Home at Last!

Home at Last!

We’re home! We arrived in Reserve, NM on January 25. Altogether the trip took 5 days and 4 nights. Most of our hotel stays were moldy in the bathrooms and just added more insult to injury with regards to my health. One of the hotel stays was so bad that we had to flee at 6:00 am because my breathing was so labored that I couldn’t stop coughing and sneezing.

We are located about 12 miles south of the main town of Reserve. Our house is a tiny little adobe building with two bedrooms and open area where there is a kitchen, dining area, and living room. We were amazed that we could fit all our stuff into this little structure. We had to get creative with the space in order to make it work, but it’s coming along nicely.

I thought I would give a picture tour of the property and at a later date, when our house is fully set up, I’ll give a little tour of the interior. We still have pictures to hang, more clothes to unpack, and shelves to hang.

Sometime in the future we’ll probably paint as well, but for now, because I’m still recovering it wouldn’t be wise for us to paint. The chemicals would affect my lungs too much. This little adobe place is a landing of sorts. It’s a mold free environment for me to heal, and as we get to know the area, locate a place where we can build our house. Our hope is that we can build very close to where we are at right now.

The house we want to build would be completely non-electric. That means no solar or alternative power either. It’s fine for in the buildings we’re using for our coffee business and other exciting plans we have, but our home will be built with no electricity. I’ll touch upon that subject at a later time.

So, where do we live? We live on a 40-acre plot of land that has three spring fed ponds (stocked with fish) in the Gila National Forest. We are at an elevation of 5,700 and we are surrounded by astonishing beauty, amazing rock outcroppings, canyons, evergreens, grasses, and wild game. The water here is crystal clear and tastes like heaven.

Just a week ago, I couldn’t walk more than a few minutes without sitting down, and I needed a nap at mid-day or lay down for a short period of time because I would become too dizzy to stand, and now one week later not only can I walk without running out of breath, but I can walk a whole block, as well as walk to the ponds. The first pond is directly behind our house up a little hill. Because of that hill, you don’t even know the pond is there. The first pond spills over and travels to the second pond, and then to the third pond. I have not made it as far as the second pond, but in the next week I know I’ll be able to accomplish that as well. I’m trying not to push myself too hard.

I’m so excited about these ponds. They are pure poetry.

In looking at it from an aerial view, it’s easier to see the vast beauty of the 40 acres. Over the next year, I’ll be planning out the different zones surrounding the riparian areas. Then observing the best way to utilize the land for orchards, gardens, and market gardens. It’s such a big project that it will take years to complete. I feel beyond blessed to have this land to cultivate.

Our county has a very large population of elk. The elk outnumber people and can be a nuisance or downright destructive in agricultural systems. I was so excited to see the first 10 acres being prepped for elk fencing. We don’t have a date yet on when the fencing will be installed…and I was so thrilled to see the tractor out there today!

There is a cute little greenhouse and a few garden plots that looked like there were tyme and other herbs growing maybe last year.

Here is another exciting area. Behind the cottonwood tree is the wood structure that will become our coffee roastery.

Here is a close-up shot. It’s just a stick built shed. The whole building, including any additions we put onto it will be done in salvaged very old doors and windows, and the walls will be infilled with straw-light-clay. The coffee roaster will be a cob/stone hearth, and the coffee will be wood fire roasted. I will be talking with the people who made my coffee drum about making a 20-30 pound drum custom for our new roasting hearth. Our inspiration for roasting coffee this way comes from Summermoon wood fired coffee. Below is a photo of their roaster. Ours will be similar in many ways.

The building will have very little power coming to it, and off the side of the building will be the art studio I need for creating the different products we sell for Buffalo Mountain Coffee Roasting Company.

I roasted our first few batches of coffee on February 1, and after a few roasts, I was able to get a feel for what it will be like to roast in the high desert. Altitude can affect how coffee is roasted, so I wanted to make sure I could get it consistent with how I roasted when we lived in West Virginia.

Our Etsy shop for our coffee company is now open for business if anyone is interested in buying coffee. Click here to visit our Etsy shop. 

I will be working on Buffalo Mountain’s website to offer coffee for sale there as well, it was just a low priority last year while we were building our business.

Okay, back to our little tour…

Here’s a cool little building that is right next to the roastery. At first, we thought it might be something we would want to restore and make our home, but after seeing that it is so close to the access road for the pond, we felt it would be better served as a bait and vermiculture area. Worms baby! I think it would be a great area to sell worms since people love to come fishing at the pond.

It’s in rough shape, but it’s dry inside. It just needs a little TLC and a torch. Haha, no, just the TLC and a roof.

And no, it’s not haunted.

You might be tempted to think that it’s just termites holding hands, but under that weathered wood is plastered walls. 😉

Our house is heated by a tiny little woodstove. It does a pretty good job of keeping us warm at night. We also have two propane heaters, but we don’t use them often.

