Anyone who has been part of the online turning community is probably aware of Michelle Richards. You might be familiar with her signature “negative space designs” or perhaps aware of her considerable skill in making Windsor chairs. What may not be as apparent, however, is the tenacity and resourcefulness that brought her to where she is today. Although a private person by nature, she has agreed to share some of her story with us and I trust you will find it as fascinating as I did.

“At middle age I became disabled, and thought long & hard about how to live the rest of my life. I was afraid I would sit & whine & I hate whining, especially from myself.  So, I chucked the life I knew and moved to the wilderness. I took hand tools that I had no clue how to use and bought a piece of land off a logging road. There was no electricity or any other service.  Although I had never built even a dog house, I was full of confidence!  I lived in a 10x12 garden shed and started to clear land/trees with just brute force. A cheap come-a-long, shovels, 2x4's etc. were used to dig boulders and rocks out of clay. I cut down trees with a Scandinavian handsaw and split wood with a maul (today I have chainsaws and wood splitter... I am getting old & need the help!) I then built a small cabin with hand tools, installed gas lights, a water system off my roof, and then started to make my furniture.”

Much like the pioneers of old, Michelle valued self-sufficiency and made a life for herself in what looks like a beautiful lake in the woods.

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Having chosen this homesteading life, Michelle learned to live off the land, learned innovation and resourcefulness and made do with far less than we all take for granted every day.

“While living in a dark & cold winter climate, and having to do everything while there was enough light (I made my kitchen cabinets in the winter in front of a window between noon & 2 pm) I started to teach myself about solar and wind technology. I bought panels as I could afford them.  Today my house & shop are powered by renewables. I don't have the power available that ya'll use every day, but I have enough if I conserve. I had never hunted prior to moving here but I taught myself how to use handguns, rifles and shotguns and today I hunt & fish & garden.”

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Saturday the 18th. Thanks for visiting Woodturners Unlimited.