Country Traditions

November 18, 2012

How to Build a Modern Outhouse for Your Back Yard that Isnt Smelly

Filed under: outhouse — dmacc502 @ 6:51 am
An outhouse exterior

An outhouse exterior (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The benefits of building an outhouse in your back yard are that you dont have to deal with sewers or septic systems, your water bill from toilet flushing goes considerably down and you eliminate the odors associated with a bathroom from your home. With a few modern and old-school touches, you can even build a non smelly outhouse that eliminates those odors from your environment almost completely.

via How to Build a Modern Outhouse for Your Back Yard that Isnt Smelly.

 

Advertisements

September 16, 2010

Housework in Late 19th Century America

Filed under: farming, furniture, gardening, outhouse, sewing — Tags: , , — dmacc502 @ 12:44 pm
All My Cast Iron

Image by cybrgrl via Flickr

Housework in Late 19th Century America
By Steven Mintz

Housework in nineteenth century America was harsh physical labor. Preparing even a simple meal was a time and energy consuming chore. Prior to the twentieth century, cooking was performed on a coal or wood burning stove. Unlike an electric or a gas range, which can be turned on with the flick of a single switch, cast iron and steel stoves were exceptionally difficult to use.

Ashes from an old fire had to be removed. Then, paper and kindling had to be set inside the stove, dampers and flues had to be carefully adjusted, and a fire lit. Since there were no thermostats to regulate the stove’s temperature, a woman had to keep an eye on the contraption all day long. Any time the fire slackened, she had to adjust a flue or add more fuel.

Throughout the day, the stove had to be continually fed with new supplies of coal or wood – an average of fifty pounds a day. At least twice a day, the ash box had to be emptied, a task which required a woman to gather ashes and cinders in a grate and then dump them into a pan below. Altogether, a housewife spent four hours every day sifting ashes, adjusting dampers, lighting fires, carrying coal or wood, and rubbing the stove with thick black wax to keep it from rusting.

It was not enough for a housewife to know how to use a cast iron stove. She also had to know how to prepare unprocessed foods for consumption. Prior to the 1890s, there were few factory prepared foods. Shoppers bought poultry that was still alive and then had to kill and pluck the birds. Fish had to have scales removed. Green coffee had to be roasted and ground. Loaves of sugar had to pounded, flour sifted, nuts shelled, and raisins seeded.

Cleaning was an even more arduous task than cooking. The soot and smoke from coal and wood burning stoves blackened walls and dirtied drapes and carpets. Gas and kerosene lamps left smelly deposits of black soot on furniture and curtains. Each day, the lamp’s glass chimneys had to be wiped and wicks trimmed or replaced. Floors had to scrubbed, rugs beaten, and windows washed. While a small minority of well-to-do families could afford to hire a cook at $5 a week, a waitress at $3.50 a week, a laundress at $3.50 a week, and a cleaning woman and a choreman for $1.50 a day, in the overwhelming majority of homes, all household tasks had to be performed by a housewife and her daughters.

Housework in nineteenth century America was a full-time job. Gro Svendsen, a Norwegian immigrant, was astonished by how hard the typical American housewife had to work. As she wrote her parents in l862:

We are told that the women of America have much leisure time but I haven’t yet met any woman who thought so! Here the mistress of the house must do all the work that the cook, the maid and the housekeeper would do in an upper class family at home. Moreover, she must do her work as well as these three together do it in Norway.

Before the end of the nineteenth century, when indoor plumbing became common, chores that involved the use of water were particularly demanding. Well?to?do urban families had piped water or a private cistern, but the overwhelming majority of American families got their water from a hydrant, a pump, a well, or a stream located some distance from their house. The mere job of bringing water into the house was exhausting. According to calculations made in 1886, a typical North Carolina housewife had to carry water from a pump or a well or a spring eight to ten times each day. Washing, boiling and rinsing a single load of laundry used about 50 gallons of water. Over the course of a year she walked 148 miles toting water and carried over 36 tons of water.

Homes without running water also lacked the simplest way to dispose garbage: sinks with drains. This meant that women had to remove dirty dishwater, kitchen slops, and, worst of all, the contents of chamberpots from their house by hand.

Laundry was the household chore that nineteenth century housewives detested most. Rachel Haskell, a Nevada housewife, called it “the Herculean task which women all dread” and “the great domestic dread of the household.”

