How deep do you dig?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by jerneeon, Mar 14, 2004.

  1. jerneeon

    jerneeon Well-Known Member

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    How deep should the hole for an outhouse be? And I know you pour lye down there every now and then, but how often? And how far should the outhouse be from your water source?
     
  2. Cabin Fever

    Cabin Fever Life NRA Member since 1976 Supporter

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    Dig it deep enough so you don't get back splash, eyuckey pitooooooey, but not so deep that the walls cave in, about 3-5 feet above your water table depending on your soil type.

    There are no hard and fast answers, as you can see.

    I'd suggest between 100 feet from your water source. There may be local restrictions so check into this to be in compliance.
     

  3. Kirk

    Kirk Well-Known Member

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    Don't waste good lye, just put a scoop of wood ash down the hole after every use. It's kind of like flushing. Water run through wood ash makes lye. So does urine.
    Kirk
     
  4. big rockpile

    big rockpile If I need a Shelter

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    Not so deep you find your mate dead the next morning after falling in head first.Like that Guy in Leadville,Colorado,found his Wife :eek:

    big rockpile
     
  5. Don Armstrong

    Don Armstrong In Remembrance

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    Rockpile, just for the sake of curiousity - doesn't matter to me, SHE got rid of me, nicest thing she ever did for me - but just what did that guy in Colorado have her drinking?
     
  6. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    Check with your local health department. If outhouses are permitted, they can give you the minimum specifications. It may be possible to have a commercial concrete pit put under one and then having it pumped out when it fills ups. Of course, a variation of SSS may apply here - s**t, shovel and shut-up.

    I remember reading about one homestead which used a fairly shallow hole and a moveable outhouse. When it was near filling, they moved the house, put in some dirt and planted a tree.

    Ken S. in WC TN
     
  7. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    Big Rockpile:

    When I was about five or so I did something my older brother didn't like. He drug me to the outhouse and then held my ankles while he dipped my head down in the contents to the hairline. I have never forgiven him for that and it has been over 40 years now.

    Ken S. in WC TN
     
  8. bumpus

    bumpus Well-Known Member

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    :) Ok big rockpile, have'nt heard you talk about the little woman lately. :confused:

    How is she doing ? Hope She is not getting discouraged
    and tired or just wanting to :waa:

    Maybe she needs to drop us a line to let us know how thing are going.
    That way we will know she is still kicking. :dance:
    Don't over work her now :no: just steady. :yeeha:

    Or do we have to pay a visit on the family
    to see what you been up to lately ? :rolleyes:

    Or are things just the same old ( bull ) piling up as usual
    like here at my place ? :eek:

    Hi Brother :haha:


    bumpus
    .
    .
     
  9. paul

    paul Gregarious Hermit

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    I strongly recomend you look into composting toilets instead of an outhouse. If you don't want to put one inside the house, use 50 gallon plastic drums as collecters under the outhouse. Do a web search on humanure for sites describing 5-gallon bucket types.

    ==>paul
     
  10. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    I visited a place in Washington State which was being developed as a 'homesteader' community. Property was being resold in small acreages with the specific understanding it would be lived lightly on. They had a community outhouse which had the hole over a 55-gallon plastic drum. After each use you sprinkled some sawdust in and then a dusting of lime. On the side was a urinal made out of a plastic jug for the men, In front of the hole was another funnel the women and men aimed for. The urine went into a underground gravel/rock pit. Almost no odor at all. I don't remember what they did with the contents.

    Ken S. in WC TN
     
  11. jerneeon

    jerneeon Well-Known Member

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    Thanks, guys. I really appreciate your responses. I'm going to build a house, but I'll be living on the property in a very primitive lean to. I like the idea of a movable outhouse and planting a tree when the hole fills up.
     
  12. Don Armstrong

    Don Armstrong In Remembrance

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    There's another, easier way way. Rather than moving the entire toilet, use an old-fashioned pan (or composting toilet setup). When the receptacle fills up, replace it with a spare, then bury the contents of the first one. If your ground isn't kind, use a post-hole auger to dig a row of holes, then back-fill them one by one with a pan of poop each, then the original soil, then plant the tree (or just mark them with a twig this year, and plant the trees next spring).
     
  13. swamptiger

    swamptiger Active Member

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    I always thought you were supposed to use lime, not lye...
     
  14. Thumper/inOkla.

    Thumper/inOkla. Well-Known Member

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    Swamptiger is right you would use lime, or wood ashes, or some plant carbon material, (ie; shredded leaves, peat most sawdust, chopped straw) NOT lye.

    We used a post hole digger down as deep as hubby could get it for our first toilet out here and just knocked some soil back in as needed to cover deposits.
     
  15. Ann-NWIowa

    Ann-NWIowa Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Outhouses without a containment container are illegal in a lot of places. Southern Iowa has been battling with the Amish over this for awhile now. I'd check with the powers that be before I started digging - better than paying big fines and clean up expenses later.
     
  16. jerneeon

    jerneeon Well-Known Member

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    Thanks so much for your replies!!
     
  17. Shrek

    Shrek Singletree Moderator Staff Member

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    I'll stick to my septic system and drainfield. Monthly treatment with yeast culture keeps it composting just fine and the drainfield feeds the wormbeds nicely. Best part is I dont have to squat over a bucket or hole like some third world nation resident. Weather you call it quaint or nostalgic, a privy is still a pain in the nose and often a health hazard and the expense of proper septic system is low compared to the headaches.
     
  18. Well there were five of us in the family, and we dug a new hole every few years and moved the privy over it. Took some of the dirt from the new site to cover the old.

    How deep did we dig it? We had stabile clay after the top soil, so dug it as deep as anyone could work in a small hole that would fit under the privey, and still move the dirt. Since I was smallest, I always did the last digging. I think we used fence posts as rollers to move the building to the new location.

    Several of you have me curious--how does someone fall into the pit, or be dipped into the pit? You folks must be using terribly large seat holes if someone would fit through them.

    Lime, not lye, was used around where we lived.

    Mother Earth News wrote an article years ago about how to cope with a sub-zero outhouse. Their best solution was to make a removeable seat of tough styrofoam and simply keep it stored in the house behind the stove until needed. At least that is the way I remember the article.

    You might think about planting a tree about the same time as adding a privey. Kind of nice to have the building shaded and a little cooler in the summer. The trees roots would probably remove some moisture if there is an excess. Should grow well too from the fertilizer benefit.

    Make sure you build a unit with a venting system. There should be a vent to remove odors from below the seat, through a pipe to above the roofline.

    It is also a good idea to have summer screened vents, that can be closed off during winter. Snow might be soft to sit on, but it would be cold.

    The Walton Feed site ( http://waltonfeed.com/ ) under "info" then under "Old Timer" area has information on privies. http://waltonfeed.com/old/out.html

    Now don't forget, the Montgomery Ward catalogues were softer than Sears Roebuck and Company catalogues.

    Oh yeah, always check for snakes when you lift the lid and before you sit down. Otherwise you might fill the pit in one use.
     
  19. MN Mom

    MN Mom Well-Known Member

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    a state of confusion...ha ha. MN
     
  20. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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