Friday, December 19, 2014

Update: Compost Toilet, Day 4

Alrighty...Here were are at day 4 of using my compost toilet. I have it set up in my bedroom (since my bathroom is too small) and everything seems to be going smoothly under the watchful eye of Wonder Woman.

The bucket on the left has the peat moss in it with a scooper and the one on the right is the replacement once the one in use is full.
The first day it was operational was Tuesday and, needless to say, I was a little apprehensive about using it. I wasn't sure what to expect and so, I held on to the very last possible moment but, alas, nature doth call when it calls. All the dancing around and leg crossing won't help.

It was a very strange experience. First, just using a toilet that is located in a bedroom feels strange. Second, not reaching back after making a deposit to flush away the contents of the bowl is strange too. Knowing that everything is just sitting there below you is kinda creepy at first.

But since then, it has become much easier. I am using old faithful for both poop and pee (I know, "poop and pee" sounds so 1st grade but "urine and fecal matter" sound too clinical and I am MUCH more "1st grade" than "clinical"). With 3 full days of use under my belt, I have yet to notice an odor. Well, at least an offensive odor. The peat moss definitely gives my room a more "earthy", "soil" kind of smell but it's not at all unpleasant.

I am fairly sensitive to smells. Just ask the people I work with. I will frequently know when specific co-workers have arrived by their smells. I can even tell when certain people have been in the elevator recently. Freak...I know. But, like I said, I am sensitive to smells. That being said, if I don't notice an odor, I can say with some confidence that none exists. But I decided to call in a few unbiased noses.

First up yesterday, my aunt Sheri. It's her house that I'm living in and I KNOW if there's an odor, she will be putting a stop to this experiment toot sweet. So I called her into my room for a little sniff around, carefully avoiding my shoe rack and laundry hamper. She reported no noticeable odor. She even got down next to the toilet to do a ground zero assessment and to her shock and amazement, nothing. She continued to comment on it for the rest of the day. "How could a bucket filled with 3 days of poop and pee NOT stink???"

Later on that evening, I went for the young, ethnic, male demographic by calling in my buddy Freddy. When I let him know that I needed an odor assessment, he dropped to his hands and knees, lifted the toilet seat and prepared to take a big sniff right down in the bucket!! While I appreciated the lengths to which he was willing to go for our friendship, I stopped him before he could inhale. Not because I thought he would experience a foul odor, but because I prefer to use my friend "wild cards" for things like, "Hey, I'm at home watching a movie. Can you run to the store and bring me some ice cream?" or "I'm butchering some chickens or hogs this weekend and need an extra hand. Please help." Yes, I am aware how wildly different those two things are but if you're gonna be my friend, you gotta be ready for any and every eventuallity. But in this situation, using up a card to have him sniff poop seemed like a waste. Entertaining, but a waste nonetheless.


So, my second smell test went off without a hitch as well. Amazingly, Freddy, too, found there to be no noticeable odor.

And so, the experiment goes on. So far, I'm still on board. My first bucket will be full by next week I think. I should have my compost pile ready to go this weekend.

I really want to recommend "The Humanure Handbook" by Joseph Jenkins to anyone that is even remotely interested in this subject. You can download the e-book for $10 by clicking here. So much of what we believe as a culture about this topic is not correct. This book is very helpful and informative and $10 isn't much.

Well, that's all I've got for now. Any thoughts, suggestions, concerns? Please share. Thanks for stoppin by!

-Big Jerm

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Update: Compost Toilet D-Day ("D" for deuce)



So this weekend, I used the instructions in The Humanure Handbook to build my own compost toilet prototype. The book calls it "the $25 toilet" but when I went to Lowe's, I walked out with a receipt that read about $70. I'm assuming their $25 price tag was due to access to reclaimed/recycled materials. The sheet of plywood I had to buy cost me more than $25. It took me most of the day to finish, but that includes my leisurely visit to Lowe's and several dance/sing breaks to a few select Motown jams on my "Gladys Knight" Pandora station.

