Tuesday, December 13, 2011

We've been Featured!

Check out this blog by Mark Tisdale, called "Living Unconventional". He was kind enough to include us in his blog in the form of an interview where we answer questions about our unconventional home.
Click here to see our bus interview

Monday, November 28, 2011

Its Winter Again Already?

     Well this post is a little out-dated, but Winter came early here in MA, with a generous helping of 2 feet of snow right before Halloween! It feels like we just got finished with winter not too long ago, I'm not ready for this yet! The snow came above the bottom of the bus door so I had to really push it out of the way as I opened the doors. Remember all those beautiful brassicas growing in the field? Yep, all crushed in the heavy snow! But we were quite lucky compared to some towns that lost power for a week or more. We only lost power for a few days, and we enjoyed being cozy inside the bus with our wood stove, drinking tea in the candle light.
Louie, as you can see, does not love the snow so much.
Several days later the temperature was in the 70s and all the snow was gone by the end of the week. But the nights have been getting pretty chilly and we have been making fires pretty often. The one night that we got home too late to bother to make a fire, the temperature inside the bus was just about as freezing as it was outside, and in the morning (after sleeping in a wool sweater and hat) I saw that all my jade plants froze to death in the night! We realized that we need to make a fire pretty much every night to be comfortable in here.
So I tek-foiled the bedroom! I could feel the cold draft disappear as I covered each window with the foil. Even though we insulated pretty well in the bus, we were losing a ton of heat through all the windows, and even if it looks like a space ship now, the tek-foil is keeping the heat in.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Some Fall Photos

Phil and Louie fixing a leak on the skylight.

Phil up on the roof on the most glorious fall day.

My brassicas growing in the field.

Yes! It is possible to grow ginger in New England! I started it in May in a pot in the greenhouse and pulled some up last week. I love hot ginger tea on a cold fall day. I'm not sure if it will survive the fierce winter so I might pull it all up soon and just replant in the spring.

Finally! I hired some professional landscapers to handle that overgrown garden.

How we made our shower from scratch

Don't worry, we didn't go with this idea.
     I wanted to do a post about the shower construction a long time ago but somehow left it out. We have been enjoying taking lovely hot showers in the bus since May when we finished hooking up all the plumbing. We have a garden hose coming from the farm's water supply that leads directly into our bus and provides enough pressure that we don't even use the water pump we bought. The 6 gallon water heater under the bed gives us water that is more than hot enough, and showers last under 10 min before the water starts to cool down. In the summer I would actually have to let the water run until it was cold enough to take a shower because of the long hose sitting in the sun.  Oh, wonderful solar power! We have a drain that empties into a 5 gallon bucket under the bus, so we keep our showers quick, more so we don't overfill the bucket, not because of the hot water running out. One thing about showering in a metal bus we've noticed, is there is a lot of condensation on windows and the ceiling which can lead to mold growth. Luckily our emergency exit/skylight is right next to the shower room so we can crack it for ventilation when we shower.
      Now that it's October, and we have had a few frosty nights here in Northern MA we are thinking about disconnecting the garden hose that supplies our water, emptying the pipes in our walls, and showering in the main farm building for the winter. I plan to keep the fire going in the bus a lot this winter, but we don't want to risk the pipes freezing in there if we can't keep it warm enough while we're at work. But more about winterizing later...

Here is how we made the shower!

Shower stalls can be expensive, and we weren't finding any cheap used ones, plus we had a unusual size that we were working with so we needed a very small shower stall which was hard to find ( our finished shower is a little over 24 x 24 inches.) Being unhappy with all the manufactured ones we were finding, we eventually decided to just make the whole shower from scratch. Tile would be too heavy and has a risk of cracking so that was not an option. We thought of so many different wall ideas including plexi glass over wood. We researched all kinds of shower pan ideas, and even bought a round metal wash tub that we were going to use! In the end we used Fibre-reinforced plastic panel (FRP) for the walls and floor because its a waterproof, easy to clean, somewhat flexible surface, and easy to work with.
Our total cost for our shower was definitely less than it would have been if we bought a shower stall.

Step one: The shower was framed out with studs and Phil used masonite board to make walls that the FRP will attach to.
Step two: On the shower floor, Phil created a slight slope to the drain by cutting wedge shapes from 2x4s and screwing them onto the floor, and then covered it all with one piece of ply wood screwed onto the wedges. This created a slight slope for water to go down the drain, but in reality the bus is hardly level when its parked so water always pools in a corner somewhere.
Drilling the hole for the shower drain, back in March.
Layers of the bus floor.

Step three: The FRP was cut to fit the walls and then attached to the masonite using construction adhesive. The floor was cut and attached the same way. The ceiling was also covered in FRP. This was done by having a long piece of FRP for the shower wall that was up against the side of the bus so it could bend up and follow the curve of the wall and ceiling and meet the top of the opposite wall.

Step four: 2x4s were wedged in to hold the FRP on the masonite while the glue dried. All the seams were then filled with white silicone caulking to make everything water tight. 
Boards holding the shower walls while the glue dries. The wall on the left shows the not-yet-covered masonite. The wall piece that will cover that will also cover the bus ceiling that you can see on the left.

Step five: The shower head and drain were installed in the shower, the hose was hooked up, and water heater turned on.
The water inlet on the outside of the bus where the garden hose hooks up to.

And that's pretty much it! We do plan to put up a few hand made shelves in there, but for the most part, its finished, and has been a wonderful, tiny shower for us.
So throw away and preconceived ideas of what a shower has to be! With a little creativity, anything can be turned into a shower or bath tub, and it doesn't have to cost a fortune.

Friday, July 22, 2011

And for all you complainers: Finially, a picture of us!

Bus Garden

Now that the interior of the bus is basically finished, and since this bus home won't be very mobile for the majority of this year, we have been putting a lot of work into the yard around it to make it feel more like a home. After we moved the bus to its spot we began raking and leveling the ground around it and started the never ending battle with the Japanese Knot Weed. With a lot of help from my visiting school children, in just a few hours we created a few little garden beds and a path leading up to them from the road. Shortly after that we were given some sod that was left over from another project, so we put in a mini golf course too.
This garden was made by 5th graders.

That was in May. Here is what the garden looks like in July:

These pictures don't even show how out of control my calendula is. I have been cutting and drying them to make tea and salves.
And we are still battling the Knot Weed, but we just got 2 goats on the farm and they have been helping by eating all the Knot Weed and everything else we don't want!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bus Living

Its actually been a few weeks since we officially moved into the bus and started living in it full time on the farm. But as farm life goes, I have been more busy with seeding the tomatoes and hoeing the strawberries than I have with blogging. Its been wonderful living in the bus so far. We have electricity, hot running water, the ability to cook meals, a cozy wood stove, beautiful custom-built everything, and an unbeatable view all around!
Since we've been living here, Phil has done a ton of work. He finished the wood floor, built book shelves, drawers and cabinets, built the shower from scratch and finished the plumbing, built the futon, and tons of other finishing touches to make our bus into a comfortable lovely home.

The wood stove
  My art desk
Art desk drawers
Book shelf made from milled lumber from the farm, and parts of the luggage rack that came with the bus.
Living room with futon/guest bed, view from the front of the bus.
Kitchen drawers made with scraps of milled lumber from the farm.

The kitchen

Spice rack
Kitchen counter
Shower room sink and shelves
 Toilet room shelves

Bedroom, view of the calf pasture.
Bedroom, with built-in storage head board/shelf.