Under water

While doing my evening rounds today, after we reached a high of at least 10C/50F (warmer than predicted), I noticed the “lake” behind the garage had noticeably grown.

This morning, it had just reached the metal sheet that was laid on a layer of gravel. Now, I could see it surrounding the outhouse.

From the back, you can just barely see that there is water under the metal grate that’s holding the folded wire mesh in place.

I’d checked inside, and the pit under the outhouse is full of water, right up to the floorboards.

I see no sign that the groundhog that had dug a den under the floorboards had dug its way out from under the outhouse. From what I’ve read, their mating season is in March. Perhaps its den had a “back door” somewhere.

There has been an outhouse in this spot for as long as I can remember, but it’s really not a good spot for on, because of how low it is.

I did note that the spot we intend to build an outdoor bathroom, where the compost pile currently is, has no standing water. It’s wet, to be sure, but not muddy. The path to the house also has no standing water, though there are low spots nearby that do have snowmelt collecting in them.

If we were building a pit style outhouse, I wouldn’t have it that close to the house, but since we’ll essentially be building a shed with a composting toilet in it, that can be taken out at any time, we won’t have the issues one would have with a pit.

We’ll still be making sure to have a layer of gravel and sand under the base that will raise it above grade.

But first, we’ll take out a whole bunch of dead spruce trees that will be felled into that direction. Once those are all cleared out, we can build in that spot.

Knowing where the snowmelt collects this time of year plays a big part in a lot of our decision making!

We are still getting weather alerts for next week. How much of it will hit us, it’s hard to say, but the predictions for how much snow the Southern areas of the province will get have been changing. When I first saw the alerts, they were saying up to 20cm/8in. Then they started saying as much as 30cm/12in. Now they’re saying some areas may get as much as 40cm/16in! Which blows away any record snowfalls for that weekend.

Of course, I get a different story, if I look at other apps. One of them predicts far more milder weather, while another predicts the storm will be passed a day earlier than others.

Pray that the storm, whenever it arrives, is much less severe than predicted. I’ve got a nephew that’s supposed to be driving in from another province, with his wife and children, including their new baby, the day the system is supposed to hit.

The Re-Farmer

Our “second bathroom”; painting the floor

As our day warmed up in the afternoon, I took advantage of it to get some stuff done outside. Now that the sign’s lettering is done, I used the paint, which I chose for its durability, to get the floor of the outhouse painted, first thing.

The first thing to do was remove the remarkably heavy piece of … whatever the stuff is called … out, then sweep and scrub the floor as best I could. Unfortunately, there are cramped spaces on either side of the door frame that I just can’t get into. At least not without making efforts I’m just not willing to make for an outhouse! LOL

I just painted over the crud. I figure, if it’s stuck to the point I can’t get it out with a brush, it can stay there.

Of course, in the time it took for me to turn around and set the paint can and brush down, a leaf blew onto the wet paint!!

I was able to reach it without getting into the wet paint myself, though. 😀 Then I quickly closed the door before more leaves blew in!

I don’t think I’ll bother with a second coat. If you look really hard, you can see some of the mint paint through the blue a bit, but most of this will be covered with the mat. I just wanted to protect the wood, really, and I think this will be just fine. If it isn’t, we can always add another coat next year, when we get more of the mint paint. The girls want to give it a final coat in semi-gloss.

It doesn’t look like we’ll be able to redo the roof before winter, so I’ll probably cover it with plastic before the weather turns, though at the state it’s in, it probably won’t make much difference if we don’t.

Which means that, once the paint is dry and the mat is returned, our emergency bathroom is now done for the year! 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Our “second bathroom” – little details

While things were still pretty wet from rain this morning, I used some of the stuff I picked up yesterday and worked on the outhouse.

The chain latch was something we already had in the basement, and the handle was something I picked up yesterday. I got a second one that I put on the outside of the back door into the garage, so I don’t have to pry that open with my fingers anymore. 😀 This door is kept closed from the outside by a piece of wood that spins on a nail in the door frame. Turn the wood over the door and it holds it closed, rotate it 90 degrees and it basically just pops open. When we get around to replacing the hinges and rehanging the door so that it is straight, it should close better again, but for now, it needs a way for the door to stay closed while someone is inside!

