Welcome to Apple Trail Farm!

  • We are so excited to finally land in this place we will call home and begin to develop our dreams to have a small bio-dynamic farm! So thankful for the twists and turns of life that have brought us here.The agenda moving forward is to spend time together as a full-time family learning the skills needed to love Jesus, grow healthy food, be responsible with our environment, contribute to our community, share essential oils, educate others on natural living options, and have lots of adventure along the way!

    We look forward to continued airstream travels in our future, but stay tuned for more information on our tiny home on wheels taking on a special role as a landing spot/guest house for those of you who want to make western NC part of your travels and adventures!

    Follow along as we learn how to do this as we go 🙂 I’m sure we will make lots of mistakes and learn a lot the hard way, but we sure can’t wait to jump in and get started.

    Our current projects:
    ~ renovating our 1960’s mountain farmhouse cabin located in the center of our 30 acre property
    ~ working the land and the pastures
    ~ growing an organic bio-dynamic garden
    ~ cultivating a ‘food forest’

    In the next few years we’ll also plan to raise a large barn, add in chickens and some animals and harvest a few choice crops….including lots of apples from our apple trees that line ‘Apple Trail!’

airstream renovation: back bunk room

It’s quite rewarding to spend so much time and energy making a plan for a versatile yet small space, draw it out, change it a million times, tweak it again, figure out how the heck it will work and then actually get to make it happen.

Today was a loooong day, but we finally made it happen! My poor husband has been putting in 12+ hour days on the weekends and long evenings during the week, so this week I jumped in to help and man….. I’m spent.

This weekend’s project was to start on the interior build-outs!
We chose to start with the back bunk room for a few reasons:

1: we knew the sizing of the beds that we wanted so the space was non-negotiable. With several spots still in question as to where we will designate the space, the beds with fixed sizing seemed like a logical spot to dive in

2: the curves are a pain. The back lower bunk on the curve gave us a good spot to practice that will be more out of sight than the front dinette in case our first attempt was less than stellar

3: the boys are over the moon about sleeping in this thing and it is pretty fun to watch their excitement over their beds going in – plus they can ‘camp out’ on them now over the weekends while we finish the rest

What we ended up doing:
2 twin XL bunks that will be cut down a few inches (35.5 width vs 39). We originally had them much narrower, but decided to pull them out a bit so that the edge would be on the rib and line up with the start of the back curve (for extra support and strength). We did not want the full 39 inches because every inch counts in this thing and we figured that narrowing it a few inches would be a happy medium and still sufficient for rapidly growing boys to house them for years to come.

Next to the bunks we have the awesome massive generator box :/ To cover this, we decided on a custom pull out bed that folded could still be plenty of space for our 2 year old and when needed would open up to a full sized bed. Instead of making it fold in half like a traditional futon does, we cut it in 1/2 the other way lengthwise. The folded dimensions will be 54″ x 40″ and it will open up to 54″ x 75″ for the full bed. Since our little guy is still mostly little, this would give us room to grow but should be more than sufficient space for him to sleep without opening it up each night.

We knew we wanted this room to be versatile and a spot that all 5 of us could use if we have travel guests, opening up the front ‘bed’ for the guests. During the day we also wanted a good spot for the boys to hang out, a place anyone could crash for a nap or curl up with a book, and also a spot that could function for he boys school work if needed. The full sized bed when folded next to the bottom bunk creates a large ‘L’ shaped seating area and allows space for a built-in desk under the opposite window to open up (we haven’t engineered this part yet). You can see how the 2 beds together make the ‘L’ shaped seating area, but check out when it opens! Not only can it be a full sized bed that will be next to the bunks, but the total sleep area on the bottom when it is fully extended will be slightly larger than a Cali King mattress, which will be awesome when we need it! The other reason we chose to go with a full bed cut in 1/2 is that we extended the center bath to be about 40″ wide so the door from the hallway should line up well with this offset layout.

