Circle-T Ranch

Mobeetie TX

 

As you can see, this section of the website is not exactly for Public consumption.  That is on purpose, and your finding this is probably not an accident.  But because so many friends and family are genuinely interested in what we are doing and will be truly excited for us as we progress, we wanted to make a way for everyone to keep track of how it is going. 

 

That being said, since you are here, you are welcome to track this page as often as you wish; and send us an email if you have questions or comments. But please do not link this to any other location online without our specific prior permission.  We have no intention of making what we are doing here open to the masses for viewing or comments.  Your respect of that is assumed and sincerely appreciated.

 

 

And so….  Welcome to Our Project!

 

(SITE UPDATED 3/25/2019)

 

Click on These Headers to Jump to that section of the website

 

Background -   The Location - The Plans - The ProjectThe Future

 

Most Recent Update

Background

 

                This idea and basis for the project began the week after my birthday in late 2013 as I was laying in Memorial Hospital in Colorado.  Not exactly where everyone makes life altering decisions, but this time it really happened that way.  I’d been hospitalized for 3 days and had a gastroenterologist look at me and say “boy, I’m not sure what you do for a living – but it’s killing you”.  Now my job was not really “killing me” but how I was handling it was certainly contributing to my then present state of severe ulcers and the complications that accompany them.

            It was during that time of reflection that I recalled the words of my late father who used to tell us “ you know, ‘Retirement’ is when the kid’s leave home and the dog dies”.   And I realized it had been 10 years since the kids left home, and I’d not got the dog in the last divorce.  <LOL>   I already had bought 15 acres of land in the Sangre De Cristo Mountains of Colorado for a getaway place which I was working on in my spare time (which was pitifully small), but this time I really needed to take action.

            And so my plan of action began with finally writing that letter of resignation from my Corporate Engineering Job and putting myself in the place to go and do what I felt God was equipping me to do in the next phase of my life.  That was done and the job change process began in January of 2014; culminating in my ‘retiring’ from that position in September of the same year.   I took to the road and lived out of a suitcase most of the next 18 months – visiting friends and family and spending time with other Ministries I’d helped through the years.  All of that helped me seek out what was really to be the next phase in my life.

            Finally in the summer of 2015 things began to really be clear that I was purposed to return to West Texas and establish a permanent residence and home base of any future travels and work.  The Turbo Ranch project in the mountains had been on hold for over a year and a half, and new timing and direction in that project was already clear in mind – it would resume in a couple of years after being planted back in West Texas. 

            With “a little help from my friends”…okay, a LOT of help from my friends – and family – things began to solidify on a location and a project plan.  We have bought property in Old Town Mobeetie and are building a “tiny house” – howbeit more on the oversized variety.   This page will show the progress of that project which was originally slated to be completed by the Summer of 2016.  That time line got altered by a family tragedy, but the project came to fruition later in the year of 2018.


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The Location

 

            For a variety of reasons, Old Town Mobeetie has been chosen; not the least of which is the semi-seclusion it offers, as well as convenience to the rest of the world as we need.  It’s all of 9 miles to Wheeler, 22 to Shamrock and 35 to Pampa.   Family is close in Wheeler, and I will be working in Shamrock on a regular basis – and not to mention the sheer affordability of property in Mobeetie and the value in which we can build on it.

            Here is a Google Earth View of our property:

                The North Half of the area is where the house and garage are located and the driveway enters; the SE quadrant is where the well is already in place and where we will have a garden and maybe a greenhouse one day.

 

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The Plans

               

Rhonda and I have been fascinated with the “Tiny House” movement and have watched carefully as it continues to unfold across the nation.  What we started at The Turbo Ranch in Colorado was an overgrown version of that, and what we are building in Mobeetie is the same idea on a bit smaller scale.  The size was always about this, even in the early plans when we were stick-building a house; so when the ready-made shell became available it was easy to adapt our plans to fit.   Including the Shop/storage and the entire “compound” this was the first complete plan and has been the template for things as we built it out.

As the project moves along, I will update how it gets built out, but so far we’ve pretty much stuck to this plan.

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The Project

 

Quick Jump to Sections of The Project

Early Preparation  -  House Delivery -  Windows and DoorsShop / StorageInside Work - – Electrical - PlumbingLandscaping & Outdoor

 

Early Preparation:

 

We began by taking control over the property.

