 50 feet down the toilet and spin so it clears out anything that could be blocking the pipes.  Mostly, in this neck of the woods, that’s tree roots.

So anyway, he almost called them.  But instead thought to take the lid off the septic tank first.

The Animal Whisperer is a good man.  He always is on the lookout for problems around here and how to prevent them and how to fix them.  Had it been me, I might have just called the snakers.  And, now we know, that would not have helped.  Not one iota.

If the truth be known, it started out about a foot more full than this. Yikes.

The septic tank was REALLY full.  We haven’t pumped it in the 2 1/2 years we’ve lived here and the tank hadn’t been pumped at any time in the few years  previous to us moving in, so who knows how much sludge was in there. 

Yes, a new word I learned.  In the septic tank world, you don’t say, “Man, You guys sure do poop a lot!!!  What, do you have elephants living inside?  This thing is a 2000 gallon tank and it’s jam packed full of poop!!”  (or any other choice word you might use for a stinking hole of soupy, brownish blackish stuff.)

No.  You say s l u d g e.

The long stick is attached to a shovel that is used to stir the sludge around so it sucks up into the sludge sucker. The sludge sucker is the tube that, at one time in its life, was black.

Sludge:  The politically correct word for what comes out your back end and clogs up your septic tank.

Well, the sludge cleaner upper is one of my new favorite people.  A big, kind guy who did extra work for us, and didn’t charge us any extra.  He backed the truck in and dragged his big old sludge sucker to the septic tank hole and took all that sludge and other extraneous liquid out.

Right there is a job I don’t want.  But, when you need it done, you want someone who does have it for his job.

And, here’s the extra part he did.  He told us that our septic tank seemed new enough (how did he know? no idea.) that it should have two lids.  Ours only has one.  One big, round, 2 foot diameter, cement lid with a piece of rebar bent into it for a handle.  Had we ever seen another lid?  He thought there should have been another lid about 4 feet from the first lid that would cover another hole into another part of the septic tank.  They always come in twos on these newish tanks, apparently.

Well, no.  We hadn’t.  And a big, uncovered septic tank hole is not something you miss.  But, he was adamant.  There should be another hole right about there, he pointed.  He thought we should start shoveling.  Maybe the lid was buried.  We didn’t jump to the idea, so he kept vacuuming out the sludge. 

Then again, he said, I think there should be another hole right about here, this time he walked over to it and stepped on the location.  Remember, big, kind guy?  Big being the key word?  Well, the ground moved up and down under his foot.  Not like an earthquake, but like it was giving way.  Only in that spot.  Only in the 2 foot spot near where the kids played all summer.  Only in the spot near where the goats love to graze.  Only in the spot where I have run the loaded wheelbarrow hundreds of times.

Are you following me here?  The.  Ground.  Was.  Giving.  Way.  Something was missing under it.  Big, kind guy joked, “I hope I don’t fall in!”

Thank goodness the plexi glass was covered with black plastic...we wouldn't want any weeds growing up through there, for heaven's sake.


He grabbed his shovel and started digging.  And uncovered the other hole.  It was, as he predicted, another hole to the other part of the septic tank.  2 feet in diameter.  With no lid.  Only a piece of 1/4 inch plexiglass to cover it.  Buried under 6 inches of dirt. 

The same dirt where my children played all summer.  Where the goats graze.  Where we walk.  Where we run the loaded wheelbarrow.

Where we could have fallen in! 

I am forever grateful to Williams Septic Tank Pumping company and the big, kind guy that they sent out to clean our tank.  Most likely, we wouldn’t have fallen in that hole any time soon, but if we wouldn’t have found it, you never know.  Phew. 

So, now we are sludge free.  The washing machine and toilet drain normally.  And we are looking for a new septic tank lid.  If you know anyone who has one lying around, not in use, let me know.

–  The Goat Cheese Lady

P.S.  They look like this:

About The Goat Cheese Lady

I am Lindsey. At first I was a city girl. Growing up, the closest thing I had to farm animals were a cat and a cockatiel. In 2009, Herbert (my husband) and I bought our first milk goat and I instantly became an urban farmgirl, attempting to balance city and farm life..before I knew “urban homesteading” was a thing. That’s when we began The Goat Cheese Lady Farm, hence The Goat Cheese Lady blog you’re visiting now. After moving to the country in 2014, I embarked on life as a rural farmgirl. We continued teaching farm and cheesemaking classes, raising more goats and began construction on our cheese creamery. But life had other plans and in 2017, we decided that, due to financial and health issues, we had to close the farm for business. No more classes, no more creamery, a lot less milking. We went back to off farm jobs, I as an Occupational Therapist, Herbert in construction with his business, D&A Home Remodeling. At that point, I made a silent promise to myself that I would corral my entrepreneurial mind and focus on a job for a year. Well, it has been a year and I am back. Not to classes, cheese, soap or lotion, but back to writing. I love it. I’m not sure where it will lead me, but that’s where I’m starting. I’ll continue to write as The Goat Cheese Lady for now, and whatever the future holds, I’ll let you know. Our two boys are 14 and 11 and continue to be louder than my sister and I ever were. We have two dogs, Montaña and Flash, a cat, Jumpy, a flock of chickens and three goats. Yes, we still have Lucy, the goat who helped us start it all and was milked by over 1,000 people. She’s retired but still the boss. Chocolate provides enough milk for our family with some to spare for the dogs. Soccer friends, school friends, coyotes and mice are frequent visitors. There are way too many flies and every so often we see an owl. I’m glad you’re here. Sometimes you’ll laugh out loud, other times you’ll be inspired to appreciate the small things. My hope is that, over your morning cup of coffee or your afternoon work break, you’ll enjoy the antics and inspiration that are my daily life. Lindsey
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6 Responses to Sludge

  1. JMAN says:

    You cant always tell how full a septic tank is just by looking. Some solids float, some sludge sinks

  2. A septic tank is not a ‘fit and forget’ item and needs to be maintained properly if it is to perform well and not pollute groundwater. Thank goodness you found that other lid! It is amazing how many people are killed every year when the lids give way – in 2010, 14 women were killed in India when a septic tank they were standing on gave way.
    Many people make the mistake of ignoring their septic tank system until it is too late – an expensive mistake and then they grumble that they have to pay for it. My neighbours new septic tank near Charleville poisoned my borehole within 3 months because the soakaway drainfield was put in the wrong place and I had to connect to the mains at great expense.

    • Septic Tank Lady, Wow. Thanks for the information. Yes, I am very thankful we found the other “lid” and that we got the tank pumped out. Septic tanks just have never been at the top of my mind. Now, it’ll get my attention. By the way, what do you think about putting yeast in it? Regular old bread yeast? I’ve heard that a few places. Thanks! Lindsey

  3. Melina says:

    Nope, haven’t seen any loose/homeless septic tank lids around here that I could pass along to you. I must say, in the realm of do-it-yourself fixes, plexiglass isn’t my choice of lids!
    Just a quick word, greywater. Shhh, don’t tell anyone, but it’s a great way to deal with the non-lumpy parts that go down the drain, especially from the bathtub and laundry.

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