We had a big day planned at the property this past weekend. On Friday, Sheila had purchased a new Predator 4000 W generator from Harbor freight (I don’t know how they can sell something like that for only $280, even with a super coupon) and during the week, we had arranged for Howard at the Boulder Creek Water Company to come up to the property, deliver a 500 gallon water tank and help us connect all of the lines from the well to the tank. I knew there were a lot of things that could go wrong on Saturday, but I was really hopeful that at the end of the day, we might at least have water coming out of our well. It was a nice idea anyway.
We wanted to start working on the well first thing on Saturday morning, so we drove out to the tiny house on Friday night, as we often do now. After breakfast in the tiny house, Sheila and I drove the 1500 feet from the tiny house to the well and pulled the new generator out of the car to start assembling it.
Howard showed up just about the time we had the lane in pretty good shape. The first thing we did was pull the 500 gallon water tank off of the back of his truck. Even with all of the work I had just done on the lane, Howard was not comfortable trying to drive his old truck all the way into the center of the property, so Sheila and I decided to roll it into place.
Afraid that maybe I had wired my plug incorrectly, I actually took the plug all apart again to look at the wires. Howard looked at them with me and we both convinced ourselves that everything was right (they were definitely not – but again, that is a story for another entry). After that, we sat there scratching our heads for a little while longer before we finally noticed something. When the prior property owner, John, had installed the pump in the well 4 years ago when we purchased the property, he had told me that the pump took about 6 amps steady state, but could spike to as many as 18 or more amps during starting. I thought the 4000 W generator would be able to handle that, but then I looked at the 220 V outlet on the side of the generator and realized it was only rated for 13 A. While I wasn’t completely sure that the problem was that our generator wasn’t powerful enough, it sure seemed likely.
The only saving grace for us at that moment was that Sheila had purchased the extended warranty plan on the generator which meant that we could take it back to Harbor Freight and upgrade it to the next size model without having to also pay any kind of restocking fee. So, that’s what we decided we would do.
We let Howard go because there wasn’t really anything else he could do for us that day and we spent the next couple of hours getting the generator ready to return. That involved first making a trip to Boulder Creek to get a siphon to get all of the gas out (good thing I completely filled the tank before we started, right?). After we got back, we spent at least a half an hour siphoning the gas out and all over ourselves in the process, another half an hour running the generator until it finally died and then another half hour draining all of oil back out, taking the wheels back off, taking the handle off and packing everything back up into the box. The whole time, I couldn’t help myself from continually thinking of how much easier and more successful the whole day would have been if we had just bought the right size generator in the first place.
You would think figuring out what size generator was required to run a well pump wouldn’t be that difficult, but evidently it is. I guess the exact power that each well pump takes is a complicated thing to figure out and is dependent on all kinds of things, like depth of the well, temperature, age, which way the wind is blowing and who knows what else. For whatever reason, the manufacturers of most well pumps either can’t or won’t tell you exactly how much power you will need to run their products. I think most people just hook their well pumps up to commercial electricity, so it doesn’t really matter. However, for people with generators, not knowing exactly how many amps the pump is going to draw is a huge issue and one that eventually cost us hours of time this weekend and has left me still scratching my head. At this point, at least part of me is wondering if it might take a DeLorean, a flux capacitor and a bolt of lightning to get our well pump started.
Anyway, after I was done trying to figure out how much power the generator would take and we had the generator all packed up in the car, we drove back to the tiny house and spent the rest of the afternoon doing a few odds and ends around the house. I finally planed the closet and bathroom doors so that they would open and close properly again (they have been sticking ever since all of the rain last winter). It was really nice to have those working again.
After that, we grilled some steaks, potatoes and zucchini over the fire. After that, I made a few s’mores for myself and continued to drown my sorrow’s in the rest of some chocolate cake we had bought from Safeway the night before. Then, we escaped to the loft of the tiny house, watched some TV on my iPad (love that you can download Netflix shows onto portable devices now!) and quickly fell asleep.
On Sunday morning, we got up at about 7:30 AM and then I enjoyed a warm shower followed by strawberry banana pancakes made by Sheila. She is so good to me. She knows how much I love pancakes at the tiny house, so now she makes them for me every weekend we are there.
After that, we drove the car all the way to Corralitos to pick up some of our favorite sausages from the Coralitos Market. We ended up getting 7 pounds of sausages including 4 pounds of our favorite, the Cheesy Bavarian. We will use up some of the sausages at the barbecue at our property in a couple of weeks and the rest are just for us to enjoy on our weekends at the tiny house.
After our sausage run, we drove back to Santa Cruz for church at Peace United Church of Christ. I haven’t been to that church in years and I really enjoyed it. The service was very uplifting and fun, but the best thing was the taco lunch fundraiser for the high school mission trip after the service. Somebody even made homemade Horchata. Wow, was that good!
We left church feeling much more upbeat. We had recovered a little bit from our disappointments on Saturday and felt like we had a new plan. On the way home, we were going to stop at Harbor Freight to get a more powerful generator which would allow us to give the well another try next weekend.
We got to Harbor Freight, went inside and walked over to the generator isle to look at the predator 8750 W generator. The first thing we noticed was just how big that generator was. Honestly, neither one of us were even sure that it would fit through the door of our car. Worse than that, Sheila looked at the side of the box and realized that it weighed 230 pounds. That’s a lot of generator. We managed, with no small effort, to drag the box out from under the shelf. However, when we both tried to lift the monstrosity ourselves, it barely moved. It was quickly apparent that even if we could lift it, and even if it fit through the door of our car, successfully getting it in there would probably result in a trip to the hospital for at least one of us. Even if by some miracle we did get it into the car without being injured, there was no way we were going to be able to move that generator of that size around on the property on a regular basis. We certainly weren’t going to be able to transport it 2000 feet from our shed to the well and back every time we needed water.
As we left Harbor Freight, my soul fell into a bit of despair and that is where I still remain now.
I am sure God will help us come up with some kind of solution for running our well or help us realize that it’s a problem that doesn’t need to be solved. Maybe we don’t actually need water at the property. So far, we have been simply carrying our water into the tiny house in 1 gallon jugs and that has been working fine. It would be nice to get our well hooked up, but I guess it’s not the end of the world if we can’t.
I will admit, however, that I am getting a little bit run down from all the problem-solving involved with the tiny house. Don’t get me wrong. I love my tiny house. I really do. I love spending weekends out there. I love sleeping in the loft. I love making campfires. I love pancakes in the morning. I love sitting by the stream. I love jumping off the waterfall. I love relaxing in the hammock and reading a book. What I don’t really love is still having to figure out how to do things I don’t know how to do. I did an awful lot of that when I was building the tiny house and now I feel like I have done my due and that I should kind of be done with that for a while.
It’s not that I don’t mind doing work. I actually really enjoy getting my hands dirty and being productive, especially if I get to do it outdoors. However, I am very much the kind of guy who wants to just get things done and feel a sense of accomplishment. I find it very frustrating when I get stuck in the middle of a project by something I don’t know how to do.
I know in these cases that if I’m just willing to let go and have a little bit of faith, God will always send me an answer or solution. I also know that the harder I try to force the solution to happen quickly, the more exhausted I make myself and the less happy I am with the final result. But finding faith when you need it is always a tricky thing. Of course, it’s easy to see God’s presence in your life after you come out the other side of a big problem. The real trick is being able to have faith and see God’s presence when you’re in the middle of everything. That’s a trick I will readily admit that I’m still working on.