 Probably 60 years have passed since Old Joe Reynolds owned and lived on the land, and from the looks of accumulated sand and trash no one has hardly set foot on it in that length of time. 

In the fall of 2015, the weeds were from knee to waist high and more, so the use of a brush mower (huge string weed eater on steroids with a 3HP motor) gave us some idea of what the lay of the land was actually like.

The “driveway” started like this from the first day

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And this was looking West down Flemming Street that follows the north boundary of my property and from which the driveway turns off of Patton.

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It was sure a mess, but the weather was nice and my brother Glen was around to help – fortunate for me, he’s got a little Tree Trimming Business he runs so has lots of equipment with which to help me out.

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Together, we cleared the driveway entrance…..

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Then enough space for the house…

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And for a possible exit to the West of the house if needed for the delivery.

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House Delivery:

 

I had purchased a GRACELAND Building as the ‘shell’ with which to work for the house. 

 The funny story on that is that I bought it in Lindale Texas at my brother John’s on a visit.

The car lot where he helps out with body work is a Graceland dealer, so I signed a contract through them for my house delivery – which came from the West Texas shop in Seminole where it was actually constructed.

Then it was delivered by truck…

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Unloaded in the middle of Fleming Street…

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And rolled onto my pad….

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Carefully leveled and blocked…

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And in place.

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Windows and Doors!

 

The Graceland shell came with one stock window and one door, placed where I has specified. 

The inside was totally bare and an empty slate for our design.

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With open 2x6 rafters for construction and finishing.

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So I began with the South window in the Bedroom

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Then the Bathroom window on the North

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And the West window in the Living Room

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And then Glen came and helped me with the double window on the South in the Living Room

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Which REALLY opened up the inside with lots of light.

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The stock window from Graceland was only single pane and was too low for the kitchen counter,

 so I got another double pane like the rest of them and we replaced the one in the kitchen, raising it to match the other 7 in the house.

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We put the back door in on the day the Blizzard hit that night… it was COLD when we finished it and packed up.

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We finished with the two East windows in the Bedroom

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All of which really opened up the inside of the house

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Shop/Storage:

 

I also have moved in a 28’ truck box for storage and a workshop.

It was delivered..

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And leveled…

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And an end placed in it for security.

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So now the “compound” is ready for the next step. ‘

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Inside Work:

 

Since this project started in the fall of 2015, it is winter time in Texas.  Actually real winter this year, with a couple rounds of snow and lots of cold weather.

A normal person would not take on this kind of a project in that weather, but this is me after all… LOL.

So when the weather is nice we will work outside, and when it’s not we will work inside.

That way we can hopefully keep things on a pretty brisk schedule for our plans to be here full time by May 2016.

We began by laying out footers for the walls…

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Then building the walls up from there…

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And putting up one side of the walls (we can wire and plumb from the back).

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This really starts to give some dimension to how it will turn out.

The Project remains at this build state inside, as we add the wiring and plumbing before we button up everything on the walls.

 

 

**************  NOTE  **************

The Project took a pause for nearly a year at this point; I was living with my brother Glen (who was very helpful in the project) during this time, and his wife (my sister in law, Cyndi) became very ill and we both devoted the majority of the next 9 months to tending to her health.  Sadly, she passed away from severe Carcinoma Cancer complications in April of 2017.  Only after our family got past the tragic loss of our loved one did we slowly begin to move on this project again.  Now in the fall of 2017, I was able to get back to focusing on this house project and Glen has again been very helpful in getting me closer to completion.  The new goal is a New Year in a New Home, and things are progressing to that quite amiably.   Cyndi always loved to get updates on my work at the house, and was always an encouragement on my work there.  I especially miss her dearly but know she is smiling down on my progress and is no longer in pain.

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We have started the insulation and wallboard process some

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After getting all of the electrical and plumbing roughed in and ready for completion of the walls.

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Yes, I ran the PEX plastic water pipe inside 2 inch conduit – in the ceiling so it would not tend to freeze, and if it did leak it would not flood the ceiling but rather the end of the conduit instead.

 

The balance of the walls were boarded and ready for finish work; like the bedroom walk-in closet which is the back side of the kitchen;

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Down the hallway from the bedroom to the bath, with the utility room on the right;

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And from the bathroom to the bedroom, with the utility room on the left:

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And the ceiling furring strips going up next.

