Faithful Homesteader

Insulating Our Tiny Home Bus

Faithful Homesteader 

Several months ago, we bought an old church bus with a plan to turn it into a tiny home. It was already partially converted into an RV, but my husband wanted to start mostly from scratch and do things his way. We have not made as much progress as he would have liked because of financial constraints, but we continue to do what we can do.

Bus insulation1 - Copy

So far, he has painted most of the outside of the bus. He has worked on framing and window tinting. He also made a composting toilet. Insulation of the bus has been the latest project. A big motivation for additional insulation on the bus is better thermal efficiency and to minimize noise. I am really sensitive to noise so I am always glad to find ways of reducing noise pollution in my life.

Bus insulation2 - Copy

Of course, we are working to overcome the limitations of the bus in terms of heat and cold transfer. All of the windows that we are not using have a rubberized coating and are covered with 3/4-inch foam boards. In addition to the insulation already in the double steel wall, we have added an additional 3/4 inch of foam board insulation. We are not sure what type of wall covering we will use but my husband is thinking repurposed cedar fence planks.  

The handicap door on the bus had zero insulation. We used spray foam on the inside of the door. Since we will be using this door, we did not want to frame it and do the insulation like the rest of the bus. We will be adding matching wall paneling. We have not made a final determination about the ceiling, but my husband is considering an aluminum backed foam roll. We also will be adding solar panels, which will block sun on the roof and thereby help reduce heat transfer.

The floor has no insulation so we still need to work on that. The plan for the kitchen and bathroom is 3/4-inch gym mat type floor. The living room and bedroom area will have thick carpet insulation and carpet. Hopefully, in the coming new year, we can accomplish much more toward turning our retired church bus into a home.

DIY Composting Toilet

Faithful Homesteader 

We are working on turning an old church bus into a tiny home. One of the latest projects has been a DIY composting toilet, since we did not want the hassle of dealing with a black water tank. The toilet is made to combat odors in multiple ways. Eventually we will have it set up as a true composting toilet, bags and all. That is not something that I ever thought I would have in my lifetime.

compost toliet two - Copy

The frame of the composting toilet was made with reclaimed lumber. A 5-gallon bucket is the actual bowl part. My husband repurposed an old RV table for the shell. He cut it in half and used one half for the top and the other half for the bottom.

compost toliet one - Copy

We used cedar fence planks for the outside cover. The benefits of that is it helps with odor control and it is lightweight. Everything other than the top was sealed on the inside with silicone.

compost toliet four - Copy

We used a low-profile toilet seat that had no gaps or wide open spaces so we could direct airflow where we wanted. A 12-volt computer fan powered by a house alarm battery was mounted to vent odors out the side of the bus. We were able to repurpose a solar panel for charging the battery. The fan will vent and help dry out the poo.

compost toliet five - Copy

An automotive funnel is serving as a urine diverter. The biggest odor comes from when urine and poo are mixed together. Separating the urine and the poo is yet another way that we are working to control any odors. We will also use sand, saw dust or pine shavings to cover up the poo once deposited.

compost toliet three - Copy

The 5-gallon bucket will have a compostable bag and the urine diverter will have a bag attached as well. It will be a bag inside a bag design. There are eight screws around the bottom of the bucket to secure it. One final thing added is an airflow diverter using repurposed wood. This directs the fan to pull air only from the bucket area. We do plan to paint it once we decide on a color.

My husband is pretty proud of his latest project.

How My Garden Helps Me Live a Healthy Lifestyle

Faithful Homesteader 

Since I have become more committed to living a healthy lifestyle, I have a greater appreciation for our garden. One of my biggest goals with my eating is to consume more vegetables. Our garden provides plenty of those.

I started out on a strict Paleo diet, but have since added back some foods. The Paleo is the basic blueprint for me, but I have some flexibility. Protein is an important component, but it is more important for me to eat more vegetables.

spiralizedveggies - Copy

I recently learned that I have high cholesterol. It came as a big shock, but it certainly motivates me even more to live a healthy lifestyle. Even though my LDL cholesterol is quite high, I also have high HDL. I credit eating well and exercising for that. The high HDL lets my body deal with things in a better way, but I am still working to lower my LDL.

Over the summer and even now, marinara sauce with spiralized zucchini or squash has been almost a weekly staple. There has been no shortage of tomatoes, peppers and onions to make a healthy marinara sauce. Earlier in the season, we had plenty of squash and zucchini. We don’t miss regular pasta at all. I feel good with this healthy homemade meal.

Another major meal for us has been vegetable stew. Even in the summer, I just found it so easy to make in the Crock-Pot. It is a yummy way for me to get my vegetables. It has been a healthier way to consume our okra and a good use of our Asian beans. We have so many peppers growing and they make a nice addition to the stew as well.

As our fall garden is getting started, I look forward to adding radish, cauliflower and Jerusalem artichoke to my stews. Since I have been more committed to a healthy lifestyle, I am more open to adding a variety of vegetables to my diet. In the past, I ate very few vegetables.

Growing Hibiscus

Faithful Homesteader 

When we attended the Mother Earth News fair this past year, we picked up some seeds from one of the many vendors. One of the things that I was most looking forward to was the hibiscus seeds. I wanted them for the beautiful flowers. I also liked the idea of making our own tea.

Hibiscus - Copy

We planted them in the spring with our other crops and waited the whole summer for something to happen. The plant had grown quite tall, but no signs of the flowers that I was anxious to see. Finally, we saw the plant filled with what would soon become beautiful flowers. I was ready.

