Prepping: Outhouse at the “End of the World”

So, there we all are:  We wake up one morning and the world had ended.

Someone has lit the “final fuse” in the Middle East, or that kid in charge of North Korea doesn’t like President Real Estate so much, after all.  Regardless: Either the “sh*t-stick” has been used or none of the damn lights will work, or the Internet is down… Suddenly, you have no more other than what you can put on your credit cards…which, oh, by the way, also don’t work.

There’s a wonderful book – and it’s really about Life in general, more so than prepping, but it’s a fine mode of thought called “Unfu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and into Your Life.”  Core to the philosophy?  I am What I Do.

Which translates today to:  If you don’t actually do something about prepping, reading “One Second After (A John Matherson Novel about when TSHTF)” or the follow-up a year later, won’t get you a pot to pee in.

But, we will.

Life, you see – triply-so when comes to prepping – is actually about doing and not binge-watching wannabes on television.

But, I digress.  Back to our story…

So, you’re sitting there, having figured you were smart to buy the last BBQ with a side burner – because not only can you toss that cast-iron grill over the heaten-hotten part, but you can do a pretty good wine reduction sauce to pour over the…what?  The family cat?  (Read my buddy Gaye Levy’s book “Prepper’s Guide to Food Storage.”  Somehow, she didn’t get into rat cookery, so there’s a future article for us, lol…Seen Zeus the Cat around?)

Given that we won’t run out of food…and that we will have drinking water…and that we won’t have to shoot (or be shot by) a neighbor, the first problem will be getting along with the folks in your neighborhood.  Secondary to that will be the takeover plans of gangs who will be taking in-city real estate.  Which is one of the best reasons to live in a community where you know a few people (despite reading UrbanSurvival) and kinda-sorta fit in.

What’s left to worry about, right?

Hardware Failures

This is one that vexes us no end.  After 16-ounces a coffee, Ma Nature calls.

People of the modern-stripe think that Lowe’s and Home Despots will be continuously open, ready to dole out the fresh tubes of hot-set PVC glue that may have dried up over the summer, when it’s eventually needed following the Big One earthquake.

Or, that there is a never-ending supply of blue tarps of all sizes, plus a billion miles of everything from cheap poly rope to really good double-laid Dacron line (though you may have to submit to the highwaymen at West Marine for the latter.  It will be worth it, though.  Good rope is like a beautiful woman – you’re lucky if you find it.

And that Camping World will never ruin out of folding portable toilets.  (But, do you have one???)

We’re now warming to the heart of this expository (*not suppository, least not yet).  We have to somehow keep everything working when the world ends. And that includes a bathroom.

Maybe a good place to begin is with water and hardware.  Oh, and a place to put Ure human waste!

It’s not too difficult to cobble up some sticks into a pretty good sittin-john out in the woods.  All you need is a simple bow (or buck) saw, and a plan.

Step over to the cocktail napkin and let’s sketch one up, shall we?

A clever sort (or you’ll do) would notice that human waste disposal depends – whether you are using the sticks-as-a-John or a genuine 100% ‘Merica Outhouse, on there being a convenient hole.

If sticks, make ’em stout.  You will want “feet-forward!”  Build it strong enough to trust!

May I now get to the first point (damn near time, I ‘spose):  When was the last time you actually dug a hole outside?

Yeah, yeah…obvious.  But, thanks to the gentrification of K-12 curriculum, I’d bet not one child in 500 in America has ever actually dug a stupid hole.  I mean something measured in feet deep.

This begs the doctoral-length dissertation on how the commies have ruined American education and haven’t included Practical Public Health as core curriculum.  But it’s understandable since obviously their poo don’t stink.  Sadly, for the rest of us, well…

Before you dig the hole, bum a smoke off someone, or open a pack of Camels that you’re stashed (thanks to the Indian Smoke Shop prices) as trading stock with all the bubba’s who already know this stuff.  Have someone stand in the soon to be garden area…and then on either side of your dwelling.  Now, go to where you think the hole would be convenient and light up.

After a few drags (and getting hopelessly dizzy, having never smoked tobacco before) yell at your accomplices to sniff the air good.