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And even the first sheet of ceiling board as well…

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NOW we move quickly on this project as finish work inside the house will move along.

And in just one or two weekends we go to completing the entire insulation and ceiling project

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Glen put the last piece of ceiling up!

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And it’s all in place for finish work

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Which begins with that Kitchen design coming together

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That sink is NOT going in that corner, I just took it out of the box and stored it there!

The Deep Freeze will actually go there, with a counter over it for daily use of the space.

The cook stove between it and the cabinet on the left by the pantry.

All of the base cabinets are in place, I’m custom building the top cabinets to fit the space.

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and I might as well get USE out of those cabinets already, huh?

I also have some of the wall plugs in the kitchen wired, so that’s convenient for my tools.

I used stock Base Cabinets for the kitchen, but since we want to maximize the upper cabinet space available, I decided to custom build those.

I promise you, I’ve *never* even attempted to build cabinets before, but I started building some basic boxes

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And then installing Rails and Stiles and trim pieces

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Until I had a complete set of cabinets ready to caulk and paint.

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Note the base on the right where the refrigerator will sit, raised 8 inches to make the 23” unit feel more “normal” in height.

Also the small sliding “spice rack” to the right of the sink base was a 7 inch filler project kit that I bought online.

Building on the “success” of the Kitchen Cabinets, I built the custom headboard-night stand set in the bedroom.

Since floor space is a premium, this not only means the night stands do not take floor space, but also gives a lot of extra storage options for linens, etc.

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There will be doors on all of this, except the bottom 2 shelves on each side.

This is the exact size to fit my Queen size bed, with 22 inches on each side for easy access.

And the walk-in closet is ready for caulk and paint:

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And the smallest of my cabinet projects – a custom built medicine cabinet in the bathroom

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Next I took on the project of casing the inside of the windows and doors on the inside:

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And finished the outside of the house with Window trim as well, before the really cold December weather hit us.

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BTW – all of the lighting inside and out of the house is LED.  The 2 front porch lights are as well, but the globes broke in the process of installation and I’m looking for a replacement for them.

On the inside, I have also built the living room mantle and ready to mount the propane heater.

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Wainscot will go up in the house next, then wall and ceiling texture and paint…

 

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Electrical:

 

The electrical has to start with service, none of which has existed on this property in the last 60 years.

So Excel Energy will have to put transformers on a pole (which do run through the middle of my property) and connect to a service pole which I must provide.

Brother Glen had a nice utility pole 24’ long which fit the bill, so the next challenge was to dig a 6’ deep hole in which to put it.  By hand..

Through the blessing of good neighbors, we borrowed a nice little Kubota tractor with a 36” box on front that allowed us to dig a 3’ deep hole in which to dig another 3’ deep hole by hand.

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Then using the front bucket we pushed the pole up into place and tamped the dirt around it.

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Of course, this would have been next to impossible without the extra set of hands from Brother Glen.

Making a very nice looking service pole, if I may say so myself.

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That is now complete with the disconnect to the underground conduit.

 

-Now the inside details start, which will have little to actually show for!

I have cut some 2” PVC into rings to keep the wires straight in the attic as I go –

 being that Radio Engineer who likes nice wire bundles, this only made sense to me.

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They run the entire length of the house

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And all terminate with sweeps out of the attic to my electrical box on the back wall of the utility room.

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It’s beginning to look a lot like… WIRE..  and about ready to button it all up into a junction box.

Another aspect of “wiring” is my A/V wiring – I have CAT5 and RG6 run to several location

In the house and all of that also now comes here for cross-connection as well.

 

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About everything I can think I will ever need is wired –

 I hate crawling up in an attic later to add a wire I may have forgotten!

 

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This is all now getting covered up with ceiling boards, with a layer of insulation going in just before that happens.

And on an afternoon I installed the 16 can lights and got LIGHT in the house for the first time

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while I have not got to flip all 14 of those light switches just yet, it’s getting close!

 

The underground lines from the utility pole are to the shop and ready for inside work there.

This is primary AC from Excel, a conduit for satellite / telephone / internet, and a run for power for the well and outside needs.

 

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At the other end, they are all buttoned up and pretty much in their finished state.

 

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In the shop, we have completed the walls and installed the Generator Transfer Switch

And Breaker Boxes for both the Shop and the House

 

 

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Ad you can see, the battery rack in complete and was put in place early and everything built around it.

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Those 16 batteries weigh 125 pounds each, for a total of over 2,000 pounds with that rack.

 

We have also completed the “utility room” by building the walls and ready for a door.

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This will let me keep just that area warm this winter with a small heater, keeping the batteries from freezing.

It’s the back 5ft of the shop, which is pretty full of house stuff awaiting use right now.

 

 

As we move toward finishing this utility room, things will start happening quickly. 

Some photos as we go along, just to chart the progress.

 

Here I have the house breaker box wired to my external connections, where I can switch between Commercial Power

And battery backup by just moving a jumper cord.

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This was my first afternoon of working on this part of the project.

 

The junction box on the wall with the 10 cords coming out of it, is the tie to the lines running into the house for those 10 circuits.

There are 6 more circuits to the house not on the “inverter” wiring, like the washer, dryer, and stand-by heating.

It now has the wiring complete after the main bundle of wires was run to the house:

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And color coding inside the breaker box for the 10 circuits to the house.

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And the junction in the house to all of those wires already run!

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The pair on the right are now in conduit and a pair of stand by heat receptacles.

The smaller empty box with conduit from the floor is for coax and telco wiring, that’s in the shop but not extended to the house just yet.

We will have a WISP for internet and satellite for TV, all of which will be managed in the shop.

 

As this finishes out with the installation of the inverter system, you’ll easily see how this works.

 

 

 

To facilitate both the Internet install as well as the power, I got the Windmill Tower UP!

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Off loaded

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Stood Up

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Anchored

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And Completed.

 

I have the top portion for the Wind Turbines designed and on the trailer at the welding shop, I’ll post pics as that gets completed and installed.

 

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Plumbing:

 

Plumbing had to start outside as well, where it will all come from and finish, as there are zero utilities available on the lot.

I have to install a septic system and water for supply.

We rented a ditching machine when it was a sunny weekend, and dug about 200’ of 3’ deep ditch for these purposes.

The main one from the utility pole to the shop was 85’, and carries the water lines from the well and electrical conduits from the pole.

Also one across the back of the house and shop will carry water supply, electrical from the shop to the house,

propane from the tank to the house, as well as sewer to the septic tank.

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And from the kitchen around the house to the septic as well.

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That run from the kitchen is the first to penetrate the house… we’re on a roll.

 

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It is now complete to the septic line in the back.

 

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Inside, the rough in drains for the shower, lavatory and stool and laundry are in the floors before walls and supply lines are completed.

 

 

Speaking of which, the septic tank has been dug and is being prepped for install.

 

 

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Using the BIO DOME system for a leach field instead of the traditional perforated pipe system with gravel.

 

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And as the song says “we get by with a little help from our friends” – or more accurately our neighbors who have the right size tools to get a job done.

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Having access to both big and little stuff

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Made a really quick job of the dirt work needed for finishing the install of the septic system.

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Tank in the ground

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And bio-dome leach field installed.

After planning on this project for so long, it took an afternoon to complete!!

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That vent at the end of the buried Bio-dome will be trimmed to a manageable height before long as well..

 

You also have to know that in these rural areas out West, our “neighbors” are those who live “close”… this young man and his little family are about 6 or 7 miles away, but we all call the same place “home” so that is close enough to count in our books.  We all extend helping hands to each other any time the need arises, and I have been welcomed to this community with nothing but open arms and continual offers to be of assistance in any way that may be needed.  I truly am blessed to be able to spend the sunset years of my life among those who really embody the spirit of what America is all about, and around which I was raised 6 decades ago in little Chillicothe, TX.

 

SO – We have drain, we need SUPPLY.

 

It’s time for new water well.

An exciting couple of days as they came and dug for me

 

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and finished up late the first day.

 

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Checking Static Water level… was at about 50 ft that first day, a little higher as it settled in a few days later.

 

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Second day of well work was the pump install and well house placement.

 

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The pump is at 120 ft, so only a ½ horsepower model is needed.

 

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Lines from the well house, and power to it all trenched and connected.

A yard hydrant will go at the corner there.