Supplies are purchased



Tracing the hole in the lid
Hole didn't come out perfect but I don't work with a jig saw very often
Frame is ready
Feet added and base coat applied
Waiting for paint to dry is the WORST
Finishing touches
First stencil...ever. I'm no Banksy
Checking the fit
Aaron is skeptical
Freddy is at home...
...doing a little soul searching

My toilet is built but I'm a little bummed that I haven't broken her in yet. When I attached the legs, I made a mistake in my measurements and made them about 1/2 inch too short. That means that the bucket sticks out too much under the toilet seat. The toilet seat doesn't lay flat. Ordinarily, I would just remove the screws, adjust the leg positions and screw them again. However, the premium wood glue that I purchased and used is not playing along. So, I decided I would just add feet to the bottom of the legs that would raise the frame up the 1/2 inch I need. But since it was cold and drizzly outside on Sunday, it's gonna have to wait for a few days. Rain and power tools are not things that I like to mix.

There you have it. I am excited to start my experiment. I ran out of time and funds this weekend so I postponed building the frame for my compost pile until next weekend. Drew up the plans though. Planning to make it 4'x3'x3' made from 2x4s and chicken wire. I have read in some places that it should be larger but I will only be composting my own materials so I think that's enough space for a single man to fill up in a year. We have roaming dogs, wild hogs, coyotes, possums, raccoons, turkey vultures and lots of other animals that might be interested in digging through compost for a free meal so, I will be adding a lid to it too.

I am a meticulous planner and I'm very visual

Well, that's it for now. Any questions, comments or advice are welcome. Thanks for stoppin' by!

-Big Jerm

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Toilets: To Compost or To Flush...

Ok...here we go. The much awaited and anticipated toilet talk. Everybody poops right? Well not everybody flushes it.


As I mentioned before, although I didn't know it at the time, my love affair with tiny homes began with the reading of "Twelve by Twelve: A One-Room Cabin Off the Grid and Beyond the American Dream" by William Powers. He writes, "Instead of a flush toilet, I discovered that Jackie used a five-gallon composting toilet under the porch out back. It featured a regular toilet seat, but there was no chemical-filled cesspool below ground - just a standard white bucket. Throw some fresh-smelling cedar chips in after every use, and there was absolutely no foul odor."

Droppin a deuce in a bucket was so repulsive to me that I shelved this whole tiny house, back-to-nature idea. I just couldn't get past it. I needed a toilet that whisked away everything that came out of my body. Out of sight, out of mind right?


Since I plan to keep my house stationary on our 22 acres in Palestine TX, my original plan was to have a septic tank installed there so I can use a conventional toilet and plumbing system. I figure I can install a mobile home foundation with a smaller tank nearby for not a whole lot of money.

beezleyseptic.com
When I attended the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company Workshop in Dallas, they had each of the 100+ people in attendance introduce themselves and share why they came. Most people were saying, "I'm here to learn how to build a tiny house" or "I wanna simplify my life" or "I wanna build these things for a living" or "My husband wants one of these and I'm here to see what it's about" etc, etc, etc. When the mic came to me, I said, "Hi. My name is Jeremy. I live in Palestine, TX and I'm here because I like the idea of a simpler life and to learn how to put a REAL toilet in my tiny house." The laughter from the audience and nodding heads told me I wasn't alone. The presenter, Ella, just nodded with a knowing smile on her face.

On the second day of the workshop, we finally broached the subject. It turns out there are several of different toilet options for a tiny house.

Conventional/Residential Toilets

Pros-
  • Feels more like a home.
  • Everything disappears with a push of a button. 
  • Guests are more comfortable with it.
  • Parents/family/friends don't think you are insane for having it.
Cons-
  • Takes up more space.
  • Needs a Septic Tank.
  • Not really eco-friendly with the amount of water it uses.


RV Toilets

Pros-
  • Smaller footprint. No Tank.
  • Low flush.
Cons-
  • Still needs to drain to a black water tank (that you then must empty ... Gross).  

