Respecting ‘The Beast’

One of the less appealing aspects of owning our rural finca in the early days was having to live with ‘The Beast’ – an innocuous-looking but extremely important concrete bunker, adjoining the small covered terrace outside our annexe bedroom. I’ll spare you too much detail, just in case you’re reading this over breakfast, but let’s just say that anything that left our property through waste pipes, went into ‘The Beast’ (a pozo negro, or septic tank) – to be subjected to some kind of minor bacterial warfare within. The property is not connected to a main sewer.

Fearing the worst if we did something to upset the delicate balance of bacteria and . . . yet more bacteria . . .  we sought advice. ‘Treat it with respect,’ said the former owners of the property (who, incidentally, have become very dear friends).  ‘And that means no nasty chemicals or non-biodegradable stuff.’

So, not for us, those giant bottles of lurid-coloured cleaning products, filling several aisles of the local supermarket, and much-loved by Spanish housewives. We were going ecological and, although the cost of buying these products can be higher, we discovered that they do last much longer.

Back to basics

Just add elbow grease . . .

Feeling good about saving some money, and helping the environment of ‘The Beast’ (and generally), I also resorted to some old-fashioned remedies: the kind of things my gran would have used. Back in the UK, one of the occasional guests on my BBC radio programme was an expert on food and ‘all things domestic’, and Jill often regaled us with tips for tackling household jobs using store cupboard items.

Now I’d much rather be writing stuff than rubbing sink stains, but I have taken on board some of her suggestions – and saved quite a bit more money on cleaning products. My favourite weapons in the war against grime? Vinegar, bicarb of soda and lemon juice. I’ve been amazed what I can shift using one or more of those!

And, for some time, there were no complaints from ‘The Beast’

Jan Edwards ©2012

7 thoughts on “Respecting ‘The Beast’

  1. We never managed to find our pozo negro but it consumed everything from our shower room without problems. The kitchen sink had a pipe ending just a few meters outside the house! Now after extending the house we got a proper foza septica in the ground gobbling every fluid from inside. I think that it is illegal to build a pozo negro today.
    You have to be very careful if lay down new sewer pipes. They must be surrounded by sand so they can move a little without fracturing. Otherwise roots can enter in search of water and nutrition and block the pipe. I had to break up massive concrete behind our finca to get to the pipe and then open it up to remove a root snake 3 meter by 10 centimetres. All emerging from a 5-millimetre root thread!

  2. Our pozo negro eventually had to be replaced with a proper fosa septica – will recount the tale one day. I hope the people who installed our new one were away of this business about roots! I’m sure they must have been . . . sounds potentially very expensive, otherwise!

    • Can you help, having read your details of the dreaded “pozo negro” would you be able to supply the company that came and sucked it out, we live in Sineu so not too far away from you, a local farmer came out last time and I don’t think he got it all out. Regards

      • Hola Barry! Oh dear, sounds potentially unpleasant! We don’t know the name of the company that comes out to clear our pozo, but he’s in our phone listed as Pozo Man 609 593 319 and he is based in Manacor. It’s a company but we don’t know its name, I’m afraid! Anyway, I hope he can help you. Best wishes, Jan

      • Hola Jan, Thank you very much for taking the time to reply, I will now start the search for “Pozo Man” if unsuccessful I will revert to my happy tractor man with a bowser

  3. No problem. We’ll be in Manacor tomorrow and will try and find the company office, which has probably got a name over it! Will let you know if we’re successful.

  4. Pingback: Beware the Septic Tank … | Living in Rural Mallorca

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