Our First Full Week on Our Land

Our First Full Week on Our Land

We did it. Finally, at long last, we are getting settled on our land. There were a few things that changed prior to moving onto the land and it worked out really well, but we needed to shift our plans. Originally we were planning on building our coffee company’s business hub along with our bathroom and outdoor kitchen. However, our friends who would have lived right next door to us decided to move and made their three RVs and workshop available to us. This was a godsend. I was under the gun (Dom was too!) to get Buffalo Mountain up and running as soon as possible which would have meant that our coffee company would operate from inside one of our bell tents until the building was finished. But now we will be rehabbing the main RV, it will become the business hub until we build our roastery and commercial kitchen.

The RV was a large Winnabego and four rooms were added onto the RV to give them a bit more space. This was their landing pad for when they build their dream home…but their plans changed. I can relate for sure. I can’t tell you how many times our plans have changed within just a week or two. Anyway, we are super thrilled to have the opportunity to transition our coffee company fairly quickly. One room will be used for my art studio, the second room will be used as our office, the third room was created to make the bathroom much bigger, and the fourth room which is located in the front of the RV will be used for handling coffee, bagging up products.

The way we were operating Buffalo Mountain before was extremely tight. We had only one room to use for EVERYTHING. If I needed to put together coffee wedding favors for 100 guests, the room needed to be cleared out so that I could work on the art for the front of the favors. The largest wedding I’ve done had 200 guests and I needed to get everything done in a room that only fit a 3×6′ table.

I’m also a hardcore introvert, so having two extroverts bopping around (one who is with me 24/7) and only having a small space to work was challenging to say the least.

But we made it work.

And now I have a room for each important part of our coffee company. I no longer need to have my office in our bedroom or trying to teach Simmi a new lesson since I homeschool her at the table that I need to work at. She now has her very own special nook for her art projects, beads, and her little tv.

The front of the hub, pictured above, will be painted and finished. They were in the process of building the rooms which were ingeniously created from pallets. The inside is still unfinished, so we’ll be finishing the rooms and painting everything in the next few weeks.

We have been sleeping in our tent but didn’t get much set up down in camp. We turned our attention to getting the hub ready for all the equipment, supplies, and inventory.

Today we brought down our chairs and rug for our tent. We’ve been living like hobos for the last week. We let Simmi sleep with us while she got used to living in tents. It’s a big change for her…for all of us. Tonight she’ll sleep in her own bed in our tent and tomorrow she’ll be moved to her own tent. All her things were moved into her new space. We need to build low profile shelves for her clothes.

Even though our tents are four-season tents, we decided that because it is already spring, not to bother hooking up the woodstoves. The nights have been chilly, but our blankets and comforters are super warm. Simmi has a habit of sleeping with 6 blankets, even in the summertime. There is no way that this child of ours could be cold! The first night we were here the temperature got down to 22 degrees. Since that first night, it’s gotten much warmer at night.

We have our kitchen tent set up, but we haven’t moved our kitchen supplies in yet. We need to purchase a hose to run to our camp so we can create our kitchen sink. We have an on-demand camp water heater that hooks up to propane. Once we have our sink set up, we’ll be ready to live down there most of the day. For now, we’re cooking in the RV, and catching up with laundry.

Simmi did well going back and forth every few days with more of our boxes of things. She wasn’t happy about being crammed into one seat (she likes to sprawl) but she was a trooper.

The horses are doing well. They’re antsy to get out on pasture. Dom made some strides getting more posts up for them and now they are spending a few hours each day out there. Hopefully, in the next few weeks, we can get the rest of the posts up and the tape going for them.

I love seeing them every morning and throughout the day. They have such a beautiful presence about them.

Our kitchen tent. It’s more for eating and hanging out. We’ll be setting up a separate smaller area for our camp stove and sink.

The photo above was from our time living in Maine. It was the first time we had an outdoor kitchen and it helped to prepare us for living outside again.

Mineral Creek has been flowing. We usually cross the creek to get to our camp, but now we have to take a back road from Mogollon.

We live in such a beautiful part of Catron County.

We’ve been watching a few of our friend’s dogs and Simmi is obsessed with feeding them. They’re fatties, but for some reason, she is always concerned with their nutrition.

Our special guests until May. Puna and Bohdi. These fatties are always ready to attack with lots of love and slobbery kisses.

The round pen is up in the pasture.

There’s a swing in front of the hub and Simmi is on it at least 3 times a day.

One of the things I love so much about the land are all the sprawling scrub oak trees.

In the back of the hub is a shade garden with cactus, scrub oak and juniper.

