Open Thread - Homesteading in France

Searching for Essence de Fosse Septique
House front with flowers 2020.jpg

We found it! Nous l'esperons (We hope).

ventilation-fosse-septique-meilleur-de-schema-fosse-septique-beau-ventilation-fosse-septique-toutes-eaux-of-ventilation-fosse-septique.jpg
We have been living with septic odors (odeurs de le fosse septique) for a couple of years. After the disaster of having our house declared 'inhabitable' parce que lès moissisures (mold) we found an additional source of toxique gases: back up of gas from the septic tank into the house.
When we had our driveway put in we had the digger (Pell) driver look for a drain-field. And low and behold there it was...so far down in the ground no amount of trench making would have found it.
Trenches looking for drainfield.jpg

Drainfield Pipe Found
Drainfield pipe found.jpg

We have added a secondary ventilation after the drain from the septic tank but before the drain field, soak-away, champs d'epuration, with a whirly gig ventilator.

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The smell of Hydrogen sulfide was horrible both outside on our courtyard and inside the house especially on cold days and nights.
Why does the house smell like a Fosse Septique?

Since Hydrogen Sulfide is heavier than air, the addition of the proper secondary vent after the septic tank helped siphon off the H2S.

Placing secondary septique ventilation.jpg

We definitely cut down the odors and the amount, but...

- we still felt dizzy if we walked between the office and into the kitchen. So where was the leak???

The only vent in our tile roof was over the upstairs bath/WC and it was close to the roof surface. We could feel the air move downwards as it should when we flushed or poured a large volume down the pipes.

We opened the ceiling in the RDC (Ground floor) to see the path of the toilet and tub drains from the upstairs (premier étage). We drew it out, and couldn't see any leaks.

So we did what good plumbing sleuths should do and put a hose down the vent and turned it on full. Well, now, there was the leak. Above the toilet outlet but below the roof. So all air but the entire joint was leaking. Hah. Now tomorrow we will re fit the piping for the vent then see if we have cleared the house air.
The long term plan is to install a natural plant pond for cleaning the liquids from the Fosse Septique.

Croiser les doigts.

In our Garden

Datura. This is an odd but interesting plant. It's very poisonous but related to the Brugmansia, Angels' Trumpet.
Datura.jpg

Here is a young volunteer.
Datura - young volunteer 3.jpg

What's Happening in France This Week

Well all the news is about the US taking a submarine contract away from France. The outrage!

Submarine Dispute

Connexion - maybe a paywall
Cancer in France: 75% of patients affected by medicine shortages
Leading professor says medical labs that stop making drugs because they are not profitable should be fined – but new European research has some encouraging news on some cancers

Le Monde Diplomatique...
What’s left of communism in China?

France 24
Notre-Dame Cathedral ready for restoration after post-fire safety work completed

France's Notre-Dame cathedral is finally ready to undergo restoration work more than two years after a blaze ravaged the heritage landmark, and remains on course to reopen in 2024, authorities said Saturday, following months of painstaking work to secure the building.

Notre Dame Repairs Move Ahead

Teatime is over: M&S to shut up shop in France over Brexit fallout

British retailer Marks and Spencer said Thursday it planned to shut more than half its stores in France with Brexit affecting supplies of fresh and chilled products.

Announcing the closure of 11 out of 20 franchise stores, the food-to-clothing retailer said in a statement that "the lengthy and complex export processes... following the UK's exit from the European Union are significantly constraining" supplies.

While it will shut all 11 franchise stores with partner SFH in France over the coming months, the nine franchise stores with partner Lagardere Travel Retail will remain open across airports and train stations, Marks and Spencer added.

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QMS's picture

Congrats on tracking down the waste water system solutions. I know it is a daunting task.
When we had the foundation excavated for the kitchen addition, the old guy digging found a pipe leading to a "beehive" dry stacked stone pit out front. Turns out the original drain was never hooked up by the former owner's father who had installed it.

It was a terrific find, as I was able to drain the washers and sink gray water into a separate container away from the main septic out back. Of course it had to be all done in a hurry and hush-hush as the DEM permitting process would have upped the cost 10x and taken forever.

But it worked out OK. Had the same old local wizard locate our main septic. He remembered putting it in about 70 years prior. Had some help from the roto-rooter outfit in locating it thru the drain in the basement with fancy electronic probes.

Both drains are working fine now. Separating the black waste from the gray (soapy) waste is key in allowing the microbes to break down solid effluents in the main tank. Can now access both drains thru the ground by building up the tops of the tanks to ground level. Have them pumped every few years. Quite an adventure!

Thanks for the OT!

