July 5, 2021

Dan's Latest Project

If you're a longtime reader of my blog or perhaps have read 5 Acres & A Dream The Book, then you may recall this sketch...

Idea for laundry greywater soil filtration bed & gate.
Pergolas would shade the windows & trellis grapes.

It was an idea we came up with years ago while analyzing water resources and brainstorming for our master plan. The washing machine is on the back porch, which is on the left-hand side of the house. This was one idea for how to use the wash water for irrigation rather than filling the septic tank with it.

Dan built the bed five years ago, and that was as far as we got. This year we've had increased problems with a roaming dog(s) visiting our property, killing our chickens, and pooping on the sidewalk. Our entire property is fenced, except the driveway. It was time to install a gate.

We might have just gone straight for the gate, except that we need to make sure dogs can't simply bypass the gate through the bed.

So before the gate, Dan decided to build the first pergola. He started by milling the lumber.

Dan's portable sawmill. One of the
best investments we ever made!!!

I have to mention that without that mill, we never could have bought the lumber! He used the pine that has either fallen down or been cut down at the back of the property.

Dan would be quick to say it isn't perfect, to which I say, 
neither is the overpriced stuff they sell at the big box store!


He started with the windows
closest to where the gate will be.






The nearest post will accommodate the gate latch.

It's already helping shade the windows
from the hot afternoon summer sun!

For the trellises on the sides of the pergola, Dan will use wood lattice. 

Amazingly, the price of wood lattice hasn't jumped through the roof.

These were $30-something each, a price he was willing to pay rather than the time and fuss of trying to make his own. Once the lattice is up he can move on to the gate. After that, we'll be looking at completing the laundry water system in the bed and then planting. 

I have to say that I wasn't sure we'd ever get this done. It's been on the planning list for almost nine years! It might have stayed as an idea on the list indefinitely, if it hadn't been for roaming dogs coming onto the property and killing our poultry. We hated to lose our birds, but there will be multiple benefits in completing this project, so there's our silver lining. I think it's been a good lesson in not lamenting the things we haven't completed, and being glad we put the forethought and planning into it when we did. That meant we didn't have to start from scratch trying to figure out what to do; we had a solution ready. All we've had to do is implement it.

Dan's Latest Project © July 2021 by Leigh 

33 comments:

  1. I hate to hear about your dog problems, but it does not surprise me at all that you have a well-designed solution and all the skill needed to implement it!

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    1. Thanks, Michelle. The worst attacks are the ones where they just maim the birds and don't kill them. The birds suffer and then the job of putting them out of their pain falls to us. Hopefully, this new gating system will eliminate the problem!

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  2. Looking forward to completion. Grape vines are good at providing shade, and they grow fast. It is sad that people can't or won't control their pets. Dan is so very skillful. That sawmill...Hubby wants one badly!

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    1. Rosalea, we actually have some volunteer muscadines already growing in the bed! A sawmill is definitely worth the investment! Of the dogs, folks seem to think since there are no leash laws outside town limits, that means it's okay to let their dogs roam. Two of our neighbors have had their dogs hit by cars, one fatally, the other was just injured. Safety works both ways.

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  3. How great that you have come up with a solution that is also functional. Looking forward to seeing it come together.

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    1. Daisy, and hopefully pretty to look at!

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  4. Hi, I asked our septic maintenance man about grey water systems as we have a lot of grass and thought that might help keep things watered. He told me that they are not a good idea as you can end up with too many ahem "solids" and not enough water to break them down. Maybe check with someone in your area before you proceed. :)

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    1. 'ahem "solids"'? You mean poop? The only solid that laundry water could contain would be possibly fabric lint. Sorry, it doesn't sound like your septic man knows what he's talking about.

      One of the best resources for greywater information is Art Ludwig's Grey Water Central website. Excellent information including safety and legal issues. I highly recommend his book, Create an Oasis with Greywater and his DVD, Laundry to Landscape. We have both.

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    2. I am going to echo this concern, although maybe you have enough water going into your septic without the laundry. The line to our tank is not steep so we actually make a point of flushing twice when we poop just to make sure there is enough water to move things along. But also, you do need enough water in the system for stuff to break down. I think the issue being pointed out is the water to solids ratio in the tank, not what kind of solids are in the grey water.

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    3. Well, excuse me. I didn't say don't do it, I said perhaps check with a specialist in your area. Everything we do in life has an unanticipated consequence. Since you have read a book and watched a DVD, I am sure you have more knowledge than someone who has been installing, maintaining and repairing systems for 40 years. Septic specialists also have to be certified by the Health Department. In addition to poop, there is the paper and if there is inadequate water in the tank, the entire system can become clogged costing thousands to repair. By all means go ahead and I hope it works well for you, but perhaps this will give pause to someone who reads about it on your site.

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    4. Hummingbird, no need to get snippy. Perhaps if you had better explained what you meant, I wouldn't have misunderstood what you were saying. There are places where greywater is illegal because of the possibility someone might have diarrhea on their underwear. Thank you to Ann for clarifying the point - that a septic system needs a certain amount of water to function properly.

      Regarding experts, (WARNING: sarcasm alert!) your guy obviously has mine beat, because Art's only been installing greywater systems for 37 years in 27 different countries after designing his own ecological systems design program at UC Berkeley. (Sorry, couldn't resist!)

      All sparring aside, one thing I've figured out this past year is that expertise isn't objective. One would think that it followed data, reason, and logic, but in fact, it follows opinion. We've seen scores of experts over the past year and a half who say opposite things. We humans simply rally behind the person we like the best or whose opinion serves us best.