This gorgeous creature showed up and is such a great outside companion for Simmi. We’re allergic to cats, so it was nice to see him show up and hang out with us. There are three other cats as well, but they don’t stick around like he does. Simmi named him Fluffy Lucky.

There is also a gorgeous beautifully natured dog that comes around. Her name is Whisper and her person is a contractor who works in town a lot. She tags along with him, and comes to hang out with me when I’m roasting coffee. She got her name because she doesn’t make a sound. No barking. She’s like the perfect dog.

Life is good here! We are settling in, making a life for ourselves here, and enjoying the beauty of New Mexico once again. It’s good to be home.

High Desert Homestead

istock_000008016888xsmallOk, I’ve been blogging on my other blogs for over a year now, and I seem to be having a problem knowing just where to start on The High Desert Chronicles! There is so much swimming around in my mind that I don’t even know what to put down first!
I’ve been living in the Land of Enchanted for a little more than a year now, and I really adore it. It is the first time in my life that I feel at home in a state. We’ve lived in many states, moved many times, but we are anchored here and want to set our roots in New Mexico.

New Mexico is such a gorgeous state, from the sweeping mesas to the high altitude mountain tops, it has everything a person could ever want. The temperature is gorgeous year round, even if it does get cold and snow here. I would describe it as “mild” weather in comparison to other states I have lived in. Living in the high desert brings another unexpected delight; it is very chilly in the evenings and warm during the day. I remember living in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Michigan and feeling clammy and hot at night. Many summer nights in the mid-west and on the east coast require an air conditioner during the evening hours or it will be hot and muggy throughout the night. Not so in New Mexico. The high desert brings a cool breezy flow of air that begs for the windows to be opened at night. The fresh air is wonderful and waking up to the crisp dry air is amazing.  The mornings here are cool and as the day progresses, it warms up beautifully. I really don’t know how else to describe the weather here! You have to see it to believe it. By mid-day in the winter where we are in the Albuquerque area, it is between 40-50 degrees. With the sun always shining. Snow is mild in the lower elevations and usually it melts by mid day. Spring is amazing as temperatures rise slightly and we start to see flowers and desert plants come to life. Fruits, vegetables, flowers, plants and trees grow well here, and as summer approaches, the weather just keeps getting better and better. Last year was our first summer in the Land of Enchantment, and I was surprised that we only needed the air conditioning on for about four hours a day. The summer mornings are cool and pleasant, and by mid-day the temperature reaches about 80-90 degrees. It warms up from about 12:00pm and reaches its peak (for me at least) of 80 degrees by around 3:00pm. It stays at that temperature until about 7:00pm when all the sudden it starts to drop in temperature as it gets closer to sunset. The summer evenings are cool and always comfortable. Last year in May we had a small heat wave for about a week where the temperatures were 95 degrees, but then it cooled back down. We got a pool thinking that we would be able to enjoy it during the hot summer…but in actuality, it didn’t really start to get warm enough to go into the pool (after that heat wave) until mid August. Because the air is so dry here, the warm summer temperatures tend to feel cooler than they actually are. So if its 80 degrees, it feels more like 70. In states where the climate is very humid, the opposite is true. 80 degrees on the east coast will feel more like 90 degrees and it feels like you are wearing a sweater in the heat.

Right now we are in search of land to settle down and homestead. As I move forward with this blog, my hope is to chronicle our journey in finding our perfect location. There are hundreds of factors that slightly complicate our search, but in the end, we hope to have those factors worked out. We’ve been searching online for property, and we have seen everything from “very very remote” to “up close and personal” in an urban setting. Taking our family’s needs into consideration  we have narrowed our search for property to a few areas. It has been great viewing all the properties, because it allows us to problem solve. I put myself onto the land in my mind and think to myself “well…the land is about 45 minutes down a dirt road and up on an inactive volcano, is this the place for us? Its 2 1/2 hours from a major city and the main airport for the state! Hmm? Will this work for us?” LOL The more remote a piece of land is here, the less it will cost. So the next question is, “Is this land worth it?” We don’t want to be so far from a small or large town that it is almost impossible for others to want to come and visit, nor do we want to feel that it is too much trouble to go and visit others.

Another very pressing factor with our family is that our grand child can not be too far from a hospital. We need to be at most 40 minutes from a proper medical facility since she has very severe food allergies and also requires speech therapy, occupational therapy and a few other things that require assistance. Being so remote that a therapist can not come, or we have difficult time getting to a proper facility will work against us.

We also have four people in our family that work outside the home, and if we are too remote, it makes driving to work a real chore. We don’t have any romantic notions that we will be self sufficient and living on the land where that is our only means of income right away. We don’t envision that happening for at least 6-7 years…maybe more.

Here is a short video that always makes me cry when I watch it because it was so beautifully made. It is about New Mexico: