Monday, August 24, 2009

Yup. Freak.

Just ordered a book on greywater systems (as of September 1st we go down to being allowed 1 day of outdoor watering), a book on humanure (exactly what you think it is), and a replacement menstrual cup (you menfolks really wanted to read that, didn't you?), because apparently I left the old one in Montana.

They greywater & humanure books serve dual purposes - they are for experimentation both here in CA and for the ol' family cabin in MT. Our greywater system up there is an embarrassment and potential pollution source. Our toilet system has some trouble handling the demands placed on it by 20-30 people using it over the course of a week.

My Uncle Steve suggests a pump system that carries the greywater uphill and dumps into a cistern of some sort that we get pumped once a year, but I think we'll easily overfill most readily available and affordable cistern options. I proposed jackhammering a wide hole approximately 2' deep and making a proper leach field under the deck, where our current woefully inadequate system is, but Uncle Steve is concerned that without some kind of fissure in the bedrock we won't get any percolation and still have the same old problem - but without clearing and jackhammering we'll never know if we could. Or we could combine the two ideas and run a pumped line up the hill and dig in a proper leach field where there is some soil to percolate through. No matter what, we have to start clearing out most of the old soaps and shampoos that simply won't biodegrade cleanly.

I'm going to try a composting toilet system in the outhouse. If we do it correctly it won't stink, and will decompose over the year while we're gone. Then we can dispose of it somewhere on the property with no worries about the nasty sort of things that usually lurk in people's, ahem, output. I know this is the lunatic fringe for most of you, but this is real stuff. Check out Joseph Jenkins' website to be additionally amazed and/or grossed out.

This all just leads to what I think I will focus on after becoming a nurse - designing homesteads or communities that are as self-contained as possible. I wish I knew so much more than I know now - I look at a situation like the Duroville debacle and wish I knew how to get in there and help plan a solution for something like this. I think something along the lines of sustainable/utopian community planning is ultimately calling my name. Nursing/medical know-how will be a facet of that.


Anonymous said...

Compost toilets rule. They have them in Snowville State Park in Southern Utah, and they have no odor whatsoever. They're awesome. We are planning on building a family cabin someday, replete with compost toilet and solar panels. It will be awesome! So, my vote is for the compost toilet. They are supposed to be easy to install and maintain.


sleepless said...

check out Uncle's blog under shannons..He is into this