Monday, April 08, 2013

#150. or, My Smoker isn't an Outhouse

  Last Thursday, I smoked hams and bacons. It had to be on Thursday because on Friday, the weather was going all to hell again, and my smoker, while functional and more than adequate, is a pain in the ass to hold at a constant temperature when the wind is howling and heavy wet snow is falling.

  So, last Thursday, I smoked hams and bacons.  And as I was standing there, on one of my many trips to check on the fire and whether I needed to add more wood chips or not, it occurred to me that my smoker, more than slightly, resembles an outhouse.

  Mostly in dimension. I built it to about 4 foot square, and aside from being not quite as tall as your standard, one hole outhouse, length and width are pretty much bang on. There's no half moon cut into the door, or bench seat inside, but it wouldn't take too much of a stretch in one's imagination, to see your father headed across the lawn,  on a path worn down to the dirt, paper tucked under his arm on his way to take care of a little business.

  When I was little, we had an outhouse.

  No wait, I need to clarify that.

  When I was little, we USED an outhouse. I was one of the last kids in grade 2 to get running water in our house, which also brought along with it, a flush toilet. And even after that, I can still remember my dad making his trips outside to that little wooden shed, with the hole worn smooth from countless asses,  in favour of the porcelain wizardry he had installed inside the house for us.

  Most of our neighbors had outhouses as well. I can remember that somebody had one that had side by side seats in the front row, and a second row with side by side seating, a step up and  directly behind the the first. I suspect, they were a very close family. I mean, why else would you subject yourself to communal dumps?

  The thing about outhouses is that in the winter, you have to be pretty hard core or have incredible pubococcygeal muscle tone. Because pinching a quick loaf in the middle of the night meant 4 layers of clothing, winter boots, and a flashlight, to make the trip. A lot of people got around this by having slop pail.

  Basically, a slop pail was a 5 gallon bucket you could shit in, when you didn't really want to go outside to relieve yourself. Sometimes these 5 gallon pails were disguised as modern plumbing by being able to slip your bucket into an outer bucket, that had a toilet seat fastened to it. I can remember friends of my parents had this slop pail disguise affair and having to use it on occasion while visiting them. It freaked me out, having to use the thing, as it was usually kept it hidden way down in their basement tucked in behind the furnace. Which is creepy as hell for a kid when you're 6 or 7 years old. But......at least it was warm.

  The bad thing about using a slop pail is that they filled rather quickly and would have to be emptied on a regular basis. Fortunately, I was too little to do this job in our house before we got indoor plumbing. But not so little, that sometimes even now, when I pack a full pail of water to a cow in a pen or something, and it splashes out against my leg when I step wrongly, I'm glad it isn't a bucket of fermenting shit stew.

  Eventually, my dad stopped using our outhouse. I think it's pretty hard to ignore modern conveniences. Especially when you can eliminate cold late night trips and slop pail duty in one fell swoop. Sometimes when we're camping I'll still use the outhouse in the campground out of nostalgia, even though we have a crapper in our trailer. Or maybe, if we still had that outhouse on the farm, I might visit it now and then, but it's long since gone.  In fact, it didn't even finish out it's life as an outhouse. After sitting vacant for a number of years, it got a new lease on life,

      ...............when my dad made a few renovations and it became his outhouse that only slightly resembled a  smoker.


because, mmmmm...........bacon!




Dude Write

26 comments:

  1. Man, what a smelly trip down memory lane! Also...hmmmmm, bacon!

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    1. Bacon makes everything better.

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  2. I would never pee or anything else. Don't even like porta potties.....

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    1. Hi Jules,

      Ya, my wife neither. Our trailer has a built in storage tank, so as we leave wherever we've been, I get to stop and do the poop detail.

      Delete
  3. I've heard that original outhouses are collectibles these days, with people paying up to three thousand dollars for them.

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    1. Hi Stephen.

      Three thousand dollars!That's a lot of money for an old commode! Are they worth more if they're still over their original pit?

      Delete
  4. You surprise me every day, Ken! And dude, you have a smoker? You're my new hero.

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    1. Hi Bee!

      I surprise you? Howz that?

      You can call me Smoker-Man! Wonder if the suit comes with a cape? :)

      Delete
  5. I wish I had a smoker. Although I would probably have to start raising my own hogs to justify it. And then I would probably end up kinda fat because sweet Jesus REAL bacon is like when angels and beams of holy light appear on your taste buds.

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    1. Hey Holly!

      Angels and beams of holy light appearing on your taste buds...... EXACTLY what I was thinking!

      I don't raise the pigs. We buy them from a neighbor. Cows is enough for me! :)

      Delete
  6. When I was a kid we used to visit my dad's parents every year. They lived on a farm with no indoor toilet - except for that commode contraption you mentioned.

    With two teenagers and one bathroom I've often wished I had one, usually when I'm sitting with my butt clenched waiting for my turn in the bathroom.

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    1. Hi Vanessa,

      You don't know how happy I am that somebody knew what the heck I was talking about with the bucket cover thing. I was worried that everyone would think I had lost my mind.

