Friday, May 27, 2011

Hail, Hail, the Gang's All Hiding Out!

Well, it has never happened to us before.  We always seem to miss the dire weather.  Not yesterday.  I'd always been curious about the sound and fury of a hailstorm.  Now I know.  Our yard looks as if a weed eater has gone on a rampage.  As for the sound and the fury...after four hailstorms in a row yesterday, the final one with golf-ball sized hailstones...I can vouch for its being an impressive amount of percussion, particularly on the metal shed roof that is attached to the garage.  The aftermath of yesterday's direct hit on our zip code out here JOTOLR is that we are awakening to the realization that things are not "as usual" these days.  We got at least 2.5 inches of rain in what seemed to be 2.5 minutes.  Between the rain and the hail, the ground was afloat.  The creek down by the road was roaring.  I dread to think what the One-Lane Road looks like this morning.

There's a lot more daylight in our yard now.  With the rain we've had so far this spring, the trees had leafed out way beyond their ability to sustain that complement during any wind at all.  Fortunately, though sixty-mile-per-hour winds had been forecast, we missed that part of the storm.  Nonetheless, the hailstones did their part to leave our yard in complete tatters.  Over the next few days, of course, the plants will find their equilibrium and regain some dignity.  For the moment, though, they are cowed.  Speaking of cows.... 

The poor cows.  They crowded up to get reassurance from MM when he walked out to check on them after the storm.  Even Marigold, usually a bit skittish, sought comfort and pushed her nose forward for a pet.  Obviously punished, they spent the evening crowded up against the barn.  How does one explain to cows that the beating they've just had wasn't inflicted by an owner gone mad?  The dogs made it through just fine.  Must have been ear-splitting beneath the plastic roofs of their dog houses.  I grabbed Jessie off the porch and carried her in.  
Here are a few pictures:

The Weather Forecast office did warn us, but it's so unusual for those forecasts to affect us--it's always in someone else's back yard!  Hence, we've become rather relaxed listeners in terms of "watches and warnings" for severe weather prognotications...but yesterday, it got us....not that we could have done anything about it, but we WERE the TARGET.  The forecast was general.  It was specific to US right here, JOTOLR. 

This was the first melted swiftly and completely,  and straight-away....

We got a second one....followed by another close on its heels

The big-leaved Hostas are a mess... is the once-lovely climber rose just off the porch

This is the porch roof, looking at it out the upstairs window--what NOISE!  And branches crashed down out of the trees, rain came in torrential waves..

I dashed out to get a hailstone or two, but could only grab what was close before MM "yelled me back in."  They melt fast.  I put them in the freezer (on top of strawberries just picked).  The larger ones had melted down from the original golf-ball size, to about quarter size by the time I could get out to grab a couple.  Originally, though, they were simply huge. 

We have never experienced this side of Mother Nature, who seems to be trying out all kinds of mischief these days, particularly in new locations.

Thanks so much, everyone, for stopping by for a visit this past week.  I know you've noticed I've cut back on posts a bit in deference to spring and the outdoor life.  It's the last Friday in May!  Where has it gone??
Have a lovely weekend!
See you next week!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Around the World

I figured I would get somebody's attention with this topic!  A bit like throwing a match on gasoline.  And North Carolina Mountain Woman, 

I can't think of a better example of an import gone wild and a failed program of eradication than kudzu.  Thanks for the suggestion!  For the uninitiated, kudzu is a rampant legume which has been known to "eat" houses whole.  I'm not joking.

Serious efforts at eradication have resulted in......growing both more kudzu, and kudzu's irrepressible reputation.  In the South (U. S.) this creeping menace has outpaced all warnings and cautionery admonishments to become a metaphor for unwanted, uncontrolled growth of all kinds.  It has completely defied attempts to banish it, and now, even Wikipedia gives it all manner of good publicity. 

Go to: to witness for yourself all the "good" qualities of Kudzu that are extolled on Wikipedia. 

