Waste Not, Want Not

Many, many years ago in pre-famine Ireland, the peasants  did not own their homes and rented their cottages as  tenants.  The dunghil, a pile of household, human and animal waste was outside the dwelling.   Social commentators at the time criticised the Irish peasants for piling up all their waste,  thinking they must be slovenly and dirty not knowing that there were three reasons why the dunghill was kept.



First of all, if a tenant had removed his dunghill and cleaned up around his house, his rent would have been increased.  Any remedial or improvement work brought with it an increase in rent. Secondly, the dunghill was the tenant’s only source of wealth.  He did not own his home but he owned the dunghill and could sell it if he ever moved or emigrated.  Thirdly, and more importantly, the dunghill was his fertiliser and was vital to survival as he had to grow all the food for himself and family.  The dunghill was a rich source of organic matter or humous which fed the Earth and restored the soil after intense potato cropping.  It was the difference between life and death – until the blight came…….but that is another story.

Since those times we as a society have learned to throw things away, to waste things, to no longer see the value in things.  Things such as our own body waste.  Look what happens to it after about 18 months.



Doesn’t that look gorgeous!  The most perfect compost and all made by me and mine. It’s dry and crumbly and there is no smell whatsoever. We eat organic food and are lucky enough to be healthy and not on any medication so our poo is pure, our shit is sweet!  Why waste it when you can get this amazing stuff?

We built an outside toilet to accommodate WWoofers when we had them and for ourselves, if we were working outside and got caught short. (It beats taking wellies off everytime you have to come indoors).


On the left is a bowl of wood shavings.  We use these to cover our “business”.


When this bucket is full we empty it into a black bin which has holes in the bottom to allow worms and soil bacteria to enter and voila! after 18 months it is ready to use around shrubs and trees.  After two years, when all human pathogens have died off it can be used on the vegetable beds too.


These are the black bins for the humanure. We put kitchen waste into seperate compost bins because it is ready to use after six months to a year but everything could go into one bin if you preferred.  I know now that what I eat, is transformed into the food of the future. That is truly satisfying. It also makes me feel connected to my ancestors who knew the importance of the circle of life, death and rebirth.