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There’s no such thing as waste, only stuff in the wrong place…

September 13, 2013 | Humanure | 20 comments | Author:

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Well composted humanure is one of the most excellent tree planting  resources you can have, on a site like ours.

So much so that, when we clear out the Humanure Hacienda once a year, it’s compost is reserved specifically for helping new and precious trees to grow… 

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This is what shit looks like after a year in a Humanure composting system. It is woody compost, full of earthworms.

It smells like good soil. It is totally safe, all pathogen cycles relating to the manure have broken many months ago.

It has composted for 12 months in the sun and the wind and the rain. It is full of microbial life. It ends up like any other animal manure, when properly dealt with.

It is a valuable resource for creating resilience and abundance in rough country like ours.

One that is worth identifying and using – not flushed away to some submerged tank, or pumped out to the sea.

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This ‘Humanure Hacienda’ is the system connected to the ‘lovable loo’ compost toilet in the tinyhouse, which you can read all about here. It’s super simple, and extremely effective.

It’s now a year since we moved into the tinyhouse, and each of the two Hacienda bays are designed to hold the humanure of a small family for one year.

So at this time of year, we unload the bay that has been composting for 12 months, which lines up nicely with tree planting season.

It’s straight down to the emerging holistic orchard for this black gold. A couple of shovels in each tree planting hole will help get our pear trees growing beautifully…

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You can read all about our posts on Humanure here. Worth looking into if you’re living somewhere that you can try out your own closed-loop humanure system.

The benefits are many and the way we see it, it’s responsible living at it’s most fundamental.

>> More posts on nutrient cycling here

Thanks Floyd and Nick for digging the goodness!

The title of this blogpost is a line nicked from our friend Charlie’s funky album Permaculture: a rhymer’s manual.

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  • David Trees September 13, 2013 at 6:26 am | Reply

    Thanks for the update. It’s really worth looking into once we’re past the ick factor. I don’t know, city slickers hey.

    I took your advice this summer, well Ashers advice, pee’d in pot, mixed it 10 to 1. Used it on all our flowers, hanging baskets and potted Bamboo. Result – best season of flowers and growth ever. Of course we also had the best summer in Manchester for 17 years in my opinion with lots of sunshine too. The plants took off once I added that special brew though. I told a friend who visited, that we had used the brew we did. Eyes rolled and face skewed for a “rather proper” old friend.

    So to be as cheeky as I am, I told this friend … the funniest thing seemed to happen this year too, which we can’t quite work out why… the marigold like flowers in one of the hanging baskets were white to begin with. Now they are bright yellow? Her head jerked sideways as she looked at us in shock, till I winked… You know the rest.

    So as I said, why not give it a go.

  • teletomT September 13, 2013 at 6:58 am | Reply

    Very good. What are you using for your biological sponge material? You say it is “woody” when finished so are you using woodchips? (We use leaf mold so it does not end up “woody”.)

    1. milkwoodkirsten September 13, 2013 at 9:28 am | Reply

      Hey there, we use sawdust from a nearby mill. It’s awesome, great coverage and the small particle size means great compost!

  • Maggie September 13, 2013 at 7:07 am | Reply

    You guys are so blessed to be able to recycle this way. We are building and council wouldn’t even consider it!!!! We are so dissapointed!

    1. Anna September 14, 2013 at 6:04 am | Reply

      Could you not put in what the council want then set up a composting toilet next to it or on its place. Some people have both so guests can chose. We are buying a house on a new development and the won’t coincider it either but our loveable loo will be coming with us anyway.

  • Alacoque September 13, 2013 at 8:43 am | Reply

    I’ve always thought it crazy that we make this great free fertiliser and literally flush it away, then buy in manufactured fertiliser for our gardens and farms. It’s truly bizarre.

  • Nicki Noo September 13, 2013 at 8:44 am | Reply

    Hi Kirsten! Thanks for this post. It doesn’t look scarey at all! Any chance for a post on the wheelie bins and how they compost down – do they work just as well? Do you have to do more to them? Cheers

  • Rochelle Rex September 13, 2013 at 1:21 pm | Reply

    I’m just starting a humanure’s a little strange and takes time to overcome the socially brainwashing that has been done….it is a little bothersome each week when I need to walk it to the bin area….alas…so it’s a lesson in being in the now…and i am always grateful that I am not party to wasting2-4 gals of precious drinking water every time I need to let my personal waste go….

    1. milkwoodkirsten September 14, 2013 at 6:39 pm | Reply

      Good onya. Yeah emptying the buckets is not a job that makes me go ‘oh god YES’ when I do it… but then, neither does the washing up, or cleaning the bathroom. But these jobs need to be done, for things to be healthy in my little home. And we’re the happier for it, i rekon.

  • Pavel Bentham September 13, 2013 at 3:47 pm | Reply

    “There’s no such thing as waste, only stuff in the wrong place”. With a lyric like this, Formidable Vegetable Sound System should be up for some sort of award.

  • Bruce Miller September 14, 2013 at 4:00 am | Reply

    Only if the poor morons of India uderstood this . . . they would have cleaner streets, better sanitation, and orchards! Education! The right education, applied at the right time in the right place.

    1. Pavel Bentham September 14, 2013 at 8:56 am | Reply

      That’s a bit harsh isn’t it Bruce? Referring to the poor of India as “morons”. We don’t employ such sensible systems here in Australia. Our waste is magically piped from our houses to places unknown but occasionally smelt and despised where it is then intensively and chemically treated. Why not humanure for the West? Why not humanure in the cities?

      Remember that Reinvent the Toilet Challenge? Won by some piece of technology – that isn’t without its benefits – rather than something so simple and obvious as a composting loo.

  • I am obsessed with pooh | A Desirable World September 14, 2013 at 9:16 am | Reply

    […] Milkwood recently wrote an article about harvesting their first batch of well composted humanure. The end product looks amazing. […]

  • Pavel Bentham September 14, 2013 at 10:37 am | Reply

    … Further, the Solar Toilet isn’t set to be on the ground until December 2013 and the prototype comes with a $2,200USD price tag. As I wrote on my blog today, I could zip down to Bunnings this afternoon and knock 40 together for that price.

  • Maria M September 15, 2013 at 3:44 am | Reply

    This is the first time I’ve read about such a composting scheme as humanure.

  • Tracey September 16, 2013 at 1:19 pm | Reply

    We have a fancy urine diverting toilet and put our bucket of solids out about once a fortnight. It’s nearly a year old and I’m longing for the day when our first batch is ready (in another year) to go on our fruit trees. Such a neat and brilliant system, wish more people would embrace the ‘no such thing as waste’ motto.

  • Dean Driscoll September 19, 2013 at 9:13 pm | Reply

    So, when I say that Tony Abbott is a waste of space, he is in actual fact someone who is just in the wrong place?

    1. milkwoodkirsten September 20, 2013 at 6:12 am | Reply


  • t homme August 21, 2014 at 9:14 pm | Reply

    hey you guys are the best, i have two questions to ask yo. 1, do you use eucalypt sawdust? and 2, do you need to moisten your piles in the summer?

    1. Kirsten August 22, 2014 at 8:27 am | Reply

      Yes, and no. :)


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