In today’s blog, we’re going to get down and dirty. Literally.
It’s not exactly the nicest thing to talk about, but let me tell ya, when you don’t have the proper facilities for doing your business….it’s about ALL you can talk about. As a matter of fact, it becomes somewhat of an obsession.
When we first started staying at the farm, as you’ve learned by now, there was no water, no sewer, no electricity. Now let me clarify; there was a well that indeed had water in it. There was a septic system, that indeed did have sinks and toilets attached to it, and there was electricity; just not attached to the house. Point A did not meet Point B in all cases.
There was no way we were going to be able to use the bathrooms in the house….not without a major amount of plumbing. We decided it’s not even worth plumbing since we were not going to be living in that house full time for one thing, and secondly, because we were there so infrequently and only using wood heat, that the pipes would have continually froze and heated, froze and heated. And you know what that means…Ka-blam-o.
What we DID do to the bathroom upstairs and downstairs was completely gut them, and I mean COMPLETELY. There was nothing salvageable there. Oh wait, I am lying. I saved a toilet paper holder upstairs….but I bleached the shit out of it. (Pun intended.)
So what to do? Where to poo? Sigh. It meant the inevitable; we had to use the outhouse for the time being. Both Brad and I knew we were lying to ourselves and each other when we said, “It’s not that bad.” It was bad; from the massive wasp nest that was hovering in the vent, ensuring that the odor remained trapped in the confined space, to the double seater because who doesn’t want to eliminate human waste while having a nice chat right beside their partner, right? In all honesty, I think that it was set up as a double seater so that when one hole filled up, the other side was ready to go, but I don’t want to think about that for too long, ok?
When Brad hooked the generator up to a pump to a hose to the well, I blasted that outhouse with so much water pressure that the wood it was built with started to sprout leaves again. Then I took about ten gallons of bleach to it (just ask my friend Deanna about my long love affair with bleach) and scrubbed a 50+ year old outhouse down before water blasting it again. Ain’t no way my tushy was touching anything in that God forsaken place without a good cleaning up to my standards!
Gosh, I think back to the 50 foot trail we stomped in the winter time from the house to the outhouse; shivering out a poopsicle in minus 40 storms. It wasn’t long before we decided that we would build ourselves a new outhouse….something deluxe….something worth spending a good amount of time in.
We were in design mode. We were in collection mode. At the time, Brad worked at the landfill and they just happened to be doing renovations to the hockey arena and eliminating old boards. There were large sheets of plywood riddled with nails and puck marks, and we took them home and removed every nail. I had an old utility sink. We had a window. We had two by fours. We had a door. We had flooring. We had a toilet seat. We had shelves and a mirrored medicine cabinet that someone had put in the reclaim room…all we needed was a toilet. Hmmmm.
We weren’t ready for plumbing yet. We started researching compost toilets. We definitely weren’t against it, but at the time couldn’t afford one. So, how do we create an outhouse that doesn’t require digging a hole, and does not have plumbing and isn’t a gross stinky poopy smelling yuck yuck? We use a…
Ok, I will get a bit more detailed that that. We have a sawdust system. As the sign says that I created and hung in the new outhouse, “One to two scoops if you pooped. No need if you just peed.” It’s that simple. You sit down as if you’re using a regular toilet, but instead of flushing, you fill with sawdust. Thanks to Scott Skene, we’ve got a lifetime supply of sawdust (but you know, we DO plan on building a house that WILL have a septic system, etal). There is venting by the bucket so odors leave the area. There is a lid that is put down after every..ahem…movement. There is a window that stays cracked open pretty well all spring, summer and fall. And the sawdust is what makes it manageable and compostable. (No, you don’t use it in your garden. )
Here’s a link to more information about sawdust toilets that you might find interesting:
But let’s not get too hung up on the poop part of this, ok? I’m telling you; this outhouse is DELUXE! We researched the proper height to have the toilet seat. We have outlets and a fancy antique light so that when we do hook it up to electricity it is ready to go. We have an awning over the window so that it doesn’t get too hot in there. There’s a stack of magazines to read and an incredible view of the field from the seat. I’ve joked that I’ll be able to hunt for deer from there!
In retrospect, this should have been one of the very first things we did. It’s such an easy set up: all you need is a 5 gallon bucket, a pile of sawdust, a toilet seat that fits on a bucket (you can get them pretty well anywhere now), and compostable toilet paper. But I guess we had to do the Susanna Moodie “Roughin’ it in the Woods” thing first. But as the saying goes, “I”m getting too old for this shit.” If you’re going to have to do something at least once as day, you might as well do it right.
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