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Faithful Homesteader

Our Tiny Home Bus Project: Putting in the Walls

Faithful Homesteader 

We have been making slow progress on our tiny home bus project. Finances really do slow us down and my husband was feeling bummed that we had not done more on the bus. We ended up with a little extra cash that we decided to put toward it. My husband decided it would be good to start putting up the first section of wall.

Wall4

Projects like that are definitely foreign to me, but I have wanted to try new things. I always love to learn, so I was willing to help. I took shop back in the day. I can’t remember if it was middle school or high school. I am now in my 40s and wood shop was the last time that I had used any kind of power tool.

Being an active participant in putting up the walls required me to use a jigsaw and a drill. We bought cedar wood planks for the wall. My husband likes the light weight of the wood. He also likes the smell. Previously my husband installed the insulation so we were ready to put up the planks once we cut them to size. Once we measured, we cut the pieces down to 5 1/2 feet. This brings them right to the point where the walls start to curve toward the roof.

Wall3

I cut most of the pieces myself after my husband showed me what we were doing. Unfortunately, I didn’t always do a good job of being totally straight. Fortunately, I didn’t need to be perfect since we are going to overlap the top of the planks as it curves into the roof. Anything that needs more precision, I will leave to my husband.

Bus walls me

Next we were ready to put up the wall. We made our marks on the planks to drill the holes. Then we changed out to a smaller drill bit and put the planks in place and drilled a pilot hole into the wall framing. Finally, we manually screwed in the screws. I ended up doing the majority of the work since I was learning and it also kept me warm in the freezing temperatures. My husband was happy to supervise the whole thing.

Bus walls finished

It is definitely good to have a sense of accomplishment. I was glad to try something new and to be a part of the bus project. It is all new to me, but my husband likes the idea of us both working on the bus. Thankfully he has the skills to do what we need to do and he can teach me a thing or two.

My First-Time Off-Road Adventure

Faithful Homesteader 

It has been a year of new adventures for me. I did a rock climbing wall for my birthday even though I had a bit of fear associated with it. I also took a kayaking class although I have a definite fear of water. My husband has wanted me to go off-roading with him for quite a long time and we finally did it. In the days before we were married, off-roading was a major part of his life. It is for sure an activity way out of my comfort zone.

Off-Road

For his birthday last year I bought him an off-road sticker, but because of various circumstances we never made it out to the off-road park. This year he was determined to go, so I went and bought a new sticker. It was not something that I was excited about doing, but I wanted to go for his sake. He felt that I owed him since he had taken me dancing a few times and he says he would rather have dental work than go dancing.

I tend to get car sick and my husband’s truck does not have air conditioning, so those two things alone made me wary about going. My husband has an old Toyota 4x4 truck that he has wanted to test off road for a long time. I decided to just try to take everything in stride. I am trying to be more adventurous. I am often looking for new things to try and this definitely fit into that category.

My husband wanted to let off some steam and I wanted to be supportive of that. He was convinced that I would hate everything about it, but still wanted me to come. Since we were on our own and it was the first chance to test out some things with his truck, we stayed on the less difficult courses. We drove through the mud and got the truck sufficiently dirty to make him happy. For me, I don’t really like to have a dirty truck so I did not see the appeal. We did a lot of driving up and down steep rocky hills. There was definitely some rough spots along the way. I was a little nervous, but remained calm.

In the final assessment, I would not say I hated it, but I also didn’t love it. I was just merely a passenger and observer so it really was a bit too hands-off for me. I wonder if I might get more out of it if I was the one in control and driving. I noticed that there were plenty of women at the park that day and they were definitely into it. My husband had a good time and was finally able to test out some things on his truck. I was glad that he had a good day. Now it is off to find a new adventure.

Saying Goodbye to a Pet Chicken

Faithful Homesteader 

There has been a lot of loss on the homestead this year. This week I said goodbye to my third chicken this year and I was devastated. I am thankful for the people who understand that it is more than a chicken. There are those who know the loss of a pet can hit hard.

Kota Pretty

My hen Kota came to us in March and I sure hated to lose her so soon. A couple weeks ago we noticed that she had hurt herself. She was having trouble getting around. We worked to make sure that she did not do any further damage and it seemed like she was doing better. She seemed like she was eating all the time and that actually reminded me of our hen Barbie who died earlier in the year. Barbie had coccidiosis, but the normal treatment of Corid was not enough to help her improve. She ended up being really underweight.

I then noticed that Kota had runny and yellow poo. Immediately I started treatment and even bought fresh product in case ours was too old. She seemed pretty normal at that point, but the next day late in the day, she seemed more off and was a bit puffed up.

The day after that she was on the bottom of the coop when I opened up, but when I brought out the treats, she came running with the rest of the flock. We did separate her that day because we could still tell that she was having some issues. She still had plenty of life in her though and she fought being isolated.

On the fourth day, she had deteriorated immensely. Since the weekend was over, I called the vet and they had me bring her in for an exam. By the time I got her to the vet, she was near death. I totally lost it.They put her on oxygen and checked her out. It was determined that she had a bacterial infection and that she was underweight. This surprised me because it really did seem like she was always eating.

The vet said that they could hospitalize her and try to save her, but she was pretty far gone and there was no guarantee that she would make it. She really was so weak and frail by that point that I felt it was best to let her go. They put her to sleep and we brought her home and buried her with the rest of our deceased pets. I cried so much at the vet, on my way home, and the rest of the day at various times.

It does amaze me how attached I can get, but they are my family, my children. Kota was such a pretty girl. She could be a bit fussy. Often she was not content to lay her eggs in the nesting box and we found her in some unique places. My favorite was when she would use a tall bag of leaves. When we first brought her home, she could be pretty loud, but quieted down over time. She was a sweet girl for sure.

As always, I wonder what I could have done differently. It is hard because chickens do so well at hiding sickness. We do try to keep things sanitary. One suggestion from the vet on the underweight thing was to weigh our other girls once a week. I think it’s a good idea, but not always the easiest to do. Our girls do not like to be handled. Sometimes I wonder if I am cut out to be a chicken mama, but I just can’t imagine my life now without them. It is also something that people now associate with me.

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.