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Faithful Homesteader

Our Tiny Home Bus Project

Faithful Homesteader 

We recently rescued an old church bus from being a party bus. It was already partially converted into an RV, but we are working on turning it into a comfy home. The first projects have been framing, insulation, window tinting, and painting.

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The bus already had some insulation, but my husband wanted to add much more. It gets awfully hot here in north Texas and we certainly need all the help we can get with cooling. He started with the framing, using reclaimed lumber from a construction site. The framing allows us to do the insulation and eventually the walls. The insulation will also make the bus quieter. I can sure appreciate that.

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All of the windows behind the walls were blackened with rubber coating and the windows that we plan to use were tinted. From the outside, you cannot tell which windows are tinted and which ones have the rubber coating; the color is the same. The only windows that we plan to use are where the beds will be and in the kitchen area. The rubberized coating will help strengthen the windows and add another layer of quiet. My husband also resealed all of the windows.

We are slowly painting the outside of the bus with a flat white color and will later add a blue trim. The flat white is the best color to reflect the heat, and flat colored paints helps to hide blemishes. Each week we usually buy more paint and do a little bit at a time. We use spray paint. My husband likes to call it a shaker can job.

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My husband has done the majority of the work so far, but I have started helping with paint preparation. I have done some sanding and covering up the windows. We will eventually put in some flooring and do something for the ceiling. There are also plans for solar panels and wind turbines. The project will only go as fast as we have money to put into it, but we will eventually get it all done.

Finding a Bus to Make a Home

Faithful Homesteader 

For many months, my husband had been on the hunt for an RV, but then decided it would be better to convert a bus after seeing pictures of school buses and RVs in collisions. He shifted into bus finding mode. I am not that excited to think about living in an RV or converted bus, but I started to think about having something in case bad things came our way.

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The bus when we first brought it home.

My husband dreams of us having a piece of land and living on the bus while we build a house. I think more about living on the bus if something happened and we couldn’t afford to stay in our home. Our motives are different, but we are still on the same adventure with turning the bus into a place that we can call a home.

My husband looked at multiple RVs and buses, but they all had issues. Finally, he found one he thought would work for us. It is a medium length partially converted bus. That will save us money in the end. The bus we found was originally a church bus, but the new owners had turned it into a party bus. I like to think that we rescued the old church bus.

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The Party Bus

The former church bus came with a stripper pole that we declined to take with us. The place where we picked up the bus was a clothing optional place. My husband neglected to tell me that beforehand. We are simple folk and I have never really been the partying type. Also, I prefer to keep my clothes on in public.

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The bus pre-rescue

Now we are skoolies and the process of turning it into a home has begun. Two big projects have been painting it and adding additional insulation to the bus. It is way hot here in Texas and we could use all the help we can get. It will be interesting to see how it all turns out in the end. I will be sharing more about the process in future blog posts.

Summer on Our North Texas Homestead

Faithful Homesteader 

We are at the hottest part of the year here in North Texas. I am feeling it and so are the chickens. However, we are still getting some good produce from the garden and we have actually had a wetter summer than normal.

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I am happy with how well the garden is doing this year. Since we have had so much produce and limited storage space, we have been able to share plenty with our friends and family. I have had more than one person rave about just how good our tomatoes taste. I like hearing that and I love sharing something with people that they will really like.

Our squash and zucchini are done for the year, but we have plenty of tomatoes, peppers, and Asian beans. Even though it is summer, we have been eating many veggie stews. It goes well with my modified paleo diet and is an easy way to use up the veggies.

We have had so many tomatoes that we have not even been bothered by the chickens eating them off the vine. They can’t reach all of the them. They have also been enjoying our garden watermelon. It is a great treat for them in the heat of the day.

I sure hate to see the girls getting so hot. We give plenty of water and they have lots of shaded area, but it is still obvious that the heat is getting to them. It is getting to me, too. It certainly limits my time outdoors so I don’t get to spend much time with them. With the wetter summer, we are getting more humidity than usual and that certainly doesn’t help.

I am holding out for fall and I bet the girls will be glad for it, too. In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy all of our garden goodies. I am not sure what is in store for our fall garden; that will be up to my husband.