Anyone smell any smoke?”

If they say “Yes,” move to another location and yell again.  “How’s this…any better?”  If you don’t have Camels a good sativa will get them anxiously huffing.  It’d be OK, the world’s over, might as well get a proper ‘tude about things.

One of four things will happen now that you’ve lit up:  Either a band of marauders will come by, beat you up and take the smokes (they’re out, since they didn’t plan for TSTHTF today) OR night will arrive OR you’ll get lung cancer OR you may find a place for a suitable poo-house to be constructed.

There’s an easier method that us serious campers know:  Look for the most worthless, hard to dig place you can find.  THAT is where the poo hole needs to be dug, you may be sure of it.

Back to the hardware discussion:

Do you have a good shovel?  Is is sharp?  This seems a silly thing to wonder but all the shovel’s at Lowe’s or Home Despots will be dull.  If you want to jump up and down all day (pogo stick-like) on a shovel, that’s up to you.  Remember, though, we talked about the high value of laziness a couple of weeks back.  Digging holes is one of those times.

The sharper the shovel, the easier to press it into the soil (and rocks, lol) and grab a worthwhile load.  A sharp shovel is a joy to use.

Hole-digging hint #2:  Don’t dig after a long dry spell.  The best time to dig a hole is when the land is just getting back to dry enough to where you could run a tractor on it.  Every damn fool in Bubba-Land knows you  can’t drive a big Kubota on the land the day after rain  because you might as well be running a steamroller over it.  Compacts the hell out of everything, especially if, like in East Texas, you have any clay in the soil.

Clay might as well be limestone for how hard it is to dig-in when dry.  (And I going too fast for you, city-slicker?).

If you’re lucky, when nukes fly, or the power goes off, or the ‘net locks up, it will happen a day or two after a 2″ rain. No poo-digging issue then.

If not, the next piece of hardware (to go with the shovel) is a pick or similar tool.  Sole purpose is to break up dirt with a falling sharp instrument.  Double-headed tools are best:  Sharp pick on one end (which can be used as a tree-moving lever) and a broad blade which (even roughly sharpened) will break up compacted soil like there’s no tomorrow.  Take your time, though:  There may not be a tomorrow because if you get injured, unless your doctor is like mine (he’s a passable gunsmith, too) you’re  screwed if you get injured.

How Deep?

You will want to stop well-short of China, for sure.

There answer is probably about six-feet  – or a bit more.  The reason is that yo9u want the hole to be deep enough to hold a lifetime of poo without having to go through the misery of digging and building another one.  Have someone standing by as you get more than waist deep.  Sandy soils have a miserable habit of caving it, as so will clays if they are wet…

A degree in soil engineering is probably out of the question, but you can get an idea of what kind of angle to dig by looking at surrounding hillsides. If the hills are coming down at a 45-degree angle, as they do in parts of Kentucky and Tennessee, that might work.  In some places in the Pacific Northwest, there are sheet bluffs over 200-feet high that are a great digging soil, but these collapse in big rains.  Sand?  Yikes.  Now you’re into whatever the local “slump is.”

Slump’s an interesting idea to know about.  It’s used when pouring concrete.  Wet concrete is much weaker than a drier mix.  But, since there hasn’t always been a world full of pocket instrumentation available, the way mix wetness was determined was by “slumping” it.

Think of a dunce cap.  Fill with concrete and flip upside down.  Will it hold the shape?  Good mix.  If it is too watery, and crumbles, then you better not be paying for 4,000 pound concrete because…well, go work on it.

Once you have the hole dug you have only a few problems left:  Do you have the wood, tools, and skills to build a throne and enclose it?  (To really get fancy, do you have some 6″ PVC and putting a vent stack on it, and an air scoop on the windward side to gentle move air from “down there” to “out there?”  Tight fitting lid?  You bet!

For the construction, consider double-headed nails.  You pound them in – to the first head.  The second head sticks up a quarter-inch, or so, making it a breeze to take apart and move to a new location.  (Gas mask, anyone?)

With luck, you won’t need to do that for many years.  If you can score a couple of bags of lime and you didn’t get lazy on the hole depth, you could be in good shape – depending on your age.

On the other hand, shallow hole, not back-filling (so rainwater can run into the precious hole) or if the water table is simple too high?  Welcome to the art of the Sears catalog in the old days.  Tear off one page and drop it in as a target to prevent splash-back.

My, hasn’t this been swell fun?  We’ll pass on the putrid in our next hardware discussion, but this is a good starting point.  Practical.  You won’t have time to sit around a campfire and do bone art/scrimshaw work until everything gets stabilized.  So we focus on the fecal first.

Shopping List Items:

  • Shovel
  • Combination Pick
  • Misc lumber (2X4’s, concrete footings, shiplap or plywood, roof covering, etc.)
  • Keg of 10-penny galvanized nails
  • Keg of 16-penny double-headed nails.
  • Pry bar
  • Buck or bow saw
  • Pencil
  • Square (*if your spouse is supervising)
  • Measuring tape
  • old catalogs or cases of TP that will last a year, or so.
  • Clean rags, a convenient creek, and pool shock for thereafter.
  • Oh, and a beer can.

There…feel more prepped now?

Wait!  What’s the beer can for?

Dude!  The world just ended.

The odds of having a contractors level in your prepping get is about zero.  But a beer can?  This is how we roll around here.

Practical.  Let’s lighten a level, shall we?

Write when you get rich,

17 thoughts on “Prepping: Outhouse at the “End of the World””

  1. Brings back a lot of memories of “The House Out Back”. Not a double seater, which is nice for conversations now and again.

    Yes, the highwaymen at West Marine have more than a few of my Boat Bucks! But, a good piece of line is worth it for its many uses.

    It the SHTF time near? Near enuff to prepare. Do or die?

    Good article and thanks for the memories.

  2. Enlightening story for city yuppies I’m sure. Glad when I put my shack in 33 years ago, I went with a gravity septic system. Being without running house water its just a 20 foot walk to the cistern for a 5gal bucket full. Which gives u 2 flushes. I must of thought ahead subconciously. Lol

  3. For the very short time I did smoke, besides the occasional Maduro, unfiltered Camels made me wonder why the heck anyone even bothered with MJ. I’ve always hated the “high” others seemed to enjoy from drugs but that was a most pleasant feeling. Too bad I had to get back to work after that. It took a bit longer than usual but I made it. Never touched the things again but I’m looking into long term storage for them.

  4. sir, how about building the outhouse with a composting toilet inside and thus avoid the need for digging a hole?

  5. Out here everything you said about clay is definitely true, in spades(LOL). Soak the ground for 24-48 hours if you want to have any hope of digging with less than a PhD(post hole digger on a tractor, for the city types). If you must do things manually, drive a pipe or digging bar down to let the ground soak, so you can scrape more wet mud from the hole. In many areas, you’ll dig down a few feet and hit real rock, and that’s it. At least make sure your pit is downhill and far from your water supply. The one saving grace is that smells don’t travel as far in a dry climate, and the sun will bake your residuals to a crust.

    BTW, George, thanks for the reply yesterday. I’ll be ordering your new book as soon as it becomes available.

  6. There is a reason bodies are found in shallow graves in the woods. Add a digging bar, the heavier the better. ‘Find’ some parking pylons to set it upon that don’t rot and get soft. Use oil based paint. Rustoleum on wood lasts forever. Do it right with a stink pipe if possible, funnel and hose.

  7. many cities have ordinances that won’t allow an outhouse to be built in city limits..


    Years ago in the early eighties.. we had the reagan days..(I totally loved the man he just thought people still had the integrity of the early years.)
    anyway I had this thought I would raise chickens.. when picking them up I got into a discussion with him on how much it must cost to run his chicken farm. his response .. less than you can imagine.. see he had a cleaning trough set up so he could hose the chicken house floors into a drainage ditch.. it then went into a tank outside where it digested.. when one was full it was diverted to a second system.. the gas was pumped into tanks and used on the tractors cars and heaters etc.. ( look at your garbage landfills that is what they do there to) after the sludge was done digesting he would pump out the solids and dry it and then grind it bag it and sell it..
    so.. rather than pick at the ground to dig a ditch.. why not get a biogas 2.0 you don’t even have to use it until the SHTF scenario hits then it is right there ready to go to work.. heating cooking lights generators etc..