I didn’t find the switch plate LED light I was after, so for now, I just screwed in a cup hook and hung the LED light I’d already brought over for use in here. You can see the sunlight on the wall from the door – and the reflected light from the mirror, too! The switch plate light I’m after can be mounted either with screws that fit into slots on the back, or with self adhesive velcro strips. When it’s mounted, we’ll use it to cover the hole I made with the cup hook, and the hole left behind by a nail from before. I was going to put the cup hook in the pre-existing hole, but it seems that there is a piece of metal broken off inside the hole!

There was enough light in here with the door closed that the auto-flash did not turn on when I took the photo. 🙂

The main thing I wanted to do was add the second shelf, not that I have brackets for it.

Of course, if there is a shelf, there must be something on it!

I rifled through the garage again and found these miniature picnic tables. I believe they are condiment holders. They have larger holes cut into the table tops that look big enough to hold those round mustard and ketchup squeeze bottles, and a pair of smaller holes look like they could hold salt and pepper shakers. There were a few of the same flowers I used to decorate inside the mirror cabinet, left in the garage, so I grabbed them, too.

It occurred to me while I was working that the paint I picked up to do the lettering on the sign would be perfect for the floor in here. I’m in no hurry to do the lettering, so the floor boards will probably not get painted until spring.

I had been concerned that things would start raining again, but the sun came out while I was working on this, which meant I could get the stuck tree dragged down, and finish the high raised bed!

That will be for my next post. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Our “second bathroom”; footing

Today, temperatures dropped quite a bit from yesterday’s warmer than forecast day. We reached a degree or two warmer than forecast, with rather high winds. I used it to do a bunch of jobs outside. One of them was to finish putting rigid insulation around the bottom of the house, in preparation for winter. The only area I didn’t finish was around the back tap for the hose, since we will be using it for a while longer.

We seemed to be short some insulation pieces, though. My daughters had brought them from summer storage in the old barn for me, so I went to see if maybe some pieces got missed among the junk.

There wasn’t any, but I did use the opportunity to grab some stuff I decided to use on the floor of the outhouse, with an extra piece for outside the door.

I’d noticed these scrap pieces a while ago and thought they were some type of black, high density foam. Sort of like the super durable stress reliever stuff used on shop floors. Well, that’s probably what these were originally used for, but they turned out to not be foam, but some sort of synthetic rubber.

The pieces I grabbed had already been hacked to smaller sizes, though still bigger than the outhouse floor. They also turned out to be far heavier than expected, for their size.

I trimmed one of them to fit on the outhouse floor, then washed them down with a hose…

… and discovered they were actually blue!

I didn’t scrub them any more than this, because I really don’t care about their colour. What scrubbing I did was good enough for the outhouse floor!

I didn’t bother trimming the second piece at all. This stuff is not easy to cut! It just got a bit of a cleaning to get the big stuff off. This piece is to for a non-slip surface on the metal sheet that’s covering the gravel used to patch and fill the hole was under the door.

I had trimmed the rough edge on the piece of inside, then cut slits to match the door frame, so it would fit around it.

This stuff should work well to protect the floor. If one of the boards ever does go, it’ll keep a person from having their foot go through! Plus, it’s not so thick that it would make it uncomfortable to sit while using the… facilities. 😉

Though it does look like we’ll need to paint the floor, after all. Which will get done when we’re ready to paint the outside, which is a project for next year.

The Re-Farmer

A bit more colour

We used to have big Christmas bows on our main gate. When they started wearing out last year, I wanted to replace them but it was a time when we weren’t allowed to buy “non-essential” goods during Christmas. So my daughter and I used things we had to make a wreath. Since there was only one, it would have gone in the middle of the gate somehow, but we never did figure out a way to attach it securely. It’s been sitting in the sun room, taking up shelf space, ever since.

Until this morning.

It juuuussst fit between the shelf and the ceiling beam, snug enough that it holds itself in place.

More colour in the outhouse is definitely a good thing. 🙂

I’ve also figured out where I want to put the second shelf. I just need to pick up some shelf brackets for it. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Clean up: our “second bathroom”, done for now!

Well, we’ve done as much as we can with the outhouse for now, and I think it’s turned our rather well!

