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6/2/14

Off Grid Prefab House Loses A Composting Toilet And Gains A Tom

At the off grid prefab house, there was another birthday!
Years ago, I gifted Handsome Husband with a composting toilet... for Christmas.

This year, his birthday present was... a dual-flush toilet.

The Pipsqueaks were so excited they wanted to give it a name.
So, welcome, "Flushy," and goodbye composting toilet.

And yet, we all miss it. But not enough. Living with a composting toilet over years... It really, really worked, but didn't, in an energy efficient home.

We will reuse the composting toilet in a future off grid guest cabin.

Handsome Husband: "It's one thing I won't miss, even though it had a very good purpose when we bought it. And I *do* think there's hope for composting toilets. For light use, they definitely work. "

In the end, I feel today's current composting toilets are not designed for modern, energy efficient homes. See, the more energy efficient your home is, the more of a tight envelope it has, and composting toilets, the waterless basic off grid kind, are not designed for tight envelope homes regarding ventilation. For a few winters I thought the composting toilet didn't work well in a SIP home because the temperature was cooler in winter but that doesn't make sense- as you know, we are cozy and warm through those icy seasons in the prefab house!


It finally dawned on me why the composting toilet seemed to "work" in warmer months-- I love, even with an HRV (and one *must* have an ERV or HRV in energy efficient tight homes!), to fling windows open. I fling and fling and fling windows open every chance I get. Yeah, HRV/ERV fresh air exchange. But I love FRESH BREEZY AIR. Letting the season IN. So it's not a temperature difference so much, as that in a tight envelope home the footprint is so sealed that the composting toilet draws air *in* through the vent pipe,because the house is so tight, unless you have windows open, thus reducing the backwards draw.

The "soil" was easy to be removed, tolerable. What was not was the blackwater *always* left in the bottom tray. Emptying that was nuclear.  We devised our own emptying system where, instead of raking the contents to fall into the tray, we lifted out the soil from the top. It made it much faster, less gross, more bearable. But it is not the easy process one thinks... and, with a family of four and lots of visiting friends, we emptied far more than was "easy."

When evaluating a tool, I always ask myself, "How efficient will this be when I am 80?" And with that, the composting toilet fails.

We ARE putting the cart a LITTLE in front of the horse, off grid prefab people. There remains the connection between the livestock well and the rainwater collection cistern to resolve... but it was Handsome Husband's birthday, and Handsome Husband got a toilet.

Handsome Husband also reminds us, "It served us at a time when we didn't have water. We didn't have septic."

I can't wait to take a (very rare as it is not water wise, but after a long hot dirty day) bath in the restored claw foot tub with bubbles, a glass of wine, and...
...my head not next to a composting toilet.

Conserving water, as always, we reuse graywater from the bath to fill the toilet to flush.

Biosolids
I'd like to mention "safe" biosolids spread on farms for a moment, as we've been talkin' composting toilets.
We passed farms with biosolids on our way into Lynchburg today. I don't care what they tell you, just like the composting toilet manufacturers tell you it's just "soil." We can deal with soil. But like our family composting toilet, there is too much room for error, for blackwater... I can not imagine the prescription drugs that are transferred, via biosolids, onto farms being "ok" for general consumption.
EACH TIME WE PASS A FARM TREATED WITH BIOSOLIDS, IT SMELLS. ALWAYS.
That tells me it's dangerous, and I think of the watershed...
Of course the toilet box was recycled...
...into a play house...
"It's like I'm the Three Little Pigs
and he's THE BIG BAD WOLF!"

While traveling into Lynchburg to get "Flushy" to our family, we also stopped by Poplar ForestI would recommend a visit, but first, before, make a trip to Monticello and Charlottesville, where you can see how Thomas Jefferson lived all fancy-like; then head to Poplar Forest to see how he rested all Leave Me Alone I Am Enjoying The Quiet Country-like.

