My name is Jim. I drove a desk for 40 yrs. Did various minor woodworking chores all along (camping tables, couple of Buddhist home-shrines, shelves, heavy work-bench & tool cabinet, etc). Went to pot (-belly) & gave myself diabetes along the way. Retired recently, damn near had one foot in the grave.
... Then I bought 80 acres of canyon in eastern WA, a hunting/fishing vacation paradise, with half a mile of Hawk Creek, plenty of timber, lots of rocks, cliffs, bluff, pastureÖnamed it the ďLazy BĒ (private joke). Tiny cabin [135 sq ft] and a huge deck [750 sq ft, most of it under a high metal roof on heavy timbers]. The place is very remote, surrounded by a large cattle-ranch w/ locked gates, no visitors, no power, no phone, no potable water, not even a cellular signal...truly off-grid. Friends thought I was nuts to gut my 401K plan to buy the spread, but I've been working, and enjoying it -- repairing roads, spreading gravel, cutting/splitting/stacking firewood, improving the two fords across the creek, repairing old fence and stretching new, putting up a 13x20 "garage in a a box". But most of my time has gone into creating a nifty 12x12 "shack" under the roofed part of the deck -- uninsulated plywood walls, but a good wood stove keeps us warm, clear ripple polycarbonate sheet ceiling, 3 windows, a door & a screen door. Then I did a weather-block enclosure around another 12x16 section as a kitchen area...pleased my wife no end. I'd never done anything like this before, but with thought and care, it all went pretty well, and I've learned a lot. I only spend about a third of my time there, but my heart is there. I've lost 35 pounds, and turned another 30 pounds into muscle. Blood sugar and blood pressure are way down, much better controlled, and my doc is starting to reduce my meds. So it may be the best investment I ever made...my wife thinks it's saved my life, or extended it, anyway.
I still have lots to do: get a well dug, put up a windmill-battery system to pump the water, build a real bridge across the creek above high-water level (spring runoff can push the creek 15 feet above normal level, so thatís a big job). And my main dream is to build a log cabin over the next 5-10 years, about 20x30, with logs and rock from my land. I'll use a chainsaw-mill to make my own heavy dimensional lumber for flooring and roof sheeting, and timbers for the bridge. Iíll design everything to code or better, get an architect who specializes in log cabins to review the plans for the cabin, get a civil engineer to go over the bridge plans, and go slow Ė Iím in no hurry.
Iím sure Iíll need help, time to time. Maybe, as I learn, I can contribute answers as well as questions. I learn pretty quick.
Right now Iím trying to figure out why the cabinís solar panel system isnít working. It used to. Now the 15W panel is putting out juice, but the controller doesnít pass a charge to the batteries until I manually push the reset/test button each day about noon when the sun hits the panel. If Iím not there to push the button, no charging takes place. Canít get an expert to come out to the Lazy B to check/fix things, so Iím thinking the best approach would be to save the little solar panel for some later use and just pitch the 35W controller. Iíll buy a couple of 100W amorphous panels, the BatteryMINDer 200W controller, and get a couple more deep-cycle batteries to bring our capacity up to about 500 amp/hrs. That will give us the ability to use some larger electrical equipment. Also, the controller will maintain and desulfate the batteries so theyíll last longer and weíll have a full charge on all batteries whenever we arrive.
Enough. Way more than enough. Sorry to be so long winded, but you can at least understand why Iíll be asking questions. Thanks for taking the time to read this far.