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Dawn's Meta's picture

@QMS WC waste. But excepting rain water, everything like in the US is drained and vented together. And there's the reason the vents from the sinks, tub, washers, WC etc are all vented together. It's a nightmare finding the source of the gas that makes one woozy.

We have a new pipe out of the Waste Vent Pipe as of today with a restricted air flow cap. We will see if we can encourage air flow towards the secondary vent on the exit side of the Fosse Septique. We should know in a couple of days if we have cleared the interior air.

Who knows if all the joints in the drain pipes are sealed correctly. No leaks are visible, so we are hoping.

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A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. Allegedly Greek, but more possibly fairly modern quote.

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enhydra lutris's picture

saga. It is extremely unlikely in a household situation, but septic foul-ups can also theoretically lead to unsafe methane accumulations. Glad you got it sorted so far and especially that you're planning on moving to a pond system. Best of luck with that.

Not nearly up to speed on my Datura cultivars. Datura wrightii is the "Sacred Datura" of the southwest and Mexico, Datura stramonium is Jimson Weed and all species are poisonous and probably, if properly administered, psychoactive. Best left alone unless you have an experienced traditional shaman handy. I know it has been used for anesthesia, probably long before "western medicine" had "anesthesia".

France's reaction to the US betrayal is almost humorous. Why should they be exempt. The US does not honor agreements, treaties, and contracts except to the extent that they benefit the US. This behavior is older than the formality that is the US, dating back to earliest colonial times.

be well and have a good one

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Dawn's Meta's picture

@enhydra lutris There was a pipe to a deeply buried and therefore anaerobic drainfield. All the gases in the tank had really no place to go except maybe the tank covers.

The septic regulators encourage the use of natural ponds for cleaning the waste or the waste water. Most people don't have the patience for it, but it is catching on.

A huge savings for us as a new aerobic system would have been 17,00-22,000 euros. Ahem. With this compromise, we keep the current septic for first treatment of solids in anaerobic digestion and the fluids into the pond for final digestion. The outflow is clean enough to use as garden water. We hope we can capture it.

People are speculating on a couple of things: where would you put all those submarines?? And how many will be built by 2036?

I was surprised to find out that only the safety portion of the Notre Dame restoration had been completed.

The Datura is some basic one, I should look up. What caught my eye was the resemblance to Brugmansia.

Hope you're having a good time.

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A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. Allegedly Greek, but more possibly fairly modern quote.

Consider helping by donating using the button in the upper left hand corner. Thank you.

enhydra lutris's picture

@Dawn's Meta

With this compromise, we keep the current septic for first treatment of solids in anaerobic digestion and the fluids into the pond for final digestion. The outflow is clean enough to use as garden water.

There are municipal systems running on that principle, sometimes with 2 stage digestion using 2 digesters, then ponds and trickling filters. They mostly flare the methane, either periodically or continuously.

be well and have a good one

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Lookout's picture

should be more common. I don't have one but would consider it if we build another house.
https://www.homebiogas.com/

Bio-Toilet Kit
The most innovative off-the-grid toilet has just GOT BIGGER!

The HomeBiogas Bio-Toilet Kit is a superior alternative to regular compost toilets. It frees you to live in a self-sustainable manner by turning your pollutant body waste into a valuable resource. Using an anaerobic system it decomposes waste and transforms it into renewable biogas for cooking. It’s easy to install, safe, hassle-free, non-pollutant, environmentally friendly, and completes a full eco-cycle in your own home with no need for outside resources.

We also have a septic tank and line system. This year (after 32 years living here) we had to pump it out.

Best of luck with your system. I know and understand plumbing challenges.

Best comment I saw on the France Australian kerfuffle was CB's -
something along the lines of... they decided AUKUS was a better approach than FUKUS.

I actually think any subs going the Australia to confront China is a terrible idea.

Hope all is well on the homestead. We're finally drying out, looks like for the entire week. Fall garden is liking the cooler weather (47 F this AM here - very refreshing)

Well take care and be well!

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Dawn's Meta's picture

@Lookout good cooking gas. We are happy to have a natural processing system, raised beds and a green house. Yay. We have a SMEG propane gas five burner gas top. Love it. It is one of the most efficient gas tops I've ever used. We also use our counter top electric induction as often as we can.

Working on two wood stoves, a wood store and new shutters. Can't wait to make Bœuf Bourgignon on the stove.

Every evening we get nice weather, we sit out, drink wine or Boulevardiers, eat our dinner probably earlier than most French people, but we are outdoors.

Drying and airing as much linens as possible before weather sets in for good.

Winter is coming soon.

Take care.

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A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. Allegedly Greek, but more possibly fairly modern quote.

Consider helping by donating using the button in the upper left hand corner. Thank you.