Poop, Piles, and Parasites: Outlander and Outhouses

June 4, 2014 in Resources and Research by M C

I made the neighbor's outhouse famous in 1997.. and they still don't have flush.

There’s only one time a year when people lock their cars in Vermont… when the zucchini  come in.  Zucchini are notorious for growing from the sensible size of interesting man bits into something more befitting  a waterhorse in an hour.  Jack had his magic beans, Vermont has zucchini.  You can ruin friendships, to say nothing of your digestion, with too much of this stuff because zucchini does not even have the decency to freeze well.  It reduces to unappetizing mush when frozen. Which makes it the sort of vegetable to which your digestive tract is wedded until the next crop which must be consumed fresh takes over.  Likely Eggplant or green peppers, which don’t store well either.

On my farm, it’s the blueberries which are holding my insides hostage.  I’ve frozen more than we’ll ever use, given them to neighbors, and tried to palm them off on friends. Sadly, blueberries are easy to grow,  grossly overproductive in a good year, and everybody has a bush (or four) in their yard.  I’m eating two cups of these friendly blue orbs with every meal, and hiding them under ice cream for desert,  a fact the blueberries are more than happy to remind me of should I seek the embrace of the porcelain number tucked into the bath.  Monocropping is bad for farmland.  Monopolies are bad for economies.  Mono-consumptoin is not good for humans either. And this human has access to flush and sanitation in the form of disposable paper.

Were we living in the 1700s we’d each have our own little rag (clout) to use for cleanup duty and wash out afterwards, a little detail that doesn’t get covered in, for example, Claire’s scene in Black Jack Randall’s office when she accuses him of torture by bladder.  But leaving that aside, Claire makes much of the poor English diet of the 18th century.  Even Prince Charles, dining on dignity and fowl, falls prey to that scourge of the seventeenth: scurvy.  The lack of fresh vegetables and fiber made scurvy and piles endemic, from the upper class who believed meat the only food fit for a man, to the soldier, the sailor, and possibly the candlestick maker, none of whom had regular access to fresh vegetables.

And what if they had?  Picture in your mind the daily life of the castle or town dweller and their privy closet.  Armed with their little rag they approach to perform their daily (although in many cases, with a diet scant of roughage, it may have been every three days or more) and step within.  Now.. where in this picture is the incentive to eat anything that might result, in this situation, in something…


blueberries1No, there is decidedly no incentive.  In fact, “messy” might well have heralded something dreaded and deadly. Better things pop out like rabbit pellets, firm, tidy, and requiring a minimum of sanitizing ministrations.  If piles result, such are the burdens of man.  If scurvy results.. it isn’t “diet,” it’s “illness.”

Rabbit pellets it is then.  And the blueberries to the birds.

What? There’s more?! Oh yes.. dare to keep reading?>>

Eve (from Manchester, UK), on the Compuserv Writer’s Forum posted this link.  Research suggests a bowl of blueberries a day helps to keep the brain focused in the afternoon!

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