A composting toilet is a wonderful thing. I say this both as someone who has twice in the last two months had raw sewage from the ‘conventional’ type of system back up in our office making it uninhabitable, and as someone who has recently emptied out the first rested drum of humanure from the composting loo at our cabin. It was a surprisingly clean and odourless experience.
It all starts in a little outhouse with over a metre of underfloor space, a pretty normal looking pedestal and toilet seat at the top of a chute above a poo drum. The solar panels, on the outhouse roof with the batteries down below next to the drum, power a 12 volt fan that keeps it aerobic and odourless. A big bucket of sawdust, gathered in plentiful amounts from chainsaw work for the woodpile, sits in the corner and is used to dust every deposit. It’s what you do instead of flushing. When the drum gets about as full as you think you can comfortably carry, you seal it up, change it for an empty one and pop it under a tree to rest and fully break down (in our case in the shade of an ancient thicket of quince where it can seep any liquid to good purpose).
Six months later, the next time you want to plant a tree, you do so in humanure – odourless, friable nutrient enriched broken down sawdust by this stage. A sugar maple (Acer saccharum) for us, a thin whip of a sapling with as good a start as we can offer it with fairly scant maintenance in a clearing in the bush. The Squeeze wanted some autumn colour, and I like the idea of one day maybe tapping some sap for syrup or wine. If this one prospers, we’ll aim for a proper grove of it, in the meantime pooing with a purpose.
Update: The neighbours cattle broke in and munched the budding maple (and the top of the mulberry and messed up the dam); perhaps the maple will survive, perhaps I will replant, perhaps I will boost the soil fertilisation with the uneaten portion of a duffed calf if he doesn’t fix the fence, a duffed steer if the beehive is knocked over…