 

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A nice clean well house, with 90 gallon fiberglass pressure tank.

 

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All Finished out with rock floor and all the electrical and plumbing manifold complete… Ready to turn on the power and pump water.

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And at this juncture, those two 1” pipes were  complete all the way into the Shop ready for my water filter system hookup.

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This gets finished after the wall went up in the utility room, and the water filtration system has been installed.

 

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I have an outside hydrant in the south part of the front yard, as well as one in the middle of the north part of the back yard.

And I am the proud owner of 150 ft of some really great ¾” water hose that can reach anywhere I need on the entire plot.

All of this is now fully functional and I’m appreciating both the front and rear hydrants – the water is REALLY good!

 

Another aspect of “plumbing” because it involves “pipes” is my propane system. 

I already have on hand a propane wall mounted stove for heating the living room, a propane cookstove and a pair of propane water heaters.

I found a couple of propane tanks at auctions and moved them on site, leveled and ready to connect to the house and shop.

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The trench is already done and the 1-inch main pipe is now in the house and ready to connect to the internal appliances.

This includes a cook stove in the kitchen, a wall heater in the living room, and 2 on-demand water heaters.

 

 

 

 

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Landscaping & Outdoors:

 

This is a lot of square footage, and I intend to use as much of it for something other than a yard as possible.

To that end, I’m making a large driveway and turnaround area which we will cover with rock in the future.

Using the Kubota tractor, I had the chance to smooth out that area and even put some old utility poles down as curbing.

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The view down the driveway toward Flemming Street

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And my driveway entrance.

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Compared to the beginning, this is a huge step and is shaping up just as I had hoped.

As winter turned to spring, and then to summer – I got busy building a radio station project and let things slide a bit on the house.

During that time, I realized how much we disliked that color on the house, and that NOW was the time to change that, instead of later

So it got a nice primer coat and new color over everything, including the shop.

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The driveway is now contoured and ready for rock surface delivery.

 

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As a side project that was contracted, I had a car port built next to the well house.  The main 2-car spot between the house and the shop will be covered in the next phase (after we get the house livable) and be the main parking space. But having more than 2 vehicles, as well as an ATV and a tractor, the extra space will sure come in handy.

The 2-car size carport came as a kit, delivered and assembled on site:

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And will come in handy for those hot West Texas summer days, I’m certain.

 

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And we have a front porch now!

It began with a 3-pahse project, so I could eat that elephant one bite at a time. 
That meant starting with the middle section

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And then Adding the East End

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(That is the materials for the West section, stacked on top)

And finally the West End

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To Complete the 8-1/2’ by 40’ front porch.

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Ready for the front supports and the roof to come next!

But at least I can now work on the porch and get the saw horses out of the Living Room.

As an homage to my Home State of Texas, I have joined the ‘cult’ of having those COOL STARS on my place…

One to welcome in the drive,

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And a Pair on the Front Porch.

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You also see the front storm door is complete, as well as the replacement globes on the light fixtures.

I’m also a BIG fan of the “good fences make good neighbors” philosophy, so to that end I’ve been collecting parts for a fence.

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I have over 300 panels of sheet metal, and enough pipe for all of the posts.

More on that project, soon.  I have started it, but have not posted pix just yet.

 

 

 

I also have a back porch – just to have a place to get in and out comfortably – and as a bonus that back is in the shade most of the day.

Starting with a base frame

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And Installing the top planks

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And finishing out…

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I even used some of the scraps to make “stools”

They are really short saw-horses but are seat height as well.. cool multi-functional!

 

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The Semi-Finished View – 2019

 

We were obviously working toward having a live-able home, more than finding a place of total completion.  Any home owner knows that, unless you custom design and have a home built, it will never be “complete” once you move in and find something you want different.  The same is true of this project, as I have had literally no more than a few pages of scribbles as a “plan” for how most of this would go I’m not saying I’m a building genius at all – but that I am pretty flexible with how this house turned out, and made lots of changes on the fly in the process.

Also, life tends to get in the way of lots of our plans.  As noted in the Project Timeline, my precious sister-in-law was diagnosed with cancer and died as we were just getting into the midst of this project.  I was living with my brother and her, and he has been a great hand and inspiration to me from the beginning.   They worked together in the mid 90’s and built their home (in which I was living) and I always knew that there was an end in sight for this and I’d have a place of my own soon.

