Girl Out of Water - A Country Potty

| 5/30/2011 6:19:16 PM

Let’s talk about … potties.

You can’t move to the country without eventually thinking about potties.  And it just isn't a normal topic of conversation.  Women, however, think about it more so than men, especially if they have small children.  Without getting too clinical, let’s just say that men have it easier than women more than half the time in the potty department.

If you are lucky enough to move to a house in the country WITH an existing potty, then you will only have to think about it in two instances:  on the day your electricity goes out, which will make your well inoperative, or when your toilets don’t flush because you need to have the septic tank pumped.  It would never occur to most of us to figure out, on a daily basis, which facility we would use if we couldn’t use the one in our house for any real length of time.  The old joke we all tell of the time when we were kids that the water didn’t work in the house so mom drove us all down to the local gas station to use their toilet comes to mind.  Almost all of us have always had an indoor commode in a room built especially for that commode, with doors and lights and fans, placed inside another structure with temperature controls such as heat or air conditioning.

If, however, you move to a farm that has a 100-year-old house with only an outhouse, then you have to think differently.  First of all, let me describe my farm’s “facility.”  It is an outhouse about 30 steps from the back door across the yard.  It is an old wooden structure that was placed over a wet-weather creek.  That means that everything that goes into the outhouse comes out underneath it.  And wet-weather creek means it only has water running in it during the winter.  Ick.

Now for most of us who are accustomed to getting water that is dispensed from a central city water plant right out of a faucet, and are used to things just going away when a toilet is flushed, we would not worry too very much about that scenario because we are not used to thinking about it.

When we moved to our farm and began this project and new way of life, I could not bring myself to use the old smelly wood structure.  So I called and had a port-a-potty delievered.  While we were staying there just on weekends working to restore the farm, it wasn’t so bad.  But when we moved there full time and were still working on a house, I still had a port-a-potty, and my husband’s priorities on his to-do-list suddenly shifted.  Finishing my inside toilet became more important than any other single project on the farm.

Maura White
6/26/2011 7:13:48 AM

Bruce, thanks so much. Your kind words are appreciated!

Bruce McElmurray
6/1/2011 9:21:49 AM

Very well done. You captured the essence (no pun intended) of what we also deal with on our mountain. I remember when we first flushed that baby and the joy it brought us hearing that sound and seeing the water go down. Even though it is just the two of us we have a spare. We made a sawdust toilet for backup when the power goes out. Nothing fancy - got the plans from Mother - but really functional. I had planned to do a blog on the same topic but there is no way I could equal yours and the truths contained therein. Excellent job on a basic necessity and difficult topic. I'll cross this subject off my list now... I enjoy your writing..

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