And guess what?  Originally, it was "Made in China." (and Japan)  But it has adapted handily to America's southern clime and now is considered almost a native species in most southern states. All hope of eliminating it or even controlling it vanished long ago, despite kudzu's poor public relations and the determined campaigns of plant patrols.  And this is a perfect example of an invasive species, feared by all, stronger than ever today and more widely distributed here than ever could have been imagined. 

Now, I know I may have lit a fire under a lot of my readers, but hear me out:  We ALL want our own native species to survive and flourish.  We are not, by choice, willing to give over to upstarts from other countries.  But our own, personal hacking-and-thwacking is about the best we can do. 

In today's economic climate, it is unlikely that native plant protection will score higher on the funding priority list than, say unemployment compensation, children's healthcare, food stamps....and, folks, I hate to say it but we are getting down to fewer and fewer choices as to what receives money.  Life is not what it was even three years ago.  And it's unlikely to improve financially anytime soon.  In other words, we are mostly on our own when it comes to defending native species against non-natives. 

I thought about tracking down a phone number for the non-native plant police and asking them to come out and check my farm for loosestrife and ragweed just to see what any such organization would say.  But I couldn't locate a number for them.  I found the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms, the Drug Enforcement Administraton, the FBI, the National Reponse Center for Chemical, Oil Spills and Chemical/Biological Terrorism, the State Emergency Spill Notification, the State Police, the U. S. Marshal, the U. S. Secret Service, and the Arson & Explosives Division of the Fire Marshal's office.  They've all been pretty busy lately.  Significantly, I did not find a U. S. Plant Patrol.  Does this tell us something?

And I wonder how many of us will care about plants and plant protection when push comes to shove and we have to choose between saving the plants and saving the children...
So the globalization of plantlife is, IMHO, inevitable, as the lines blur. It's my thought that serious attempts to control non-native plant species --just as with non-native animal species like the Zebra Mussel and the Anacondas now in Florida's Everglades, is wildly optimistic.  I believe that globalization is inevitable on every level.

The response to this subject was fascinating.  Julia in New Zealand, North Carolina Mountain Woman in NC, Ruta in North Devon UK, Dave in Western Virginia, Barbara in Kentucky--all of you had marvelous comments.  We share so much, don't we, even though we are miles apart!

Please feel free to respond!



Monday, May 23, 2011

Conversation Starter

Siberian Iris

These beauties have given us quite a show this season.  Seems the temperate spring has favored both the length of time of the display as well as the vibrant color.  When we stop to consider the huge numbers of plants which have spread, worldwide, and which give us so much pleasure, it's hard to condemn "non-native" species as somehow being a blight.  As a friend of mine observed the other day, "When someone says a plant they are giving me is invasive, I say bring 'em on!  At least it will grow!"  I couldn't agree more!

How many of our most treasured flowering plants are "imports?"  And where do we draw the line?  Loosestrife is targeted as an "unwanted" species now that it's worn out its welcome throughout the entire United States.  We are admonished not to plant it near streams, as it will quickly eclipse all other "native" plants.  The other day, MM was reading about Garlic Mustard, one of the fastest-spreading, unwanted plants in the U. S.  And, oh, dear!  I found two at the mailbox.

How do we know if it's an unwanted plant or not...until we try it!  A dear friend of mine has planted this unusual specimen in his yard in the Pacific Northwest, and I am thinking about doing the same here in West Virginia.

It's called a Gunnera.  It's a tropical plant, but one which adapts quite well to damp, cool climates and boggy circumstances, apparently not concerned about wet feet.  It's definitely a conversation starter!  But, I am wondering how many non-native oddities have been introduced that give us a good deal of pleasure--pleasure we now take for granted.  Who is the "decider" when it comes to outlawing plants with intriguing foliage, fascinating blooms and are beyond doubt, enjoyable curiosities?  

