Muck flies to the midden


This phrase has always irritated me. The meaning is simple. Somebody with a bad character will always end up hanging round with a lot of other bad characters. Yet given that I’ve spent a large part of my life shovelling muck, I know that while the phrase might sum up people pretty well, but it shows a distressing lack of understanding of the dynamics of muck.

Nowadays we tend to use contractors to cart slurry. They’re the ones with the big tractors pulling the big kit. It may seem counter-intuitive but these big machines with their wide wheels and carefully designed tyres make a lot less mess when they travel across the field than the old, smaller tankers used to do, pulled by the lesser tractors I remember from my youth!
Not only that but if you want a lot of slurry spread quickly, these machines are the way to go. Indeed in our modern, environmentally conscious times, I’d hope that people keen on recycling would pull to the side of the road and applaud as a slurry tanker goes past.

Indeed we are seeing far more use of human sewage as well. When used properly it’s both safe and useful. It also means that our human population becomes so much more sustainable. But a plea here; don’t drop anything down the toilet that you wouldn’t want to see spread on your own vegetable patch.

This sort of leads me back to slurry tankers again. A long time ago now, before we ever had to deal with slurry, we used to have to call the local council in to empty our septic tank occasionally. This they did. They sent a wagon with a vacuum tank on it. Looking back it wouldn’t hold a thousand gallons, perhaps five or six hundred. This wagon would come, fill up from the septic tank and then drive down to the sewage farm two or three miles away to unload. It would then come back for another load. It used to take them two working days to empty the septic tank and we’d be billed for that.

Anyway my father realised that the way the farm was evolving we’d have to move to a slurry system so we would need a slurry tanker. Given the size of our tractors and what they could pull, he bought a second hand, four hundred gallon tanker. Nowadays you’d barely use it as a water bowser, but back then it was just on the small side of industry standard.

One of the points raised in the discussion as to whether to splash out the money for one, was that we could empty our own septic tank and the money saved by not paying the council to do it could go towards paying for the tanker.

Anyway we’d had the tanker a year or so before our septic tank needed emptying. My Dad reckoned that as his tanker was smaller than the council tanker, it might take him longer to empty the septic tank. Also he could only fit in three or four hours a day for the job because he had to milk, feed young stock, and do all sorts of other jobs, So his plan was that he’d  just take a couple of loads every morning for a week or so. If work got in the way and he didn’t have time to finish it, well we could always phone the council to get them to do it, and we might only need to pay for one day’s work rather than two.

What actually happened was that on the first morning he emptied our Septic tank in two full loads and one half load. It took him about an hour and a half. Needless to say, we have never used the council service since.


As a special treat for you, I’ve got not one new novella for you, but two!


Benor learns a new craft, joins the second hand book trade, attempts to rescue a friend and awakens a terror from the deep. Meddling in the affairs of mages is unwise, even if they have been assumed to be dead for centuries.


No good deed goes unpunished. To help make ends meet, Benor takes on a few small jobs, to find a lost husband, to vet potential suitors for two young ladies, and to find a tenant for an empty house. He began to feel that things were getting out of hand when somebody attempted to drown him


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22 thoughts on “Muck flies to the midden

  1. The Story Reading Ape February 8, 2019 at 12:39 pm Reply

    GREAT – I was down to only two of your books left to read, (Learning a Hard Trade & The Flames of the City) and getting worried – got these two now 👍😃

    • jwebster2 February 8, 2019 at 12:53 pm Reply

      I’ll have to write faster 🙂

      • The Story Reading Ape February 8, 2019 at 12:58 pm

        YEP 👍😂😂😂

      • jwebster2 February 8, 2019 at 1:39 pm

        better stop faffing about on the internet then hadn’t I 🙂

      • The Story Reading Ape February 8, 2019 at 1:40 pm

        No – I enjoy your posts too 😂

      • jwebster2 February 8, 2019 at 3:38 pm

        write with both hands simultaneously then 😉

      • The Story Reading Ape February 8, 2019 at 3:39 pm

        That’ll do nicely 👍😂

      • jwebster2 February 8, 2019 at 3:47 pm

        well you better get across to the Tallis Steelyard blog which I wrote with one hand whilst replying to you with the other 🙂

      • The Story Reading Ape February 8, 2019 at 4:29 pm

        Already have, and stored it for reblogging this evening 👍😃

      • jwebster2 February 8, 2019 at 4:33 pm

        Oh I look forward to that 🙂

  2. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt February 8, 2019 at 3:06 pm Reply

    Reminds me of standing around watching a crew of eight grown men supervise each other one at a time while taking all morning to fix a pothole. My tax dollars at work. Some public servants work very hard; others, not so much.

    • jwebster2 February 8, 2019 at 3:39 pm Reply

      Yes, I suspect those who work very hard cover for those who don’t!

      • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt February 10, 2019 at 1:46 am

        They are all ‘specialists.’ Each has a job, and they have to be all there, because, heaven forbid someone should do a job not on their government issued list of job requirements.

        I’m sure in the long run it works, but I’m also sure it looks like my tax money going down the drain with the sewer repair.

      • jwebster2 February 10, 2019 at 7:04 am

        Having had to work with some of them I would beg to cast doubt on just how specialist a number of them are!

  3. jenanita01 February 9, 2019 at 9:52 am Reply

    It had to happen I suppose. You have found a subject that no one really wants to know about… or think about all over our vegetables…

    • jwebster2 February 9, 2019 at 10:22 am Reply

      I am uniquely gifted in certain respects 🙂

  4. patriciaruthsusan February 10, 2019 at 12:18 pm Reply

    Reblogged this on Musings on Life & Experience and commented:
    Jim gives information on how his father emptied their septic tank. Also, two humorous books by Jim on the adventures of Benor.

    • jwebster2 February 10, 2019 at 1:05 pm Reply

      Glad you enjoyed it 🙂

  5. patriciaruthsusan February 10, 2019 at 12:25 pm Reply

    My parents and I lived in a cottage dad owned for several years when he found out the septic tank needed emptying. He had to dig around until he found it first and then got the help of a relative to dig down to it before he could call for a tanker to suction it out. It was smaller than he thought. I’ll bet the people who later bought the place had a larger one put in. 🙂 — Suzanne

    • jwebster2 February 10, 2019 at 1:06 pm Reply

      It is a genuine problem. Especially where people feed extra houses into an existing septic tank. We use far more water than our predecessors did!

  6. Robynn Gabel February 26, 2019 at 5:14 am Reply

    I cannot believe they fleeced your family for so long! Shame on the council. Excellent story though. 🙂

    • jwebster2 February 26, 2019 at 6:41 am Reply

      In this case I suspect the staff were fleecing them and the management didn’t care because it wasn’t their money they were spending 😦

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