The property i lived on before where i am now was steep and terraced. Lowest was yard/garden, middle was house/ chicken coop, highest was apple orchard/outhouse. I am squeamish and lazy, I'd rather have any kind of additives that help speed up decomposition so i don't have to mess with "that", or dig another hole very often. I don't think it would be worthwhile to move anything of that nature to the compost pile and wouldn't trust that method. I know that there were plenty of rodents (i kept the tp in a metal breadbox). Snakes - probably in there too, although i never saw any in the hole. I wouldn't have put out the welcome mat for them.
With forty shades of green, it's hard to be blue.
Garg 'nuair dhùisgear! Virtutis Gloria Merces
All my vestiges of squeamishness were obliterated by having kids. I already changed diapers when I was 14, because my youngest sister was born then, but my first wife had spent a fair amount of time in Nepal and had extensive organic farming experience and wasn't about to do anything but be "natchurl" so it was cotton diapers all the way, with wool wraps (no frikkin' plastic!!) So the diaper bucket had a squirt of Bac-Out added (a bacterial culture with surfactants and citrus oils formulated by the founder of BioKleen in Portland OR- I used to do the pick-up run for People's Co-Op there so I'd even met him) This liquid meant that the bucket didn't smell bad. So I'd pour the liquid on the compost pile. I was then making my living as an urban bambusero/nurseryman, so I needed quantities of compost. No damn little piles for me. That liquid worked the pile up just fine. Years before when I was on Orcas Island, a friend living in a tipi and building a cabin had finished a composting toilet, the first I'd ever seen. His observation was "if the toilet smells, just add some fresh grass clippings" so I learned early that bad smell= something is off-balance. Early on I had had some mice get into a compost pile, and one time I impaled one on a fork while turning the pile. The squeaking was horrible. Later I had a bad-ass vole tunneling in a pile, and he made a break for it when I was turning the pile. He'd made a mess of the pile, and feeling vengeful I swung the fork at him so as to finish him w/o the squeaking, and broke the fork. So, when a family of rats moved in to the pile when I had kids years later, I felt I had to do something. I was touring my garden and nursery and didn't want rats around giving a bad name to organic. I thought on it long and hard. Well, if you want to control a pest, first understand how to breed the pest. It was a cold winter so I made a cavity in the top of the pile, filled it with dry leaves and roofed it with cardboard covered with a piece of black plastic and a piece of plywood on top. Dry, snug and with bottom heat! Then I sharpened my Allen hoe- the one that's arrow-head shaped, and filed the angles SHARP. At high noon when all good rats are sleeping off the night's revels, I walked over to the pile, said "Landlord, rent's due!" and flipped the lid off with the top corner of the hoe head and with a sewing machine-type stroke, diced the rat habitat real fine, rats too. No squeaks. Rats compost just fine if the pieces are small enough! I have visited a beach town in Guatemala- Jalapa- a sand spit where a creek parallels the beach for a mile, and there was just enough space for a block of "beach hotels", wooden shacks with tin or thatch roofs, a hallway on one side from the manager/owner's room at the creekside to the bar/restaurant at the beach end, and all the rooms between the two on your left as you walk towards the beach, all up 4-5 feet off the sand on posts. People just went down-creek towards the mouth, where the hotels stopped. Sanitation was the purview of a group of insanely large hogs (300 pounds minimum, looked like) who lived out there. As you walked out that way, they would follow you with expectant looks, and if you hurried, they hurried too, so as to be the lucky one right there at the right time! I appreciate that the Cuban permies I've met are all really good at designing beautiful, well-functioning compost toilets, to further the bio-revolution.
Basically it was saying that, while medieval cities were very crowded (since you walked, everything had to be pretty close), they weren't the stinking crapholes commonly depicted, which the author says is a creation of the victorian mind, pointing at it's own poor parts of town and the previous couple hundred years where the older systems had been abandoned for more "modern" approaches (meaning focusing on money rather than quality of life).
Basically he points out that in many areas hygiene laws were strictly enforced and that brick lined privies (at least in Holland) were the norm. "Gong farmers" (crews that cleaned out the privies) were strictly regulated to make sure they didn't pollute the local system. (he doesn't say where the crap went, just that they took it 'out of the city'). It was later, as big money (for the time) got involved that things got nasty.
I'm not really sure a modern septic system is better than an outhouse as far as polluting the water table. Both dump it into the ground and rely on anaerobic digestion. One flushes lots more water through it, but that's the main difference.
Also, an old time halloween prank was to move the privy back about 4 or 5 feet, so the unsuspecting nighttime visitor fell into the hole. It worked best if the hole was almost full.
I'd appreciate it if you pronounced my name correctly. Pinhead, with a silent "H". Petite ad: