My wife and I own 75 acres of raw land in NE Arizona, Apache County. We’re interested in building a small and resilient community of family homesteaders. Our approach to off-grid life is techno-tribal, and we aim to replicate many (if not all) of the comforts of modern life on our slice of nowhere. Our planning is reaching its final stages, and we’ve begun the permitting process for several pieces of key infrastructure. We are attempting to steer clear of top-down ideological or sociological engineering, and instead simply find kind and able wilderness neighbors with whom to build bottom up communities.
About us: Both my wife and myself are in our thirties, and we have two small children ages 1 and 3. We have backgrounds in permaculture, agriculture, animal/livestock care, hospitality, healthcare, and some construction. We’re currently living and working in Colorado, which is where my wife grew up, and I’ve been here for almost 20 years. We’re easy going but driven individuals with open minds and a tolerant disposition. We are a multiracial family, but the tolerance I speak of goes deeper than that. We consider ourselves politically independent, and spiritually gnostic. We strive to become Citizen-Farmers, as the founders envisioned. Childcare and education are paramount concerns for us. We want to teach our kids to be fully human, and then let them decide their paths for themselves.
About the land: 75 pristine acres that have seen nothing but animal poop and the elements for at least a hundred years. The parcel is roughly half flat-land and half thickly wooded, comprising a slice of the gently sloping eastern bank of Black Mesa. There is about a 250’ elevation gain over those forty acres, granting some stunning views.The other side of the valley rebounds with Mesa Redonda, which is B.L.M./State Trust Land in its entirety. There are also many more wild-lands nearby.
The flat portion of the lot is peppered with juniper trees and cut by an ancient arroyo. This arroyo is classified as NULL stream flow, and was most likely cut in the 1300’s during the somewhat mysterious mass arroyo cleaving of that era. Its walls never exceed 8’ and it provides numerous microclimates that will increase our growing range.
Legal and physical access is from a non-county-maintained dirt road on the eastern property border. The roads are not in bad shape at all, and I’ve had no problems in our SUV’s. It's a 6 mile dirt road, then 16 miles paved county highway to the nearest town, and not much further to the next and larger town.
The county has friendly building codes and zoning. We’re unbound by covenants or HOA’s. We are allowed to hunt on our land! There are elk, deer, rabbit and turkey that roam the property. Predator species may also be active in the area, though I’ve yet to spot much sign yet. Also, AZ is an open range state, and cattle have been pooping here for over a hundred years. Pigs too. This is not a crowded valley by any means, though it bears evidence of a long and continuous occupation dating back thousands of years. This is Anasazi country.
About our plans: Our ideal scenario is to build the essential infrastructure needed for roughly 20 people, or 4-5 households, at the outset. This has the benefits of avoiding design constraints, lowering cost, reducing the time heavy equipment compacts our soil, and providing room to safely expand. Our definition of essential infrastructure is: (1) reliable water source (the Coconino aquifer via well and smart storage and use); (2) secure and ecologically safe waste systems; (3) scaled solarenergy grid and storage; and (4) road and other shared maintenance.
You may notice the absence of food in that list. This is intentional, and the reasoning is simple. People spend their time differently, and people eat different things. Growing one's own food is a time consuming and labor intensive project.
Some may choose to telecommute and largely buy their food in town, while others may choose permaculture animals and plant husbandry for theirs, like we plan on doing. We believe this decision allows for maximum independence.
However, this would not preclude any kind of organic collaboration that sprung up. I will add our plan revolves around creating a regenerative, local, and versatile food system our great-grandchildren can live on one day - and we welcome co-conspirators to those ends.
We're planning an earthbag home and accessory buildings made in the CalEarth spirit and style. Interested parties would have the choice to build in a similar fashion, piggybacking on our engineering and permitting ground work- or propose building methods of their own. You may at the least have to endure an earful from us on the myriad benefits of suoeradobe though ;-)
Long term (e.g. 99 years) leases or possible subdivision and ownership possibilities could be available.
Our business plans: In addition to our working off-grid homestead and the inputs for products that will provide, we’ve identified several business opportunities to turn regeneration into multiple (read:resilient) profit streams. Among them are: all-inclusive retreat/workshop venue; a bed and breakfast; providing studio or incubator space in a majestic setting; art opportunities with the petrified wood etc. abundant on-site; guided mule rides through the nearby wilderness; and quite a few more.
As you can probably tell by now, I struggle with brevity on this subject. After over 15 years plotting and practicing on others’ land, the end of the beginning is here. As we move into this next stage of our lives, we turn earnestly towards finding you and yours who will join us.
If you’re interested in being a part of this vision, or just curious on any level about our budding project, please don’t hesitate to reach out to ThirdPigFarms@gmail.com. I’d say find us on blah blah and blah but we’re only now finding a use for social media in our lives, so that (and our website) are coming soon!
All the best in this New Year,
The Third Pig Family