The first order of business was to paint the shelf boards.

The longer one was the one that got painted on one side, and the edges, yesterday. I decided to paint the remaining section of the board, too, for a future shelf after we get more shelf brackets. After a cleaning and a sanding of the rougher edges, it gone one side and the edges painted, too.

Leaving those to dry, I put up the shelf brackets, living them up with the top of one of the boards.

That screw in the top corner was a real pain in the butt to do. There’s almost no space for the screwdriver! I also put the screws to attach the board part way, so that when I came back later, I’d only need to bring the screwdriver.

I noticed one of the girls had moved the mermaid toy into the middle shelf (I’d put it on the bottom). Remembering that there were some fake flowers in the garage, I went digging around and found some small ones to put beside her. 😀

After giving the shelf boards a couple of hours to dry, I came back later to put up the longer shelf board.

We wanted the shelf to be pretty high up, but when I tried to put it in place, I found it was narrower than where I’d checked the fit, before! Not by much, though, and I was able to jam it in and screw it in place.

That done, it was time to paint. Since there was so little paint left, the first thing that got done was the other side of the second shelf board, then the inside of the door. The back wall was done as high as the shelf, and the wide walls on either side of the seat box were done.

There was just enough paint left to do the wall joists in the middle, and the final dregs were used to paint the inside edges at the bottom boards under the joists. I’d painted the tops, but not the inside edges before. One of the boards only had half an edge along most of its length; a chunk seemed to be missing! LOL

Then I cleaned off the paint brush on the toilet lid again. 😀

After washing up the paint supplies (including the empty can; I figure we can reuse it for something), I took a couple of decorated terracotta plant pots we’d found when we first cleaned out the sun room and put them on the new shelf.

Gosh, that looks so much better!!

The girls are already talking about getting another gallon of paint to add another coat in the future. Other than adding the battery operated light inside, whatever we figure out for the floor, and eventually replacing the toilet seat, it’s basically done on the inside. Oh, and the latch for the inside.

While waiting for the painted shelves to dry, I took a closer look at the outside.

This is one of the hinges that needs to be replaced.

Why does it have four different screws???

The other one has three different screws.

I also took the metal thing that had been in front of the door, to cover the hole that was getting bigger, over the wire mesh at the back. I didn’t even bother to level it or anything. That can wait for when we actually paint the outside.

I also looked at the roof, thinking ahead to when we fix it up. There’s quite a lot of rotted edges on there. :-/ One of the things I wanted to do in repairing it was making an overhand above the doorway. We definitely want to have it overhang the roof trusses, too. After they have been reinforced because of the rotten edges!

It would be good if we can get that done before winter, but we shall see. After the roof is done, we’ll work on painting the outside. The front of the outhouse is white, but the other three sides are a pink. It may have started out as a red, but there’s so little left, it’s rather hard to tell. You can see some of it in the above photo.

The girls want to keep the pink. 😀

By the time we’re done, this thing is going to be downright adorable. Plus, it will last longer, until we build the outdoor bathroom we have planned.

The Re-Farmer

Clean up: our “second bathroom”, inside and out

I’m a sucker for punishment.

The plan was to head over to the outhouse, quickly do a second coat of paint until we ran out, then get back to working on the bread baking.

Instead, I kept adding more things to do, and by the time I got inside, I had to get my daughter to continue the bread baking, as I was no longer physically able to do it. Which is what she is working on now, as I write this blog post!

While looking for something else entirely, I found a pair of wooden shelf supports and instantly realized that they could be painted and used to put a shelf in the outhouse. So when I headed out to do the second coat of paint, I also poked around the barn and a shed to find a thin board wide enough for the supports. It was about six feet long, though, so I basically held it up to the outhouse door from the outside, and eyeballed where to cut it to fit along the back of the outhouse. It ended up being just over half the length of the board, so I figured if I was off with the longer one, I could still use the slightly shorter one.

It ended up being just a hair too wide to fit between the corner posts. A few swipes with a micro plan and some sand paper was enough to get it to fit perfectly!

That done, I sanded the rough edges, then scrubbed and hosed it down before setting it aside to dry. Then I added a second coat of paint, just to the seat box inside, before painting the shelf supports.