On Sunday evenings, a housewife soaked clothing in tubs of warm water. When she woke up the next morning, she had to scrub the laundry on a rough washboard and rub it with soap made from lye, which severely irritated her hands. Next, she placed the laundry in big vats of boiling water and stirred the clothes about with a long pole to prevent the clothes from developing yellow spots. Then she lifted the clothes out of the vats with a washstick, rinsed the clothes twice, once in plain water and once with bluing, wrung the clothes out and hung them out to dry. At this point, clothes would be pressed with heavy flatirons and collars would be stiffened with starch.

The last years of the nineteenth century witnessed a revolution in the nature of housework. Beginning in the 1880s, with the invention of the carpet sweeper, a host of new “labor? saving” appliances were introduced. These included the electric iron (1903), the electric vacuum cleaner (1907), and the electric toaster (1912). At the same time, the first processed and canned foods appeared. In the 1870s, H.J. Heinz introduced canned pickles and sauerkraut; in the 1880s, Frano-American Co. introduced the first canned meals; and in the 1890s, Campbell’s sold the first condensed soups. By the 1920s, the urban middle class enjoyed a myriad of new household conveniences, including hot and cold running water, gas stoves, automatic washing machines, refrigerators, and vacuum cleaners.

Yet despite the introduction of electricity, running water, and “labor-saving” household appliances, time spent on housework did not decline. Indeed, the typical full-time housewife today spends just as much time on housework as her grandmother or great-grandmother. In 1924, a typical housewife spent about 52 hours a week in housework. Half a century later, the average full-time housewife devoted 55 hours to housework. A housewife today spends less time cooking and cleaning up after meals, but she spends just as much time as her ancestors on housecleaning and even more time on shopping, household management, laundry, and childcare.

How can this be? The answer lies in a dramatic rise in the standards of cleanliness and childcare expected of a housewife. As early as the 1930s, this change was apparent to a writer in the Ladies Home Journal:

Because we housewives of today have the tools to reach it, we dig every day after the dust that grandmother left to spring cataclysm. If few of us have nine children for a weekly bath, we have two or three for a daily immersion. If our consciences don’t prick us over vacant pie shelves or empty cookie jars, they do over meals in which a vitamin may be omitted or a calorie lacking.

http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/historyonline/housework.cfm

September 12, 2010

How to Build an Outhouse

Filed under: outhouse — Tags: , , — dmacc502 @ 11:55 pm
Lighthouse Keeper's Cottage outhouse (Cape Flo...

Image via Wikipedia

Back in the good old days, there was no such thing as indoor plumbing, so people relied on the outhouse. If it was not pleasant for them then, can you imagine what it would be like for people now? If you are looking to get back to nature, you can build your own outhouse. The first thing you need to do is to create a plan and select a location as far a way from your main house as you can. Then, you can start building.

You will need to dig a ditch about 3 1/2 feet by 3 1/2 feet and 5 feet in depth. Then you will want to start on the wooden form of the outhouse. This wooden ring can hold the concrete that is being put in. The wooden platform should be 4 feet and 10 inches by 4 feet and 10 inches with a center hole of about 3 feet and 8 inches by 3 feet and 8 inches. Then, place the wood over the bottom of the ditch.

How to Build an Outhouse

You have to build another wooden form about 2 1/2 to 3 inches thick. The concrete will be poured above the ground; it will not sink into the bottom part of the outhouse where the waste is going to go. Then you will need to build the walls as big or as small as you want. 2 by 4’s are recommended.

You can create a wooden toilet seat or you can buy one from the store but for authenticity, you should use a wooden seat. Make sure all of your connections are reinforced, the walls to the floor and the ceiling. You can add ventilation to your outhouse, you can use screens with covers or a 4 inch vent. You can optionally cut a hole in the door.

You may notice that most outhouses from the past have a moon crescent on the door. You can follow thy pattern or you can use another design. You have to remember that before building these that bugs and mosquitoes would feast on human waste so you may have to figure out a way to keep thus area clean. Keep the lids on the seats at all times, this should be a bit of a help. You may be better off building one for show and not for use. It would be an interesting conversation piece for your neighbors who will want to know why there is an outhouse in your backyard!

Blog at WordPress.com.