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19 Dec 2009 - 5:27 PM  UPDATED 6 Sep 2013 - 9:31 AM

I feel like the boy with a hole in the dyke. Sure, the grass was long near the water tank. And yes, I was a bit close with the brush cutter. But I couldn’t have been that close. Could I?

The thing is, when you’ve 4000 litres of water held in a corrugated iron water tank - the only source of water for your pigs, for the cow when she spends the night in the barnyard, for sprouting barley and all those other outdoor, essential chores - you feel mightily dumb when two water spouts appear, within centimetres of the bottom of the tank after meandering past with the brush cutter. To be honest, I wasn’t even using a blade. Just a plastic bit called a 'weed whacker’ that does brilliantly at keeping the bracken and thistles down but not something I thought would carve through metal.

All I know now is that I’m in danger of losing all the water in the tank. I press my finger to the largest hole. And it gets bigger. I try to dry the outside of the tank so I can put some gaffer tape over the hole (please, those who understand these things, don’t laugh), and another hole appears further along.

The reason I’ve got the problem, a three-hole problem now, is that this tank is rusted through. Because some of the grass is cut from around the base I can see the telltale orange spots. If I look closely, I can see water seeping from some of them. If I hadn’t hit the thing with a weed whacker, a mere bump or brush or any external pressure would cause the thing to leak.

Which doesn’t make it any better. A new tank will be nearly two months in coming. It has to be made to size, to fit under the barn roof. In the meantime, I’ll have to extend the water pipe from the pump on the dam across the creek, or continue as I have been, lugging about 120 litres a day.

The water tank isn’t the only thing that’s leaking. So is the septic. And this, in some ways, particularly olfactory ways, is much worse. Luckily it doesn’t take long for Mal’s Pumping service to arrive, with an attitude not that different to Kenny’s in the movie. Even the truck they bring is rather humorous. On the side it says 'yesterday’s meals on wheels" and 'your business is our business". The number plate pokes fun at the gruesome task they have to undertake at every single call out: POO 003.

Pumping out a septic tank is something that has to be done on occasion. Too much lamb fat down the drain, or too many 'solids", and the quicker it needs to be done, though once every five years is usual. I’ve become extraordinarily conscious of what I put down the drain since everything ends up in my paddocks. I’ve always been careful with chemicals and oil (they say 1 litre of oil can pollute 100 000 litres of water) and avoided putting them down the sink even in the city. But here, where all your drinking water flows from your gutters, and all your liquid waste ends up a few metres from the house, you gain a far higher appreciation.

Mal tells me to close all the windows and stay inside while they give the tray that leads to the septic a stir and then pump out the tank.

You don’t have to tell me something like that twice.