It begins…

The transformation of Edgefield is underway.

Jeff and I had a hugely productive long weekend in which we cleaned out, dug up, pruned and dismantled the last vestiges of my vegetable garden to make way for the driveway to the new house, which will be built down the northern boundary of the block. The reticulation system I’d only installed last year at great cost and effort all had to go. All that’s left now in my patch is a completely denuded Loquat tree awaiting transplanting and the ever-amazing Ladyfinger bananas which we’ll leave for the enjoyment of the eventual tenants of this house. Two large bunches of bananas, which weren’t far off  ripening, collapsed under their own weight and we had to chop them down. But we’ve hung them under the verandah as they should hopefully ripen up ok. The first bunch we had was so incredibly creamy and sweet that we can’t wait to devour this next lot.

So with the vegetable garden readied for the bulldozers it was down to the back block with sledgehammer in hand to demolish the rickety old pump house over the well. We salvaged a lot of the materials and will reuse the sheet metal and the Jarrah floorboards to make raised vegie beds or some such thing.

Labouring on Labour Day – demolishing the old pump house over the well.

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We left the building’s frame for demolition by our very friendly (and most importantly, very useful) neighbour, Tony Simpson, who rolled his excavator and Bobcat over the back fence just after 8.00am this morning to begin knocking down infrastructure and digging some very large holes, namely for the ATU (septic system).

I guess that brings me to Edgefield’s water strategy, which has been the most incredibly labour-intensive, confusing, expensive, frustrating, lengthy research project I’ve ever undertaken. Without going into all the details, the final decisions we’ve made, with a view to becoming as close to sustainable in water as we can, are these:

  • Install a Fuji ATU Blackwater Treatment System which will treat all the water from the entire house to a potable standard and will keep our large lawn green all year round, guilt-free. ($14,850)
  • Plan A: Utilise the existing wells (as we discovered after demolishing the pump house, there are in fact two wells), install a new submersible vortex pump and pipework leading up to the northern boundary to a holding tank ($1,760)
  • Install a new 23,000L poly holding tank with another pump to pump the water out through the future reticulation system ($2,850 not including pump or retic)
  • Install a new Magnetic Water Conditioning device which will (please God) be the answer to my prayers and solve our terrible water quality which is salty, full of iron and acidic, and would currently kill any plant that it touched. ($2,310)
  • Install a 29,000L steel liner rainwater tank plumbed into the house for all household water use including drinking water. ($4,700)

All this doesn’t include a scrap of reticulation for what will be an extensive garden. Needless to say, it’s a ridiculously expensive exercise and I have laid awake at night stressing over it and wondering if any garden is worth it and if maybe something is trying to tell me to leave it be.

Plan B: is a bore (unsuccessful = $2,700, successful = min. $3,300). The volume of water from the wells is a complete unknown and we may well discover that after pumping them out a few times, it simply dries up. Problem is, a bore is a complete crapshoot. There is no way of knowing if you’re going to get a successful bore, i.e. find water, and even if you do, the likelihood of it being poor quality, given the test results from the well water, is high. The bore driller guaranteed me that the further he went down, the saltier it’d get. So both Plan A and B rely on this magnetic water conditioner which from the research I’ve done is lauded in some circles and considered complete and utter bullshit in others. The science is woo woo at best. But to be honest, I’m desperate and have no other option. So i’m gonna give it a crack and hope like hell it works otherwise I’ve just dropped a very large bag of money down a metaphorical well.

Ross Mars from Water Installations (and my former Permaculture teacher) was also on site today ripping out the extensive mains water pipework, 12 solenoids and programmer which he only installed last year (ugh). Unfortunately it lies directly in the path of the new driveway so we had no choice but to rip it out. But that’s all done and dusted now too with a temporary water line set up until Water Corp put in a completely new one for the house.

Tony’s work included:

  • demolishing the pump house
  • pulling out all the stumps of trees and bushes Jeff had chainsawed off over the weekend
  • pushing over the grape arbour
  • digging the 2.5m deep, 3m wide hole for the ATU
  • knocking down various fences and gates
Now you see it, now you don't. Looking up the block where the pump house and large shrubs have been removed leaving just the wells

Now you see it, now you don’t. Looking up the block where the pump house and large shrubs have been removed leaving just the wells

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Tearing down the grape arbour (we’ve retained two vines).

I’ve got tree loppers coming tomorrow to give me a quote on removing a few trees that are unfortunately in the way. And hopefully the builder might show up with the earthmoving guys to walk the block and book in a date to get started. Cross fingers.

We are very excited about the house. Stressed about the tight budget. Frustrated (already) by the builder’s lack of communication skills and we haven’t even officially signed contracts with him yet.

But it feels like we’ve wiped a giant slate clean and are ready to paint a masterpiece. Here goes.