Friday, February 22, 2013

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Composting Outhouses....But Were Afraid to Ask

I've had a few questions about our composting outhouse....
so I thought I would tell you all there is to know about composting outhouses.
(If you are not interested, you can skip down to the bottom of this post for your daily dose of cute pictures.)

Before we begin, I cannot emphasize enough how important an ultra-clean
outhouse is to me.... one that is free from any odors!
This is my goal for this little barn privy.

A composting outhouse is constructed like any outhouse,
except for the fact that it sits on top of a stone pad, rather than over a "pit".

The interior has the basic elements... toilet seat on top of a sealed chamber.

On the back side of the outhouse is a door...

that raises and exposes the chamber 
where a muck bucket (not pictured)filled with peat moss sits.

There is a ventilation pipe leading from this chamber up to the roof,
allowing any gases to escape.

Each time the outhouse is used, the deposit is covered with more peat moss, saw dust and such.
An all natural enzyme mixture is added to help waste and t.p. decompose faster.

A trip to my favorite antique shops gave me some ideas
for outfitting our privy with some essentials.
A little galvanized basket acts as a shelf to hold organic, biodegradable antibacterial wipes,
(for clean-up)
a box of organic septic enzymes and extra hand towelettes 
(vegetable based cleanser in cloths made from plant matter...also biodegradable).

A hanging scale serves as a hook for a berry bucket that carries an extra roll of t.p.
An old slate chalkboard will display the 
"Outhouse Rules".
This is just the start to the outhouse decor.

And now a word about composting.
It typically takes between a year to two years for all of this humanure to break down completely,
so the outhouse bin is emptied into a larger bin where composting occurs.
The right combination of carbon matter (leaves, peat moss, sawdust, etc)
along with moisture and oxygen help to facilitate this process.
As with any manure composting, temperatures in the compost are high enough to kill pathogens.


Just in case you are not fascinated by composting outhouses,
and skipped down from the top...
here are today's farm pictures.
(I hate to disappoint!)

My work crew for the afternoon shift...

For those of you envious of snow... leave me your address and I will box some up for you!

Lack of winter sunshine in our orchard keeps this area snowy long after
the rest of the farm's snow has melted.

There's not much edible in the pastures these days!

Have a great weekend.
We are hoping to have baby goats to share with you next week.
Stay tuned!!


  1. I think the composting outhouse is very interesting. My husband and I have been thinking of putting one up. My family used to have a regular outhouse when I was a child, because we had no plumbing in our missionary house. But, I like yours : )

  2. As the saying goes, "learn something every day!". Thank you for the information . . .

    Excited to see the new babies . . .

  3. Thanks for my lesson on composting toilets. I had often wondered about them in the off the grid tiny house. Now I know!!!

    We even have a tiny threat of snow later this evening. Gosh, where is Spring!!! Have a great weekend and can't wait for pics of the new kids!

  4. The outhouse info is really interesting! I had no idea!!! I love your work crew hanging out in your John Deere! Chores are always easier when you do them with friends! My two dogs follow me all over the house on the weekends when I am busy taking care of my home. Come Monday morning they look exhausted! Ha! So am I! Have a great weekend! Hugs, Meghan

  5. I knew you'd have the cutest, best outfitted outhouse in neighboring counties..Even a mirror !! Primping not allowed. Good job..Can't wait for the little goaties..Have a super weekend..

  6. Thanks for the info on the Did you say you have to put moss on it every time you use it?

  7. You can use peat, sawdust, leaves, pine needles, ashes (any or all of the above)....something dry and carbon based...

  8. I compost for my garden religiously, but have not known anyone who has done this type. I have heard of it, and find it fascinating. Your privy is decorated so cute!!! Love it! My husband has a "pee" tree here in the grove. When our son was little, he couldn't wait to be old enough to have his very own "pee" tree too!!
    xo Kris

  9. For those of you wondering....this is not compost that we will put on our gardens, but rather on a fallow field in the middle of our wooded acreage.... and we will not use that compost for a few years.

  10. thanks for all the info1 that is the coolest outhouse ever!

  11. I actually read the whole post because I thought the outhouse composting was interesting. And I love the outhouse..but as always the animals are my favorite :) I wonder if you could help me? If you have time, could you pop on over to my blog and give an opinion on my post about blog etiquette? I had a question and I'd love some answers from seasoned bloggers. Thanks so much :)

  12. Being of short legs that toilet seat is set way to far back for me lol ! It looks great though hope it all no pun intended here works out haha ! Oh baby goats looking forward to that ! Lovely photos ! Have a good weekend !

  13. Great post! I've been thinking about adding an out house to our farm for some time. Thanks for sharing!

  14. That is certainly the cleanest outhouse I've ever seen! It looks fantastic! I've never heard of this before, but it has given me lots to think about! :)

  15. just a little added tip, you can use a re-cycled plastic coffee can w/lid,,, to store and extra roll of t.p.,,, with the lid on it keeps the lil micey from chewing on the t.p. and also keeps the t.p. from getting damp in inclement weather.
    It's nice to have a 'privy' near by when "nature' calls.... lol!


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