Should we feel guilty when it comes to "foreign" plants like the Siberian Iris, Dutch tulips, Asian Lilies, Oriental Poppies, Huecheras and all the other colorful, non-English-speaking flowers?  And who is the self-appointed judge of what is acceptable....or not?  Not to mention the question of when does a ban on a plant's being imported, begin? Before it's planted here?  Or after?  If the latter, how effective can "horse-has-left-the-barn" control be?  Or, maybe the main factor is our ability to control a plant's tendency to go wild.  Or maybe, this crazy plant eradication/control program is designed by Monsanto  ....hmmm.

Seed catalogs sell us "wildflower mixes."  We are offered the opportunity to enjoy Texas Blue Bonnets and Prairie Blanket Flowers...all across the country.  All manner of once-woodland wildflowers abound from sea to shining sea.  Any creeping acceptance of new species probably has a more to do with how pretty the plant is, how splashy,  rather than whether it will over-reach its original boundaries and ultimately be labeled a nuisance.

When was the last time a customs agent or a baggage inspector asked you if you were carrying any "non-native" plants in your luggage?  And, what if you had been, and had been caught, what was the punishment? 

In this age of globalization, it seems to me that the world has other more pressing concerns and that "importing" non-native plants is more akin to natural worldwide evolution--the globalization of the plant world.

It's my thinking that chasing down non-native species with a vengeance is a fool's errand.  But more than that, if we keep going at the present pace of environmental and species destruction, we'll be glad to have any plants at all!  Invasive?  Bring 'em on!

Let's label this post a "converation starter."  What's your opinion?  I'm curious what you think!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Man's Best Friend Dangerously At Large

This is National Dog Bite Prevention Week, and curiously, coincides with a blog post I had already chosen.
We are casually shopping for a big dog now.  Something with a formidable appearance but one that knows who the Alpha dogs really are JOTOLR, out here on this farm (MM and me).  We have placed several calls to prospective vendors--including "Free to Good Home."  Our last yard guard was a free-to-good-home and was one of the best dogs we have ever owned.  Keir was half German Shepherd and half Alaskan Husky, and he was all black.  His sense of humor was one of his best traits.  As he grew older, one of his least favorite jobs was to be pegged out on a fenceline and guard against deer coming into the garden overnight.  Being black, he learned he could simply disappear after sundown, and then sneak back to the porch well after we had gone inside.  After a few incidents like that, we got smart and caught hold of him BEFORE the sun went down.  He was an omnivorous eater (an Alaskan trait, we are sure!) as he would consume the raspberries off the vine, along with new sugar peas, and corn on the cob. What we had thought was a marauding raccoon, turned out to be Keir, with corn in his teeth and guilt written all over his furry face! 

Best personality one could ever imagine.  Defensive of us, not "friendly" but not aggressive.  He was a passive yet imposing and watchful presence whenever anyone showed up here, and few hopped out of their cars before we came on the scene.  He wasn't free to roam, he was on the hook overnight or fenced inside our yard.  Overall, he was just the kind of dog anyone would hope to have.  Alas, he was 13 when he left us for the Great Dogbone in the Sky.  So now, we've let grief play out long enough and have begun the search for another.

In three of the phone calls we've made so far, we have encountered this phrase:  "Oh, this dog needs lots of room to run..."  Many of you will be familiar with our "Great Turkey Massacre" of last winter when a couple of dogs who apparently needed "room to run" let loose on our turkey flock and killed five in a horrific display of wanton violence.  But you would not know about our experience when we were just starting out in the sheep business years ago here in West Virginia, when two German Shepherds --each with a collar--descended upon our ewe lamb flock of fifty yearlings which were enclosed IN THE BARN and tore those ewe lambs--our new breeding stock, which we had driven to Texas and back to purchase--all to pieces .  We spent three days--three SOLID days--sewing sheep scalps and deep bodily gouges back together in 18 degree weather in January. It was a gory mess.   We lost--if I remember correctly--8 ewe lambs which were too ravaged to be saved; and we sewed up another 30.  Again, an assault by neighborhood dogs needing "room to run."

So, I cringe every time I hear that phrase and the sound of barking in my meadows brings out the worst in me. 

Roving dogs are not just a problem in rural America.  They're a problem worldwide.   As I said, this is National Dog Bite Prevention Week in the U. S.  Over four and a half MILLION people in this country suffer dog bites annually.  Roughly 800,000 bites are serious enough to require medical attention.  Postal carriers and parcel delivery service personnel on foot are especially vulnerable. 

Here are the fifteen worst cities for dogbites in this country:

#15-- Seattle
#11--Portland OR and Minneapolis MN(tied)
#7--San Antonio
#6--St Louis
#4--Los Angeles
#3--San Diego

These findings were based on a recent study of the number of dog bites of U. S. Postal workers each year.

Dogs at large inflict great harm.  They do NOT need unsupervised "room to run."  And the key word, here, is "unsupervised."  To turn a dog out on the neighborhood and let it do its thing whatever that may be--breeding the neighbor's prize-winning female, chasing wildlife and killing their young, challenging human beings and mating with NOT representative of the way to treat a valued pet.  I cannot count the number of times I have heard this:  "My dog is always on the porch.  Never leaves home."  How many people go outside and check, at 3:00 a.m. or would be concerned that at that moment--providing they checked--didn't see their dog.

I firmly believe in training dogs.  I've trained close to ten dogs for detailed, command-based livestock work.  They were and are some of the best-behaved dogs one can imagine.  I would love to show you, dear readers!  When I say, "Sit,"  they sit.  Promptly.  When I say, "Come," they come.  Promptly.  And I know full well that were they to be "free to run," I would be inflicting serious harm to others regardless of our dogs' seemingly sweet natures.  So, they are kenneled until wanted or needed; they get Frisbee outings four times a day, plus socialization as we invite them to share our porch "living room" on a regular basis, and "civilize" them as they grow from puppyhood to adult. But I would never turn them out intentionally to "run."  That is not to say that making the transition from puppy to adult, isn't fraught with transition control issues.  My Cade loves water.  She disappeared the other day.  Went to the pond on her own to splish and splash to her heart's content.  Grrrrrrrrrr. How do you tell your young dog that's a no-no?  Heel her the next time, all the way to the pond and all the way back....from now on.  Habits build well-behaved dogs. 

Finally, this is the time of year when wildlife nestlings are emerging.  It's a scary time for the parents, and especially the ground nesters like the whippoorwill, grouse, turkey, woodcocks and quail.  These are mostly engangered, now.  Coyotes have wiped out populations of these gentle birds.  They need all the help they can get in order for us to be able to continue to enjoy them.  So, please.....pass the word:  responsible pet ownership goes hand in hand with keeping your beloved canine friends under control. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Simple Gifts

Between rain showers this morning, I headed out to put the Netflix DVD Gandhi in the outgoing mail.  (The movie was totally compelling and I continue to marvel at such a man.  You may recall my header for this blog contains one of Gandhi's aphorisms:  "There is more to life than increasing its speed."  His relevance today is unassailable.  To call him a "great man" is to understate by miles.  I recommend you spend one of your DVD's on Netflix to watch this powerful movie if you haven't seen it already.  Like the King's Speech, it was an oscar-winning Best Picture.)

But....I digress.....

On the way back from the mailbox, I decided to hang a right down through what we call Plum Alley and check the strawberries, fully expecting a bunch of squishy, inedible red blobs.  And what to my wondering eyes should appear?  Two rows of strawberries needing to be cleared!  Oh, my!  What a surprise!!  In the midst of what has to be one of the rainest springs we've ever experienced, my strawberry plants honored me with a first picking of huge, sweet fruit, with little damage (when I'd expected mushy remains of my dream of having a good strawberry patch for a change.  Well, round one turned out to be a welcome gift!  The fertilizer and faithful runner-removal paid off.
I was hard-pressed to believe that my plants had withstood the major deluges we've had, along with the greedy birds, rabbits, deer and slugs.  I believe in this bowl, I had perhaps six berries that were inedible.  That's it!  The bowl above measures 19 inches across, and the cup in the bowl is a 1/4 cup measuring cup.  The berries are very upright.  They are fruiting well above ground, so despite the muddy circumstances, the majority were well above ground and made out just fine.

