|My Latrine Lads|
From left, sons Kyle and Jason, husband Keith and son Colton
Mother's Day is grand. Over the years I have given and been given many an aromatic item. Perfume, flowers, bubble bath, candy (nothing smells as lovely as rich dark chocolate unless it is the brisk sea tripping the skin off your cheeks on The Cliffs of Moher) to name a few.
But the aroma of fresh, rich DIRT being shoveled out of a deep dark hole by the four grown men in your life...now that is a lovely Mother's Day aroma.
You might recall that the elder son built us an outhouse for our new place this past Christmas. It has been hibernating at The Poor Farm until two days ago when after careful consideration of placement (downwind from the future house) drainage ( slight slope backwards) aroma control (in the shade) and asthetics (near a flowering fruit tree with the outhouse window facing east for the morning sun) we commenced the digging of the hole.
Keep in mind we are latrine virgins. Yes, we've used a few over the years, most were bad, but we have never owned one outright. Seriously, no mortgage or lien on this little outhouse. And when you own something you take pride in it do you not? Renting an outhouse just isn't the same. So therefore we did our research about outhouse hole size, location and construction.
Amazing really, the number of websites totally designated to this topic. There were indeed several steps involved in the process of securing a semi-permanent home for our new outdoor throne.
|Measuring from the well to the new outhouse site|
First: the location. Common sense tells you it should be AWAY from the house, ours is located over 160 feet away from our proposed new home site, and FAR AWAY from your well. Ours is over 200 foot from the current well. Pick a private spot but not so far away that if you must use it in the winter you have to rent a snowmobile. We also chose a spot about halfway across our property which will make it handy when you don't want to use the inside toilet or you have a yard full of company. We only plan one composting toilet inside the house so having two places on the property to "go" will be most convienent.
Second: the hole. Four feet was the average depth suggested. Width varies on the size and construction of your outhouse. Our sons had great fun digging the first 12 inches. One would swing the pick ax to break up the soil while another would dig and another would direct. The ground was soft due to hevy rain the night before. Several pieces of old metal were uncovered.
The next 12 inches were a bit more difficult as the dirt becam more clay like, heavier and the sun heated up. But still they took turns and made progress.
In the 3rd foot of digging, fatigue set in as did thirst and increased sweat production. Also the clay soil mix evolved into thick heavy wet clay. If one of us had had a potters wheel (and skill) we could have made of new set of dishware.
In the 4th foot of digging despair set it. Would it ever be deep enough? Was someone messing with the tape measure because after digging for 30 minutes only another inch of cay had been removed. Could that be right?
Eventually the hole became so difficult to maneuver in that only one son, the youngest wiry one, could stand in the pit and comfortably use the shovel.
His brothers provided essential emotional support.
They also wheeled away heavy wheel barrow loads of clay. Please note: I myself did not lift one shovel full of dirt, not wanting to get in the way of my gift from my sons. I did of course give advice, lecture and warn (If you behead yourself with that pickax don't come crying to me!) and fetch cold drinks including homemade-fresh-squeezed-lemonade. As blog follower Carolyn alwasy says,I rock. Moving on...
Third: The inner hole frame. While my three sons slaved away and truly they worked HARD, their father constructed the inner frame of the hole, a wooden box made of old pallets and recycled wood. Meant to keep the earth walls from caving in it required some extra shaving off of the holes dirt walls to make it fit.
Finally the 30 by 40 inch box fit into the somewhat 30 by 40 inch hole.
|Thank you sister Mary for the pallets!|
Fourth: Drag the outhouse over to it's new home. Try hard not to tip the outhouse over onto ones youngest son. A huge heavy chain attached to the bottom of building which had large skids underneath, made the process easy. Well, it was easy for me, the woman behind the lens.
Fifth: Cut a hole in the bottom of the outhouse. So glad we remembered that little step! We plan to install a small round metal barrel leading from the outhouse seat into the dug hole in order to decrease waste splashback, directing it right where we want it.
Sixth: Position the latrine over it's hole and back fill around the bottom of it to lesson small critter invasion. The clay dug from the hole will certainly harden and secure the outhouse in place.