-----In 2004 we bought a falling-down house and 30 acres. This blog documents our progress-----

Monday, August 16, 2004

Toilet, frosts and Talbot market

Mum and Dad went up to Amherst this weekend. Here's Mum's account of the day. My favourite bit is where she extols the virtues of the composting toilet Dad made... I can see she loves it just as much as he does! The bad news is about the frosts of course, but who knows maybe we'll be lucky

Email from Mum - 15th Aug 2004

We went up yesterday and Dad dropped me at the Talbot market whilst he went and undid the car from trailer, unloaded car a bit at block and came back for me. I shopped for the usual leeks (missed out last time, big ones all sold) and unwaxed apples and this time a bunch = three of nice beetroots. Carrots and parsnips and even leeks used to be sold by bunches - this is the first time for ages I have seen it. Two flagons of grape juice - one black and one white - $7.50 each or two for $14. You can return the flagons. I looked for fruit trees but not many this time and I did not get any. Nothing much suitable, I thought.

Back to Amherst, and found the tanks installed (the second one was installed a week or so back by Dad and now is one third filled) and joined up, and the dunny building on a lean on the slope. I asked why not move it up to the old tank pad that he did not use - at least it was level. He agreed, had never thought of it himself! So it is a bit further away from house than he had it, but only by about 5yds. He had it about level with the tank you saw. The other tanks are downhill from that one, and actually look quite pleasing. So does the dunny.

That dunny has been built on the John Seymour principles, so that is one good thing to come out of that book you gave him. And the actual dunny has a story to tell. On the way up there, with it on the trailer, Dad said he had not had time to finish it at home so would finish it up there - by putting the roof on, and went on extolling the virtues of the thing. Then he said he hoped he had time to attach the door too - which cracked me up - I said so this fantastic dunny is really just three sides? - laughing like mad - he ended up laughing too, had never thought of it like that. But it is a very nice dunny, a shelf at back like in my loo - nice bench seat with a lid, and you have a hidden lid underneath to make the barrel used as the actual recepticle sealed from the inside of the loo so it does not smell. The sides of it were built out of two of those old fashioned doors - the wide sort - made of slats like floorboards and then nailed onto a frame of three horizontals and two diagonals making a sort of double z, sitting on top of each other. He put the shelf on the two middle cross pieces. And sadly, they are not at the same height, so the shelf has a delightful slope. It is obvious but does not mean it cannot be used and I think it is in keeping with the outdoor dunny. But Dad says he will fix it as it "lets the side down". The door he selected is also delightful - a six panelled door, the bottom two panels solid and the tope four flywire. I aksed why not solid, and he said ventilation and the view. The view I said fine, and no-one to see in, so OK, but imagine the ventilation at night when it is minus 10 like the local nurseryman said it gets to, windy and wet blowing straight in, and you have to get undressed to use it. Dad stared, said he had never bothered with that, but would look for some perspex to put in at least the next two panels up. Anyway he had to just rest the roof on and weight it down with four bluestone pitchers and then just nail the door on - it was dark by now. Faint glow in the sky to the south (over forest at back) showed where Ballarat was, and a much more spread out one down the long view along the vallyy we presume had to be Melbourne. Just light off the clouds we think but lovely. We had been going to go into Maryborough for a pub meal but it was well after 7pm when we left, so too late. We had not had the roast I wanted at Talbot as they only do Sunday lunch and nothing at night unless you are a guest at motel - and Dad said no time at lunchtime. Anyway they were almost totally booked out. So we got some takeaway in Ballarat again.....

Re the dunny, it needs a sort of veranda / pergola out the front which it will get, and a bit more overhang at the sides to protect it more. And as you are not meant to wee in this composting toilet, I suggest a lemon tree with a screen on a couple of sides next to it for the urinal. Women can squat if they will, no problem for men. Lemon trees thrive on urine. I think it will be lovely! and there is a very nice little window in the back wall above the shelf. It too is delightful. I will put a candlestick in there and cut some newspaper up for you to make it authentic. I suppose you will get nice soft loo paper too but try to hide it! And you need to put about half a can of sawdust on top when you finish. there is a pipe sticking up outside that goes up above the roof to take the smells away and you are supposed to plant things there to hide it. Maybe a passionfruit or choko if you want something useful, or jasmine or something if you want ornamental and perfumed.

The nurseryman who operates the nursey and old - hardly a museum - at the station in Talbot said olives would go well and I almost bought you 10 olive trees for $40 - small ones in about 5 inch pots. But will let you get them if you want them in October. He said the lemon gums you have will almost certainly not survive the fierce frosts - he has lost a lot finding that out. Says far worse than Ballarat where he used to operate from and thought there would be no difference - and the first year, lost so much stuff. He now experients with one of anything he is doubtful of, in his own experimental garden bed. I think he lives in the train carriage he has parked in the old carpark area - looked very nice! - well kept carriage of the Asutralian National Line - ie one from something like the Indian Pacific. Once of the trains with compartments opening off a corridor with loo and now kitchen at the end. Frosts down to minus 12 he says. If you can keep them warm for the first year or two, maybe the mature trees will stand it better he said but said he would be willing to bet $50 they will not make it.

so that is the down side of the weekend. However...

I did a little bit to help, getting the soil from where Dad had levelled the tank pads and putting it under and around the pipes connecting the tanks. It was above the gound so it 1. needed support and 2. needed protection from and for the sheep - so they did not deliberately break it, or accidentally trip over it and break their ankles. I ended up using hands to shove the last bits in and some of it got right under my thumbnail down deep. It is still quite sore - I have it now bandaged up with honey on it, and it does feel better.

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