Incinerator Toilets


Pros-
  • No plumbing required.
  • Everything burns so...yea.
Cons-
  • Expensive.
  • Uses a lot of energy to burn.
  • No DIY options.
  • Must explain how to use it to visitors.
  • Doesn't always work right (imagine the smell of burning poop...).
  • Flames near my junk? No thanks!
Incinole



Incinole
Incinole























Compost Toilets


Pros-
  • Eco-friendly. Returns nutrients to nature.
  • No plumbing required.
  • Cheaper DIY options are available.
  • Simple to use.
  • Little or no energy use.
Cons-
  • You drop the kids off in a bucket/container that needs to be emptied. By me.
  • Do I really need to list more cons than that?!
Video: Nature's Head Commercial Toilet

Ella's DIY Option
www.littleyellowdoor.com
DIY Option
www.compostingtoilet.net
However, to my complete and utter surprise, as the presenter, Ella, talked more and more about her choice to use a compost toilet, the more and more it made sense to me. Crazy, right?

I guess I never realized that many people around the world operate this way. Even if they could afford to build the same waste disposal systems we have in place here in America, they don't have the water resources required to flush everything away. China has been utilizing human manure for crops for centuries. Their system isn't without its problems but it's a place to start. 

I didn't like the expensive commercial version because, quite frankly, there were too many moving parts. When you get ready to use it, you have to push the pedal or pull the lever that opens up the rotating cover to the receptacle below to receive your "deposit". Sort of like an airplane toilet without the fantastic "WHOOOSH!" The opening is only so big and it was too likely that poop would hit the sides. You can't use water to clean it because water in the holding tank would retard the composting process. I do NOT want to have to wipe poop off of anything! Especially the poop of my friends and visitors. Some people recommend keeping a spray bottle of rubbing alcohol handy. The pressure from that spray should dislodge any lingering material and the alcohol evaporates quickly so as to not add any unnecessary moisture to the composing process. Yea...I'm gonna pass on the game of Poop Target Practice.

This is how it works on the DIY side of things. There are different ways to build a compost toilet but basically, you buy a 5 gallon bucket. You build some sort of decorative box for it to go in with a toilet seat on top. They sell special biodegradable bags you can use as liners for the bucket. Every time you drop a grumper, you put either saw dust, cedar chips, peat moss or some other material on top to cover it and eliminate any  odors. When the bag gets full, you tie it off, take it outside and toss it into your compost heap. 

Now, our presenter, Ella, was a young, pretty woman. She lives in her tiny house in California near Half Moon Bay with her boyfriend. She assured us that if her compost toilet had any kind of odor, she would NOT have it. If ever a guest stepped into her house and commented on any kind of odor, she would toss it immediately. I definitely could't see this woman living in a house that smelled of sewage.

Ella in front of her tiny house

And just like that, I was onboard the compost toilet train! I love the simplicity of it. As I mentioned before, I really like the idea of reconnecting to nature and this was just another aspect of it. The plants we grow from the ground take in nutrients that we eat when we consume them. Those nutrients pass through us and we are required to return those nutrients back to the Earth for the next generation of plants to use. It's a beautiful cycle that we break when we flush those nutrients off to some landfill.

Now the complicated stuff...

Although they are both compostable, there are various schools of thought on the subject of peeing and pooping in the same receptacle. I read in some places that mixing the two together is what creates the odor you want to avoid and therefore they have designed systems to separate the two. I came up with the idea of having a separate urinal mounted on the wall everytime you needed to see a man about a horse. I would have the bathroom sink drain down into the urinal as a flushing mechanism down into a gray water reservoir where it would mix with shower and kitchen sink run off and be ready to be disbursed into the yard. But let's keep it real...who pees BEFORE blastin a dookie??? So, there's a modified version where the "urinal" is actually attached inside the bucket at the front. I would then have to figure out a way to still have the sink drain into that to wash down the contents into the gray water tank.

Urine Separater 
Other people go ahead and just mix the two together with no problems. I guess the only way to find out what happens is to try it out.