We need every inch of storage space we can get, so under the beds will be the ‘dresser’ to store the boys’ clothes. There are 3 large storage compartments under the back bunk and we hinged the corner so that we can access that for less frequently needed items along with all the electrical boxes and breaker box.

Under the full bed when folded shut is the generator and then 3 compartment areas for additional storage. I am also working on a concept to make 3 storage boxes that will sit on the top half of this bed to turn it into more of a window seat. The 3 top storage boxes will be their ‘toy’ boxes – each boy will get his own box and that is where they will get to pick whatever toys they want to bring…..as long as it fits into their box.

I know, some people think it is crazy to limit them to one box, but the whole idea of this lifestyle is to get outside, get moving and SIMPLIFY! You would be shocked at how many toys still fit into that space. I am quite excited to put the rest of this room together, but for now you’ll just have to envision the plans based on the frame 🙂

For those who want the ‘how-to’ part, here ya go:

1 – we started with framing out the front of the back bunk. Keep in mind the walls are curved in all directions which can make a square, perfectionist personality literally lose their mind! The width of the airstream at 20″ high is several inches wider than what it is at the floor so the key to framing it out is measure 10 x & hopefully cut once.

We made the bed frames 20″ high because that is what we needed to clear the generator box after insulating. We knew we wanted the beds all the same height to give it the versatility to open into one large bed if needed. Once that front framing piece was set, we screwed it into the floor and went from there.

2 – made a back frame piece on the ‘straight’ part under the window that we could use to support the back.

3 – started filling in that area with slats since we knew those storage sections would be accessed from the front. We originally wanted to hinge the entire back bed, but for some reason once we started we figured we’d just go with front access storage areas. We cut a solid panel for the back corner since the only way to access that part will be top down. We have debated whether or not it was a mistake not to hinge the whole thing, but it’s done and I think what we have will still work out fine.

How to make the slide-out bed:

1 – Do the math to see how long you will need each section. for us, our open size needed to be 54″ wide by 75″ long.

2 – We made one frame that would be fixed and another frame that would move with the bottom when the bed was fully extended. Once you determine the length of the slats you need, you then alternate securing the slats to the “top” and “bottom” frame pieces. This is the point where a video is worth a thousand words, so I will post a video of how the frames work and slide later this week.

I would try and explain it more, but it’s late and our brains were fried hours ago from trying to do the math on this. We ended up with a bit of trial and error because it was just easier to dive in and figure out our measurements hands on. It led to a few more adjustments than we originally had planned, but it all worked out in the end and I think considering we have never built anything like this before it turned out pretty well!

Please post any questions here – we would love to answer them and are documenting more of the details in hopes that it may help some poor soul figure out their plan a little easier. We would be lost if it weren’t for so many of you awesome renovators that have gone before us sharing your tips, plans, ideas and how-to’s! We are so grateful!

airstream renovation: flooring

Something is FINALLY happening on the inside!! I think at the end of all this maybe we will have time to better organize our updates, but for now just trying to keep up with it so we can have some of this written down and documented. This week we’ve made some big strides!

We installed the floors early this week. We went with TrafficMASTER allure after reading a lot of reviews on what to use and not use in a travel trailer. It is so crazy the things you have to factor in and consider when taking your ‘home’ into all different climates and also moving it around constantly. It is like having to build everything to be able to withstand an earthquake at all times. So fun. Anyway, the floors we went with a floating plank style but since we could not use real wood bc of climate control, moisture and weight issues we went with the Allure vinyl plank. Here’s what went down (literally)

It is crazy how much the lighting changes the shade of this floor, but in most light it is more of a neutral unfinished tone than the golden hue. We wanted it to be warmer than a grey driftwood, but still light and very neutral.

Pros: easiest floor we have ever installed. So so so easy. Literally press it down and a pair of heavy duty clippers or box cutters did the trick to make the cuts. It looks great – has a nice texture and we loved the color options. It is super easy to clean and seems very durable as little ones have already dropped tools and heavy objects on it with no ill result (big plus).

Cons: installing it in a travel trailer voids the warranty or any type of guarantee it may otherwise have. In reading the fine print, it actually recommends installing it in a cool dark place. Well that makes life rather boring. Short story:: it can’t take the heat.

So the day after we celebrated our beautiful new floors it hit triple digits here in the high desert. Blaring hot sun with no reprieve. By mid day with it closed up and stored the floors were already having issues 🙁 we have several spots that buckled and warped with the high temps. Thankfully as it cooled again that night some of it went back down, but we are going to have to go through and glue down several parts of our nice new and NOT cheap floating vinyl floor….which is a bummer.

It still looks good. It will still work, but despite all the rave reviews we had read, we will NOT likely be recommending this flooring to anyone renovating an RV or travel trailer bc of this. Unfortunately most other flooring options would be just as bad or worse so we feel we still have a good choice, but definitely not impressed at it warping in spots on day 1. Hoping it will be a fairly easy fix and we will not have more issues with it moving forward. Overall we are still happy to have it in and excited to move on to the next step: building in the furniture!

airstream renovation :: part 4

This has been the most stressful, but rewarding phase yet. It’s about to start getting REAL! I have to give a shout-out to my super talented husband who managed to get all of the electrical wiring in the right place & tested, the spray foam in (despite a few challenges) and then completely cleaned up and ready for walls in a relatively short amount of time. If anyone is wondering what we’re doing in our ‘spare’ time – this is it….night and day aside from our normal work hours. The kids have been troopers and are really starting to get into it too as it’s getting to the point they can pitch in and help more.

Getting this thing water tight and all the last little rivets, caulking and cracks filled took a long.long.long time. Once we finally got everything in, set and sealed, it passed the water test! We then had to finalize the placement of all the electrical wiring. Trying to decide the exact spot that you want an outlet when you don’t even have walls in yet to work with is a challenge. I learned that I am very visual and my spacial orientation is lacking when it comes to envisioning where this all will end up. Talk about stress! Making sure you have every wire in the right spot and set before you’re about to foam it all in with NO undo button will definitely make you break a sweat. We had some intense days of making sure this thing was 100% ready for the spray foam.

Speaking of the foam…..now that it’s behind us, I’m sure it is awesome and will be a great asset to our comfort in the future. Up to this point, it has been nothing but a pain in the a$$. As you know, this stuff grows as it cures, and when you only have 1.5″ space and no wiggle room, the expanding qualities are nothing short of awful. Thankful that we have excellent safety gear on hand, and after many many many hours of ‘trimming’ it back down, we are about 99% DONE with the insulation phase!

The final step of this phase is salvaging the old aluminum wall panels. Man these things were rough. We have washed each of the panels several times, sanded them down and coated them with the best primer we could get our hands on. They look amazing compared to where they came from! We’ll hopefully be wrapping the walls up this week!!

Next steps: lights and switches installed, walls painted, A/C & generator installed & then we’ll get to lay the flooring!!!

airstream renovation:: part 3

We decided for sure in November that we were going to go forward with this and jump into FULL TIME LIFE ON THE ROAD (at least until we get tired of it), and since then have kicked this reno project into high gear! Despite spending a LOT of time on it, visible progress is LOW AND SLOW right now. We have been taking out the last little bits of the ‘old’… patching vents and spots that won’t be needed with our new design and layout, and getting it cleaned up and water tight. Within the next month, we should FINALLY be on the up and up and can start re-constructing this thing with new and usable insides.

People ask all the time how we know how to do renovations or how we’ve  created a successful home business and get the freedom that we are looking forward to. Our answer: we just decided what we wanted, followed our passions, jumped in, and you learn as you go – sometime along the way you start to actually know what you’re talking about! My husband is pretty much a genius, I will admit, and extremely handy, but we have adapted a little secret we have called – FIGURE IT OUT AS YOU GO. Seems to be our motto in life. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose {like discovering that a few of our windows are leaking when it rains}, but then you go back and learn how to fix it (thanks, YouTube)! Now we love sharing our stories with others in hopes they can save a bit of time and get to where they want to be a little bit faster!

I feel like we are finally starting to round the corner on this big scrap of metal….. and we’re getting excited!!

airstream renovation:: part 2

We arrived in the desert the end of May 2014 and soon realized renovating a camper in 110+ degree heat was not going to be an easy, enjoyable task. After we survived a summer and temps started to cool, we slowly started making plans and E started in on some of the critical framework. We figured it would come in handy by the time we had to PCS again (about 3 years down the road) so we weren’t in any hurry.

Once we finally got all the disease-ridden trash out of the thing and gutted everything that couldn’t be pressure washed or bleached off, Erin and a few guys started re-building this thing from the ground up. The frame had to be scraped to the bare metal, new parts had to be welded on, the entire thing was painted with POR-15, we went to a freshwater and grey water tank system only (going to use a composting toilet), and replaced the decking with a composite material from Nyloboard (marine board so it won’t rot….ever).

EARLY SUMMER 2015:: we took it in to get some electrical wiring set up. We worked long and hard trying to re-design the interior plans taking into account how we THINK we may use it (this is super hard since I am a visual person and can’t get a good idea of the feel of the space yet). With summer travel and crazy temps in the desert, not much happened with it until we finally picked it up from the electrician in November.

Next step:: get all the old patches sealed up, clean out all the old peeling clear coat off the double paned windows (what a pain), patch a few doors and get this thing water tight and ready for insulation to go in.

the airstream:: in the beginning

Some people have asked how we decided to randomly buy and renovate an airstream and travel the country. Short answer is….we didn’t. Now that we have been through counseling and I am hopeful that our marriage will no longer dissolve over this issue, I’ll post a bit of the back story…

Have you ever had one of those ‘maybe one day’ conversations with your spouse that you casually mention dreams or ideas that might be cool to do at some time in the way distant future, but isn’t even on your radar or in the scope of reasonable possibility at the time? So I thought we were having one of those the day Erin said, ‘Oh I saw an old airstream for sale on ebay.’ Fast forward (I’m omitting the part where I snapped back and said, HECK no) and by summer 2013 we were the new owners of a 1973 piece of rolling aluminum that came complete with the hantavirus.

Lesson here: not everything advertised on ebay is as it seems. picking it up

Fast forward a few more weeks and we were now the new owners of a Toyota Sequoia because our previous vehicle was not even able to tow the aforementioned ebay purchase. OH MY!!!!! Once we got the new ‘find’ home I was told I could actually not step foot in it for health and safety reasons (I was super preggo with baby 3) and even from a distance I knew why. GROSS {insert several weeks of marriage counseling over the disagreements on making this ‘investment’ at a time in our life where I was a frazzled mom with soon to be 3 kids 3 and under who was lucky if I got a shower once a week and CERTAINLY had no time or energy for a renovation project}.

So after much counseling and debate, I finally caught a glimpse of the vision that E had for a longer term dream he had for our family. With his love for adventure, activity and desire for our boys to grow up experiencing the outdoors as much as he did as a kid, he knew something like a camper could come in handy (not to mention we had to move 9 times in 5 years and this would have been super convenient in those transitions). I fully agreed, though the means by which we got to the end would have been very different if I’d had my way. But we were at where we were at, so we agreed to keep the crazy thing….rats and all.

Life threw many curves at us just a few short months later and we found ourselves in the midst of a lot of changes. Our 3rd child was born in October, we moved to a new house across the neighborhood in November, and by January learned we were making an unexpected move to the middle of nowhere, CA. Thing were a bit busy to say the least. 10 months after we had purchased it, once I was no longer carrying a little human inside me and could get away long enough to actually shower afterward, I was allowed to set foot inside our airstream (with hazmat gear, of course). April 2014 E and I ripped out all of the old ‘insides’ in about a day and it was NOT pretty. These are the first publicly released images of what we saw: