A mere whimsical aside…

We are off-grid again. I like that life, Nicholas doesn’t notice the difference, really (except for missing the last Stanley Cup playoffs) and the dog is in heaven. This is really nice off-grid – woodburning cookstove, beautiful natural spring, and a luxurious, well-ventilated, shaded outhouse.

I am not ashamed to say that the little shack out back is much preferable to the “throne room” of most homes. I dislike in-house toilets, I really do. That stuff belongs outside! And the outdoor room doesn’t break down (except from rot eventually) and never requires a plumber, just a shovel, a strong back, and someone to help move the shack.

Weekly maintenance means a quick scrubdown, sweep-out, and a shovelful of leaf mould down the hole to speed up decomposition. Some people, with big families, like to use some lime to keep things breaking down and smelling sweet.

The most important consideration is that the outhouse be downhill of the spring, to avoid contamination. Make sure your neigbours don’t install their thundershack uphill or upwind of your place, either!

Ours is framed of one by twos, with rough boards, which makes it breezy and pleasant in the summer, but for winter, I would suggest shingled, board and batten, or at least tarpaper to keep out the drafts and snow.

The door should latch from the outside as well as the inside, since you don’t want small animals deciding it is a really nice abode or winter storage shed.

As for the required cleanliness paper, standard, unbleached TP will do, or plain newspaper if you are the uber-recycling type. Small rodents love to steal TP as nest lining, so keep it in a covered coffee can.

For handwashing, I keep a basin and hot water on the stove, along with soap and a towel near by. We have had no problems with this system, and the only downside is when you have to get up in the dark hours, find the flashlight, and make yor sleepy way down the path…


4 thoughts on “A mere whimsical aside…

  1. One thing we do with outhouses in the winter up here is make a seat out of blue styrofoam. This keeps you from freezing to the plastic or wood seats and is really more comfy when it’s cold out.

    • I’d never heard of that! If we are here over the winter we might try it. My great-grandparents had outdoor plumbing still when I was little, and no seat! I can remember being terrified I would fall in!

  2. Magdelaina,

    it’s wonderful to hear you are back in such an environment. Ten years ago, now, I visited the son of friends who had built on 100 acres he’d purchased in the Waddigan mountains, about an hour or so west of the Central Coast (just North of Sydney, Australia). The place was a cabin built of cedar with open Australian verandah, loft for sleeping, primus stove for fireban summers and slow combustion stove for the cooler months. He had installed a solar array ($15,000 at that time) that provided power for his PC (internet etc), refrigerator, washing machine and a tiny microwave. We washed dishes in a plastic basin sitting on the floor of the verandah. (there was something very calming about even this commonplace activity done like this) and he had a composting toilet. it didn’t smell at all; not a whif, and my goodness, the mint that grew around that thing was incredible!!!! Like a rambling shrub!!

    needless to say, just about every weekend he had company; all us city slickers craving to escape the urban prison!! 🙂

    A few years ago, a family of four transformed their Padington home (inner Sydney) into an off-the-grid home using solar, tank water, composting toilet and grey-water unit, plus vegetable garden out the back. They don’t live like hermits, have refrigerator etc and were on ABC 702 last year. I can’t remember their website for the life of me, but I had heard of them before when a popular sydney home TV show did a feature on them.

    Your entry reminds me – us all – that its not impossible (that govt and energy companies would like to lead us to think it is – impractical, impossible, etc) because they’d lose revenue. :-0 🙂

    It is my dream to one day run our home off the grid; Let’s see where God leads.



    • I don’t know how long we will be here, but it is good for now. If we had the money, I would buy this place and take a chance on earning a living. No solar power or anything like that; we will need oil lamps once the summer solstice is past.

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