Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Outdoor shower adventures

I know, I know. I’m a bad blogger. It’s mostly my fault as I have just been too lazy to write anything the past while. It’s not that we’ve had that much going on lately, I’ve just been enjoying sitting around the fire and waiting for spring. (That’s an exaggeration, I better explain a bit more as Milly says I tend to inflate the truth a tad. I’ve traveled to New Orleans and Vancouver this past month so have been away for a while. My laptop exploded so haven’t had an easy way to write our happenings, and I’ve been lazy.)

Our grey water system has worked perfectly over the past winter. At any given time in freezing or slightly warmer times the temperature of our mulch basin has been around 52 degrees F. Our dog has actually made the basin a favorite sleeping spot as it’s nice and comfortable with wood chips, straw, and leaves.

One thing I purposefully omitted about our situation is our lack of bathing facilities. We’d probably lose the one or two friends/family members who will still hang out with us if they knew we didn’t have a shower in our new home.

Why don’t we have a shower? The bathroom isn’t finished yet. Simple as that. We want to get a nice claw foot tub and do the clay plaster in the room and we just aren’t ready for that yet. It won’t be forever. We will start smelling better eventually. (For some reason Milly succumbed to my never ending pleas to move in so we didn’t have to maintain two households. There is probably only one person in this world that would put up with my crazy way of doing things.)

Since moving into our unfinished house Milly and the kids have trekked up to Grey Beards and Dancing Queens place to shower. I say Milly and the kids not because I haven’t showered in four months (I have occasionally made the trip with them) but because I’ve been showering outside under the stars with the garden hose. I’m sure everyone has stories of when they were a kid and their parents sprayed them off with the garden hose before they were allowed inside, right? Well, that’s what Milly does to me before she lets me in the house.

OK, let me tell the truth. Before you wonder at my amazing will power and extreme manliness I should mention our outdoors tap is connected to hot water. And, I’ve come to absolutely love showering outdoors. I can’t tell you how pleasant it is to stand in the middle of the outdoors, looking up at the stars, with nothing on but flip flops (sorry about that mental image), and being hosed off with one of those garden hose attachments you use for watering flowers. It’s like standing under a hydrant of hot water falling from the sky. I hope to never shower indoors again it’s that nice.

Well, Milly isn’t quite of the same opinion. She seems to think the neighbors a mile down the road might be watching. She also doesn’t like the slight breeze we get here on the prairies (Ouch, she just hit me. The real truth is that slight breeze can be a 75 km/hr hurricane.)

So to appease the princess that is my wife, I decided to build her an outdoor shower while she was away for a few days with the kids basking in the sun to the south. (Once again the truth. Northern Montana is to the south of us but I wouldn’t necessarily consider it the far south. The grass is greener there. Literally. But still not San Diego weather.)

I had this structure ready for her when she came home. Used older pine boards and some log poles I had lying around. Put a roof on it and connected Pex piping so we didn’t have to deal with lead laden garden hoses pumping hot water over us.

ballet 036

Wouldn’t you know it. The Christening of the outdoor shower just so happen to coincide with a major snow storm. No worries. The shower was wonderful. We did have to drain the Pex pipe (easy to do as its connected to a high point on the structure) and unhook it from the outdoor tap after we were done. (Oh my, please don’t look too closely at the mess in our backyard. It will be cleaned up eventually this spring. Like in four months.)

After Milly came home we decided to build a real door instead of propping up plywood against the opening. We used tongue and groove cedar and made a really nice looking door. Now when we shower we can still see the river bottom but it smells like steam and cedar. Just like at one of those fancy spas at Beverly Hills. (I can’t believe how much of a hick I am now. It’s embarrassing. I’m sure Milly will make me take down this post soon so copy it to your laptop before any record of this is gone.)

I’ll take a picture of that fancy cedar door (and post it on The Simple Farm Facebook page) so you believe me it doesn’t look all that bad. My girls are now asking if they can shower in the outhouse instead of going to grandma’s three times a day. We make Ringo shower every week whether he needs it or not.

I sure hope we get our in-house bathroom done eventually. I’m tired of sharing my shower. I doubt I’ll ever shower indoors again.


  1. What good news about your grey water system. Hopefully it will encourage others in the northern climes to do the same.

    I love an outdoor shower. My introduction was at my in-laws in New Jersey. My FIL build an enclosure, sort of like a beach house shower, and it was great. My brother-in-law did the same. They both had septic systems they didn't want filling up to fast with shower water. What they didn't do, was use the water for irrigation, which is a more popular idea now. I do have to say that the image of showering in the snow a bit daunting, however. Even with that hot water!

  2. I'm surprised there isn't more information about using grey water in cold climates. It wasn't that bad to setup. We monitored it closely as we were afraid it would freeze but after a while we forgot about it as whenever we checked the temperature was the same 52 degrees F.

    We plan on using the outdoor shower to water lawn and the hillside. Grey water doesn't actually water lawns that well as you pipe everything into mulch basins. the shower is going to be trenched into swales so it distributes over the ground.

  3. Sure is a far cry from the outdoor showers I am familiar with by the beach. Here in Southern California, we don't even bother with hot water for outdoor showers. Anything feels good after coming out of the ocean in the winter with the water temperature at 58F. If it was me, I think I would be pretty stinky until a warm day in the spring.