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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Humanure Hacienda

And then there were three: structures, that is, at Home the Land Built.  
August 2010:  the shed.
March 2012:  the house.
July 2012: the hacienda.
I suppose, in the end, it’s just a compost bin.  But to me, today--- the day I finally finished the hacienda---it feels like so much more.  
Perhaps it’s the anticipation.  We’ve known we had to have one (I mean who doesn’t) long before we built the shed.  It is, after all, essential to our closed-loop composting toilet system; the vital, seemingly magic link between buckets of sawdust-covered pooh and buckets of garden strawberries. 
Perhaps it’s the sense of relief.   I might be able to dump two more buckets onto the current compost heap.   Then again, the rickety old bin just might fall over.   But I promised Linda I’d wait until she returned from Minneapolis before dumping the first ceremonial bucket into the hacienda.  So wish me well as I dump the last buckets into the old bin tomorrow.
Perhaps it’s the hacienda’s expected utility:  three bins, two for composting separated by the roofed cover material bin.   We’ll start the left compost bin this weekend, then switch to the right bin next summer.  Finally, in the summer of 2014, before switching back, we’ll open the left bin gate and discover what the miracle of composting has done, for us and for the Land.  As much I like hauling buckets, I’m quite content to let time do all the work, rather than turning that pile-of-me with a pitchfork.  Hmmm.
But actually, most of my thrill (if you would believe it) arises from the hacienda’s unexpected beauty.  I pretty much just followed the instructions in Joe Jenkins gospel.    Yet it seemed in the spirit of composting to construct the hacienda out of what I already had.  Who’d have thought you could combine barnboard verticals, old pallet rafters and red elm panel shingles---all reused!---into one design and have it look so…so elegant.   I deviated from Jenkin’s gable roof design, preferring to mirror our shed’s lean to (not to mention how bad a gable could look in my gorilla-like hands).  I also eliminated his rain barrel for bucket rinsing.  I’m already collecting rain water off the shed roof, just fifty feet away. 
I wouldn’t be surprised if the whole composting toilet system---the cherry toilet and sawdust bin, the elegant hacienda, the utter elimination of the dreaded plunger---became all the rage, not because they make so much sense, but because they’re so architecturally stunning. 


  1. Nice. Never thought of having a single-pitch roof. Building one at the moment with a gable roof. (

    1. I went single-pitch rather than gable only because I'm a gorilla not a carpenter. :)