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?
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.
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:
- 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
- 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,