Archive for the ‘Sanitation’ Category

The vermicomposting flush toilet completed

Sunday, June 8th, 2014

Last year I wrote about our installation of a vermicomposting flush toilet – a worm composting system for a conventional flush toilet – in the outhouse for the wee house. It was all ready and set to go for a good while, minus the worms, but we couldn’t start using it until we had a water supply to the wee house since there would be nothing to flush with until we did.

With the completion of the quinta’s water storage and distribution system in February, I could at last commission the system.

Outhouse toilet featuring a composting flush toilet


A composting flush toilet

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

When I first started planning the infrastructure here, I intended throughout to use Joe Jenkins‘ dry composting toilet system. Beautifully simple and easy to construct and maintain, convenient and portable, no requirement to separate urine from fæces, and an efficient composting system designed for optimum thermophilic decomposition. It’s no wonder Jenkins’ toilets have been dubbed ‘Loveable Loos’. What’s not to like?

Outhouse toilet for the wee house

Many people though are surprisingly squeamish about dry toilets. When I came across Anna Edey’s experiments with vermicomposting in Massachusetts 18 years ago for processing sewerage out of a conventional flush toilet, described on the website promoting her book, I was intrigued. The fact that it coincided with us beginning renovations on an outhouse toilet for the wee house (designed to be guest accommodation) seemed fortuitous. The outhouse was ideally situated for it and putting in a composting flush toilet for the guest accommodation seemed like an excellent idea. When we then discovered a nice old ceramic flush toilet bowl still in one piece at the local dump, it seemed to be signalling the perfect opportunity to give this method a try. Edey’s website didn’t give full details, but there was enough information for me to work the rest out for myself.


Cob bathroom – finally the cob!

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

The one thing with a back-to-front build like this, building the walls last, is that it’s a long time before the building starts to feel like a real building. It’s been worth the wait though. A month ago, we finally started to build the cob walls.



Cob bathroom build – the plumbing and electrics

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

It seems crazy that 2 months have gone by since I last posted about the cob bathroom we’re building here. Facebook followers will know where we are with it, but the blog is long overdue an update.

The bailarina's firebox - our 150-litre Portuguese-made wood-fired water heater


Cob bathroom continued

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

We’ve been moving on with the cob bathroom. See the previous post in this series for the first part of the build.

Having successfully established the principle of putting the roof on first in case it rains (maybe I never got over Enid Blyton’s Big-Ears scoffing at Noddy’s impeccable logic?) we’ve carried on with fittings, electrics and plumbing so all can be thoroughly checked and tested before being built into the walls.

Back wall

First, there was the back wall to complete. This is how the original wall ended. Whether it was roughly built this way or at some stage was partially destroyed by the growing oak tree is difficult to determine, but at any rate it had to be closed off before the cob walls were built.

The rear wall at the base of the oak tree before construction


Cob bathroom

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

This is one of those projects which suddenly materialised out of nowhere.

It’s not as if we didn’t have enough to be getting on with already. The last few months have been so busy, I’ve barely had a chance to photograph it all, let alone write blog posts about it. Then on top of that, both the computer and backup external hard drive chose the same moment to fail – what are the chances of that?! – and getting access to email accounts and websites again is requiring a fair few extra online hours to fit into the daily schedule. So it seems more than a little crazy to be adding to the project list. But with Liam, our ferrocement water tank specialist, going back to the UK for a few months and Wayne doing the same, work on the rainwater harvesting system came to a natural pause and this project sort of tumbled into the gap.


Solar outdoor shower

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

The solar shower is finally up and working.

The heating system I first put together in May has proved itself workable. With a few adjustments of radiator position and the purchase of a self-standing garden shower that fits into the garden hose system I’ve used for the pipework, the system gives us enough hot water on a sunny day for anything between 2 (luxurious) and 4 (frugal) showers, but until recently the only way to use it was to stand on the bare earth out in the open. The quinta isn’t a particularly public place, but we all agreed we needed a cubicle to enhance our bathing experience …

Solar shower

A view of the whole system with the cubicle partially complete – radiator, tank above, shower and cubicle


A roof!

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

No. Not for the houses. STILL waiting on a delivery of more stone (over a month now) and the previous owner removing his stuff (over a year and a half now) before we can progress either of those …

The frustrations of waiting on a succession of Other People before I can get on with what I want to get on with were starting to get to me yesterday. Not only were there the ‘more schist’ and ‘less shit’ items above, I was also expecting a delivery from the local builders’ merchants, some parts of which were already a week overdue.


Compost toilet, bin and log store

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

We’ve been busy building a compost bin and wood store, not least because material for composting has been piling up from both the composting toilet and kitchen, and our firewood has been both rotting and remaining damp underneath its tarpaulin.

Oonagh helped for a while, but was really more interested in rehearsing her outfit for carnaval. So Helen and I did most of the work. Both compost bin and log store are now functioning, but we still need to build the roof to keep the rain off.


Oonagh “helping” to build the compost bin