A New Era at Bealtaine Cottage

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Smoke rises into a clear blue January sky.

The birds are singing like it’s Spring and black ice covers the road by the gate. www.bealtainecottage.com 012My friend Michael is here this morning to finally remove the toilet and install my compost loo.

The septic tank is, from today, a grey water tank!

www.bealtainecottage.com 008I have been using the compost system for the past year, keeping the flush toilet for visitors, but this is the time to finally say goodbye to a system that no longer makes any sense!

www.bealtainecottage.com 019Those who visit, or stay at Bealtaine Cottage, will experience a neat loo, that is both efficient and hygienic, adding to the environment rather than being a source of pollution.

I shall write a blog and post pics of the new loo in a few days time…

www.bealtainecottage.com 006Meanwhile, there are signs of life all the way through the permaculture gardens, with Daffodils pushing up through the more sheltered earth under the Beech trees.

www.bealtainecottage.com 027The sun is not yet high enough on the horizon to reach the paths in the Bog Garden, many of which will remain frozen for weeks to come.

www.bealtainecottage.com 026In the sheltered parts of the woodland, Ferns remain green and quite lush.

Many keep their life until new fronds unfurl in late Spring.

www.bealtainecottage.com 005The Willow continues to be cut, tied and stacked in the barn.

www.bealtainecottage.com 029Many of the Fedges will need to be pruned before Spring and vigorous new growth that follows.

This Fedge borders the stream that runs from the Spring Well.

www.bealtainecottage.com 038Many of the Bird Boxes around the gardens will need to be water-proofed with whatever I have to hand…usually a coat or two of gloss paint.

This does not seep into the wood and so does not harm nestlings in the box.

                                  Many thanks for the continuing support for the work of this Bealtaine Cottage  website.



  1. Colette

    We shall be removing our old-fashioned (i.e., flush) toilet this year. It’s a small room and we could use the space. The flush has literally has not been used for years. I have to keep topping up the bowl with water because it evaporates.

    An interesting thought is with regard to one of the many new taxes the Irish government has brought in recently, specifically the septic tank tax. What, do you suppose, will be the government inspector’s take on our superior system?


    • Getting rid of the flushing toilet turns the septic tank into a grey water tank. The inspectors are mandated to inspect septic tanks only. My response to any official of this despotic government to inspect the septic tank will be short and sweet…”Step in and find the toilet first!”
      Our system is indeed superior. We live the motto: “Don’t throw it away, there is no away!”

      • Good points. You’ll have to keep us posted if you do get a visit, as I will you. Indeed, contacts with forms/officialdom are often interesting as they usually have no option for ‘nutters’ like us. So what happens? This new broadcast tax is coming in soon, so even people like us who have never had a tv will be subsidising Pat Kenny’s outrageous wages.

        Rant over. We only have the kitchen sink connected to the greywater tank (!) apart from the ex-loo. The shower and bathroom sink go to a very good soakaway pit. We will be renovating our kitchen soon so even that sink will be redirected to the soakaway. The tank will be truly unused then…I wish it had never been put in.

        Colette, keep up the good work.

        • As I have no excess money at all, whatsoever…I simply cannot pay any of these newly invented taxes. The government authorities will take me to court and do their damnest, but I still have not got the money to pay them! I cannot be concerned about what I do not possess!

  2. Beautiful Pictures! I also live in a cottage (Shire Cottage) but mine is in Virginia, USA. Still being English I am trying to imprint a little bit of home here. Your pictures and comments are helping to give me ideas! Lyn

  3. Looking forward to seeing the pictures of the new loo. Your gardens look wonderful even in the winter We are going to have temps in the 50’s this weekend while last weekend was below zero!!! Hope you weather has improved.

  4. Good for you Colette! That gives me another project to add to the list. I have read somewhere that we reached a point where we had to choose between soil or water regarding human effluent. We chose the wrong path.

  5. I sell/make composting loos in the UK so I’m already a convert and looking forward to reading about yours. My compost loo is in my shed and since Nov 2012 I’ve been using it for 90% of my ‘business’. I estimate that I save 8,000 litres of drinking quality water per annum. People need to get over anxieties about human ‘waste’ because it’s not a waste – it’s a resource! Well done!

    • You’re right, Martin, it is a resource and has been essential in helping to get trees established here at Bealtaine. I aim to do a complete and informative blog about this great and simple system next week or sooner!
      Blessings X

  6. Dear Colette, Do you know Sue Mills? Also in West Ireland, living in a small school house. Kindred soul. Here is a vimeo of her. Surely you’ve met …or will. Mari



  7. Hi there

    We’ve been using an indoor compost loo for several years now; like you, our septic tank is a ‘grey water’ tank. I’d actually love to remove the septic tank and just use a soakaway for the grey water. One day maybe.

    I actually dislike using flush loos now as I’m so aware of how wasteful they are. A compost loo saves water, electricity and money. I strongly advise anyone contemplating installing one to buy the book ‘The Humanure Handbook’. It is an engrossing read, packed with information and tips.

    In the meantime, if you have any questions you’d like to ask us ‘experienced’ users of an indoor compost loo, go ahead. My email is davidjtaylor followed by at eircom dot net.


    • Thanks so much David for the book link and the advice offer! As I type, Michael is completing the woodwork surround. The humanure is already being used with tree planting and 4 bins are currently in use. It really is such a wonderfully simple system and completes the circle here at Bealtaine!
      Colette X

      • Hi Colette

        We must visit you in the flesh sometime. We were visiting a friends in Fuerty and in Lanesboro recently, so I know you’re probably not that far from us (we’re in east Clare). Maybe as the weather improves. Heck, maybe sooner, we’ll all be busy when it improves!

        Keep up the good work.

Your comments are welcome!