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fresh pail

 
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In honor of the season I installed a fresh pail tonight. I have noticed that this is one of the little chores that I now do when we have any kind of an occasion, visitors or a holiday. Start off fresh. Like giving the place the once over, straightening things, a quick sweep of the floor. Happy holidays and happy fresh pail day to everyone.
 
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Wyatt Barnes wrote:In honor of the season I installed a fresh pail tonight. I have noticed that this is one of the little chores that I now do when we have any kind of an occasion, visitors or a holiday. Start off fresh. Like giving the place the once over, straightening things, a quick sweep of the floor. Happy holidays and happy fresh pail day to everyone.



This has me wondering...
How many of us bucket toilet folks actually do the whole "build a nice sheltered humanure storage area and rinse/reuse/rotate the same couple of buckets forever" thing? Or do we secretly just keep getting more and more buckets; filling them, then moving them out to a remote corner somewhere in the garden with the idea that we will build a proper structure to "do it right" someday? I confess to the latter. We have something like 30 or 40 buckets in use to date. They do get dumped -- but not until they have set in all weather to compost in the bucket for a couple of years at least. The result is rather nice however, and not at all bad as a convenient pail of fertilizer for whatever needs it. Ours comes out smelling, if not like roses, at least pretty darned close to good, rich dirt. Some go directly into the comost pile, along with leaves, kitchen scraps, etc. Some get turned out directly under fruit trees, in new garden beds and so forth. It seems like a lot less work than the constant rotation of two or three buckets and turning a huge stinking pile every few days or so. What do you think?
 
Wyatt Barnes
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Hi Deb you don't turn a humanure compost pile, one less chore to do. Heat is your friend and according to what I have read, because I have no direct experience, only piles over 5-7 feet have overheating/fire worries. If I wanted my pails to sit for a year before dumping I would need approx 160 pails. I am not against this idea in principle but I don't have 160 pails and they would take up a lot of room. I have seen systems posted that use small barrels and I think they had 30 or so in rotation. So far my compost pile has consisted of a temporary pile to prove the concept and I now have a proper albeit basic bin made of 3 used pallets and some old step boards. Took me all of twenty minutes to make but does the job.
 
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Deb Stephens wrote:It seems like a lot less work than the constant rotation of two or three buckets and turning a huge stinking pile every few days or so.



Yes, it sounds like less work than dumping and cleaning the standard rotation of 3 or 5 buckets. But where on earth did you ever get the idea that anybody would turn the main compost pile every few days?! The Humanure Handbook says not to turn the compost heap all, just fill it till it's big enough, then leave it a while, maybe a year or so, then use it. You're really accumulating a lot of plastic!
 
Deb Stephens
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Rebecca Norman wrote:

Deb Stephens wrote:It seems like a lot less work than the constant rotation of two or three buckets and turning a huge stinking pile every few days or so.



Yes, it sounds like less work than dumping and cleaning the standard rotation of 3 or 5 buckets. But where on earth did you ever get the idea that anybody would turn the main compost pile every few days?! The Humanure Handbook says not to turn the compost heap all, just fill it till it's big enough, then leave it a while, maybe a year or so, then use it. You're really accumulating a lot of plastic!



Okay everybody, I goofed when I said that, but honestly, I was only trying to be funny. I DO actually know that the compost pile does not need to be turned, however, you do still have to dump those very fresh and stinky buckets into it and cover it with straw or other material. THAT is the part I hate.

Rebecca,
As for accumulating a lot of plastic... before you go all "holier than thou" on me, let me state that not one of those buckets was purchased (all free from fast food places and local grocery stores). Those same buckets would have gone straight to a landfill if we had not taken them home to REUSE. And, further... after reusing them many, many times for toilet buckets over the last 22 years (that is how long we have been doing this -- long before most people in this country have even heard of composting toilets) -- when they begin to crack and leak -- they become very handy pots for tomatoes, peppers and whatever else we decide to grow in them. By the time we finish with those buckets, they have been in constant use for two decades and practically crumble into dust when touched. They are then smashed to as small a pile as possible before finally going to the landfill. I don't consider that wasteful, as you seemed to imply. My husband and I live like third worlders. Nothing on our homestead is purchased new IF we can find it used or free, and we use and reuse until there is NO life left in things or any possible way to use them further. We are very aware of our footprint on this planet.
 