My Crazy Codependent Chicken

Faithful Homesteader 

I am a bit of a reflective soul and lately I have been thinking about our original chicken and her relationship to us. Of all the chickens we have had, she seems to be the one that is most dependent on us. She came to us as a stray and we always thought of her as an independent girl, but now I am not so convinced.

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I don't think Buster's comb has ever been this big.

She just showed up in our yard one day, not long after my husband talked to me about having chickens. I was not convinced, but she came along and the rest is history. Not long after she started hanging out, my husband bought a rabbit hutch and turned it into a coop for her.

She is a bantam chicken, and we brought home a friend, a Red Star. We didn’t know at the time that it was probably not the best combination, but it worked for the most part. My husband named her Buster, and in many ways she has lived up to her name. She can be such a bundle of attitude.

She goes through spells where she crows. That is probably my least favorite thing about her because I worry about the neighbors. Although there are plenty of other loud chicken noises that can rival the crowing.

With our current flock, she is definitely top of the pecking order. My husband likes to say that she runs a tight ship. She actually looks big compared to our Seramas. I don’t like how mean she can be at times. Sometimes it is challenging for the other girls to lay in the nesting boxes because of her. I started separating her from the others to make sure they get their share of treats.

I think of her as codependent on us because she does always seem to want us around. She often yells as if she is saying "Come on out and pay attention to me." Sometimes it seems like she yells most of the day. I get surprised that she doesn’t lose her voice. It does make it easy to find her when we search the yard for our chickens.

She always runs to us and stays close by when we are around. It is nice because sometimes I feel snubbed by the other chickens. Most of the time I do not have any problems catching her, but that is not true of the rest of the flock.

I do love our little bundle of attitude. We have had her for around five years. We have a special bond with her that we haven’t quite had with any of the other chickens. I recently decided to make her crowing my text notification tone. She is my crazy crowing hen.

Successfully Growing Corn in a Small Garden

Faithful Homesteader 

For the past several years we have tried to grow corn on our humble homestead, but it has failed. This year, my husband tried something different and we finally have been able to enjoy that garden corn that I have been longing for.

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Since we grow corn on a small scale, the traditional way of growing corn in rows with plenty of spacing between has not worked. The sun would beat down on the soil in between the rows and basically fry the corn. What has ended up working for us is a compact gardening style with 5'x8' boxes.

The first thing my husband did was prepare the soil so that it would have additional nutrients. He used 40 pounds of cow manure, 40 pounds of compost, and 1 cup of organic plant food. He worked it all into the 5'x8' boxes. He then planted the seeds 4 inches apart. When the corn started to come up, he put a layer of mulch down. This helped to stabilize the corn.  

My husband told some people how he was growing corn this year and they thought he was crazy. They were convinced that there was no way that the corn would do well under those conditions. Happily, they could not have been more wrong.

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I was so excited when we picked the first of the corn. It made for a yummy addition to dinner. We really have ended up with an abundance of corn; we shared some with a friend. We had a good workout shucking corn and preparing to freeze it.

Our chickens have also been enjoying the corn. It is fun to watch them partake of it.

I am glad that my husband stuck with trying to grow corn. It is great that his plan worked. Overall, it has been a good year for the garden.

Chicken Illness, Death and Lessons Learned

Faithful Homesteader

I had to say goodbye to another chicken this week, and I think this one was the hardest of all. When I lost chickens before, things happened so fast that we didn’t even really have time to try to save them. This time it seemed like we were doing good when we were able to get a diagnosis from the veterinarian. We knew what we needed to do. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough; but I did learn some lessons along the way.

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Our chicken Barbie had not been with us long, and soon after she came to us she went broody. We tried to break her, but she was stubborn. When we got her to stay out of the nesting boxes she decided to hang out on the roost, but she was definitely still broody. I think this is where all of our problems started. She did have opportunity to eat, drink, and take dirt baths, but we don’t think she was eating near enough and we are sure her immune system was weakened. We will definitely try harder to break our broody hens in the future.

