Dealing with shit: human manure piles and dog poo worm farms

Sorry it’s been a little while between post. I have started work and the projects we’ve been working on have been a little slow to reach fruition. This past week we’ve been plodding away on renovating the bathroom- will make a whole post of this when completed. It’s been difficult getting back into the swing of working again after a few weeks off but we’re slowly finding the groove and have put up most of the walls and some ceiling joists.

Before that we had been devising systems to deal with some of the shit we produce. Namely human and dog manure. So here goes a run down of our off grid shit systems.

Human manure pile

This system is reasonably bog standard for those who’ve lived off grid or know anyone who does. It basically is as follows: Construct a compost bay at a height that will be able to contain your waste for a year. Empty you chamber of poo every month or so- whenever it’s full- into it. Cover this with straw to help absorb the liquid and add some carbon into the mix. Leave the pile for a year to 2 and then you should have some organic material that’s fit for your fruit tree beds.

To construct the pile we used 4 pallets that we picked up for free at Bunnings. We then put these in place in our yard and marked out where the pallets would go. Trenches were dug to rest the pallets in. We then put the back pallet and two side pallets in place and screwed them together. The remaining pallet was cut in half to create a door flap that would allow easy access when emptying the chamber. The bottom half of the pallet was screwed to the two side pallets. Finally with hinges we attached the top half of the pallet to one side pallet creating the door flap you see in the photo below.

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We then added a layer of straw in the bottom and filled it up with some of our previously stored human manure.

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To this we emptied the chamber from the toilet in and added extra straw on top and a plywood lid to stop animals chewing their way in.

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A full chamber waiting to be emptied and added to the human manure pile.

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A little fresh but it will break down.

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Covered with straw the look and smell is gone.

Dog Poo Worm Farm

The second system I am going to write about is our way of dealing with Oscar and Yoda’s waste. As you can imagine, two dogs produce a lot of waste. In an earlier post I wrote about the eco bokashi pet poo bucket. Whilst it has been somewhat effective in dealing with their poo it’s not worked as well as we envisaged. The tongs that came with it have broken and you have to purchase the stuff to sprinkle on it. We’ve  also been a little neglectful in picking up the poo.

It’s also only serving one function, that is to decompose the poo. Following a more permaculture approach we have decided on a multiple function approach:A Dog Poo Worm Farm.

This would serve four functions: it will deal with the dog poo; it will produce worm castings to be used in the garden; it will produce worm juice to be used as a fertiliser; and best of all after some design work it will provide an outdoor seat. As we were not just going to be building a worm farm we were, after a post at Good Life Permaculture website, going to be building a worm farm seat.

To construct the worm farm you need a base that will be the worm farm. In a visit to the tip shop in Kingston we happened upon an old wicking bed. The bed was 1200 by 400 and deeply insulated. Perfect for a worm farm. We bought it home and decided to dress it up.

For aesthetic purposes we decided to use some hardwood planks we had around from the previous owners. We cut these down to size to fit as pickets around the outside and top of the worm farm. To attach the wood boards we added some structs at the top and bottom of the worm farm and then I proceeded to nail each board one by one to the worm farm.

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After adding the boards I then added the top to the worm farm. Creating the seat to sit on. This was made of two parts, for ease of lifting and to make it easier to feed the worms.

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Once the worm farm had been covered it was time to create the bed for the worms. First I added a few bricks and then put down a piece of perforated metal that we had lying around. This created a false floor of sorts for the worm wee to flow.

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Over this I then added a piece of shade cloth we had found at the tip shop. On top of this I added some straw as the bed for the worms.

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It was time to then add the worms and the lid. In total I added around 1000 worms purchased from Tasmanian Worm Farms.

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We waited a couple of days and then feed the worms the first piece of dog poo. They seemed to eat it and so after a couple of days we added  some more. At the moment this poo has not been completely eaten and we are looking at adding some more worms in the next few days. It’s a process but something that we feel will work and one that will be written about more no doubt.

 

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3 thoughts on “Dealing with shit: human manure piles and dog poo worm farms

  1. Just thinking with your worm farm, maybe you need to add other organic material and well as the dog shit. I reckon worms are a bit like us inasmuch as they need some variety in their diet. Green waste, food scraps may encourage them to do more for you. Just my $0.02

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  2. An excellent approach for a subject that most people wouldn’t touch with a barge pole (metaphorically and physically 😉 ). Kudos on your problem solving. You can make your own bokashi mix. I have a pdf (somewhere) with how to do it but the worm idea would be the least amount of hands on work and lets face it, the least amount of “hands on” that we have to do the better ;).

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  3. Pingback: Appreciating winter: plans, schemes and realising dreams | twodogsandabus

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