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Hey Deb, I guess I am a bit slow today and yesterday because your numbers weren't making sense to me. Do you practice urine diversion, although after 22 years you must be pretty good at whatever you do. I also love the idea of repurposing things and get my pails from a bakery. I am thinking about approaching the local coffee shop as well because I would like to play with coffee grounds as well as have another supply of pails. As a scrounger I find I notice the oddest things. I was at a coffee shop chain lately and I saw one of the employees filling a machine out of a five gallon pail. All I could think about was what they do with the empty pails.
 
Rebecca Norman
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Deb Stephens wrote:
As for accumulating a lot of plastic... before you go all "holier than thou" on me, let me state that not one of those buckets was purchased (all free from fast food places and local grocery stores). Those same buckets would have gone straight to a landfill if we had not taken them home to REUSE. And, further... after reusing them many, many times for toilet buckets over the last 22 years (that is how long we have been doing this -- long before most people in this country have even heard of composting toilets) -- when they begin to crack and leak -- they become very handy pots for tomatoes, peppers and whatever else we decide to grow in them. By the time we finish with those buckets, they have been in constant use for two decades and practically crumble into dust when touched. They are then smashed to as small a pile as possible before finally going to the landfill. I don't consider that wasteful, as you seemed to imply. My husband and I live like third worlders. Nothing on our homestead is purchased new IF we can find it used or free, and we use and reuse until there is NO life left in things or any possible way to use them further. We are very aware of our footprint on this planet.



Very impressive! Wow. Seriously.

If you've already been keeping the stuff in dozens of buckets for a year and then reusing them for years and years, that's fantastic.

Our system here also doesn't involve shlepping buckets. We have the user's room over a pair of chambers where the manure and cover material sit for a year, and then we empty them once a year. Similar to your system, except it's an outhouse instead of your convenient indoor buckets. This time of year that's a kind of a pain in the night...
 
Wyatt Barnes
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Hi Rebecca, looked at the SECMOL site and was very impressed. Do you know why the locals don't build indoor chambered toilet rooms? The design looks like it would work odorless and from what I could see the main limitation would be site elevation. Could you tell us about running water/hygiene at the school?
 
Rebecca Norman
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Haha, the old houses had the composting toilet attached. But they were much more open structures and had animal sheds in the ground floor and living space in the upstairs, so it fit in fine with the general idea. Nowadays people build much cleaner tidier houses with the animal sheds separate if at all, and they say that the manure chamber, if attached to the house, soaks through the wall to the adjoining room. So the modern houses have the composting toilet around the back. You're right, I think it wouldn't be much of a problem to still have them attached. Maybe not built right in, but attached upstairs for the user, and with a 1 or 2 foot gap down below to keep the manure chamber wall away from a living space wall.

Okay, I just redrew Joe Jenkins' Nutrient Cycle for Ladakhi sensibilities, after years of hoping that somebody who can already draw would do it for me.
Nutrient-cycle-bilingual-ladakhi.jpg
[Thumbnail for Nutrient-cycle-bilingual-ladakhi.jpg]
 
Rebecca Norman
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Oops, sorry, I forgot to answer your question about water and hygiene at SECMOL.

We've got pretty good running water from a surface spring. We buried a pipe 3 feet deep, from the stream bed about 400m away, so we have running water all year, probably the first place in Ladakh to have 12 month running water, and perhaps still one of the few that does. In summer when the stream runs, it's surface stream water; the rest of the year it's spring water collected from the surface. We have a low-yield handpump for those who prefer more guaranteed clean water, but I drink the stream water.

We piped water only into the bathing block and the kitchen, because the other buildings are all earth, and the plumbing standards and usage habits here aren't really 100% reliable enough for earth buildings.

In the bathing block, we have four 12-foot long platform sinks, and 8 little private bathing rooms. Hot water is from a solar water heater outside so you have to take a bucket of Hot water into the bathing room; bucket bathing is perfectly normal around here, and it naturally limits each shower to a single bucket.

During the summer we keep a handwashing station outside the toilets, just a container with a tap.

The greywater from the kitchen and bathing block are piped out to the trees in small surface canals that are sometimes irrigated with clean water. We haven't really tried to control our students' soap choices, and they use increasingly weird products of course, like the rest of the world. But our willow trees seem to love it, and the fruit trees don't seem to mind it. Years ago, our first and best apricot tree, which was at the outlet of the bathing greywater, burst into glorious bloom one spring but then stopped dead and never leafed out; I suspected that somebody must have dumped toxic gick down the drain. But that's never happened again.
 
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