I am building my first home. Lucky me because it is in the woods! It is an adventure I surely will not forget.

Me with Rory

Thursday, October 30, 2008


Coming to work this morning I saw snow on the mountains in the hilltowns. I was hoping to get the foundation in before it got too cold, but it may have to wait 'til Spring. We'll see. One step at a time.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

These are wetland type leach fields. Plant life decomposes the waste, cleaning it, and then filters it back into the environment. This is more natural, more condusive to the environment.
Many have liners or cells underneath it all. Bacteria in the tank decomposes the solids. Only the already broken down liquid is piped to the wetland area, for further cleansing, before it releases back to nature through evaporation.
The tank does it's job, and then, instead of leaching into pipes buried under 800 yards of sand it would leach into this controlled wetland area.

More septic info, in case you haven't had enough

Picture all these fields in a sand mound 4' above the ground.

I placed a couple of calls to some engineers I know through work, no luck. Then it dawned on me that I know the town engineer from next door, so I've left him a mesage.
After that I called a friend at the town hall that knows everyone. He told me to stop over because there are 3 engineers! I hope to find out if it is worth paying an engineer for the septic design instead of the almost free county one.
Now, you are asking, well, why pay for an engineer when the county does it all (perc/layout/inspection), for one price? Because the county quite possibly over designs, whereas a qualified engineer may have better and more affordable ways to design the system.
For example, the county only will do a mound system with me. Well, there are a lot of other kinds, like wetland or marsh systems. Whether it is appropriate for this location considering the amount of shale, I don't know. It is worth a phone call, though.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Dowsing for water.

More water veins

I am ready to have the well digger come out - now that the septic field placement has been solidified - so I asked June to come out again to dowse some more. She dowsed around two more prospective building sites. I like the knoll the best, now, but I wanted her to 'feel' around in the pines also. This is the water vein she found up on the knoll. Two veins together, one over the other. One is about 100 feet and the other 300 feet down. She said it actually had the strongest pull of the three areas of veins she has uncovered so far.

I marked it with two stakes with red flags and the white bucket, way back (which I switched out with some rocks).

Too Pretty

To give you bearings on this pic, this is almost to the main road, facing west. At the horizon line is the ridge that slopes down to the main road.
This is such a pretty spot. Too pretty to picture oozing septic! This is the spot, though, that the leach field will go. The trees have to be cut flush to the ground rather than knocked over with the excavator. 
This was one of the spots I originally selected for the house. After some consultations, I realized that putting a driveway so far back in, would be really costly and I also realized that the pretty site would no longer exist if it had a house in it, the trees would have had to go. Anyway, as fate would have it, this will be the septic field. Suzie said it will now be called a glade. Good idea. She called it G...z's Glade. 
Suzie definitely gave it a positive spin. She said I could put my garden on it and have a nice view from the knoll.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Right in the Middle

When Mom said I could buy the property she said she didn't want to have a chunk cut out of the middle. I didn't either. I wanted the upper end, the older woods. 
The way the whole project is going, though, the middle is the only place the county says we can put the septic. I'll have to speak with Mom to see if this is acceptable to her or not. 
Wish me luck! Pray for me, please, if you'd like.
The septic area has to be level, away from water, and of course away from those dang power lines. If it is graded then I would have to bring in tons more dirt (if it is allowed by the county) and then the cost would skyrocket with dirt and labor. Dirt is really a ton of $ when you consider we're talking truck loads already, with the existing top soil. 
So, the county was looking for 110' x 75' level land for the leach field, 100 feet from intermitent stream (now called drainage ditch, haha), 100 feet from well, and 25 feet from the ridge of the main road, only leaves one spot. Right in the middle!


I left a message for Betts and June to come out again. June had offered to come out and dowse again before I have the well dug. Double checking the land and confirming everything. I look forward to it. Not only is it practical, but it is way fun!

Crow Architect

I spoke with Crow Architect today and she confirmed what I thought. She said we can do a barn conversion in the town we are in. I told her that when I asked the building inspector if I could live in a barn or garage, he laughed at me and said no. I realized later that perhaps I wasn't clear. I wanted to know if they allowed me living in a converted barn. 
Crow was really empathetic and said not to listen to him, because it is totally acceptable. 
To do the plans she would come out and do an on-site measurement before the barn is dismantled (I figured this from my movie experience), draw it up, and then I'd submit drawings for the building permit. 
No word on whether or not I am getting the barn, which is all good. I just want to be prepared. I need to get all these other matters settled first before I have any house plans done anyway.
She said if I do a basement (which I wanted) that there is a lot involved with a barn, due to the structural elements. She explained these to me and said we can do it if I want, but it is more complicated (that translates to $). 
Crow told me it is easier and less expensive to do a slab for a barn. That barns are built to go on the ground. 4' footings, 2' pads for under the breaks? (I think those are interior vertical supports), and the slab with control joints. I forgot how deep the slab is, but I know she said we need mass. She told me the slab and walls of foundation would be insulated to keep it from getting cold. 
I asked her about radiant heat, then, and she said it would be good in this scenario. 
We'll see what happens. At least I know that I can do the barn conversion in the town.

