Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Stephanie's Bus Home + Tips for Fulfilling, Creative Living in Nature, On Your Terms

Who doesn't dream of leaving all their worries (debt, mortgage, excess clutter) behind for the simple life? A life with minimal modern distractions, where your creativity is nurtured by the beauty of the surrounding nature. A life where you're completely in control of your environment; comfortable and cozy? Stephanie (who blogs at Compass & Hatchet) made this life for herself when she converted a school bus into an artsy abode and parked it on an organic farm. She's sharing her experience making her dream bus home and providing some tips on how to follow you dreams like she did.

You make your living as an organic farmer, can you tell us a bit about the farm and Rainshadow Growers Collective?

We started the collective as a way to work together with our neighbours and not compete with all the same produce. We live a ways away from a few of the markets we were attending, so joining forces meant saving on fuel and sharing the burden of driving. The farm where I live goes by the name Fluster Cluck. It's exactly how you would imagine it judging by the name. There is always an abundance of life, people, dogs. It can be crazy sometimes, and difficult to navigate socially, just like living with a big family. But it's absolutely beautiful here. 

What are the biggest pros and cons of working as an organic farmer?

The biggest pro in growing your own organic food, is eating fresh organic food. Feeding your friends and community healthy produce that you know is free of pesticides. I would say that a Con to being a farmer is how much time it takes, and how you can't leave the garden on it's own. It's hard to be a successful farmer and still have a life that is full of lazy weekends and road trips.

You live in a dreamy, envious converted school bus. (Awesomely named "Tusk"!) When and why did you make the decision to do this?

I have always day dreamed about making a home in a bus ( or a van, or a boat, or a... crashed airplane... ) A home inside of a something that wasn't originally intended to be a home is like the ultimate fort, and what really is the greatest aspiration of being an adult? Doing the things you always dreamt of doing when you were a kid, and having no one to tell you no. 

When I moved to the farm, I realized quickly that having roommates wasn't my style. I wanted a place that was all mine. The bus was an obvious answer, a fun project and a child hood dream fort come true. 

Do you live in Tusk year around or is it on/off?

Currently Tusk, is a three season home. It's just too cold in the winter, even with the wood stove, since I haven't altered it at all, besides cosmetically. I could add insulation, do the floors, cover some of the windows, but I love the way it's looks and feels as it is, and it gives me an excuse to spend the winters away.

What was the hardest part about converting Tusk into a home?

I wouldn't say that any part of it was hard, only time consuming or tedious. Like I mentioned I really didn't do too much  to it, besides the cosmetics. The floor was the least fun. Chipping away the linoleum from the plywood. But it turned out to be the most defining feature of my space, so I am really happy I did it. 

How about the easiest part?

The easiest part I suppose was acquiring the bus. I thought it would be difficult to find one in my price range ( which was basically $0 ) but I put the word out and found one almost right away.

What's your favorite thing about Tusk-living?

Waking up in the morning with the sun, how it feels like I am camping most of the time, seeing all the stars at night. Just being closer to nature. That it's not a conventional home satisfies a rebellious need to not "conform". I can make a life that looks how ever I want it to look, and it makes me feel humbled, very fortunate and full of gratitude. 

If I can ask, how much did the bus initially cost, and what does it cost monthly to live in it?

I bought the bus for $1400. I got a really good deal from a friend who was using it for storage. Putting it together I used lots of used materials and end or warped wood from a wood lot near by to keep the cost down. I contribute money towards the farm and property bills monthly to have it parked here.

Any ingenious storage solutions to share for would-be mico home livers?

Baskets and Rubbermade Totes. Best ever. 

You have such a good eye, I love the interior design of Tusk, what was your inspiration for the final look?

I didn't have one solid inspiration for the final look, I just wanted all the things I loved in one space. I actually  don't think there is a final look because I am constantly moving things around, adding and subtracting colours and textiles as they inspire or bore me. I love eclectic collections, lived in spaces, and artist's studios, but I also function best in a space where things are kept tidy and minimal. I pendulum swing between these two moods, and the outcome is my design aesthetic.

Have you taken Tusk on any road trips?

Only the road trip to the farm, before I converted it. She does run, but I would say that Tusk isn't the ideal road trip bus. First off she is too big for one girl and one dog. She is slow, and has air breaks which I don't have a licence to drive. I love that I can take her with me anywhere I move, but I would much prefer to take road trips in my truck.

What are your tips for would be micro home livers?

I guess just be prepared to liberate yourself from possessions. Stuff begins to feel like the enemy when you live in a small space.  Plus it feels really good to let things go.

I completely agree, I love to let things go at every chance! How about tips for making a living as a farmer and/or creative?

Don't give up? It's not easy to step away from 9-5's and feel secure. But it is possible, especially if you decrease cost of living by requiring less and growing your own food.

Thank you so much for sharing your tips and experiences with us Stephanie, you're an inspiration and your bus home is incredible!
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  1. What a great interview, Vanessa:) I wish I had the guts and the drive to do something like this when I was younger. Not only is she living the life she wants of being an organic farmer, she's also living in an awesome converted bus! How awesome is that! It looks fantastic!

  2. Replies
    1. Agreed, she did an amazing job with her home!

  3. Loved so much this post <3 Such a pity we don't have US buses around, they look awesome for road trips and mobile houses.
    Following Stephanie's blog, so inspiring!

    1. Hers definitely gives me some micro home envy.

  4. I can definitely see the appeal of living in a mobile home, and to eat fresh organic produce every single day!
    I enjoyed reading about this unique lifestyle!

    1. It would definitely be the dream in a lot of ways.

  5. wow.. i could never ever do that..

    1. It's not for everyone. But the human animal is alarmingly adaptable.

  6. I want a BUS!! I love this interview so much!

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

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