One morning when I was trying to catch some extra sleep, my husband came and woke me up. He wanted to make sure that I could see the flowers while they were blooming. I didn’t know that I would only see them for a portion of the day before they would close up and fall to the ground. I immediately grabbed my camera so I could mark the occasion. The flowers were not quite as bright or pink as we anticipated, but they were still beautiful.

hibicusleaves - Copy

Now every morning more flowers bloom. It is something to look forward to each day. We have been gathering them up daily. Our plan has been to use them to brew our very own tea. However, someone reached out to us with the information that we should be using the dark red seedpods because that is what has the flavor. I am kind of excited about the idea of making our own tea because it is a new experience.

My husband says that on its own, hibiscus does not have much flavor. Perhaps we just haven’t had the good stuff yet. We may end up coming up with our own blend of something to enhance the flavor of the tea. I wonder how it might be with some peppermint mixed with it.

Planning Our Fall Garden

Faithful HomesteaderAfter having a successful summer garden, we are shifting gears and preparing for our fall garden here in north Texas. I am looking forward to some different garden vegetables. At the peak of our summer garden, we were making yummy vegetable stews and squash/zucchini noodles with marinara sauce. I will be glad to mix it up with some other veggies.

My husband goes back and forth between wanting a fall garden and just letting it go. I want the garden because I love being able to have so many homegrown vegetables. Since I have been living a Paleo-ish lifestyle, I strive to get many veggies into my diet. I have been trying to expand my horizons when it comes to what veggies I eat.

Our fall garden will not be as extensive as our summer one, but I hope that it will be a successful one. I never really ate radishes much my whole life, but now I am getting into them so I definitely wanted them in the garden. We are growing ‘Icicle’ and ‘Sparkler’ radish. I don’t know about either type, but I am hoping they are both good.

seeds - Copy

We are also growing kohlrabi. We have successfully grown it in the past and we liked it. Our chickens were also fans of it. If all goes well, we will have some Jerusalem artichoke come back. Last year we had a lot of it, but if it comes up this year, it will be on a much smaller scale. We did find it to be a good addition to stews in place of potatoes.

The last two things that we are growing are carrots and cauliflower. We have tried carrots before, but never have had them in abundance. Carrots are definitely a favorite vegetable of mine. We have not grown cauliflower before, but I love the diversity of that vegetable. I like doing cauliflower rice and it actually does make a good pizza crust, too.

I want a successful fall garden so that it can help me with my healthy lifestyle. I am thankful that my husband has a green thumb. If you are doing a fall garden, I hope yours will be successful as well.

Impact of Hurricane Harvey in North Texas

Faithful HomesteaderHere in North Texas we were not directly affected by Hurricane Harvey, but it still dominated the news. It has certainly been heartbreaking to see all the devastation, but it seems like most everyone wants to help in one way or another.

The Dallas/Ft. Worth area has been taking in many evacuees and there is no shortage of groups in the area collecting supplies. Some of the supplies are staying here in the area because of the evacuees, but plenty of other groups have made their way down south and others still plan to do so.

Considering how divisive our country is these days, it has certainly been something to see all that put aside to help the people affected by the storms. Unfortunately, it seems to take such things for people to remember that we are all part of the human race. Now is a time for compassion and positive action.

gaspump - Copy

One impact on North Texas that I wasn’t expecting from the storm was a shortage of gas up in our area. I anticipated that gas prices would go up and I topped up my car before they did. Then as I was driving home one evening, I noticed that there was a run on the gas stations in our area.

I had not watched the news, but figured it must be related to the storms. What was most frustrating was that we were not in danger of running out of gas, but there was a big panic. The shortage was caused by everyone getting gas at the same time. Even though there was less gas, we would not have run out had it not been for the panic. After a few days, things have started to get back to normal.

I am glad to see all the good will in North Texas. There are plenty of opportunities to do good here and I hope we all continue to pull together to do our part. Now I am keeping an eye on Hurricane Irma. I am praying we don’t end up with another major hurricane this season.

Our Laid-Back Chicken

Faithful Homesteader 

We just have a small flock of chickens and they are all precious and cute in their own way. I wanted to share about our girl Nailie. Generally, she seems to be the most laid-back of all the chickens, but she is actually the hardest one to catch. Even when she is broody, it is nearly impossible to catch her.

Nailiearticle - Copy

When we decided to get more chickens after being down to only one, we wanted laying-age chickens that were not too old. We saw Nailie and we were told that she was 2 years old so initially we were not sure we wanted a chicken her age. We then considered that our chicken Buster was at least 5 years old and she was still productive. We decided she would go home with us. All the chickens that we brought home are Seramas.

When we first got everybody home, she was not laying even though the others were. I was really wondering if she was going to give us eggs, but eventually she did. That made me happy; I worry more about the health of our chickens when they are not laying.

I like watching her with her chill nature. There is generally not a lot of drama with her unless she goes broody. When she does go broody and I try to pull her out of the nesting box, she is quick to bolt. It makes it hard to put her in the broody breaker when we can’t catch her.

We named her Nailie because when we brought her home, her nails were so long that she could not really scratch around and do her chicken thing. With two of us working to catch her in the coop, we were able to bring her inside to trim her nails. It made such a difference and we were happy to see her scratching around.

My husband is convinced that she does know her name and he has a definite soft spot for her. He likes to sneak treats to her. I love all my chickens and they all have something special about them. Nailie is at the bottom of the pecking order and maybe that makes me have a soft spot for her. Whenever I put out treats, I am always looking for her and want to make sure that she gets her fair share. She is also a pretty girl and I sure hope she lives a happy and productive life with us.