      ........so, it's only you and me so far?

      We have 3 bathrooms. I specifically finished the one in the basement so the boys that have rooms down there could use that one. Do they? NO! Too many times I have to trek to the basement because they've come all the way upstairs to occupy ours.

      Delete
  7. Okay, here we go...First, I've never actually seen bacon like that before...only ever got it in packages at the store :) What do you do with all that smoked ham and bacon? Does smoking it mean you can store it without freezing it? I have no clue about this stuff!

    Growing up in the suburbs, I never had to use an outhouse. BUT, when I was in Honduras, whenever we went up in the mountains, I had to use one. The worst time there was also at night, but not because of the cold. No, it was because there were cockroaches in the outhouse. Ugh, it was awful, but I always have to pee at night, so I had to brave it!

    Then, the slop bucket thing reminded me of this episode on Hoarders. This woman's toilet didn't work, so she went in a bucket. And because the bucket was too heavy to carry, she would take a cup and haphazardly scoop out the pee and poop stew into a bowl and then carry the bowl, with the stuff sloshing around, outside and dump it right by her door. It was one of the most disgusting things I've ever seen!

    Okay, I'm done :)

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    Replies
    1. Hi Kianwi!

      OK....first, as far as I know, all bacon starts this way. After the pig I mean. Then it's cut and slices into packaging. We will cut ours into meal sized portions and freeze it like that. Then, when we use some, we'll slice it just before we fry it up.

      I think, smoking was a way to preserve things when there was no refrigeration. Now, it's mostly to add flavor. Part of the process of getting it ready to smoke also includes curing it in a brine for a few days. When I'm done smoking it, you could pretty much eat it just like that.

      We use it all. Hams we roast for holidays and special occasions. I prefer it to turkey most of the time.

      When we were in Mexico, it was funny. One of the outhouses we used was perched high on a stack of stones. I asked one of the guides about it and because the ground was all rock and impossible to dig, they had to build the pit above the ground. I guess you do whatever you have to?

      I never seen that episode that you're talking about. Actually, I'm pretty happy about that. :)

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  8. Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Ken! When I was a kid, we had no running water or indoor plumbing either until I was eight. So I'm VERY familiar with outhouses, "thunder mugs" and slop pails in the cellar. And did your Dad throw lime down the outhouse hole too? Kept down the smell in the summer. All our neighbours used the Eatons catalogue as ass-wipe, but we always had toilet paper in our outhouse cuz that's where my Mom drew the line!

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    1. Hey Debra,

      I was pretty young, but I do remember the lime as well. I went to a farm auction once and bought a box of junk and it had a bunch of containers of lime in it. I'm pretty sure that's what it was for. Also, the smell of Detol, still reminds me of that slop pail, every time I get a whiff of it.

      We always had toilet paper as well. Yet there was always the stories about the catalogs. Apparently, it was a bit more pleasant before glossy pages came into print. My mom still tells the story of saving the Christmas orange wrappers because they were even better than the catalogs. :)

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  9. Just thinking about your slop pail makes me want to HURL! But that bacon looks darn good, friend.

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    1. It was the worst of times, it was the best of times.

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  10. Hey friend!
    Whoa - bacon and poo...you never cease to amaze me in your storytelling and how you can make two unrelated things so cohesively connect. How do you do it?

    Outhouses...I think I could probably handle it knowing it was my own outhouse not shared with others. Portapotties on the other hand - ehm...no.

    I was about to get all personal and all and go into detail about my creative solutions for answering nature's call (when dialing #1 only) on my solo road trip but no - I shall keep all mental visuals from your mind. It's just better that way. :)

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    1. Hello, my friend!

      I'm not sure how cohesive it was? I had some serious doubts about trying to do a post with those 2 topics in it together. The idea, when it came to me, was to lean harder on the smoking meat portion of the post, but as it spilled out of my head, outhouses seemed to be a little more interesting. Or maybe easier to make entertaining?

      Either way, I'm glad that you enjoyed it.

      I suppose it's easier to keep tabs on your own outhouse. I've walked into a few, turned around and left just as quickly.

      I suspect that you could write quite the informative post on that last paragraph. Writing this post stirred up some thoughts for me about doing a urinal post, but it may be too soon for that considering the subject matter of this post?

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  11. I remember the outside toilet at my grandma's house but I've no recollection of using it - perhaps I've wiped it from my memory bank as it is too traumatic.

    Also, the image of two rows in the outhouse - communal pooping - is one I'm struggling to erase!

    Great post Ken.

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    1. Thanks Bryan. And for the follow as well.

      I don't think all outhouse stories have to be traumatic.

      My dad used to tell a story of some remote campground he went to in the mountains. There wasn't really anyone else there and the outhouse overlooked the lake. He'd go for his constitutional and leave the door open and watch the lake as eagles dived for their morning fish.

      .......but, I guess it's still a pooping story, so.....ya, take it as you will?

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  14. I was trying to imagine the aroma from your smoker but it was overpowered by another smell.

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