I’m thinking I might paint the rest of the board, too. If we get more shelf supports, we can add it onto one of the side walls.

It took a while for the washed shelf board to dry, so I decided to give the mirrored shelf a scrub down, too, then once that was dry, I hung it back up inside the outhouse.

Rolando Moon decided she absolutely had to be on top of where I was putting the tools and screws! The violent beast went from demanding I pet her, to attacking the hand that was petting here, making me bleed! I did manage to get the screws with washers out from under her, though.

I just wanted the washers, though. There were just two, for the top screw holes, which are slightly wider than the bottom ones. I used new screws to hang the mirror back up. After washing the blood off the new screws and washer, from the wound Rolando Moon gave me!

Previously, it had been hung up right against the centre joist, but I chose to centre it between the corner and the joist, instead.

Then, I just had to do it…

I just had to put the little mermaid I found while I first emptied and cleaned out the outhouse, inside the cabinet.

She lives here now.


Once we’ve picked one up, the LED battery operated light switch will be mounted directly opposite the mirror.

By the time this was done, the shelf board was dry.

After removing Rolando Moon, I got the one side painted. Tomorrow, I will paint the other side. By then, I should be able to mount the shelf supports, using the boards on the wall to make sure they are level, then attach the shelf board once the paint is dry. Only then will I continue doing the second coat of paint inside, until the can is empty. If I end up not doing the ceiling, or the narrow parts around the door, that’s not going to be a problem. As long as the areas that are most likely to get scrubbed in the future get a second coat, it’s all good.

Since I could no longer work on the inside, I decided to work on the outside, and empty the pit of groundhog gravel.

The wire mesh on the back was held in place by being hooked onto two bent nails, that were nowhere near each other. You can see one at the top right. The other is barely visible, near the bottom left. It didn’t take much to remove the mesh.

There was a second, smaller piece of mesh, partly buried until a thick layer of grass and roots.


That took some doing to move out of the way.

I thought I would be able to remove the two bottom boards by taking off the smaller pieces on the side, then pulling them off. They where, however, thoroughly nailed in place, with old and rusted nails that were not about to come out. So, I instead dug out my jig saw and used it to cut a piece off the bottom.

As you can see, it’s solid gravel against it! I ended up having to cut a second piece off. I was then able to start shoveling the gravel out, and when I could no longer get the shovel far enough in before the 2×4 across the bottom stopped me, I used a garden hoe to move more gravel closer, then shoveled some more.

I never did reach the … compost… layer. I did hit a lot of rocks, though! I emptied it as best as I could, without removing the more recent… deposits.

Then it was time to cover the hole back up.

I put the two pieces of siding back, then screwed the bottom one to the 2×4 behind it. The next time we need to get under there, we can just remove the screws and the boards will easily pop out again.

I then folded the smaller piece of wire mesh to fit the opening. I found a scrap piece of board with screw holes already in it, so I used that to fasten the mesh in place. The wire is folded at the bottom and weighted down with rocks. Critters can still get in if they really wanted to, but this is temporary. When we get to painting the outside, we’ll make things more permanent, perhaps replacing the cut boards with a hinged flap that can be latched to keep the critters out. Who knows.

I have no idea why that other large piece of wire mesh was used to cover almost the entire back of the outhouse. It really served no purpose, since only the gap at the bottom needed to be covered. Even the smaller one on the bottom couldn’t keep the critters out.

I was able to fill the wheelbarrow with clean groundhog gravel! If there was any chance the shovel full I pulled out wasn’t clean, it went onto the nearby cat litter compost pile, instead.

The clean gravel was put to good use.

It was enough to make a thin layer on top of the boards in the path between the new low raised bed boxes. The bigger rocks went up against one of the boxes, where there is a larger gap, then it all got spread out and hosed down, so that the finer particles would wash into the gaps between the boards below. It seems to be more clay than sand and gravel, though. We will still need to add more, but this is a good start.

And that was it for today!

Deciding to include a shelf added at least an extra day to finishing the inside, but I think it will be worth it. I’m more happy about getting the pit clean up over and done with for now!

The Re-Farmer

Clean up: our “second bathroom”, first coat inside, done!

