The International Compost Sanitation Forum and Message Board: Humanure Composting Around the World: SPAIN
Author: Test2 (Test2)
Thursday, September 08, 2011 - 1:03 am
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@Joe(Joe) - Thank you very much for sharing this heritage. Very interesting.

Personaly I would prefer to keep some distance between animals and human habitation - to supress parasites/bugs.. from entering my home. I am also a bit concerned about parasite jump - that is a disease/parasite/bug making a tran-species cross.

Author: Joe (Joe)
Wednesday, September 07, 2011 - 6:41 pm
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This is in GALICIA:

I'm writing to you from Galicia, NW Spain ->

I'm reading your Humanure Handbook, which I think it's a great book and very useful for the future of our species now that fossil fuels and fertilizers are going to deplete. Hope I can learn from it how to correctly compost humanure and have a sustainable way of living and feeding in the country.

I want to remark something about what you say in the first chapters. You repeat at some points, when comparing with traditional and modern uses of humanure for agricultural purposes in Asia, that peoples of Europe don't traditionally use their humanure in similar terms.

I don't know about other European cultures, but our Galician culture has had a traditional use of humanure for centuries, that I'd like to describe to you. In fact, my own mother (born in 1945) disposed of her excrements in this way when she was young (until 1963 when she leaved the country as many others... we're a diasporic people much like Irish or Hebrew). She had told me about it many times. And she was not the only one, or her family, for traditional rural Galicia had this costume all over time and geography back to what is known. Culturally we are a Celtic people, latinized by the Romans and have received after it a cultural influence of Germanic tribes - the Suevi.

People in rural Galicia lived until very recent times together with their cattle. Where houses were of just one floor, the cows' space was annexed to the house, only separated by a door, like any other room. I remember, when a kid, to have visited some houses of this kind. When you entered the house, the kitchen was at one hand, and the cows room at the other, you an even see them from the main door of the house. That was in the late 1970s or so.

People who lived in these modest houses, used the cows' stable as the place where they went to shit. There, their excrements together with the cows' were mixed together along the year with a very important plant for the Galician agriculture for centuries. We call it "toxo": Ulex europaeus ->

Every year Galician farmers gather this plant from the hills and mountains and put it to dry and stomped (it has strong thorns-like leaves) and then served as bed for the cows sometimes mixed with stray. This plant is a leguminous so I think it helped a lot in enriching soil's fertility. Mixed up with bovine and human excrements it did a great compost we call "estrume". Manure from other animals as horses, sheep, chicken or pigs has been also used, and it's even been used nowadays, with or without composting. Saddly people stopped recycling nutrients from their own bodies with the so-called "modernization" of our rural country, and now if your country house has no connection to local sewage, you are obliged to buy and set-up a septic tank.

But before ending my message let me please explain how was the system for houses with 2 floors. In the terrain floor people had their kitchen and the cattle's stable. Just above the cattle where people's room. This allows the heat from the cows to go up and heat peoples when the were sleeping - very wise, isn't it? Pure permaculture! :-D Those rooms had a hole in the wooden floor, so people just had to get off their beds, squat and let their shit go down to the stable. Some times it landed on the cows' back and I was quite amusing to discover it in the morning after, as they told! :-D

So, at least Galicians used to recly their humanure, I think in not a too bad way. If interested, I could find some more technical anthropological explanation, and maybe you can include it in some future new edition of your interesting handbook.

Well, best regards from Galicia, from a son of farmers in his way back to the land.

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