We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Bobcat

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen the giant hole that used to be my front yard.


It all began with a flooded utility room last weekend…

Actually, that room flooded once before, at the end of July. It just so happened to occur the one, and only, time we used the shower in the master bathroom, so we sort of figured (hoped) it had something to do with that.

No such luck.

In fact, we weren’t able to flush toilets or use the shower initially, making for a dicey 24 hours—but we eventually figured out that, as long as we were careful, the water would drain as it should. We called a plumber first thing Monday morning but were placed on a waiting list; when they finally made it out midday Tuesday, they ran a sewer scope and gave us the bad news: our entire main line needed replacing. The roots from our lilac bush had busted through the clay pipe to the point where it was crushed in places and there was dirt in the line. I guess Doris had dealt with problems in the past, because the pipe had been snaked so many times, it was basically destroyed, so there was no option to repair or reinforce it. The work would involve digging a giant trench through the front yard and tearing up our sidewalk and landscaping. Our reward? A nice, fat bill for $12,000, give or take a few pennies.

So now, we are dealing with a huge, unsightly mess. We can’t get out the front door but are at least able to go through the garage. The hole they had to dig to reach the existing sewer pipe is much deeper than anticipated; it’s at least 15′ deep, thanks to the fact that we live on a hill. I mean, we can’t even see the bottom from our front porch! It’s a little unnerving, kind of like peering into the depths of hell, minus the fire and brimstone. It’s so deep, in fact, that the first Bobcat they used couldn’t reach the bottom to scoop out all the dirt, so they had to go get a bigger one. What a pain! Our only saving grace is the sewer addendum we wisely added to our homeowner’s policy at the urging of our realtor. They’ll cover up to $10K, but are naturally making us jump through hoops to justify the work. It’ll cost more than that anyway, and we have a $1K deductible, so we may have to get creative in figuring out how to pay for this.

The situation is not completely without humor. My sister-in-law, Esther, asked if they had discovered anything interesting while digging, like an arrowhead or an old toy or maybe a dead body.

They’ve been working on it for two days and estimated the project would take four, so it should be finished by Tuesday. Fingers crossed; Rapid City’s asphalt plant closes for the season on Wednesday, so if they don’t finish up by then we will be stuck with some kind of temporary patch on the street until spring.

We’ll be giving thanks for a nice, new pipe on Thursday, I guess.

Speaking of Turkey Day, it’ll be just the three of us this year (if you count the cat). Of course it would be great to have family around, but after hosting for so many years, it’s nice to have a more relaxed, laid-back holiday. I wish I had Friday off, but we both have to work, so at least I won’t be jealous that Tara’s home while I’m not. Half the office was smart enough to take the day off, but I need to bank more PTO as we have a couple of trips lined up.

Our temperatures have been running 15-20 degrees above average for a change. Yesterday was a balmy 61º and today will be about the same. Then winter’s coming back this week. Thanksgiving looks to be cloudy and in the upper 30s. There’s talk of a potent winter storm somewhere on the Plains next weekend, but it’s too far out to know how or if that will affect us. Rapid City’s tree lighting ceremony and parade of lights are Saturday, so that probably means we’ll get a foot of snow.

18 thoughts on “We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Bobcat

  1. Wow! I mean, something had to give eventually, right? You guys were living on easy street for quite a while. Still, that really stinks. I’m sorry you have to deal with it. Are the lilacs going to be transplanted farther away from the pipes now?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No, Easy Street is on the east side of town. We’re out west.

      They actually decided to dig around the lilac so they wouldn’t have to tear down the retaining wall. Apparently the new PVC pipe is impervious to root damage, but I would not be upset if they “accidentally” took out the bush during this excavation.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. From a Homer Simpson meme: “If you think you’re having the worst day of your life,you’re having the worst day of your life so far.” When we moved into our house in Greensboro, NC had a $2,500 plumbing repair and did not realize my insurance would have covered it but with that $1,000 deductible of course.


  3. Darn! I would think having your house sitting up so high would alleviate any sewer issues, but I guess with the age of the line, there was no hope. We dealt with similar issues at our old house, where we had two backflow valves installed (first one failed) and then had a new lining blown into the pipe from house to street. $12K seems to be the going rate for that kind of work. Thank God for your realtor’s advice.

    Hope your Thanksgiving is peaceful and full of happiness.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. OH MY GOD, Mark! When I didn’t know what to think when I first saw your first two photographs! I initially thought it was sink hole in front of your home.

    “A nice, fat bill for $12,000, give or take a few pennies.” YIKES! But I’m happy to read that your homeowner’s policy will cover at least the largest bulk of that bill. Whew! And it’s good to hear that they’ll be finished by Tuesday, so at least you’ll have things settled down before Thanksgiving.

    We’re having strange weather as well. Right now it’s on the cold side, but a few days ago I saw people walking the streets in SHORTS. I heard we’re getting a nice cold blast later this week. And perhaps even some snow.

    Take care, my friend. And all the best to you and Tara!


    1. OMG…a sinkhole would be the worst!! I figured I should probably blog about it to clear up any confusion people might have. Lord knows what the neighbors think about the mountain of dirt that appeared in front of our house last week.

      We’re getting a cold blast this week, too – and potentially lots of snow. Hope you get some to put you into the Christmas spirit!


  5. We went through this twice, and then had to dig up pipes and all that. Backup sewage in the basement…ugh.Good Luck!

    BTW someone nominated me for a blogging award and I played along. I decided to nominate you next, may as well get to know you better! If you’d like to participate, check my last blog post for the details. But there is no pressure, it’s not mandatory. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Heck yeah, I’m down! I’ve seen those awards and even been nominated once or twice but never played along. I’ll do it this time, though. Sounds like fun (and I’ve been in a mood to write more lately anyway).

      Liked by 1 person

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