We next had an outbreak of worms and as we were treating things we attributed anything unusual to that. After a little bit of time, we took in another poo sample to the vet to find out that Barbie had coccidiosis. We started the treatment for the whole flock and for the first day it looked like there was improvement, and then there wasn’t.

We mixed up a batch of Corid with half a tablespoon in a gallon of water. We used it until it was gone. We didn’t know that you should make a fresh batch each day. We had been successful in the past without doing that. If we ever have to deal with this again, we will make the new batch each day using two teaspoons for every gallon. I don’t know if this is what would have made the difference or not. All the other girls were good, but she still had the problem.

Since she was having such issues and seemed so low on nutrients, we tried to give her some electrolytes. But I learned after the fact that electrolytes with Thiamine in them are not good while chickens are fighting  coccidiosis. We stopped as soon as we knew. Again, I wonder if this would have made a difference, but we were certainly desperate to get nutrients into her.

We ended up taking her to the vet and it showed that there was some improvement, but she still had a lot of the coccidia. He gave her medicine that was supposed to go more directly to her gut, but again she seemed to have slight improvement and then relapsed.

She had become very skinny and it seemed like she had trouble eating. I ground up her food and gave her soft foods like pumpkin and yogurt. I tried not to give her too much yogurt, but it was one thing that she would actually eat. I ended up turning her food into liquid and we started giving her food and water by syringe. We tried the Corid again, using a fresh batch every day.

She was a real fighter and she gave me hope that she would pull through, but in the end she just became too weak. I bonded so much with her because I nursed her for such a long time. I love my chickens, but she was the first one that I actually professed my love to. I prayed so hard that she would pull through and when she didn’t I was just devastated.

It still hurts, and when I watch the other girls doing their thing without Barbie it doesn’t seem right. I miss her, but I will remember everything that I have learned along the way. I always want to do better for my animals who are my only babies. 

Chicken Happenings on the Homestead

Faithful Homesteader

I have had my hands full with all my chickens. There never seems to be a dull moment these days. I had been dealing with three broody chickens, but now only two. I was so glad when our girl Barbie finally gave up the broodiness.

Unfortunately, not long after her broody spell we figured out that she had coccidiosis. It has certainly been stressful for me to deal with that so soon after a worm infestation. Our girls are free range and we work to keep things sanitary on the homestead. We are currently treating the whole flock with Corid.

After losing three chickens unexpectedly over the years, I am a lot more proactive about getting our chicken poo analyzed if I notice anything unusual. In the past month, I have been to the vet twice for such analysis. Both times it turned out to be necessary.

Two of our chickens
Nailie and Kota

Between broodiness and the worm problem, we were not getting any eggs from our five chickens.  We have had four of our chickens for only two months and one chicken, Nailie, had never laid an egg. She is about two years old. We have been waiting for her to come around.

The other day we were gone for a short time, but before we left it seemed as if both Kota and Nailie were acting as if they could possibly lay. One of our broody chickens, Buster, was staying in the coop, but just outside the nesting box. When I came home, I saw her in the nesting box and sure enough when I took her out we had our first egg in several weeks. The only problem was I had no idea who laid it. Did Nailie finally come around?

We waited to see if one of them would lay again or give us some kind of clue. Finally, today I came home and found Nailie in the nesting box. I went inside and soon after, I heard her making a fuss. Buster had immediately laid on the egg again, but it was only for a moment thanks to Nailie letting me know what she accomplished. I am so happy that she finally laid an egg.

Kota has been acting as if she has wanted to lay for several days, but we have never found any eggs if she laid them. She doesn’t like to lay in the nesting box. Today she kept looking like she wanted to lay on top of the nesting boxes where they stick out of the coop. That would have been a perfect way to end up with broken egg on the ground. She likes to sniff around the lawn mower area too looking for a spot. Eventually she did let me know that she laid her egg in a hard to get to spot under our deck.

Now after weeks of no eggs, we have two girls on the job again. It makes me happy not just for the eggs, but that they are healthy enough to start laying again. I will be glad to see Barbie get all better from her illness. She seems active and alert, but in the morning she is very slow to come out of the coop. I am also ready for Buster and Lilah to quit being broody. I love all my girls and I want them to be healthy and happy.