This photo was taken at midday. The shade is a welcome addition in the heat of the day.

Dom’s workshop.

Another structure built with pallets. We’ll work on finishing this building too.

Inside the workshop.

This week we’ll also be working on creating a new coop for the chickens.

This past week my new bible arrived. I’m not kidding you! This book is a treasure trove of amazing ideas. Author Anna Edey created many different systems for managing graywater and blackwater from toilets. The one system I was most interested in was a composting flush toilet where worms are at the heart of the system. I’ve known about her composting flush toilet for a long time, but just ordered her book two weeks ago.

Our bathroom at our camp, along with our graywater will be created using the Solviva method. Eventually we want to convert the business hub over to this system as well.

Things are going well and we’re making great strides.


Will Urban Homesteading be Our Destiny?

Our search continues for some land or even a house that we can settle down into, but as life would have it, we need to stay closer than 40 minutes to doctors and therapists. Our grand daughter Simone was just diagnosed with Apraxia of Speech and she will need to have intensive speech therapy everyday. If we are way out in the middle of nowhere, even if it is only 40 minutes from a proper medical facility or a center to get her speech therapy, how much time and effort will that take up in our day? She is well worth the effort, so we are going to need to search for a house with land that will be much closer to the different facilities.
Permaculture principles encompass more than just growing food. Designing our homestead must take into account not only the needs of our family at home, but outside the home as well. We’ve found a few houses that have potential, but in order to keep costs low, we have needed to look at fairly rundown houses. Its not easy finding a home in the city that has land, but I know we will find something. We want our home to be centrally located to both medical facilities as well as the Parajito Mesa.

The picture in the upper left hand corner is a house we went to see. It is a 2,900 square foot, 4-5 bedroom, two story pueblo on a half acre of land. The property sits just three miles from the Parajito Mesa and would be an awesome home once completed. The neighborhood where the house is located is mainly equestrian…lots of beautiful horses and upscale homes. The property is being offered at an extremely low price since the rehab of the house halted and the owner wanted out.  The photo on the right is of the front of the house where some of the exterior was improved. A lot of time and energy went into fixing the house and it shows. As I looked at the interior, I saw something that I don’t always see…construction done right. I think that is what I liked most about this house. The house must have had some problems with a busted pipe inside, as well as roof drainage problems, but from what we saw, these things were addressed right away. The house offers us a blank slate so we can design the house in a way that would suit our needs. But alas, there are many offers on the house, and it will be scooped up very soon. We aren’t ready to put an offer on any house until we have seen all our options. Here are a few more pictures I took of the land:

This weekend we’ll be going to see another home, which I’m a little freaked out about. Its an old house, and I’m highly allergic to mold. Typically New Mexico and the southwest is very dry, but when there is an old home and the plumbing hasn’t been maintained, or roof leaks were allowed to persist, mold can develop. Add to that a swamp cooler and humidity levels rise, activating the mold spores already present. I’m not saying that there is mold in this particular house we are going to see, but it is old and unoccupied right now. The house is almost 3,000 square feet, partial adobe with six bedrooms and three bathrooms. It sits on 3/4 of an acre and backs up to the Rio Grande. Even though I haven’t walked the land yet, I am fairly excited to walk the Riparian Zone which is just behind the property.

Here is a few aerial screen shots of the house backing up to the Rio Grand:

Will urban homesteading be our destiny? It may! We are adjusting and scaling down the vision we had for a homestead in a rural area. We can still accomplish our goals, it will just be on a much smaller scale. Part of that vision was to have heritage cows, sheep, goats, pigs, horses, alpacas, and donkeys, and now we’ll only be including some angora goats and rabbits, a small pig or two,  heritage chickens, ducks and geese to support the system we set up. If the property we buy has less than a 1/2 acre, then we will need to further scale down the types of animals we want to include in the system.

There are a number of things we are interested in doing on the homestead. All of them will take time to develop, and none will be implemented right away, here is our partial list…things will be added or omitted when we finally purchase:

  • Tropical green house on the back of the house so we can grow our own coffee and other exotic fruits and plants
  • Growing gourmet mushrooms
  • Vermiculture- selling worms, beautiful composted soil and worm tea
  • Silk production- this is for our own use and would not be for sale
  • Angora rabbit fibers
  • Angora goat fibers
  • Eggs- Definitely would be for sale since we can’t eat or cook them in the house due to Simone’s egg allergy
  • Food forest if our land backs up to an open field or riparian buffer

There is more that we want to do and I’ll add to that list as we move forward.