After a quick run out to hit the farmer’s market, and then town, I decided to finish painting the inside of the outhouse while there was still enough light.

I’m glad I did. 🙂

Here are the “before” pictures.

I had a few drips, while working on the top and ceiling. 😀

It was a bit tight to get photos of the inside, front!

There are a LOT of nooks and crannies around that door frame.

I actually started with the door. I figured I should get that done first, just in case it needed to get closed at the end of the day, so it would have more time to dry.

Then I worked on the most difficult areas around the door. For such a small amount of square footage, it took quite a while to get that done! Painting the inside of the door frame turned out to take quite a while, too, as there are a lot of gaps that I needed to squeeze the brush into.

Once the front was done, I methodically worked my way to the back. Of course, I found more staples and tacks that I missed! 😀

Since I wasn’t planning on taking off the toilet seat, once the sides were done, I painted the seat box under the toilet seat first. The lid leans against the back wall when it’s open, so I wanted to give the paint at least a little while to dry before having to close the lid again. On the plus side, there are only 2 points of contact under the seat, so even if still wet, closing the lid wouldn’t mess the paint up too badly.

Here are the “after” shots.

This time, I remembered my phone has a “panorama” setting. LOL

Yeah, I painted the toilet lid. Sort of. It had so many drips on it, I just went ahead and used the lid to get excess paint off the brush. 😀

And here it is, with the painted door.

While doing a second coat will take a lot less paint, I suspect we will need to buy another can. Those nooks and crannies took a lot more paint to cover than expected. Especially when I came across wood that had pieces fall out, or had a very rough finish. One of the beams supporting the corner still had bark on it, and winding gouges on the surface from insects. All of this ended up needing extra paint to get into the various holes and surfaces

What a difference!

One of the things we’ll have to do is put some sort of non-slip… something… on the metal sheet in front of the outhouse. It can get slippery when it’s wet.

After a second coat of paint, we’ll put the mirror cabinet back in – my daughter suggested just putting the old one back, rather than digging out the one in the basement, because then we’d just have to find somewhere to store the old one, anyhow! 😀 Also, she noticed we had a chain latch, still in its package, that we can use on the inside, so we don’t have to buy a new latch. It will be mounted on the top cross piece of the door, so I won’t be trying to mount a latch where old screw holes have already damaged the wood. I’ve decided that, for a light, I will pick up another one of those LED, battery operated light switches. We have two of them in the house that come in very handy; one is set up in the bathroom to use at night instead of turning on the very bright main lights, and another is set up in a very dark corner where one of the upstairs litter boxes is kept. When we get one for the outhouse, I want to mount it across from the mirror, to take full advantage of reflected light. We’ll need some sort of dust, critter and insect proof container to keep toilet paper in, and maybe some wet wipes or something. The girls plan to put art on the walls. 😀

The next time something happens and we can’t use our indoor bathroom again, we will at least have someplace pleasant to go! 😀 The only other thing is, we now have to empty the pit of all that gravel the groundhog dug up. It will be important to get that done before winter, because if we get any normal amount of snow, when it melts in the spring, we’ll have a big puddle in front of the outhouse, and the back of the garage, and water will drain into the pit again. The gravel is high enough in there, that there is no longer room for it, which would force the water above the floor boards. Mind you, it would probably end up draining into the groundhog’s den, but there is nothing we can do about that.

The main thing was getting at least this first coat of paint done, then digging out the pit. If we don’t have a chance to fix the roof before winter, I want to at least put a tarp or something over it. The rest can be done slowly, as we find the time.

The Re-Farmer

Clean up: our “second bathroom”, painting started

Okay, time for a break!

Hopefully, I’ll be able to continue later today, but if not, there is at least some progress in painting the inside of the outhouse.

This is the colour my daughter chose. Personally, I would have gone for a pale blue instead of a pale mint, but honestly, I don’t really care that much. We just needed a light colour to brighten things up on the inside, that wasn’t institutional white. 😀

I almost forgot to take the before photos!

The angle is bad because I was already standing on the seat box when I took these, and I wasn’t about to clamber down, just to take pictures. 😉

My main goal for today was to do everything that needed me to be standing on the seat box to reach. The only exception was one side of a roof joist, right in the middle. For that, I made use of the thick boards we’d found stored in here when we cleaned it out. The three of them together gave me 6 inches in height, and that was enough.