The Project timeline above kind of stalled in the summer of 2018, as I got busy at work; but I did manage to make things come together for a comfortable living to be available in the house by the fall of the year.  No, it’s not “finished” by any means – but the inside is about 95% complete and certainly where I can live and get through the cold weather season and then pick up on the rest of that huge porch project, as well as some indoor paint and finish work that just requires warmer weather.

The outside of the house and the compound pretty much is as shown above, but I’ve been living in the house full time since November of 2018. So to show how that day to day life goes for me, here is a “walk through” of the house as I’m living in it during the Winter of 2018-2019.

If you reference the drawing of the house at the very top, it got built very much like we had planned.  The only major change is the location of the fireplace and the “desk-dining room table” have swapped places.

Coming in the front door, the fireplace is the center of the North Wall.  That is a reproduction print that was a 50th wedding anniversary gift to my maternal grandparents back in the early 70’s; I’ve had it since my grandfather died in 1987 and am proud to have it a center piece in my home.

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The mantle is a piece of 90 year old cedar barn wood, it was the center beam in a barn torn down in Wheeler county. The curio cabinet is the sum total of my lifetime of memorabilia; as you see the top 2 shelves are Star Trek related <g>.  The propane heater will run you out in a hurry if turned on high; certainly easy to keep the house warm.

This is opposite the large work area for my bride and I – she has the left 2/3 and the right 1/3 is mine <g>.  But it is very functional for what makes our paying occupations.

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And it folds up like this when we want to set up a dining room table – like that’ on my list to entertain anyone in the house, that’s what that huge outside deck is for, after all!

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The around to the west is the rest of the living room area

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The corner curio has yet to be unpacked, but it has lights in the top and bottom which are plugged in.

And around the corner is our Home Theater area.

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Facing the book shelves and TV on the wall.

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Then back to the other end to the kitchen, which is complete save the finished cabinet doors.

South

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East

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North

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I have the doors cut and ready to assemble and finish with newly routed frames, but that’s a warm weather project, even in the shop.

And since the shop has not been cleaned out from the rest of the building project, and since I’ve already gotten pretty accustomed to not having cabinet doors, that’s really been a back-burner project for me.

 

Through the door to the hallway, the stacked washer-dryer is in its closet

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And the hall door next to the east is the utility closet

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which has now doubled as a very large coat closet

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Then west into the bathroom

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North view

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West View

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With the walk-in shower

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Back in the hallway, I have piped audio from this unit in the wall there

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To the kitchen above the pantry

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And to the bedroom above the bed

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Where we have “sounds” available from AM FM Bluetooth or MP3 player 24/7.  Yes, it’s always on, too. <g>

The other view of the hallway from the bedroom shows some of the pictures on the wall, as well as the drying rods in the ceiling for aid in laundry work.

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That full view of the bed surround

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Which has tons of storage in and under.  Yes, the cabinet doors are in that kitchen door project, too.

The view to the south, the storage above the south window for our other indoor drying racks

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And the walk-in closet to the right.  Double dressing mirrors on each side of the closet door.

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Lots of shelving in the closet

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As well as clothes racks and shoe storage.

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The window AC is covered outside and in for the winter, and the storage benches are really handy.

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Looking back to the west, you see the sliding bedroom door which is a twin to the bathroom one at the other end of the hallway.

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AND THAT IS WHERE WE ARE LIVING NOW.

I will post updates on the project as the weather warms, and as details get finished, but that may be a while!

 

 

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The Future

 

We have obviously been focusing on “getting there” with the house and utilities; most of the rest of the property is pretty much untouched.  I have had to trim trees – Dad would never allow a tree on the property one could not walk under and not hit your head – and pick up large trash (refrigerator, washing machine, etc. which had been dumped through the years) but apart from that there is still plenty to clean up on the place.  I have no plans for much of a ‘yard’ and certainly not one which needs to be mowed on a regular basis.  Concrete and rocks will be my friend… < LOL >

We are also building this “on the grid” as that is easily accessible.  However, I will soon begin the installation of “off the grid” systems to gradually move us to that operational condition.  We are not planning to ever be 100% alternative energy as long as shore power is available, but in a complete catastrophe I want life to go on with little or no glitches.

 

 

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