And talk about sweet!  Several years back, we decided on the Honeyoye variety. (most pronounce this weird name by calling is Honey Eye.) It seemed as if this variety could probably cope with our clay soil and produce without being mulched.  They're described as bearing heavy yields of large, beautiful, crimson fruit.  And that has turned out to be true!
They're almost in the freezer, now.  As I was finishing picking the last plant in a double 80-foot row ,it began to rain again.  MM had helped me by picking one bowl by himself, but he didn't have a rain jacket, so headed for the house.
For a moment, rain pelting down...I just parked on my knees in the grass and --literally--soaked in the simple joy of such bounty.


For those who may have wondered about Jessie, our elderly Border Collie, I thought I would add a couple of photos of her playing what we call "bumper ball."  This is a major milestone, folks.  In October of last year, she was unable to eat much, to walk much, had totally lost her sense of humor, and was most probably in a lot of pain though she never complained. 

She still has difficulty arising from her bed, but she stuggles with it until she makes it, and then dutifully follows MM around the farm on her normal chores, getting more fluid in her stride as she keeps up.  She isn't very fast, but she is still dedicated to fetching chickens and nosing out rabbits.  She barks a little, and obviously still loves to play BB (bumper-ball). 
The game is easy.  MM sends the basketball down her way along the railing, then when it arrives, she gets behind the ball and noses it back to him.  The game could go on all day unless the ball accidentally hits her bad leg, whereupon she goes down with a soft thump.  Undaunted, though, she pushes herself back up to rights and the game starts all over again...unless she's had enough. It's a simple enough game, and it's truly a gift for us. 

It was Barbara of Folkways Notebook who observed that "dogs are tough."  Indeed, they are!  Jess's right rear leg doesn't function very well and she carries it a lot; but she's determined to keep going.  And she's been a real trooper.  We're still not sure what happened, but last fall, she lost mobility and desire to do much of anything. One day she was fine.  The next day she was not interested in life.  

 We babied her over the winter, kept her inside, and she was a lovely house dog, so respectful of her interior surrounds where she'd never spent any time.  Now, eight months later, she's still on the mend, (and we're still babying her) but she is gaining daily.  She is now 11 years old, and as such, is the second oldest member of our family.  We value her enormously and honor her for her faithful service over this past decade.  She's doing quite well and in her own way, she's an inspiration!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Thunder in the Hills

Happy Friday the 13th!  No sunsets of late.  Always thunderstorms and raindrops falling on my head!  When we get into one of these cycles, it's fog in the morning, drippy sun in the afternoon, thunderstorms into the evening.  Every day, same thing!
So, when you can't look up, look down! 
Thank you everyone for stopping by this past week!  I've been spacing out posting and commenting.  It's a busy time of year and other things demand attention, it seems.  Thank you Barbara, Beth, Vicki, Julia, Short Poems, Kat and SWVA!  Lovely friends.  Thank you so much for the time you took to post a comment.  Haphazard as my replies may be, I read (and love!) every word you send. 

Wishing you all a delightful weekend!
See you next week!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I've Looked At Clouds That Way.......

Remember when you were a kid and on a warm spring day you'd plunk down on the lawn or in a field and lie back to watch the clouds go by?  You'd imagine the changing shapes as lions or sheep or faces.  Forget about the ticks and all those other evil, adult thoughts that burrow into you mind and rob you of the pleasure of unfettered childish abandon.  Take a moment, set down the burden you happen to be carrying, and lie down, face upturned.....and as you breathe deeply, watch the leaves overhead, riffling in the breeze, sun-dappled, every color of green waving to you from above.  Drink in the fragrance of the Sweet Williams and Dames Rocket.  Lie still and listen to your is good!  You have permission...compliments of Joni build castles in the air.

