Australia to Texas – Building out Chateau Christie – Getting Closer to Texas

Reader Contribution by Jim Christie
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We had the chance to be back in Texas for a few days in October.  The primary purpose of our trip was for my college reunion in Kansas, but we certainly wanted to get a few things done at the homestead while we were there.  When we arrived, we found that the recent rains had prompted a huge amount of weeds. Contrast this picture with the previous blog where we had just put the nice Italian style fountain in the front yard.

But a good bit of hand work (mostly by Julie) resulted in the front yard area looking like this:

 And getting the tractor a new battery and getting things all fired up:

 Resulted in our beautiful property being shredded to look like a park again:

Most of the work done on this trip was to complete the electrical and enclose the attic upstairs so it’ll be cooler, safer and less dusty than it would be just exposed to the rest of the garage. Here’s the before and after shot of the electrical box.  We pulled another 2000′ of wire (bringing the total electrical wiring probably close to 2 miles in the house) while I was there, installed numerous outlets and boxes, pulled wire for coax and stereo. These two shots don’t show the amount of work, but at least give an indication of the large progress that was made in ten days as we went from “messy” to “tidy” on the electrical boxes.  Also, the addition of boxes shows an indication of the amount of additional wiring and circuits.  One thing that’s unique for us is that ten years in Australia has given us a lot of electrical equipment that’s designed for 240v and 50 Hz. We didn’t want to give those items away so we’re shipping most of them back to the US and have wired key areas in the house with Aussie electrical circuits so we can use our Aussie appliances and equipment:

And the framing for the attic went well too.  What these pictures show is the frame out of the open area above the house.  We’re going to provide serious foam insulation in the ceiling and walls of the metal building and provide some cooling from the air conditioning unit so that we have a nice storage area above the house.:

Hopefully, those still working on the homestead after we’ve left will finish the little bit of plumbing that needs to be done prior to an inspection.  Then, we’ll see insulation and dry wall going up which will make the place very suddenly look like a home instead of a bunch of sticks.  Here’s a shot of the living room from the kitchen area.  We’ll show the similar shot later when we have dry wall.

As we leave Chateau Christie and head for Kansas, we do so looking forward to the visit with family, the Mother Earth News Staff and my college classmates at our reunion. We also leave with the knowledge that this will be (possibly and probably) the last trip we make to Chateau Christie with the intent of going back to Australia. The next trip will be on a “one way” ticket and we will move on to the next phase of our lives in Texas. We’ve enjoyed our nearly ten years in Australia enormously and will have heavy hearts about leaving friends there.  However, the increasing number of grandchildren coupled with our desire to live a sustainable lifestyle is compelling.  The chance to raise and grow what we eat, develop wind and solar power capabilities and spend a lot more time with family and our US friends is exciting,  We look forward to that new phase of our lives in only a few months.