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  • Writer's pictureJeff

Hawaii Sugar Shack Rebuild - Part 2

Part 2

The property was originally bought from the sugar cane industry in the late 50s early 60s, and was owned by a couple who raised a family and horses. There is an original prewar building from the sugar cane industry, and they built a nice 3 story house. They were some of the original homesteaders in this subdivision on this road, and they lived here for many years. Thanks to them, we have many established trees, and some awesome landscaping that they did, so they clearly invested themselves into the land. From our research and the stories told, in the 90s they divorced, and the husband moved. The wife stayed and lived in the house. Unfortunately, there was an accident with her cats and candles, and the main house was burned down. She ended up selling to the gentleman we bought from and moved back to the mainland to be with her family. He held the property for several years with the intent to build on it, but never ended up having the time to rebuild.

Crazy to think how old the avocado, starfruit, and lychee trees just might be!

Fast forward to us taking possession…

We took possession of the property in early spring, and immediately began our plan of attack. The main goal was to somehow make the property livable, so we could move out of the Airbnb and stop paying rent there. We figured any money spent on rent at the Airbnb would go much further on our own property. We debated long and hard to determine the plan, but in the end, my lady was firm that the plan would be tent camp on the property while we build a house, and GTFO of the Airbnb, even if meant being uncomfortable. We went thru and figured what it would take bare minimum and got to work to set it up and make it happen. We figured we needed a place set up camp, a place to cook, sleep, be dry, shower, have drinking water, power of some variety, and a human waste setup. We ordered up a tent, a propane camp stove, water pumps, canopies etc and got a 250-gallon water tank off Facebook. I cannot even begin to lie and say I was not worried this was going to be moving too fast or too uncomfortable. I was concerned that tent living would be to much, and that my lady would end up regretting it, so was hesitant to cancel the Airbnb at first. But we moved forward and got our camp setup.

This was all that was left of the old 3 story home and bath house when we first bought the property. A burnt-out single level shell covered in jungle

We got the shower built and working, got the air mattress into the tent, and cooked our first meal in camp. We talked, and debated, but decided we had already thrown caution to the wind and let’s go ahead and make the jump. Every time we spent time at the Airbnb we just wanted to be at the property, and every hour spent at the property got work done, so it seemed right. We moved all our main stuff over but did not fully move over until we got power figured out. One of my biggest concerns was getting a refrigerator setup, as the DFG seed collection / stock is hands down one of our most valuable possessions, and my livelihood and the jungle climate is notorious about destroying seeds. I am by no means an expert, but I had done a ton of research on solar systems and decided to go ahead and DIY a simple setup. We started with 4 interstate 6v golf cart batteries, an outback charge controller, a cotek inverter (For the sake of clarity – I ABSOLUTELY DON’T recommend Cotek) a Midnight Battery Disconnect, 3 325 Watt Solar Panels, and a simple Fuse Panel from home depot. I wired up the batteries all in series to make them 24v, ran the original cotek, got the solar panels and charge controller wired in, and got the first AC plugs setup. We also picked up a honda generator, as well as an aims battery charger, so we could charge the bank up, run large power tools, and just in case basically. Once I had the bugs worked out, and the system producing power, we purchased a fridge, loaded her up with the seed collection, and moved onto the land.

Our first projects to make the land liveable- Power system, a way to wash dishes, and as Leslie Jones says, "Wash under my ball."s lmao.

While tent camping on 3 acres in Hawaii does sound romantic, and in many ways, it was, but it was also quite the challenging adventure. We spent many nights with sideways rain still making it in under the canopy and thru tent windows, listening to thunder and lightning, as the canopy and tent shook from the wind. The first month or so we were sleeping on an air mattress, waking up on the ground many mornings, and having to repatch it several times. I can honestly say I don’t think our little family was dry at all the whole time we lived in the tent, between humidity sweats, rain, and a muddy dog. But hey, it all builds character, right?!

This was our first camp on the property. Tough living for sure, we had double digit rainfall every month we lived in that tent, and had to lay down straw just to keep the mud down....which of course got into everything we owned, and into the tent of course.

Once we had moved onto the land and into the tent, progress hit a high gear on the homestead. We quickly got the first veg greenhouse up, and ordered the flower greenhouse and dehumidifier, and got a swimming pool setup for our large water catchment tank.

The first Greenhouse setup on the new property....

The view from the tent.....where I plotted how to turn this rugged wet plot of jungle into a functional home from my wife and me, and farm to produce epic seeds!

To continue in part #3!

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