Friday, October 17, 2008

It perc'ed

But don't get too excited, while that is all good and I am definitely pleased, County Guy said I have to bring in 4' of sand.
4' doesn't sound bad right? But remember that is 4' high over a huge amount of land.
The entire outside area dimensions will be about 110' x 75' (but the sides will be sloped).
500 yards of dirt, he said, with 30% compression which ends up being 800 - 1000 yards of septic sand, at possibly 10 -12 $ a yard.
Plus clearing the land, septic pipe and tank, and oh yeah, don't forget labor...

25 feet away, if that.

At first I thought I saw a dog, and right when I said to County Guy, "I think that's a dog up there" I knew it was a coyote. Having never seen one up close and personal before...I said "Do you think that's a coyote?"...in my disbelief.

Thank goodness he was walking along the ridge of the knoll (yes, the one where I want the house) and we were sitting at the bottom of it, at the most 25 feet away. The coyote just went along its business, headed uphill.
Earlier this morning, Neighbor was at the site with me and we watched a partridge with delight. What fun.
Now the coyote, well...that's another thing.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Last nights adventure, dig, dig, dig, all by hand. 12" wide and 30" deep. Plus we had to dig the two 12" wide and 12" deep ones (those are a snap). We were both tired when we started and tired at the end. We dug a fifth one over in the old goat pasture also, but that stands alone, it's not a set.
I did do some digging, too, but the power digs I have to attribute to Sammy.
Whoops, I guess you want to know the results...dirt! Yes, it was 99% dirt!!! A couple of pieces of shale but otherwise, good dirt.
The excavator will dig the 6' hole today or tomorrow morning. I pray it hits dirt all the way down! 

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I love Yahoo groups

I joined two Yahoo recycling groups thanks to my daughter's boyfriend and to Princess. Thanks you guys, for turning me on to them! I picked up my first free stuff from them last night. 
Guess what? 1100 sq of new shingles, still bundled!
This picture is the last of it, after I made two trips already.

I didn't know shingles are so heavy.

Here is the whole lot in my shed! Crazy, huh?
You can't image the look on my face when I saw the stack of shingles to pick up. I was over-joyed and overwhelmed at the same time. I didn't know what 1100 sq would look like and there it all was, Owens Corning, 25 year shingles, bark brown, and best of all...Free. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Again, yes, another perc appointment!

This is the fifth one, so far, and it isn't over yet. It is scheduled for later this week. Today I have to go meet Sammy to discuss some more holes.
Hopefully one day, we will move on from septic hole to water well hole!
I'm trying to rationalize the high cost of Septic World. If I get to use the shale out of the knoll for around the culvert, and use it for the driveway, and pick up the 1100 sq of free new, still bundled, shingles in Chatham, and then get the barn for free, more free stuff from the yahoo freecycle and yahoo reuseit groups, and other places, maybe all the mucho $ I may have to sink into, or rather on top of, the ground for septic, may balance out.

Honestly, I could use a composting toilet or an outhouse! Now, there is an idea. Think about it, how many people use the outhouses at Heldeberg Workshop, for how many years...

Monday, October 13, 2008

Power company

The 'big guy' power company cleared the site for the dig, as per Dig Safely...They left me a message, like Friday.


Suzie made blueberry muffins for the second presoaking morning romp in the woods...or should I say night romp? It was pitch black afterall. The warm muffin was great at 5:30 am.
I made peach and blueberry pie with a touch of cranberries, along with warm spiced cider for the celebration after the perc. Well...okay no perc, so we ate it during the investigation into other test sites. The snack in the woods of pie and cider was a second treat that morning.
Hey, even though we have no septic site yet, a girl's gotta eat!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Research costs

Sammy's looking into $ for sand, etc. and pricing the septic out. He thinks we can use all the rock for the driveway and around the culvert, so that will save us money and I can consider that savings into the septic.
The rock I'm referring to is in the pics of Sammy's excavator. It is sitting on top of a pile of what he dug out of the knoll.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Too much rock

County guy said the soil up on the knoll is no good for the septic. He didn't do the perc, he just looked in the holes. Anyway, we are going to dig new holes down toward the main road. Hopefully the soil may have eroded down to the lower level and left deeper top soil. Sammy was there and got the info and will bring the excavator back in and do more digging.
I picked up Suzie at 4:40am and we had already presoaked the holes. Well...we are getting pretty good at it. We are developing a system now, lol. I pick her up, she carries the lights, I pour the water, she has baked goods ready to eat for our reward.
Everyone is scheming on how to scare us/me. Suzie talks about witches and then had the idea that Sammy should have left a dummy on the bench. Neighbor and his wife think he should hide in the 6' hole and jump out at us...I'll have to be prepared with heart pills for the next jaunt out into the dark and spooky woods at 5am! Who knows what they will have in store for us.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Pow, pow, pow.