Visiting Monticello and Poplar Forest, the Palladio influence is clear.
"...Other innovations by Palladio included the use of the two-tiered or two-level portico. This form became especially popular for houses in the American South where the two levels provided shady outdoor living spaces. This feature is evident in the ca. 1742 Drayton Hall, near Charleston, South Carolina, regarded as America’s earliest fully developed expression of Anglo-Palladianism.
...
Thomas Jefferson was Palladio’s foremost American disciple. He declared I Quattro Libri to be “the Bible” and employed Palladian forms and details in nearly all of his designs."
Handsome Husband is waving his copy of The Villas of Palladio in the air, excitedly: "This is POST MODERN ARCHITECTURE DONE 500 YEARS AGO."

Now don't git yer britches in a post modernism knot, now, Handsome Husband.

I appreciated the great docents of Poplar Forest. Through today's trip, the Hemings family was again brought up, I enjoyed learning more. We all now know about Sally Hemings, but what about John and James?
John's handcrafted door still remains at Poplar Forest. Go see it.
It really was just a gorgeous, easy week at the prefab house.
Peas are in!
She's singing to her chickens.
Make Yer Own Fumes
Honeysuckle scents the air.
Peonies flop, dramatically onto their soil daybeds, languorously waiting to be rescued, yet, with a school marm's sharp rap to nervously sit, back straight, for tea as sun reappears...

Roses open at dawn, the old scented kind, the kind that opens pale buttery yellow with wilting edges, not that flashy brazen hussy kind with no wafting pedigree... The Plain Jane old heirloom roses... OH what scent. You bury your nose as you walk...

And that's why, when I saw childhood friend Sarah Ruffin Costello making perfume from the flowers from her garden, I yanked a few petals of my own, where they now stew in oil awhile. I'll let you know how that turns out.

Talkin' Turkey
We went visiting.
Our dear friends, The A's, are always such a joy to be around.
They raise free range chickens, turkey, beef, sheep... and lots of vegetables.
We, as always, had a great time, and ate extremely well.
At The A's: Livestock Guardian Dog pups...

836 turkey poults, soon to be free range.
Now every now and then, they have a renegade turkey or chicken or two. The kind that flies the coop and no one can catch. For a year, a turkey has camped out at their doorstep, which I always thought extremely cute. My friend corrected me, each time we visited, "OH NO. If you want that tom, you can have him! He chases the young grandkids and comes after me!"

"Awwwww. Mister Turkey just looks like he needs a hug!" I teased her.
"Oh yeah? TAKE HIM HOME and hug him all you want!" And with that, she loaded him into a box and shoved him into our car.
Somehow, the next day I groggily awoke and realized, "OH MAH GAWSH WE HAVE A FREE RANGE CRAZY TURKEY AT THE PREFAB!" Dag. That sure was one heckuv a party! Those A's sure do give good party favors!"

The Pips are ecstatic.
Apparently the turkey hates everyone. BUT HE LIKES MY KIDS.
And *they* think "HE'S ADOOOOOOORABLE!"
Weirdos.
The Pips: "BUT HE'S **ADoRABLE!!!!!**
"That's ONE BIG CHICKEN!"
Hmmmmmm...
"Eh. Back to a nap. 'E's not a coyote."
How will this work out? We shall see.
Tom Gobble is free range and fends for himself at The A's, and here he will be the same.

Homeschool:
Meanwhile, Pip 1 is hopping around the prefab, singing at the top of his lungs: "Imma plain ole country boy / a PROOOO-GRAMMING ole country boy..."
Uh, I don't think that's how it goes...
Pip 2 glares at me: "YOU HAVEN'T MADE CORNBREAD, LATELY..."
Solar cornbread, comin' right up, country chilluns!

(via friend A.S.C.)

In the meantime, I'll enjoy the quiet and relaxation here, life 'round the prefab.
This Paso Fino came in to Carey's
a few weeks ago hating humans.
My how she's blossomed...
Zena selfie.

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1 Comments:

At 6/2/14, 6:07 PM , Blogger Christina Borland said...

Love all your great stories, Copeland, and thanks for the insights on the composting toilet and spreading the compost, I have had questions on that, actually, will have to email you more soon! Take good care and enjoy those honeysuckle blossoms, the smell is definitely intoxicating!

 

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