This is probably the most difficult part to do, with all the corners and tight areas. After this, things should go a lot faster.

The opening at the top is covered with wire mesh window screen, stapled in place. It did not occur to me that the mesh was not flush with the surface when I started trying to paint over it. I didn’t want to take it off, though. I think we will pick up some more wire mesh window screen in the future for other projects, and when we do, I’ll look at replacing this screen. Then the frame can be painted properly. No hurry, though. Depending on how long before we can do that, we could paint the frame in the same colour as the outside. We haven’t decided what that colour will be.

For now, though, I’m off to the Farmer’s Market. I’ve discovered that organic humans are being allowed in, and I want to pick up some pork from our neighbour. 🙂 We’ve emailed briefly and I might be able to check their homestead out over the weekend, too. 🙂 I’m looking forward to it!

The Re-Farmer

Clean up: our “second bathroom”, prepping to paint inside

While it was incredibly handy that the old outhouse had been made safe and cleaned up inside, when we found ourselves unable to use our indoor bathroom, the reality is, it was still pretty… unpleasant… using it.

So now that we have the scrubbable, high traffic paint, I decided it was time to work on the inside of the outhouse. Because the way things seem to go in this house, we never know when we’re going to have to use it again!

Which means that today, I worked on preparing the inside for paint, starting with removing the remaining stuff stuck to the walls, after taking down all the colourful paper my mother had put up.

Thumb tacks, nails, staples, bits of paper, and bits of packing tape. Some of those tacks, I’m sure a hammer was used to put them in! I found myself using a staple remover, a screwdriver small enough to lever under the thumb tacks, and even a wrench, to yank out the most stubborn bits. They were all over the walls, on the top and front of the seat box, and the inside of the door.

Of course, I found more that I’d missed, after I took the photo, too!

My mother was very through in covering those walls! 😀

I also removed the mirrored medicine cabinet, then used a broom and brushes of different sizes to get as much dust and dirt off the walls, ceiling and floor, and out of the corners, as I could. The inside latch on the door was also removed. It was held in place with two very rusty screws, and a bent roofing nail!

The final step was to power wash the inside with the house. Remembering how difficult it was to go the front of the inside, before, that was where I started this time. By standing on the seat box, I was able to get at the cracks and crevices fairly well, without being splashed with water too badly! 😀 Even doing the underside of the roof worked out all right. Once the front was done, I could get down and do the rest from the doorway.

Now it needs to dry overnight. It will be ready for painting, tomorrow!

I am happy to note that the floor is a lot sturdier than I thought it was. I had still been wanting to reinforce it by adding more boards on top. However, the seat box is pretty low. If we add any more height on the floor, it will make using the seat pretty hard on the knees. So I will have to rethink what to use to reinforce the floor. A sheet of metal could be thin enough, and strong enough, to do it. We have more like what is now in front of the outhouse, but they are huge pieces and I don’t have the tools to cut them with. Not that I would want to. I have no doubt that, some time in the future, I’m going to be thankful to have such large sheets of metal for some project! 😀 There is no hurry, though. After it is painted, we can poke around the barn and the sheds and see what we can find.

After it is painted, I am thinking it would be good to replace the inside latch with a new one, as well as adding a handle or latch to the outside. Right now, it is kept closed with a piece of wood nailed loosely to the frame.

I should probably pick up new hinges. The door is starting to sag and I want to straighten it out, too. And if I’m going to do that, I may as well get matching handles and latches for the outside, too. There is not as much of a hurry on that, though, as the outside needs to be scraped and painted, and that likely won’t happen until next year. Fixing the roof is more of a priority, and I still hope to get that done this year. For now, I’ll just replace the inside latch with a new one.

Hmm. Now that I’m thinking about it, there is another medicine cabinet with a mirrored door in the basement. I think it’s in better shape than the one I took off. If it is, I’ll use that one, instead.

It may be just an old outhouse, but if we’re going to have to use it, we’re going to make that thing as pretty and pleasant as possible! The girls already have ideas for decorating it inside. 😀

The Re-Farmer