Thursday, September 12, 2013


Not that I don't frequently test the boundaries of what are considered topics of polite conversation, what with the chicken murder and all, but with this post I may be jumping straight into Too Much Information.  But, hey, what's a girl to do when she's got homemade composting toilets on her mind?  She's gotta share, that's what!  I'm pleased to introduce you to my brand new, barely used, homemade, composting outdoor potty!  Compete with a mason jar of toilet paper and some bags of locally grown cut grass used for the promotion of healthy microbes and speedy decomposition.  

This was a completely spontaneous project, as Brandon was busy working on electricity and mom and I were looking for ways to make some progress on the house.  I had something like pulling nails or removing rubble in mind, but mom suggested we build a composting toilet.  I wasn't very supportive of this idea at first because we didn't have a plan or bring any materials.  Besides, there are plenty of shrubs around so a potty hasn't been high on my priority list even though we don't have functioning facilities in the house.  Apparently shrubs are not sufficient for everyone, so mom wondered off to scout for materials and came back with a plan based on stuff found around the farm.  I'm not sure what the original use of square plastic tub was, but someone cut the bottom out of it so it is just walls without at top or bottom.  Somehow this plastic box is the exact height of a toilet, and the walls are so thick they can easily support the weight of a person.  It was meant to be, right? 

It didn't take us long to scrounge up a board for the top, and with the seat from the old toilet that was in the house mark the location of the hole for Brandon to cut.  Then we drilled some holes and used some old electric fence wire to attach the toilet seat.  We clamped the board to the lip of the plastic box and wa-la - a toilet is born!  The composting part of this design comes from the way we intend it to be used.  Instead of digging a hole, like a traditional outhouse, this toilet is meant to sit on the ground and allow the ...uh... "organic matter" to have contact with the soil surface and be covered with cut grass raked from the fields after each "deposit."  It's a mini version of the latrines we encountered when hiking on the Appalachian Trail a few years ago.  The difference being that those had trenches to handle the heavier use than our weekend work days, and those used leaves raked from the forest instead of grass raked from the field.  It was considered good hikers etiquette to rake up some leaves if you used the last of them.  Sort of like replacing the toilet paper roll if you use the last bit.   

We spent quite some time deciding on the best location for the toilet, considering factors such as privacy, distance from the house, levelness of the ground, and the most relaxing vista, and eventually settled on sticking it under a big tree near some tall weeds, providing shade and a privacy screen on three sides.  Then Brandon mowed the path for ease of access.  I need to find an alternate way to clamp the board on top, since the metal clamps will rust in the weather, and having a roof would be ideal (if it's raining would an umbrella work?), but otherwise it's functioning just fine.  I'm happy with our toilet invention, especially since we didn't have to go farther than the barn to find all the pieces.  

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