    Water.. I still haven’t a clue why cities are so stupid.. in a real SHTF scenario.. Water waste removal waste processing.. those are what will bring about the next plague.. filth rats disease..

    Now as far as a lit up world.. well.. Kim is a wild card.. but I truly don’t think hes an idiot.. just a small country leader showing that hes a tough hombre.. Now would he.. absolutely.. He sees what the puppeteers are doing.. how they have treated anyone and everyone that has something they want control over whether or not it is oil, gas, gold, etc.. they will kill maim and destroy the whole country in the name of peace and humanity.. which I find funny.. his country has Lithium.. for electronics and the new batteries we all are using this is a commodity that is desirable.. now rather than head after him why not just promote rhubarb farms.. sheesh.. anyway I digressed.. in a book called the consious collective there was a saying that says.. what a civilization feels about itself can be reflected in how they act to others.. here is another great article.. to read..

    I believe that kim is just showing the puppeteers that if they desire to march in destroy his country kill and maim his people that he will bring it to them.. so far the puppeteers have kept it away from their homes their loved ones ( if they do care about anyone)
    Ping and Putin and trump.. they are all smart and I don’t see anything happening a little sword rattling.. the ones you have to watch out for is the killer sharks beneath the surface pulling the strings.. trying to set the world ablaze in the name of money and control.. at least that is how I see it.. I might be totally off on my assessment to…. Now vote in a new administration that is totally controlled by the puppeteers.. then we might have a few glowing cities.. since then the killer sharks will be on top and able to go get what they want without anyone saying hey this is stupid..
    My hope is DJT runs for a second term..

  8. Remote Viewing for NC Cash 5 (#’s 1 – 41):

    Numbers: 18, 3, 10, 38, 39

    Numbers playing it backwards (start counting from 41): 24, 39, 32, 4, 3

    Since when I remote view, the opposite is usually true, so I played the numbers backward.

    Like the stock market, if I think it is going up, it goes down & vice versa.

    • 55 gal blue plastic barrel will hold approx 250 rolls of toilet paper, have 3 of those sealed on the back porch for the last few years now. Had my well “fixed” this year and because of the chems they dumped down the hole, i wound up using my rain water collection to flush the toilets for 2 months – I have a septic system so hooking up a 12v on-demand pressure pump to my rain storage and piped to the toiets worked great. I have been working on my rain water collection for years now and know how to collect, filter and pump. Heading into this last Summer I had 3,000 gallons collected. Need to get solar in place to power the setup. One more thing i dont see much coverage of, i also have a 55 barrel dedicated to feminine hygiene products.

  9. We here in the back woods of Ky. have whats called the “Humanure Handbook” that has already helped many of us stop flushing millions of gallons of drinkable water down the loo.
    Putting a bucket under your outhouse setup makes for quick work. Empty , wash out and reuse. You have a compost
    dedicated for humanure and can use it when it becomes black dirt for landscaping or if we are in collapse other more important things….. The thing I think about is toilet paper and I guess we will revert to third world practices or leaves ha,ha.

  10. George;
    Just finished a history of medical care from 4000 BCE to about 1700 CE. Sumerian Egyptian, Hindu and Roman latrines/out houses were about 9 feet deep stoutly built and covered to prevent flies from landing on the Crap and Spreading Disease. Disease has killed more Armies than all the battles in the world. They also had a washing station near and Soldiers were required to WASH. Good hygiene keeps people and families/Communities ALIVE.

  11. Outhouse business…go into your woods, fill a 5 gallon bucket with forest duff. After doing your outhouse business, throw in a hand full of forest duff/humus type material.

    It works better than lime to keep the outhouse smelling much better and speeds the breakdown of material deposits.

    Also, phosphates, like rock phosphate, bind up the nitrogen to slow down the formation of unpleasant fumes. Just sayin’…

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