Young Man Builds Stunning School Bus Tiny House for Only $4,500 – Debt Free Mobile Home

“Aaron converted this vintage baby blue school bus into a debt free tiny home for less than $4,500, and the interior design is absolutely stunning.

He traded an older vehicle for the bus, and used mostly reclaimed wood to build DIY storage spaces and a bed frame; and the countertop is made from a goat teeter totter. Most of the decor has been thrifted and specifically chosen to match the era of the bus, which is a 1959 Ford B600 Warden Master.”


Hurricane Resistant Earthbag Houses

Steve and Carol Escott’s hurricane resistant earthbag house in the Bahamas.

Steve and Carol Escott’s hurricane resistant earthbag house in the Bahamas.

Earthbag building is perfect for constructing storm resistant affordable housing in hurricane and tornado regions. Steve and Carol Escott’s house for instance has been through numerous hurricanes with no serious damage so far.

“When the Mississippi floods, people use earthbags to hold back the water. And when you buy a sack of oats for your horses, it might come in a polypropylene bag—the same kind that they fill with sand or soil and use to direct the flood waters.

Did you know you can build permanent structures with the same bags? In fact, you can get the material they make the bags from in a big roll—it is one long continuous tube at that point! This is before they cut it into smaller pieces and sew it to make bags—and that’s often even easier to use than the bags!

This building technique, which can use a wide variety of soil types, is called Earthbag Building. You can build foundations out of it, retaining walls, square houses, round houses, amoeboid houses, arches, vaults, domes, sculpture, benches, privacy “fences.” The list goes on!”

Mud Straw Love


Stuffing blinds

Releasing this one a few weeks late, but a few weeks ahead of waterfowl and archery season. Jeff, Blair, myself, and 3 of my family finally crushed a waterfowl hunt on camera. 84 birds in 2 hours, exactly half and half Canadas and mallards. The plan was to base an entire episode around this hunt, but as sometimes happens we ended up with more material than expected later in the season, and so the cameras follow us and our haul of birds down to the grasslands to see through the original plan of revisiting the grasslands for mule deer for the first time since S1. The birds kinda got in the way, and we’re glad they did.

Mule deer and archery figured prominently in S1, and not at all in S2. It was a regret. In part because archery offers some really interesting variety in tackle, in part because the grasslands are such a fascinating ecoregion, and in large part because my family has been hunting from that same spot since 1972 or thereabouts, so there’s some serious tradition and family heritage that were being ignored. That place and its wild things are now baked into the production plan for S3/4/5+. S3E9 & 10 will make up for some of that lost time, and really dig into mule deer cookery in a big way. Trailer below.

First Brook Trout

My first success with brook trout

The second half of our adventure with Hank found us back at Elbow Lake in Kananaskis. The smoke had eased up, and the bear closures didn’t impact the hike in. So much more to say about all that, but will leave it to the From The Wild episode. I happen to be a salmonid lover. When asked to choose a favourite protein, strictly from a hedonism standpoint, I’ve been known to choose salmon. It’s delicious.

Brook Trout, an introduced species in Alberta that tends to out-compete our native species [cutthroat, bull], happens to be in the char family. Bull trout, a zero keep fish in Alberta, is also in that family. The rest of the lot are trout, and everything but the west slope cutthroat is introduced – brown, brook, rainbow, lake. That’s my understanding. It’s also my understanding that if you’re going to eat one based on deliciousness, the char family wins. And since we can’t eat bull trout here, look out brookies.

It’s probably worth mentioning that despite growing up fishing, I had zero trout fishing experience prior to the very first episode of From The Wild. Zero. None. I knew perch, pike, and walleye as a kid, that’s it. This whole trout world is still new to me, and I find it fascinating. One of my favourite foods in the planet was hiding in plain sight.

Senger fishing Elbow for Brook Trout

It’s also worth noting that in Alberta there’s been what I’d call ‘aggressive’ moves by wildlife management to remove brookies from some water systems. Google it up and you’ll find stories about electrocuting streams to remove them, and government permission for a select few anglers to remove as many as they could – all highly managed. I know a lot of the biologist folks managing wildlife, and have yet to meet one that isn’t sharp, or that doesn’t give a shit.  The rest of us follow the regulations of course, but it certainly makes me not feel badly at all about taking a limit of them out of a lake that’s teeming with them. It’s a bit of a perfect storm really culinarily: arguably the best tasting salmonid in our province is abundant to a fault, and an introduced species. Game on.

Jeff tending Hank’s cooking fire on the Solo Stove, frying up some Brookie bones.

