Thursday, 31 May 2012

What's your view of the composting loo? Can you deal with your own poo?

Trev and I like to say we can deal with our own shit. But strictly not true as it's Trev's job to clean out the dunny.  I maintain a discreet distance while pointing out what fruit trees I want it planted under.  Caleb loves the new house, but is embarrassed when his friends come to stay and we have to introduce them to the loo. He doesn't like the toilet.

We have a Enviro-let. A self contained unit that heats and mixes our ordure in order to turn it into usable compost. Building codes meant we had to build a small hatch in the side of the wall to pass the tray of compost through so as not to walk it through the house. It's supposed to be every three months according to the manufacturers specs. But in reality it's more frequent that that.  When  you sit on the seat two plastic leaves slide to the side and you do your biz. When you get off, they close. We also use a small fitted lid that sits above the leaves to reduce any possibility of smell. It's not normally smelly.

We don't like this toilet much either. It is our single biggest power user in the entire house. We used it in our old shed because we were able to buy it secondhand (hey, we can deal with other people's shit too) and it was only going to be temporary till we found a better option. We haven't yet, and the council only has a few options it has given the tick of approval to.

We had a Nature-loo in QLD, it was great. It was a porcelain bowl with a wooden seat, it looked quite normal till you lifted the seat and where the porcelain ended a black chute began. No s-bend. Basically it was a glorified long drop with an exhaust fan, it extracted the wiff through a roof top vent and was typically odourless. That was unless the power went out and then we wrapped a especially bought gladwrap roll around it till the power resumed. At the bottom of the house we had two large black Dalek shaped and sized plastic containers where the poo was stored. The wee is drained off, in this case into an otherwise un-used and pre-existing septic tank. The trouble was that whenever you wanted to exchange the Dalek's they were enormously heavy. It was our only grizzle. We needed a trolley system to reduce the weight.

Amazingly when our poo is composted, our annual 'yield' weighs in at an average of 25kg. The thing that really bothers me is that the average Australian uses 16,000 litres of potable water to flush away that 25kg of waste per year. Then we spend a lot of money and resources trying to treat it. It never becomes an asset. It is treated anaerobically not aerobically, which means it forms toxins instead. It's like the big doh! of civilisation.

Here's an excerpt from Living the Good Life on using it in the garden.

The gardener’s reward

The raw material is broken down by micro-organisms, and thermophilic action (heat), which kills pathogens and viruses, and the length of time itself renders most possible vectors for disease harmless. As the composting system is aerobic, microbes, which require an oxygenated environment, are able to break down the compost into a useful plant food. The humus is covered in pores, which shelter nutrients, water and air more than soil can, and it releases nutrients gradually as it breaks down.

When emptying a composting toilet the ‘humanure’ is required, by law, to be buried. To be on the safe side, it should not be used on vegetable beds, but buried under a tree and covered in mulch.

In many less squeamish cultures, humanure is a useful source of topsoil on food crops. In the past Japanese farmers would vie for travellers’ excrement by building comfortable roadside privies and, once it was composted, they would use the deposits to enrich their soil.

According to composting toilet manufacturers, installing composting toilets in households is a slow-growing trend. Stuart Elliot of Nature Loo wonders ‘why the government doesn’t recognise the benefits of composting toilets and provide incentives to people who install them’.

As John Foss of the Surfrider Foundation (Surf Coast) says, ‘Recycling human and industrial waste is the only way that Australia can manage sustainable population and agricultural and industrial growth into the future’.

Any way you look at it, it’s time we got our shit together.
What about you? How do you feel about composting loo's and seeing your own poo's?

Photo is of the loofah's we used instead of loo paper. Still would if only I could get it to grow successfully here. I'll keep trying.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Community Supported Dairy's

This is an old photo - it's a younger Trev and Possum, our lovely old four litres a day harridan from Queensland. It adds up we've been drinking goat's milk for the majority of the past ten years. A wee pause when we first got here, and another now as we've dried off Peg and Tilly. So it's cow's milk until they're freshened again with new kids. I don't mind cow's milk, it's gluggier than goats milk but the only place I notice the difference is in a cup of tea. But the thing that gets to both Trev and I is milk containers. Wouldn't we love to buy milk in glass bottles that you return for a full one!

We're not going to be able to get up early and milk goats forever, when we're older we'd like the option of a local, sustainable, organic milk in a glass bottle.

We've read a lot about Community Supported Agriculture and watched the 2005 movie The Real Dirt on Farmer John. An interesting take including a bit of crossdresser while driving a tractor. Novel. But I wonder about the possibility of a Community Supported Dairy. I've been talking to an interested councillor in the area about the possibility. I wonder, does anyone know of one in Australia? A place where local milk from a variety of suppliers is processed in the area and sold directly to retailers, no middle men, in glass bottles, which can be returned?

Vegetarian Sport

A bit of vegetarian sport in the pumpkin patch.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Facebook Pages - Who Killed Dave? and Living the Good Life

I admit it, I'm a novice when it comes to social media. Apparently it has the power to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Though I  know one thing - it can get to you faster than a speeding bullet!!/pages/Living-the-Good-Life/355125247881999

I'm hoping to expand on these pages and start fb-ing more. Caleb is my supervisor, though his 'Oh jeez mum, don't you know anything?'  is getting a little repetitive :-)

Saturday, 19 May 2012

The Trevorium

The purple blanket has been vanquished, in its stead is a handmade door made a la Trevor. In fact we should call the house the Trevorium. Above the door you can see Trev's well engineered steel platform that holds the hot water cylinder now artfully covered in plasterboard.

Trev's also worked on the bookshelf in the office area. It covers one wall and it's our goal to completely fill it with books. At the moment it has far too many copies of Who Killed Dave?
on it. We left a lot of books behind when we left QLD, and I often regret not bringing them with us.

Must take photos of our bedroom. We're still sleeping on a mattress on the floor. It looks very zen, but doesn't do our backs much good getting up in the morning. I also have to take photos of what is no longer the floordrobe and the pantry, Trev's finished milling up and making the shelving.  Might make the supreme effort tomorrow :-)