Ashley Neff

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since Jul 27, 2017
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Recent posts by Ashley Neff

I had posted the query in the "Appalachia" forum, but figured I'd post here as well...
We are in the design phase of building on rural mountain land in Jackson County, KY. No building codes other than basic state code, but we do have to make the plumbing inspector happy.
He's acclimating to the research on composting toilets (the "Humanure Handbook" was given to him) but he's more concerned about the grey water system we'd be using, since the whole county is a huge watershed area.
Has anyone else here been able to get a grey water filtering system (we would be using pea gravel, sand, and charcoal filtering prior to land/garden return) approved anywhere in our state for new construction?
Even the smallest septic system here runs roughly $5,000-$10,000. The plan is to negate all "grid" ties to county water (we have three all-weather springs on tap), and electricity (south-facing and plenty of solar and wind available).
A friend told me we could apply for a permit to live on-site for up to 6 months while we build, and as long as we don't hire out any of the work and do it all ourselves, we could technically bypass all the plumbing/electrical government stuff - but I'm not willing to risk it.
So, anyone here with a nice grey water setup in KY that bypassed a septic or sewer connection?
3 years ago
A quick search of the interwebs yielded quite a few strawbale homes in Alabama in various areas...there's a community down there called Common Ground, you might try to look them up for a visit.
We were worried about the humidity and crazy weather changes we have here in KY in regards to strawbale construction...visited a few homes and every one of the owner-builders said that mixing lime into the straw/sand/clay/water plaster mixture is a necessity for the exterior, plus having excellent drainage and a good stem wall design. One said he touches up his exterior every 3-5 years to keep it solid, another said they retouched the lime plaster mix after a particularly wet winter. Their homes were gorgeous and well-built.
3 years ago
Remember chamber pots?
I'm born of, and living in, Appalachia. Some folks were so poor "they didn't have a pot to pee in." It's a good thing that today, we have cheap buckets to collect urine in for use in the garden or compost heap!
I'll pee outside if I'm hiking (usually out gathering medicinals or edibles) with a squat, shake, and dry for a few seconds. I've had four children. I learned how to navigate the sideways spray with the way I squat and position my legs. I used to carry a small oil funnel (never used for a car obviously) in my bag for minimizing splash or spray until I figured out how to position my squat.
I'll pee indoors if I'm indoors obviously, but I prefer to collect the urine in a bucket and spread it around the garden edge or put it directly on the compost. Can't do that in a public potty, but at home it's feasible.
3 years ago

mary yett wrote:An interesting side note:

My Anishinabek (AKA Ojibwe, Chippewa or Nish) teachers talk a lot about a woman's moon time. This is when a woman's spiritual powers are at their peak. Much of Nish spirituality is centered around the miracle of a woman giving birth and how this connects us to the great cosmic oneness. The most powerful and honoured ceremony in Nish culture is childbirth, followed by menstruation.

Traditionally, women spent their moon time in a moon lodge, away from the regular home and family.They were considered to be "in ceremony" for the entire time of menstruation. Here they spent their time in prayer, singing/drumming and of course talking with the other women there. Food was brought to them and served on special plates that were not used for other purposes.

In fact, a woman on her moon was ( and in traditional settings still is)  not allowed to cook for others or even touch their food, as it is potentially dangerous (especially for men) to eat food imbued with such power. In a similar vein, women on their moon do not go into a mixed male and female sweat lodge because their power is so great it could burn and harm the men.

The sweat lodge hut is itself a symbolic uterus which is crawled into through a vagina/doorway. When one exits after the ceremony, one is reborn.

Traditional women wear skirts as opposed to pants for several reasons. One important reason is so that their vaginas are enclosed in a circle of protection ( a cone of power). Ladies in Nish culture must be very careful where they point the stream of energy constantly coming from their vaginas.

This can be used for the community's benefit, as when the "grandmothers " (post menopausal women) ceremonially sit in a circle and "charge up" sacred items or people preparing for an important event, etc. It can also harm men, especially young men, if it is accidentally aimed at them, so great care must be taken to prevent this.

I hope this is not too purple a topic for this thread. I offer this information as a reminder of alternative attitudes toward menstruation. I am in favour of bringing back the moon lodge - it sounds like a wonderful retreat time. Short of that, at least making the pooper a bit more bleeding woman friendly with clearly written signage about what should be placed in which hole and a jug of water for rinsing would be great.

THIS. A thousand times.
Anyone following "the old ways" (Druid, Native, etc) should get this.
I'm the only female in my household of six. Even though the menfolk don't understand my strange ways, I try to plan meals they can prepare quickly, so that I can be left be to spend those days in prayer and (mostly) solitude. I have collected 100% cotton cloth to cut into strips for collecting my flow, and buried it around the garden edge. The garden LOVED the extra nutrients, it took care of my desire to return my flow back to the earth in a good way, and solved the "where to put it" debacle.
A dear friend living as tradish as possible has told me Cherokee tradish women would fashion buckskin "pads," use a specific bucket of water like a wet pail, rinsing them nightly and taking that water to the earth before washing them carefully. That's what I'm aiming to do as well. Buckskin is super soft, very absorbent (remember the Shammy?), and breathable. As for leak-guarding, I'll have to figure that one out for today's society standards.
3 years ago
I've been an avid soap maker for many years. I make a pure coconut oil bar soap that lathers beautifully, cleans amazingly well, and doesn't dry me out. The ingredients are coconut oil, lye, distilled water. I sometimes add a little low-note essential oils for fragrance so the scent doesn't flash off so fast.
3 years ago
...for composting toilet, grey water recycling...prior to a build?
Here's our sitch. We lived off-grid over winter at a friend's home, successfully. Compost toilet, DIY grey water filtering with charcoal/sand/pea gravel to allow drainage to the land again, solar power, wood stove heat. We bought land in a rural mountainous county in KY that has no building inspector - all plans are approved by exec judge, but the plumbing inspector is with the health department. His primary concern is with the septic issue. The land has not been perc'd and according to local geologists, it probably won't perc. We are looking for other permies in our state that have had success in getting a grey water filtering and compost toilet system approved by codes officials. Our "trial run" of six months was amazing, and we want to make sure we do this right in a permanent homestead. Thanks in advance.
3 years ago
OP, do you have an update on the situation by chance? We're in KY as well (not central, more eastern) and getting ducks in a row to build. I'd be interested to hear if you were able to get the state to sign off on your system.
3 years ago