It’s been a really buys few days. I’ve been flat out talking and meeting people. After being so lonely last week I had a lot of catching up to do. Today I’ve finally exhausted myself. I went to the Sunday market but I didn’t stay for long. I was ready to disappear and spend a little bit of time by myself.
Fortunately, today I got myself a house to live in. A friend I met last week said that I could stay in his house while he’s on holiday for the next three weeks. Twelve years ago he bought himself a block of land and has since been building himself a house to live in. It’s nothing flash but it’s very liveable.
For the past few months I’ve been reading a lot about the skills that I anticipate I’ll need if I were to build a house. Most of the reading has been just an overview of what’s possible and how it works. I haven’t got to working out the actual techniques involved but I can see it in action here.
He has a compost toilet. I’ve read The Humanure Handbook which describes how it works pretty good. I’d never used or even seen one first hand.
What he’s done is dug a hole under his toilet, like a long drop. He’s added some ventilation. I’m not sure why it’s required but its there. After you’ve taken a shit, you just sprinkle some straw over the top. I think that’s all you need to do for it to break down into dirt again.
I didn’t spot this while he was showing me around so I don’t know the full story behind it yet. I can only assume that the bloody big hole under his house is an unfinished root cellar. I’m looking forward to asking some more questions about this.
When thinking about building a hut, I didn’t really like the idea of depending on a gas fridge and figured that I could probably use the ground to regulate the temperature. A root cellar is the olden-day way it was done before ice delivery men.
I also found it interesting that in the book Walden, a root cellar was one of the very first things that Thoreau built.
He’s getting all his power from the sun. He stores the power in the battery bank at 24V. As it’s needed its converted to 12V. There is a 12V DC to 240V AC inverter that is rated to 400 Watts. That’s powering all the power-points and I assume the compact-fluorescent lights too. There are also some 12V DC cigarette plugs that bypass the inverter.
He’s rendered one of the rooms with mud. He intends to render the whole house but so far it’s not finished. He first stuck standard corrugated cardboard to the walls for insulation, then covered it in chicken wire. The local dirt and water made mud that was applied straight to the wall. The chicken-wire acted as reinforcement instead of hair or straw as has traditionally been used for mud rendering.
Pissing on a pile of ash
This is another thing that I overlooked. He told me, he usually just pisses on the pile of ash out the back. I didn’t think anything of it until afterwards. I figured that he was probably filtering his piss before it runs into the ground water but I think there is more to it.
And that’s the end of the tour of my new temporary home. I hope you like it as much as I do.
I’ll leave you with some arty shots.