I wish I was running this thing!

It's raining , it's pouring, the old man is snoring.

It is still raining. The county said we should reschedule the appointment.

I felt the blood rush out of my face today. I left a message for the county guy about the rain and inadvertintly said "the intermitent stream has water in it". Never say stream when you are talking septic. That may be the cardinal rule of perc tests!
Hello, Treefort girl, what were you thinking? God, I felt awful, so a big swear word came out of my mouth, repeatedly, when I told Sammy what I had done. (I was swearing at my retardedness, not at him.) He said it would be alright, that once county guy sees the 'drainage ditch' he would see it was okay, and afterall, the stream is 100' from the septic area.
I said maybe I should make up a list of words to never say to the septic, well, road, planning board people or anyone else for that matter, that has anything to do with giving me approvals!

Friday, October 3, 2008

One Pizza Town

I may not have an address from the one pizza place town, but instead from the no pizza town! Since the main road use to go in front of the log home and the yellow house, their address is for the one pizza town. The rest of the road is for the no pizza town.
Once I get a green light on the perc, the well, subdivision, etc. I'll see if I can convince the US postal system that since this piece of land really is part of the yellow house parcel that indeed my forthcoming address needs to be for the pizza town.
Gosh, I just don't want to be from the Holler! lol
It will be funny that I grew up in the one town and now will live on the same parcel, but I will be living in a different town. Huh?

Dig safely

As per my call on Wednesday, digsafelyny.org contacted 4 utilities. Verizon called and came out , I never heard from the others. Verizon left an ok mark, so we are good to go. It was funny because one of the utilities does not do service on the road, another was for a town road (this is a county road) and for a service that also is not available on this road, but bureaucracy is bureaucracy and we all have to do what we have to do in our jobs. Just glad it is all clear for underground cables, pipes, etc.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Perc test rescheduled due to rain

Rain all week, on and off, light and heavy.

Tuesday's test date turned into Thursday and now Thursday's perc test is now next week.

This is all for the best. I need it dry, dry, dry. Not one extra ounce of water to mess up the drainage. This gives me more time to go chant prayers, burn sage, and meditate on a successful perc at the property. Maybe I'll bring some crystals with me this time.


Rise and Shine and get my butt outta bed.

Picked up Suzie at 4:45, yes, AM!!! She had generously volunteered to go with me in to the dark and spooky woods at 5am. Am I lucky or what, to have a friend like her? We had so much fun. I asked if she was ready for an adventure and while laughing, she said she was.

Off we went, flashlights and floodlights in hand. I had a box cutter in my pocket just in case we had to skin The Bear (as he is called). Once at the property with video camera in hand, we found our way in the misty rain, through the mud and over downed tree branches, through the intermittent creek, up the knoll, and squeezed between the excavator and the 6' hole, laughing. Hearing shale falling way beneath our feet, we made it to the other side where the perc holes are. Yeah!
I felt like dancing around and was showing Suzie each hole and what is was for and how deep they were. I showed her the water supply kept under the pine tree in the tin honey cans. We were giggling and acting like children in the excitement and drama of the moment, there in the dark, in the rain, in the moment that effects my future, all of our futures out on the hill.

The perc holes were still covered with plywood and tin to protect them from the rain. I removed the covers and in unison we remarked at how dry they looked down deep. After I put in a couple of gallons of water, Suzie thought I should do more. The directions were unclear, the paperwork said to presoak it, and the phone call notes said to fill it. I went to about 22 inches full and we decided that was enough. Budding engineers we are. Always best to decide collectively, that assuredly makes us correct.

We stood there a bit and watched for it to drain. Suzie saw it drain, I was too preoccupied. On the second hole, I saw it go down. Happy with our success, we tromped off back to the truck and around the mountain to Suzie's house where she had freshly made coffee cake cooling for us to eat.

What really amazed me is how much one can accomplish when they get up early and get a move on, of course, I'm exhausted now and it isn't even morning break time at work.

Hours later the perc test is rescheduled again. The county said not to shoot my foot and we should wait til next Tuesday 10am. (Didn't I try to reschedule yesterday when I asked to do it next Monday or Tuesday and the county said it was just a little shower, no biggie, cover up the holes and they will be fine???) Go figure.

Kobe's visit

I was just about to unload more water at the site when Neighbor drove by, stopped and volunteered to get Kobe to help. Kobe, otherwise known as Kubota, is the coolest little RTV that can do it all. It has a wench, dump box, fat wide tires with thick tread for muddy trails, climbs nearly vertical grades, and more. Off Neighbor went and arrived back with Kobe within a few minutes. We loaded up the water, jumped in and off we went up the knoll. Cool ride and it saved me time and muscle power.