So a compost toilet eliminates the need for a black water reservoir or septic tank but I will still need a gray water reservoir to catch shower, kitchen sink, and clothes washing water. Gray water can be used on the garden outside but I could only allow biodegradable, natural things to go down the drain. This means my personal products like hair gel, shampoo, deodorant, soap, lotion, etc. Also, cleaning products and anything that would go down the kitchen sink.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized how big of a change that would be for me and my lifestyle. Y'all don't wanna know me without chemicals under my arms holding my B.O. at bay! I couldn't realistically see myself making that change. Not to mention how expensive those types of natural products and be.

And so, I shelved the compost toilet idea in favor of a traditional flushing one. But I still didn't like the idea of a septic tank. It's an expensive install. Also, I don't really like the idea of all that water that is wasted every time we cop a squat. Also, any chemicals, drugs, etc that are flushed into the tank are often sent back out into the neighboring environment. Needless to say, this issue has sat in my craw for a while.

Well, I remembered a book that was recommended at the Tumbleweed Workshop:


"The Humanure Handbook: A Guide to Composting Human Manure, Third Edition" by Joseph C. Jenkins. The e-book can be purchased and downloaded for $10 here. I've only been reading it for a couple of days but it's a wonderful, informative read.

And guess what...I'm back on the compost toilet train!!! It's just gonna be so much easier and cheaper to use. I'm considering installing the plumbing for a residential toilet just in case I change my mind later on down the road.

So, my plan for now is this...I am going to build for myself a composting toilet and try it out. I'm not sure where I will put it yet. I am seriously considering putting it in my closet. Not sure if I'm gonna tell my aunt. It'll be a true test to see if she notices a smell or not. This weekend I plan to build a nice frame for a compost pile near my chicken coop. On our 22 acres, we have lots of rotting leaves and yard trimmings. Not to mention the manure and bedding from my chickens. In a few weeks, I'm going to have about 50 chickens worth of feathers and entrails. In the past, I have incinerated them but these things are perfectly compostable and I don't want to miss out on doing that this time around.

And so...I embark on my composting adventure. I will keep you posted on my progress. As a side note, I'm also working on building a Whizbang Chicken Plucker to speed up our chicken processing time.



Well, there you have it! I tried as hard as I could to throw in as many euphemisms for pooping as I could. I have a few left so here they are:

  • Backing the motorhome out of the garage
  • Clean out the vertical file
  • Pinch a loaf
  • Deliver a food baby
  • Put my thoughts down on paper
  • Code brown
  • Lose 10 pounds the quick way
  • Vote for president
  • Download a brownload
  • And my own personal family phrase....Bomb china
Hope you enjoyed this as much as I did! Any comments or suggestions are appreciated. Thanks for stoppin' by.

-Big Jerm

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Making It My Own

And so, my mind was made up. I wanted the Cypress 20 Tumbleweed but still had no idea how I would build this thing. I mean, in the age of the "Youtubes" that we live in, I believe you can learn to do pretty much anything. Under the tutelage of Professor YouTube, I've learned, among other things, how to clean my new Marlin 336, humanely butcher a chicken, do effective squats,  build a snake trap, crochet a granny square, prep and cook a raccoon, tie an Eldridge knot, tan a hide, do the various chicken dances from Arrested Development, play the theme song from The Office on the piano, as well as a day in the life of the honey badger and some river dancing chimps thrown in for good measure. But building a house using online instructional videos? I wasn't quite sure, even though one of the scenes from "Tiny" depicts Christopher working on his electrical system while watching a video on his tablet. 

If there's one thing people who know me will tell you, it's that I like to learn the right way to do something. I read instruction manuals everytime I buy something new and actually enjoy it. If there's something I'm interested in, I will take a class at the community college or sign up for a workshop somewhere. I like to be able to learn from someone who has done it before and be able to ask questions of a flesh and blood human being. The Tumbleweed Tiny House Company offers workshops that are hosted by other tiny housers with their own professionals on hand to answer questions too. The workshop goes from start to finish through the whole house building process and discusses various ideas as well as their suggestions for what materials to use and what others to avoid. This was right up my alley! I wasn't sure when I would have the funds to attend but I was determined to make it happen before I start building.


I went ahead and purchased the plans for the Cypress 20 from Tumbleweed. This is when I found out one of the things I love about Tumbleweed. When I added the plans to my cart on their website, a window popped up offering a CONSIDERABLE discount for the workshop ticket. Sweet right??? Just like that, I had my plans purchased AND a seat reserved at their upcoming workshop in Dallas, TX! The workshop was GREAT. But I digress ... more on the workshop later.


Now, back to the plans. They offer several floor plans and I decided on the Overlook.

I really liked this layout and yet, a few things nagged at me about it. So the wheels in my head started turning. The more I thought about it, the more I didn't like the idea of stepping out of my bathroom right into the kitchen. Getting dressed in the kitchen after a shower just didn't sit well with me. Also, I like to have friends over and to cook. I could just see me trying to get around in the kitchen while my friends tried to get in and out of the bathroom. Not to mention the idea of certain odors emanating from the bathroom while I'm preparing food. Gross. 


One thing I knew for sure, I wanted as much natural light as possible in my house. I love sunlight and it helps a space feel fresher and bigger. I've heard from my roofer friends that skylights are a pain in the butt and ALWAYS leak. I as that I could use to take in the sunrise in the morning and stars at night from the comfort of my bed. So, I opted for the dormers in the loft area. I liked the idea of having slightly more head room and windows that I could use to take in the sunrise in the morning and stars at night from the comfort of my bed. I also plan to figure out how to make those windows open so I can take out an occasional deer or wild hog from up there. Don't judge me. This IS Texas after all!

I went ahead and attended the workshop in Dallas in August. One of the MANY things I learned was that the plans are really just a guide. What I mean is, window and door placement are typically static (with some exceptions) along with the construction of the exterior walls but the interior is fully customizable. No interior walls are load bearing. There can be one completely open space with no walls to divide the areas if I want it that way (of course I don't, because using the toilet could become somewhat awkward while entertaining guests). The people at the workshop had another wonderful tool they provided.


Cypress 24 with dormers
Loft with dormers
There was a couple, Meg & Brandy, who had recently ordered and received an "Amish Barnraiser" from Tumbleweed. Out of the kindness of their hearts, they volunteered to drive their little house up to us and allow us the opportunity to walk through it and look around. And it just so happened that the house they were bringing was the Cypress! I was so excited. Although, they purchased the 24 footer and I will be building the 20 footer, it was still a great experience to step inside the house and feel it out. We were all so grateful to them for doing that for us. Check out their blog at tinyhouse43.com.

Cypress 24 on a triple axle trailer
Being able to walk around an actual tiny house was very helpful. It did feel a little "cozy" but I realized that once the windows are installed, the space will open up a lot. I also decided I would move my kitchen to the front of the house and the bathroom to the back of the house with the living space in between. This idea completely resolved my problem with the layout. I have also picked a color scheme for the exterior.


Subject to change at ANY moment
Trim/Walls/Shutters
This is where I am as of today. I plan to hang my TV on the wall to the left and install several 12"x12" cubbies or shelves under the TV for storing my folded shirts and pants. I will pick out cool and random pieces of fabric that I will hang across each cubby. Not sure if you can visualize it but I think it'll be cool.

I'm also tossing around ideas of putting some cubbies of the same size along the leading edge of the loft that I can use for storage too. Any of these ideas could be adjusted or just completely thrown out when I shoot straight up in my bed with a better idea in the middle of the night. Or when one of you suggest something I like better. Please let me know what you think.

Thanks for stoppin' by! Up next, as promised...drumroll please...TOILET TALK! To compost or not to compost...that is the question.

-Big Jerm

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Let The Research Begin!

And so, my research began. Immediately, I was completely and utterly overwhelmed with the amount of pictures and designs I saw online. Soooo many great ideas and cute designs. I went back and wrote down some of the names and companies that appeared in the documentary "Tiny: A Story About Living Small" and began to narrow my search there.

