Drei lecken mehr als Zweie

The other night I was shaken awake a few hours early to be informed that my Native was heading to the bathroom.

Now, this is not an issue of conjoined-at-hip extreme co-dependency, but an act of courtesy we always extend the other before leaving camp, so that the remaining mate is not left to wake up in the middle of the night with morbid fantasies of backwoods bedsnatching.  And if you’re living like animals, you do your business with them, outside.  But you see, it used to be that if we needed to contend with the moving and shaking of matters excremental, we’d either disappear briefly into the woods with a shovel and some tissue, or, in my case, learn to internally compost and wait for the next trip into town except in the most absolute emergencies.   But no longer.  Now it’s just a short trek away, with no hole digging or filling or finely balanced squatting in a snowbank required.

And before I continue: sorry, really, but a scatological post was inevitable.  (Welcome, googlers in search of poo smut!)  Everyone poops, even those of us who live like kings.

Introducing the monolithic, palatial, Hope Diamond of outhouses.  Just look at it.  And now, when we find ourselves in the middle of the night with business to do, we can take a magazine instead of a shovel and do it the way of the civilized.  It’s so luxurious I almost feel like I’ve turned into some kind of yuppie.  Next step: a gold seat, and maybe even a decorative flush-handle.

Cooter Hollow’s Fully Abbreviated Guide to Building Your Own Outhouse in the Woods:  Just Sit, Shit, And Wipe It

1> Dig:  We started last summer when we rented the excavator, using it to dig a hole several feet deep and wide enough so that even after the great flood came and attempted to eradicate most of our work, we still had enough of a chasm to hold quite a few years’ worth of the nast-o.

2> Contain:  We bought a 33-gallon garbage can, into the bottom of which was drilled several weep-holes, placed it into the hole, and filled around it. (Have I mentioned my obsession with the word “weep-hole?”  Suddenly this isn’t a blog post at all, but poetry.  Poetry about shitting.)

3> Make a foundation:  We used two layers of concrete blocks, also largely dug into the ground, to provide us with a level(ish) surface onto which to build our foundationary platform.  Which is heavy.  Because if you’re going to enjoy time on the Hope Diamond of Shitters, you don’t want it rolling down the hill before you’ve finished your magazine article.

Here I am working on the foundation.  Note the masterful drilling technique.  Not shown:  generator, power tools, lots of screws, a Native who more-or-less knows what he’s doing, and a very confused dog.

4> Make some walls and a roof.  I told you this was going to be abbreviated.  Ours is four feet by four feet, and eight feet tall, framed with two-by-fours and sheathed with OSB, which should give you some idea of how it was put together.  Lots of screws and a mate who knows what he’s doing will help you here.  A very confused dog, while not as helpful, is not without her peculiar charms.  The door was made of rough-sawn hemlock homemade by an Alaskan Mill chainsaw attachment.  Nice, right?  It’ll be sided with the same, when more critical projects have been completed.

5> Build the throne.  Again, nice, right?  We bought a half-sheet of pressure treated finished sanded birch to use here.  Because, splinters.

6>  Attach seat.  Ours has little snaps to affix it to the throne, so that we can bring the seat inside with us and not run the risk of sticking to it on particularly cold mornings.  To be honest, an ass hitting a cold seat is an order-mag preferable to a cold ass sliding over ice or trying not to dip into three feet of snow whilst in mid-squat.

7>  (To be completed): Humanure.  When the long winter lets up or projects turn the way of sawdust production (more on this very soon), we plan to apply regular handfuls of the same over our, erm, yield, to keep the smell down and the compost working.  But for now, the entire mechanism is so new, and the experience so satisfying, and the weather so single-digity, that the sound of one’s own output softly plopping into the ravine’s dark bottom is the sound of bliss itself.

And there it is.  We’ve been busy with projects of all levels of comfort improvement around here, so on days when we don’t return from it all too zomboidal to lift the finger-nubs, I’ll show you more.  And if you want to know really how all this was put together, let me know and I’ll inveigle my Native into sharing the seedier details with you, like screw lengths.  And sheathing techniques.  His talents at sheathing are second only to his talents in areas not meant for a family website.


  1. This is it: my favorite post about shit. I love it! Who else is writing about how to make a pit potty? I can’t wait to read more about the humanure project.

    Stay warm out there in the hinterland!

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