      Hummingbird, if you trust your septic expert and are not comfortable installing a greywater system, then I absolutely respect your right to make that decision. The most qualified judge of what's best for you - is you!

      Regarding my blog, it's simply a personal journal. I make no money at it, and while I enjoy discussing ideas and opinions with others, it isn't necessary for my sense of well-being and purpose.

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  5. It looks lovely (and impressive). And yes, with the lumber cost as it has been, it would not be something that would have been feasible at all.

    Sadly, pet owners can be completely ignorant of the problems their animals can cause. We (fortunately) do not have a problem in New Home, but for a rather sad reason: animals wandering around on their own tend to become a snack for the local coyote population (actually true at The Ranch as well).

    Honestly, some ideas sit until their time has come. I have had to learn to make peace with this.

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    1. TB, we once had a neighbor whose dog actually climbed our four-foot fence to chase our chickens and goats. I know because I saw it! I was fit to be tied. Fortunately, the neighbors were very responsible and took measures to prevent its escape again.

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  6. Good work!
    Isn’t it the pits when tragedy throws us into first gear?

    There has been a gray water system on all but one of our farms. They work nicely in making use of water, such as washing machines which does not contain human waste, to use in a positive manner.

    The fellow who did mine added lots of rock to the current system and it adds a decorative flair to the area. Also lightens the load on existing septic and leach fields .

    Looking forward to seeing the finished project.

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    1. Goatldi, thanks! Yes, if it contains human waste, it's not greywater. From our research we learned about greywater filtration beds as being one of the most effective ways to deal with it. Sounds like you have something similar. Good point about septic systems and leach fields.

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  7. Technically I live in a "fence out" state, which means that if you want to keep pets / livestock out fencing is your responsibility. But even so, I just don't understand people who just let their pets roam. It's bad for the pets and for being neighborly.

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    1. Ann, I think fence out would give more peace of mind. Really, not letting pets roam is as much for their safety as it is wherever they're trespassing. I have to say that even with most of our property fenced, we have a hard time keeping skunks out! We haven't minded them too much, but one got into the chicken coop and Dan caught it red-handed, killing two of our chicks.

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  8. What a fabulous project, and awesome that Dan milled your lumber... Win! We have two dogs who run here on the ridge, and they take a wide berth around our farm, as I have made sure they are not welcomed here, and they are very aware of it ! Very anxious to see the finish! Our septic has not suffered at all without the laundry gray water, just sayin! Have a perfect week, and keep hydrated in this heat!

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    1. Wyomingheart, I'm pretty pleased with how it's turning out.

      Our grey water goes into the septic all winter, so it gets filled up. It's all sealed underground, so unless there's a leak, water level stays pretty high.

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  9. Dan is a very talented man. Don't you love being married to a man than "can do anything" once he sets his mind?

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    1. Yes! I do love being married to a talented man! At the beginning of any project he's always worried he can't do it, but I have extreme confidence in him. He always figures it out!

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    2. Seeing the results, I honestly cannot believe he worries that he cannot do it, because he always seems to be able to do magnificiently!

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    3. TB, I'd venture to say that a little uncertainty about one's ability to accomplish something is probably better than being overly confident. I love that we brainstorm projects together, and that he tries to accommodate my ideas. On the other hand, I know that I don't always understand the structural nuances of an idea. Meaning, I've learned not to be too attached to a particular mental outcome. For the window pergola, I'm pleased with the whole thing.

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  10. Wow! And eye appealing also. Don't you love it when a project is useful/functional and attractive? A gate will be nice for a variety of reasons.

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    1. Lady Locust, it does add a nice touch, doesn't it? Anything viewable on the "public" side of the house, we take care to make it look nice out of respect for our neighbors. Dan has a good idea for the gate too, so I think it will turn out nicely too.

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  11. glad to see the greywater system finally going in. I can't wait to see it finished, the progress is looking great.

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    1. Renee, one part of it, anyway! I can't wait to see it finished either!

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  12. How beautiful! Can't wait to see it all finished. So happy for you both. You two are amazing! We have had more problems with foxes, raccoons, and snakes than with dogs. Lately there has been something big visiting the yard late at night. A bear?? Dan has put up two game cameras. Sure enjoyed your post.

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    1. Henny, thank you!

      I don't guess you've gotten anything on the trail cam yet. A bear would be scary! Do you have them in your area?

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  13. I understand all circumstances and installations can be different, but know of many places where separate gray water and septic systems have been put in and function very well. I've also heard that too much gray water going into a septic system can hinder the bacterial action needed. Love the design of the grape trellis over the windows!

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    1. Mama Pea, thanks!

      I think grey water and septic systems, both, have made huge advancements in recent years because of concerns about climate change and water shortages.

      I suspect the problem with household waste water, is because of the chemicals that go down the drain. That's a problem for grey water as well as the septic tank. It's why I did all that research on cleaners several years ago and completely switched the cleaners I use. Before that, I bought bottled bacteria for the septic tank, but I don't worry about that now that I don't put those chemicals down the drain.

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  14. I did read your book, but had forgotten about this. I love seeing the Dan Projects built. I didn't understand Snippy's comment either. The closest I come to grey water is pouring dirty aquarium water on apple trees during this drought.

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    1. Tpals, pouring aquarium water on apple trees is an excellent idea!

      It's been pretty amazing seeing it finally start to manifest. I love planning, but I accept that we'll never get it all done. So when something like this finally comes together, it makes it all the more fun. :)

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