Not a bad sunset last night. It started to snow and I thought for sure I wasn't going to get a shot but it stopped just before I took this.
I'm not quite sure where to start with my topic for today as it seems to be, at least for many, something that isn't really talked about or for that matter given a whole lot of thought. Generally it is flushed down the sewer never to be thought of again and, except for maybe a few necessary shots of something nice smelling, it leaves nothing behind as a reminder. Human Waste, OK, there I said it. When we first decided to live an off the grid lifestyle one of the topics that came up was what type of sewer were we going to have, how were we going to build it, and what would be best for us and the farm not to mention the pocket book.
I spent a LOT of time doing research and checking out different websites. Of course growing up on a small farm an "outhouse" was standard and many farms still have one somewhere on the property although they are rarely, if ever, used. I knew I wanted one but I also wanted to try something new; a compost toilet. There are a lot of different models out there but because we knew our power would most likely be in short supply it couldn't be an electric model. I finally choose one from the Sun Mar Corporation, the Excel NE.
This toilet had rave reviews! I felt I had done extensive research and made a wise decision. Our new toilet was installed very easily. There really isn't much too it. It looks bigger than an normal toilet but still has a nice aesthetic appeal and because we live in such a cold climate I was very happy to have it. The one thing I really love about a compost toilet is, there is no smell. The vent (pipe) is specially designed to keep the air moving up and out.
Mountain Man has even created a very cool outhouse in the house which is very rustic. I love how he creates things. However, as much as I loved it and have used it, to date I have yet to get it to work properly. I have spent 3 years attempting to get it to compost and would LOVE to hear from anyone else who has used this system and has been successful. Really, I think I must be doing something wrong! I purchased the Compost Sure, the composting enzymes and everything else I was told I needed. I called the company and spoke to their very nice and helpful agents all to no avail. Nothing works.
So, even though it is cold outside we made the decision to mostly use the outhouse this winter. Please don't think me a total wimp because I'm not but at -35 C it is just a little cold so Mountain Man was kind enough to put a little propane heater in there for me if I need it. What a guy!
So the dilemma now is do we stay with the system we have or try something new? I found a book recently called the Humanure Handbook which can be purchased or downloaded here. The basic concept is composting but it does it in a completely different way and it is such a simple system. His premise is that you must cover what you want to compost with something, he recommends sawdust. Once a week this sawdust "mixture" is taken to the compost pile and deposited then covered with a layer of straw. He basically guarantees no smell and compost that can be used for whatever you want in a year or two. I really don't think I could use it for anything other than ornamental's but each to his own.
While there is quite a bit of his own philosophy in the book when you get down to the real science I think it has merit. Having said that it is probably not be something most people would subscribe too... then again, people who live like this can't really be classified as normal can they? At least, as I've always told my children, "I hope not!" For now I will not be making any more changes. I want to talk to someone who has used both systems so I can hopefully make a more informed choice. Besides, getting fresh air, even if it is cold, is not a bad thing.