Bows and flows of angel hair,

and ice cream castles in the air,

and feathered canyons everywhere,

I've looked at clouds that way,

but now they only block the sun.

They rain and snow on everyone.

So many things I would have done,

but clouds got in my way.

I've looked at clouds from both sides now,

from up and down, and still somehow,

it's clouds illusions I recall.

I really don't know all.

Moons and Junes and ferris wheels, the dizzy dancing way you feel

as every fairy tale comes real; I've looked at love that way.

But now it's just another show. You leave 'em laughing when you go

and if you care, don't let them know, don't give yourself away.

I've looked at love from both sides now,

from give and take, and still somehow

it's love's illusions I recall.

I really don't know love at all.

Tears and fears and feeling proud, to say "I love you" right out loud,

dreams and schemes and circus crowds, I've looked at life that way.

But now old friends are acting strange, they shake their heads,

they say I've changed.

Something's lost but something's gained in living every day.

I've looked at life from both sides now,

from win and lose, and still somehow

it's life's illusions I recall.

I really don't know life at all.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Going Batty

It was a simple project.  Or so I thought.  I've always wanted a yard pool...with a few waterlilies, some waterweeds, maybe some goldfish.  I know it's probably a sappy idea, but it seemed nice at the time I got this pond back in 2004, I believe.  It was part of the monetary rewards for being a top seller with The Pampered Chef.  Unfortunately, though, it has sat, upside down these past seven years--a black lump to mow around, off in the corner beside the house, amidst the lilacs and currant bushes.  This year I kept looking at it and thinking I needed either to try to sell it or install it.  I know this was a batty idea, but--fools rush in--I chose the latter. 

Now, I usually pride myself on being able to handle things.  Especially projects that I invent.  So, I wasn't at all timid about launching into my pond project, confident I could concoct this little spot of beauty quite handily, all by myself. 

There was a large convenient depression right beside the ash tree, just off the porch, which I deemed a perfect spot.  So, I moved a few things around--rocks, ivy, and honeysuckle vines, shoved the pond into place, and proceeded to fill it.  Only to discover--once it was completely full--that is was not level. 

The longer it sat there, the "un-leveler" it got;  it sagged and water began to pour over the eastern edge.  It looked distinctly askew and growing more so the longer it sat there.  I feared that it would take a permanent set or warp or tear.

In the midst of my contemplating just how I was going to empty 90 gallons of water quickly, guess who/what arrived on the scene. Male authority.  Suffice it to say that my independent posture wilted rather quickly (by now it was beginning to look like the pond might develop a permanent dent due to my having perched it upon a sharp rock so I was already re-thinking my independence.)   

"Would you like some help?" (and do you really think I would answer, "Nah!  I'm fine...")?

In the course of fifteen minutes "my" project took on distinctly masculine overtones.  The landscape was immediately littered with tools I never even knew we had.  (I did know about the level...)  It was actually rather humiliating as now I could only watch as the perpiration beaded up and rolled down MM's cheeks. "My project" had turned into "his" there wasn't room for two in the little space...which was quickly growing into a bigger space... 

And so, the project has now become vast, and has evolved into such things as the removal of an upper-arm sized root, with much hacking and thwacking; and the pulverization of two wrist-sized roots, lots of grunting and sweating; and much digging through the tangle of dead ivy..and I think I am regretting...well..... that I didn't opt to sell the pond.

BTW, as we were heaving the pond over on its side to empty the last of the 90 gallons, this little guy showed himself.  Apparently he had been camping beneath the edge of the pool and was on the underside of it on a board. 