I kept seeing images of this one AWESOME house I was totally in love with. It was all over the place but I had no idea whose house it was. I saw it on random Pinterest pages and other tiny home sites. The colors were just great and the amount of natural light the house let in was beautiful. Pictures of this house simply inspired me. I loved this little house so much that I downloaded every image I could find of it to my iPad. I had read from multiple sources that it's useful to have some cool tiny home pictures on hand at all times to show people who are interested (or skeptical). I used those pictures to show my concerned family and friends that I didn't intend to live in a teeny weeny tiny uninteresting box. I felt that this house was the epitome of what I was going for in my plan.

My research continued. I perused lots of sites and saw lots of sketches and plans. However, most people suggest against buying or using any plans that don't come with pictures of the finished product. Many times a structure works on paper but just is not functional in real life and the designer has no way of knowing if they never actually build it. It was about this time that I came across Tumbleweed Tiny House Company and I was excited to find that they had a customer showcase. When I clicked on the link, there it was, big as day (so to speak)...my little dream house!!! I found out it was the Cypress Tumbleweed. More specifically, it was Brittney's Cypress (previously known as the Fencl).


Isn't this the CUTEST house you've EVER seen????


Wicker furniture is cool
Love the little bench in the nook

Skylights are awesome - lots of natural light

Brittney's Floor Plan

And so, just like that, I was sold. This was my house. I had found what I had been looking for. The cost of these plans wasn't cheap, however, when I found out I could make 12 monthly payments, I signed up. Once I made my first payment, the plans were immediately made available to me in pdf form. That was pretty cool. At that time, I also purchased the book, "Tiny House Design & Construction Guide" by Dan Louche. When I purchased the paperback book online, I received a free download of the ebook. I began reading the ebook and when the paper version arrived, I handed it over to my dad so that he could start reading too (he still hasn't OFFICIALLY agreed to help me but seeing as how he lives 2 doors down from me and he's pretty handy, he has no choice).



So my plans were purchased and now the customization process begins. I had some changes I wanted to make to those plans. Stayed tuned for my next post about my design choices (so far) and still to come...toilet talk. Thanks for stoppin' by.

-Big Jerm


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Tiny Home Living...Why?

To many people, living in a house that measures 188 sq. ft. (sleeping loft included) built on an 8'x20' utility trailer sounds absolutely crazy. In a world where success is measured by big fancy cars and large houses filled with lots and lots of stuff, it's hard to imagine why someone would want to move in the opposite direction.

There was a time when I, too, was crunching the numbers to see just how much house I could afford. Asking the question, "What is the MAXIMUM amount of house I can afford to buy?" I love to entertain my friends and family. When I entertain, I love to cook. I wanted a big house with a large open kitchen and lots of bedrooms so my friends can stay over. I also like to decorate and I really liked the idea of a huge empty canvas to work with. My Pinterest boards are FULL of design/DIY ideas for a nice spacious house. I wanted that. But that would soon change.

Here's where it all began for me...

A few years ago, I was listening to my favorite AM news radio program, The Bill Handel Show , on KFI am 640 out of Los Angeles. I happened to catch an interview Bill Handel conducted with an author and activist by the name of William Powers. He had written a book entitled, "Twelve by Twelve: A One-Room Cabin Off the Grid and Beyond the American Dream." This title immediately interested me as one of my favorite books is "Outliers: The Story of Success" in which the author, Malcolm Gladwell, takes a good hard look at the American ideal that anyone that works hard can succeed and turns it on it's head.



Book cover

Immediately after listening to that interview, I went online and ordered his book. I absolutely love it and have since read it several times.

In this book, he chronicles his experience meeting a woman named Dr. Jackie Benton, a successful physician that, for tax purposes, limits her income to $10,000 per year and happily lives on a permaculture farm in a twelve-foot-by-twelve-foot cabin in rural North Carolina without running water or electricity.  Her neighbors include organic farmers, biofuel brewers, and eco-developers. After their initial meeting, Jackie invites the author to stay in her cabin while she travels abroad for three months. Powers writes about his time spent there alone and his experiences reconnecting to nature while reassessing society's (and his own) dependence on modern technology. He also reflects on his experiences traveling as an international aid worker.