This day happened to be my day with a fly rod. I was able to land 5 fish, my best trout day ever, and best fly fishing day ever. Super grateful that the next step was eating them with some of the best wild food folks in the planet, all while pointing cameras. Oh, and we didn’t just fry them up – we really dug into their potential, Hank did 4 preparations, one of which he claims on camera is the best thing he’s cooked all year. Season 4 of From The Wild is shaping up to be a stunner.

Meeting My Headwaters

A candid moment on the cliff our camp was on, photo by Jeff Senger.

Some topics the internet does a fine job of covering, and the Ram River fishing experience is not one of them. Way back in season 2 of From The Wild, we fly fished the Granby tributaries and fell in love with fly fishing. Ever since, I’d wanted to have a similar experience, but it made no sense to me to drive super far to find a stream with trout. I live in a river city – the North Saskatchewan. And every river has headwaters. I wanted some intimacy with the tributaries that sent water past my house. And thus the Ram River.

We were supposed to fish the river in S3 with Brayden Kozak from Three Boars/Wishbone, but got rained out and never left home. It wasn’t on the schedule for S4 because we had just come off a big pacific trip, but Hank Shaw was incoming, wild fires were burning near Kananaskis, and trail heads were closed due to Grizzlies. Options narrowed, and the Ram was in an area not inundated with smoke, closed, burning, or under fire ban.

Senger’s tent on the right, Hank and I tucked a few feed into the trees. One of the most stunning camp locations ever.

Some information you should know if you’re headed to the Ram. There is some climbing to do. See above photo. It is no leisurely stroll through a braided stream system, and box canyon segments are frequent. See photo of Hank below, fishing a pool below camp. Access to pools was not easy, nor frequent. Doable, but challenging. Hank did particularly well in settings like this with his spincast gear, our fly set ups let us down over and over in this water. You might want to bring both setups. Hank would often latch onto a fish or two right off the bat, but then they’d get wise. Then off to the next pool, which was never an easy task.

Hank fishing the box canyon, sitting on icy cold rocks after a horrid overnight in the backcountry.

Because the river narrows so hard, and there’s some serious waterfalls, you get to know the horse trails in the bush that will guide you upstream. Handy, but the horse trails also tend to stray quite far from the river…most of the time. So we’d hike, then at some point decide to make our way through the bush to see if there was a fishable pool yet. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. We walked a lot of miles on those horse trails, and from time to time would be rewarded with a spot like the one below – this one’s up Ranger Creek. Ranger Creek seemed to have a good reputation online, so I had high hopes, and I also thought it was going to be a super long hike. It was neither far, nor a big difference from the Ram. Kind of more of the same, really.

Hank & Jeff fishing one of the best pools we found up at Ranger Creek, which flows into the Ram

Hank with one of the bigger Cutthroat

I left the Ram with a strange array of feelings. I left a piece of me there, and it certainly took some of my gear by force. It offered some of the most beautiful scenery we’ve encountered in our home province, and holds beautiful fish – but on this trip, all undersized for the pan. Having just come off an intensely productive trip to the pacific, the scarcity of food in this alpine region was humbling. The place is austere. And hard. And stunning. And unforgettable. And it’s my home turf.

An Experimental Trickle Down Solar Water Heating System

Lu has designed and built a solar water heating system with several innovations.
The system includes a collector based on the the Thomason trickle down design with some new wrinkles.
Innovative features include:
  • The unique trickle down collector.
  • A storage tank with a new liner design.
  • An innovative version of a copper heat exchanger.
  • A PV powered diaphragm pump.

Testing new Microgreens

Rather hot out to be growing the microgreens right now, but we received our new seed order and are anxious to taste the new varieties that we will grow this year. The real growing starts in mid-September and ends at middle of next July, but we need to give them a taste to see what mixes might work well, by seeing which ones have similair growing times and which flavours would work well together.

They don’t all go into mixes of course. Two of the favourites last year were Pea shoots and Sunnies (sunflowers), which will keep on going, along with a few others.

Here are the new varieties just starting out (only 4 days old).

Red Cabbage – These will give a pop of colour to your salad or sandwich! One of the most nutritious.
Wasabi Mustard – Hot, but a nice addition to sandwiches or salads.
Kaiware Radish – A beautiful fast-growing radish with a bright white stem and large leaves.
Bok Choy – a spicy tasting sprout from the cruciferous (cabbage) family.
Sandwich Booster is a sprout mix of clover, alfalfa, radish, and mustard.
Ruby Beets – Challenging to grow, but we’ll give it our best shot… Beautiful addition to salad.