Outside with Chris - Social Distancing by Choice


Chris Erwin

The Ashland Beacon


   I have always had daydreams of living off the grid, a step back in time to when survival depended on your skill to understand nature and how you could fit into it. I was fascinated with the stories of Daniel Boone and how they conquered the wilderness.

   Ten years ago, I bought a couple of acres in the middle of the Daniel Boone National forest that overlooked the Licking River. My family had been leasing some property nearby that we had campers on. I knew as I got older, I was going to need more than a camper. After reading and researching off the grid living, I decided to build a house out in the woods where there was no water source, no electric, no gas. My cell phone would only work if I jumped on a four-wheeler and went to the top of the mountain.

   So I started by taking a chain saw and clearing what I hoped to be a house site—cutting trees, brush, and more sticker bushes than you could put in a semi-truck. It became clear I was going to need a bulldozer to cut the house pad. Believe me, when I say it’s not easy to get heavy equipment five miles out in the woods where there is nothing but a gravel road. However, we managed to get it done. The next step was to start a foundation.

   Once graded, we were on a solid rock; it was impossible to trench a footer. After some family discussions, we decided to build the house on 6x6 pressure treated post. The house was going to be 48 feet long and 25 feet wide, and we wanted to be able to drive under part of the house to store our four-wheelers. This structure was going to need 48 6-by-6 posts and 250 80-lb bags of cement.

   For the next year, my son, my wife and I erected the post and the 2x12 band boards that would fashion the foundation and floor. The floor joists would end up being band sawed knotless-poplar cut by the Amish. Putting up the floor and screwing down the AdvanTech flooring took the rest of the second year.

   It took the three of us two more years to put up the walls and to install the steel roof. The point I’m making here is that we built this place all on our own. We did have a few other family members help when we put up the walls and steel roof. We also install a deck on the front and a 10-foot by 48-foot outside deck on the back that is 14 feet off the ground.

   The house is heated with a wood stove. The water is rainwater that goes through a filter and into a holding tank where it is treated, then fed to an on-demand pump that pumps it through the house. We installed a 1,000 gallon septic tank with a perk field. All of the gray water is routed to the overflow.

   We wired the house as if it were in the city with some exceptions—the fuse box has three sources. Solar-to 10- 150 amp-hour gel batteries are controlled by a charge controller and converted the solar to 12 volts DC, and that goes through a breaker, and 4,000-watt inverter and is connected to the fuse box as source one. Source two is a 4,000-watt generator that can run the house and charge the batteries at the same time. Our third source was going to be a wind generator. However, it has never been completed.

   This project has been 10 years in the making and has been put on pause since my in-town house burned down. However, this three-bedroom, bath, kitchen, and living room cabin is my get-a-way. I still have the daydreams of living in the solitude of the woods along the same river that Daniel Boone explored.

   I know many of you are keeping your distance from other people for the first time. May God watch over us and get us through this trying period.

   Chris Erwin is the founder and publisher of Kentucky Angling News, an online magazine available at www.kentuckyangling.com/magazine Chris can be reached by email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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