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Dear Editor,

My husband and I purchased some land in Wahkiakum County, Washington with the plan to move there and live off the grid. We have a tiny house there and will put in a well. The government there just told my husband we would have to put in a septic tank and have electrical put out to our property. I do not want to do this. It has been the dream of my adult life to live off the grid. I want to use a humanure toilet and solar and wind. People are doing this all over the country, so why can’t we? Can the local county government really force us to purchase all these unwanted and unnecessary items? I was distraught and furious when I heard this. Do you have the answer to what I see as a dilemma?

Furious in Washington State

 

Dear Furious,

Those government bureaucrats can make the most pious of us lose our religion, can’t they? Let’s take this one at a time.

First of all, your septic system. The Washington State Department of Health sets the protocols and requirements that your local health department uses in determining whether a particular style of wastewater management meets codes in the state. According to the Washington State Department of Health’s website:

Individual and small (up to 3,500 gallons/day) on-site sewage systems are permitted and regulated by local health jurisdictions. Department staff provide consultative and technical support to local health jurisdictions and develop/maintain guidance documents for various technologies. Staff review proprietary wastewater system products to verify they meet testing protocol requirements and maintain a list of products meeting the requirements for use throughout the state.

I would go to your department of health and ask to see a list of the approved waste disposal systems in your area. To be honest, a septic tank with 250 of field line is a great system that, if maintained properly, will never give you any trouble. Don’t use a garbage disposal, don’t pour oil or fats down the drain, avoid pouring chemicals or flushing solids (such as feminine hygiene products) down the toilet, space out laundry washings so a great influx of water isn’t hitting the system all at once, and replenish the bacteria in the system periodically with either a store-bought solution or a package of yeast. My mother-in-law has been on a septic system for over 40 years and has never had a problem with it, but she follows the above protocols religiously. I have always lived in a house with a traditional septic system, and I have never had any problems either. Yes, the state does have the right to control wastewater disposal and so any system you use will have to be on their “approved” list.

As far as the electricity goes—whether you go total solar and/or wind, you still have to wire the house for power from one source or another. However, to be told that you have to hook up to the public electric grid is highly suspect. I think you have a little government bureaucrat who has let what little bit of authority he has go to his head. From what I can see in your building permit process, this is all that is required to obtain a building permit:

  1. Show proof of potable water to the Wahkiakum County Health Department located at 64 Main Street Cathlamet, WA 98612 phone – (360) 795-6207.
  2. Obtain a septic permit from the Wahkiakum County Health Department.
  3. Apply for your building permit in the Building Section of Wahkiakum County, located at the above stated address phone – (360) 795-3067. Be sure to bring proof of your septic permit, a site plan of the building site, a set of construction plans and your legal description. A building permit will not be issued without the above information.

The building permit application (https://www.co.wahkiakum.wa.us/depts/pw/documents/BuildingApplication2009.pdf) lists the type of permits you’re requesting, whether for building, mechanical, or plumbing. It asks about the type of water system and sewage disposal system you’re installing. It does NOT ask about the electrical. I can’t find anything else about requirements. I suggest you go to your public works department and ask to see the county or state ordinance that requires you to hook up to the public power grid. Don’t take anyone’s word for it. Make them show you in writing the adopted county ordinance or state law that makes this so.

I guess if all else fails and they force you to use public electricity in some way, shape, or fashion, you can just refuse to pay the power bill until the power company pulls the meter, and then disconnect from the public system and hook up to your own solar and wind. (Never tie into a system without some disconnect that prevents backfeeding into the public utility lines, however. If you use an alternate source of energy and it backcharges the electric company lines, you can kill a lineman working on a section of wire that he thinks is dead. This goes for your primary power and any auxiliary power one might use in the case of grid failure. They make special disconnect switches strictly for this scenario. A simple breaker is not sufficient.)

Again, I am not well-versed in Washington State laws or Wahkiakum County ordinances in regard to these issues. This is why it’s so important to be involved in your local and state government. Without oversight, these entities become strutting dictators that make you jump through hoops for no logical reason whatsoever. I have given you some bare information that might help you get started in resolving these issues. All I can say is research, research, and research some more. Force those in charge to prove their assertions with written and approved ordinances and state laws, not just because “they say so.” Good luck!

The Editor

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Dear Editor,

I butchered some of my old layers a few days ago. One of them was a Turkin, and I have no idea how old she was (she was given to us). I also don’t know how long it has been since she laid an egg. I found something quite interesting when I gutted her. She had several yolks in her egg track, but they were hard like a boiled egg. She seemed healthy and was eating well. Do you have any idea what could have caused this situation? 

Puzzled

 

Dear Puzzled,

What you seem to be describing is egg bound syndrome and is something that is common in young birds laying for the first time, old birds, and birds that are stressed or malnourished. Old birds, such as yours, are prone to this. Also, inflammation or partial paralysis of the oviduct can result in egg binding, as can obesity. The following are symptoms of egg binding, taken from the engormix.com website: (https://en.engormix.com/MA-poultry-industry/genetic/articles/egg-bound-syndrome-t1620/103-p0.htm)

 

• Abdominal straining

• Bobbing or wagging of the tail

• Drooping of the wings

• Wide stance
• Depression
• Loss of appetite
• Lameness or leg paralysis (the egg puts pressure on the nerves going to the legs)
• Distended abdomen
• Droppings stuck to the vent area (the bird cannot raise her tail when passing waste)
• Some hens may pass large wet droppings while others may not pass any droppings due to the       egg’s interfering with normal defecation.
• Fluffed feathers
• Weakness
• Difficult breathing (the retained egg puts pressure on the air sacs)
• Sitting fluffed on the bottom of the cage
• Possible prolapse of part of the reproductive tract (the inner part of the reproductive tract is pushed out so that it is visible as a pink mass protruding from cloacal opening)
• Complications from being egg bound can be swelling, bleeding or prolapse of the oviduct.
• Sudden death

Certain breeds seem to be predisposed to this, particularly those used in commercial laying or broiler breeder layers. Other than egg bound syndrome, I cannot find anything else that describes this condition. Any of our readers out there have experience with this?

The Editor

 

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