Keep in mind that I grew up a city boy in the suburbs of Los Angeles. Since moving to the country in Texas, I have felt the need to roll up my sleeves and become more self-sufficient: a desire to live closer to the Earth and utilize more fully the things that God created for us. This book spoke very deeply to that desire. I started to feel like I, too, could live in a 12x12 cabin and grow all my own food.

This feeling continued to grow within me...until I got to the part of the book about Jackie crapping in a bucket out on her back porch. Ummmm...yea...as it would for most people raised in the suburbs, part of the dream died right then and there. Like the majority of Americans, I expect the things that leave my body to be whisked off somewhere, never to be seen or heard from again. Am I right?

I would later learn that, in reality, Jackie was using a simple, home-made composting toilet. In the past 6 months, I have gone back and forth on this topic. I went from "ew, GROSS" to "you know, that makes a lot of sense" to "unfortunately, that's not for me", but I'll cover that in a future article. Hold your breath for more toilet talk to come.

Plumbing conflicts aside, I continued to search for ways to strike a healthy balance between the fast paced, technology ladened, and chemically enhanced world we live in and the simpler, more natural one I wanted to be a part of. I researched and successfully started a pastured-poultry operation so that I could provide healthy, humanely treated poultry for myself as well as my friends and family. I really enjoy that process and the meat is oh so fresh and delicious.



Day old chickies



3 weeks old


6 weeks old


Moveable pen for daily access to grass and bugs...YUM!




Processing crew for the day and our setup

It was about this time that I stumbled upon the tiny house movement. I came across the documentary "Tiny: A Story About Living Small" on Netflix and my interest was piqued. If you haven't seen it, check it out. It's a great story. The more I looked into it, the more I loved this concept of tiny living! 

Here's a few reasons why:

First, it just made sense to me. Before moving to Texas, I spent a year living with my parents (sleeping in my dad's small office) to save up for the move. Then I spent the last 3 years as a college student essentially living in a bedroom at my aunt's house. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that 188 sq. ft. would feel like a freakin' MANSION compared to how I've been living!

Second, being able to save up and pay cash for it means no rent/mortgage payments...EVER. Imagine living someplace completely paid for. Not in 30 years or 15 years. Now. That means I can work less and live more. I can spend my time doing things I love to do with the people I love.

Third, a smaller house FORCES you to simplify. Less space means less things means less time/energy cleaning and less money spent on acquiring things and maintaining those things. I've already started purging my belongings (you're welcome Kai) and I've adapted my habits to the "one in, one out" philosophy. When I'm thinking about buying something, I think about what item I'm willing to give up to make room for this new purchase. If I can't think of something to get rid of, it means I don't really need the new item.

Fourth, it's a real house, just mobile. People have asked me why I don't just go RV but an RV isn't a real house. Among other things, it's not insulated for long term habitation. A tiny house is fully insulated and should last just as long as a normal sized house if built to the correct specifications and quality materials are used. Another cool thing is although I plan to stay in east Texas, if ever I need to relocate for whatever reason, I can take my house with me. That's sweet!

Additionally, I get to design my own house: choose my own layout. How cool is that?? Kitchen, living room and bathroom placement and relative size are completely up to me. I can set up the house to flow naturally with my movements and habits. A nice sized kitchen is important to me so I will make sure that happens. I can fully decide what materials I want to build with too. I still get my blank canvas to work with, just a smalller one.

Lastly, I'm intrigued by the challenge of it all. Building a house myself will be a great adventure but I'm up for it. And spending quality time with my circle of friends and family who are willing to roll up their sleeves and help will be a rewarding experience too.

I am still in the design process but I have narrowed it down to the plans I will be using. I'm hoping to start building in March 2015. Check back soon for more about my plans/designs.

Please feel free to share your thoughts or inspiration for your tiny house below. Thanks for stoppin' by!

-Big Jerm