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Pathroom

Out here JOTOLR, we spent yesterday refurbishing the Outhouse which we prefer to use during the summer months rather than continue to fill the septic tank.  "Refurbish" means re-roofing--taking off the old rusted sheet metal and replacing it with one sheet of clear (light blue) polycarbonate for light and durability; and adding a couple of pieces of what is locally referred to as "tin" roofing--sheet metal.  Of course, during the first flush (sorry about that) of spring, MM had taken the time to paint the old thing.  I brushed down the walls and painted the inside to a bright white and yellow, with a royal (ahem!) blue toilet seat.  Oh, and BTW, we use a bucket rather than dig a pit.  The bucket fits neatly under the seat and gets emptied periodically depending upon usage rate.

Yesterday, we finished up the project.  The wind we've had lately had further loosened the roof to the point where it looked as if it would take flight.  At the close of the day, here's the lovely little building, spruced up and ready for summer.

I love using the outhouse.  The music of the rain and birdsongs makes a delightful contrast to the sound of five gallons of precious water being flushed through a drain and concentrated in places where we don't want water and hyper-fertility. 

The outhouse has been the butt (couldn't resist this pun!) of jokes, the object of ridicule and scorn, and on Halloween nights has even experienced transmigration and levitation. Outhouses were often hauled several miles distant simply for the "fun" of it!  Sometimes, with the occupant still inside, if those stories can be trusted as true.

In the book, Tisha, a story of a teacher in Alaska, the story is told of one poor soul who froze to the seat in that awesome cold! It was quite a production setting the prisoner free!

It used to be that everyone had an outhouse, including schools.  Here's one for both boys and girls.  Not sure what the hole at the bottom on the left is for!

Nowadays, however, Americans with their "tidy" mentality about bodily processes have all but shut off debate about the upside of using one of the oldest fertilizers in the world, still used today in other "less developed" places. (notice the language putdown of those who treat human waste intelligently).

Here's an outhouse (if you can believe...!) 7,000+ feet about sea level...hello?.....why would anyone concentrate human waste at 7,000+ feet?!  But you know, this really makes sense: 

In 2007, Europe's highest outhouses (two) were helicoptered to the top of France's Mont Blanc at a height of 4,260 meters (13,976 feet). The dunny-cans are emptied by helicopter. The facilities will service 30,000 skiers and hikers annually; thus helping to alleviate the deposit of urine and feces that spread down the mountain face with the spring thaw, and turned it into 'Mont Noir'.

Below is an outhouse with a view...and two stories...not sure I'd like to be on the first with someone on the second....

And a different approach to the two-story method...

Here's a Polish "squat" seat!

For other, more elaborate constructions.....take a peak over here:;&biw=1251&bih=533

Wikipedia has a site entitled "Outhouse" and a good bit of outhouse humor and lore is listed.  Under "Terminology" it mentions the name "thunderbox," used in Australia. (also, "dunny house").  Actually, when we lived in Australia, we had an outside toilet.  Mind you, it was a flush toilet, but the little house originally had had an outhouse (no-flush) but the town gradually crept in and eclipsed the property, and ultimately city fathers declared that "modern" plumbing was the way of the future (just outside of Cairns) so the old couple (about our age, now!) were forced to "modernize."  The thing I remember most about that "outside toilet" was my terror when I sat down on the seat to "use the facilities..." About three feet from my nose were five HUGE spiders on the opposing wall, each about four inches in diameter including legs--all eight of them!  In retrospect, I could call that experience "the scream heard round the world."

MM came running, shovel in hand, and dispatched what (according to our wonderful neighbors) had been "pets" of long-standing!  Thanks to my narrow-mindedness, we had murdered what had been the sole pest control contingent--these super-sized, but gentle beings.  I've never gotten over my shame.

The well-known crescent moon on American outhouses was popularized by cartoonists and has a questionable basis in fact. There are authors who claim the practice began during the colonial period as an early “mens”/ “ladies” designation for an illiterate populace. (The sun and moon being popular symbols for the genders during those times. Others refute the claim as an urban legend. What is certain is that the purpose of the hole is for venting and light and there were a wide variety of shapes and placements employed

For more informative and interesting discussions of outhouse lore and facts, go to: