The Bumbleshack Tiny Farm & Studio

a tiny house, art studio, aspiring orchard, food forest and certified wildlife habitat in the mountains of western North Carolina

About

Lisa & Hank the Tank in front of The Bumbleshack

My name is Lisa, and I’m the mama of two awesome girls, a wildlife biologist, artist, minimalist and tiny house dweller. I work from my home studio creating artwork, and I’m working on becoming the owner of an organic fruit and nut orchard.

My tiny journey began in 2013 when I somehow got a glimpse of a tiny house online. I don’t remember exactly where I saw it or when. There were no tiny house tv shows yet, and most people had never heard of them. I wanted to do something to decrease my environmental footprint, so it was love at first sight. I researched the few tiny house builders that were out there back then and put down a deposit in the fall of 2013. The first time I ever laid eyes on a tiny house in person was when mine was delivered!

Ever since 2014, I have lived in a 130 square foot tiny house on wheels on 23 wooded acres in Asheville, North Carolina. I currently live with my youngest daughter, three cats, a bearded dragon and a huge dog. Soon we will be moving to my mountaintop, creek front paradise outside of Asheville to create a native fruit and nut orchard and food forest.

I have always been a veggie eatin’, nature lovin’, recyclin’ kind of girl. I was raised that way. My Mom always took the natural route when possible. My parents had a good sized garden in our backyard in North Carolina when I was little, and my Mom canned and preserved our food. My parents allowed my brother and I to choose and grow our own flowers as border plants for the garden. I always chose sunflowers, and my brother chose marigolds. I loved that garden. My mouth is watering just thinking about freshly picked green beans, steamed until they are barely crispy, or big juicy tomatoes with a little salt sprinkled on them. Yum!

I also loved running around in the woods behind our house all day long. We could run, for what seemed like miles to me, without my Mom having to worry if someone was going to snatch us. We went on great adventures back in those woods. I remember exploring hilly trails and deep, cavernous pits, climbing trees, and making it all the way to the lake that was hidden back there. We thought that was a great feat! That’s where my bug obsession first started too. I would sit in our backyard and watch the flying insects and turn rocks over to see what was underneath. And I especially loved bumble bees!

Lately, I have been obsessed with our food, and a lot more concerned than I have ever been in the past about our environment. Climate change, air pollution, ozone depletion, pesticides on everything, hormones in our meat and dairy and cancer causing preservatives. How about loss of biodiversity, human overpopulation, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, death of the world’s coral reefs, deforestation, parabens, glyphosate, fracking and flouride poisoning our water supply? It literally keeps me up at night. I don’t want to consume and come into contact with this stuff, and I don’t want to keep contributing to the ruination of our beautiful earth.

I wanted to change the way I lived, spend more time out in nature, grow my own food, and live sustainably, free of debt with more time to spend with my children. This is the reason I am on this journey.

The Bumbleshack Tiny House

The Bumbleshack is the first tiny house on my tiny house homestead. It is a 6.7 ft wide by 19.6 ft long, 131.32 square ft home built on a trailer with a 6.7 ft by 7.25 ft, 48.58 square ft sleeping loft, a living room, a kitchen and a bath with a composting toilet and a shower. It has a red metal roof and cedar siding accented with reclaimed metal. I’m currently in the process of repainting the exterior with some colorful stripes. And it has 11 windows!! Those windows make the space feel so much bigger than it actually is, and they will give us nice views from all angles of our scenic, pastoral property and creek in the mountains of western North Carolina.

Why tiny houses, you ask? First and foremost, a tiny carbon footprint! That is my primary reason. Smaller electrical needs that can be harvested from the sun with solar panels. No mortgage. Tiny houses don’t cost much to repair because of their small size. Need to replace your roof down the line? It shouldn’t be too expensive with such a small area to cover. Less time to clean. Less possessions to keep track of and bog my life down. More time for my children and doing things we really want to do, like spending time out in nature.

I named it The Bumbleshack for the beeeeees!!!! Those cute, little fuzzy insects that make it possible for us to eat and well basically, LIVE. Without bees pollinating farmers’ crops around the world, there would be a food shortage. And they are dying. Population levels of more than 700 North American bee species are declining as habitat loss and pesticide use continue at a rapid pace.

What can we as individuals do to help? So many things! Start with the basics like using natural pesticides for your home, lawn, garden and pets, buy organic whenever you can, don’t rake your leaves or clean up your garden over the winter and create much needed habitats by planting native flowers that attract bees and butterflies. Soapy water works wonders on plant pests. Or you can use crushed egg shells in your garden, use plants that attract beneficial insects like ladybugs, utilize companion gardening techniques or just border your garden with plant species that repel pests. There are so many ways to help out.

Or join a Citizen Science Project like Bumble Bee Watch, which is a collaborative effort to track and conserve North America’s bumble bees. This project allows for individuals to:

  • Upload photos of bumble bees to start a virtual bumble bee collection
  • Identify the bumble bees in your photos and have your identifications verified by experts
  • Help researchers determine the status and conservation needs of bumble bees
  • Help locate rare or endangered populations of bumble bees
  • Learn about bumble bees, their ecology, and ongoing conservation efforts
  • Connect with other citizen scientists

Here in North Carolina, the non-profit environmental organization Wild South has a project called The Search for the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee. This Citizen Science project utilizes the app iNaturalist to photograph and catalog all species of bumble bees across the Southern Appalachian Mountains. They lead training sessions, hiking and backpacking expeditions throughout the project to priority areas where the rusty patched bumble bee has been known to frequent.

In Florida, there is another Citizen Science project called Native Buzz, created by the University of Florida Honey Bee Research and Extension Lab. Their goal is to learn more about the nesting preferences, diversity and distribution of native solitary bees and wasps, to share the information gained and to provide a forum for those interested in participating in the science and art of native beekeeping (and wasp-keeping!). You can keep track of your own Native Buzz Nest Site and see the results of other participant’s nest sites.

Through participation in Native Buzz you can:

  • Design and build nesting habitat for solitary bees and wasps.
  • Identify the solitary bees and wasps as they emerge from your nesting site.
  • Compare the populations of solitary bees and wasps nesting in your site to other nesting site populations across the country.
  • Investigate the ecological web of predators, prey, parasites, pollinators and more.
  • Collect and record data about the solitary bees and wasps that nest in your site.
  • Share your findings and contribute to a growing database of knowledge.
  • Explore the fascinating world of solitary bees and wasps!

Cool, huh?!

For more information on bees and other beneficial invertebrates that deserve our attention, visit The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation’s Bumble Bee Project page. They provide information on how to create habitats and identify various species of bumble bees. LOTS of good stuff on this website!

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