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My project and a few questions  RSS feed

 
Patricia Sanders
Posts: 17
Location: St. Johns, AZ
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In April I moved up to forty acres in NE Arizona. I've taken some experiment/prototype/low-cost first steps and am planning for the next year.

Note that my goal in this project is to do what I can with what I have and what is there. It's very much an experiment and learning experience. I'm aware this is a challenging set of conditions. I will be living there most of the year but will not be solely relying on the place to feed/house me.

The site:



- 40 acres of degraded (grazing) grassland located in eastern AZ at 5800 ft
- Gently rolling terrain, avg. 2-3% slope, varying from level up to 6%
- Soil is clovis sandy loam according to online survey info; my observation is clay under a surface layer of sand - almost no silt
- Currently predominated by grasses and woody shrubs; scattered 8-10 ft junipers. No mulch sources here.
- USDA zone 6a/b
- Precip: 11 in avg annually, historically as low as 5 inches/yr and as high as 19. I'm hearing predictions of a wet summer.
- Wettest months are July/Aug; springtime tends to be dry
- Temps: Avg July max 90F, avg January min 18F, historical extremes from -29F to 104F
- Nearest town is over 1 hr away
- No existing well, no funds to drill one, prefer to work with rainfall
- At this point, only hand tools are available, and for the time being I am doing all the work myself - so progress is severely limited, but that is probably a beneficial slowness



In one sector, about 10 acres drain onto 1 acre, in a natural bowl. I want to establish a windbreak on the western edge of this bowl, starting with establishing a line of sunchokes, followed by suitable windbreak bushes and trees. When the windbreak is established I'll begin planting a food forest in the one-acre bowl. In the meantime, the soil here needs work - currently it is almost 100% clay, with only sparse grama grass growing.

I am prototyping the use of an olla, will also try deep pipe irrigation. It is placed near the future center of the windward side of the windbreak. I filled the hole around the olla with native materials: layers of clay, sand, twigs, grass, and cattle manure. I planted one sunchoke tuber. I set the olla at the end of April, and when I returned at the end of May, the sunchoke had sprouted.



I've installed one 60-gal water barrel and am building a ground-level water harvester (pond liner - admittedly will not last long - draining into a plastic tub).

Next steps:

- fence the area (approx 3-4 acres) to keep out grazing cattle
- install more ollas or deep pipe irrigators to get the windbreak line established & the soil beginning to revive along that line
- mulch and/or cover crop the food forest area
- put up a yurpee for myself - this is a yurpee:



- make a walipini and/or Phiri pits and/or work on swaling the windbreak line (what comes first??)
- build a 8' x 16' sunroom that will provide passive solar heating for a future strawbale house & serve as greenhouse/wind shelter in the meantime
- start making adobes for a future building
- start windbreak plants + food garden in the greenhouse

Questions:

- Do anything with the slopes that drain into the bowl, or just leave em be?
- Planning a fence of T-posts and 3 wires - any better ideas? I'm talking +/- 1500 feet of fence.
- How to mulch/cover crop/otherwise prep the food forest area

Many thanks!
Trish
 
Dan Boone
gardener
Posts: 1787
Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
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Trish, what a challenge!

I don't have expertise or experience with extreme drylands like yours, so the notions that come to my mind are just notions. But for whatever little they are worth:

1) I would scour that 40 acres looking for *any* patches of greenery that are growing well -- especially anything broadleaf that could be chopped for mulch. You need mulch. Whatever you find, even if it's just one or two plants, monitor until it's in its seeding phase and then try to spread those seeds to anywhere else on the property that looks promising. Dig microswales if you have to (eight shovels long by one shovel wide by one shovel deep) to concentrate the limited rainfall onto your mulch plants.

2) You've got 40 acres and you're concentrating initially on the most promising one acre. Don't be afraid to steal biomass from the other 39 acres, whether in the form of juniper branches, dead grass, or even bits of topsoil taken a shovelful or a wheelbarrrow at a time from under a tree or in a spot that cows used to poop. Yes, the more you take now, the harder it will be to establish fruitful plantings there in future; but once you have your oasis, you can harvest mulches and create compost there and reverse the arrow, spreading the biomass back out onto your other acres.

3) Use soil to help establish your windbreak. My sun chokes want to go horizontal when they get too much wind at first. Do you know anybody who has big dogs? Beg the empty dogfood sacks from them, fill them with dirt, and stack three of them to shelter your sun choke until it's 2 feet high. Or build a cairn of rocks to shelter the next sun choke. Or use stacked up lengths of a dead juniper. Whatever you've got. Like you I'm limited to hand tools, so I understand the limitations of scale that you're living with. But you've got this interesting situation where your organic resources are sparse but you've got acres and acres of soil. My approach would be to concentrate *everything* (not just the water) while you're trying to get systems established. Use anything you can find on the other 39 to get your one acre up and productive -- water, soil, dead wood, rocks for stone mulches, whatever ya got.

4) Does prickly pear grow where you are? If so, I'd disperse it all over the property; they say it spreads readily from pads placed on the ground. Where it grows it's a form of green mulch, it is edible, sometimes it has edible fruit, and it stores up a lot of water. Somewhere on this site there's video of somebody getting fruit trees established by digging the hole, chopping up a prickly pear plant into the hole, and then planting the tree into that wet pulpy mass. I don't know if that works but it sounds helpful, and having a lot of prickly pear could make it easier for you when you're ready to reforest the rest o the acreage.

Hope something here helps!
 
Miles Flansburg
steward
Posts: 4059
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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looks like there are some trees that wil grow in the area, try to encourage those and plant more like them.

Every drainage might be good locations for small dams or swales of some sort to stop any moisture that may run down them, planted with native trees and shrubs.

Key lines that lead into the bowl , planted with native trees and shrubs.

 
Patricia Sanders
Posts: 17
Location: St. Johns, AZ
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Dan, Miles, thank you so much! These are awesome ideas. Yes, there is prickly pear that I could propagate, and there is locoweed, which I could also propagate, and it looks like now is the time. Key lines into the bowl, thank you. All these suggestions are fantastic.

I will post updates.

Just to be clear, the photo of a yurpee was not taken on my land - it's just to show what a yurpee is.

Many thanks,
Trish
 
Linda Ford
Posts: 32
Location: Southwestern New Mexico
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I have what looks like similar landscape. I am in SW NM at about 5600 ft and similar zone info. I do have more grass in clay (caliche) with lots of rocks. The USDA says we get 10 to 15" rain but I think that must have been a hundred years ago. Ha. When it does rain it may dump 2" or more at a time but infrequently. I went ahead and hired a bobcat to dig some contour burms to reduce errosion/run-off and feed the rain water into my planned Food Forest area. I have decided to create chicken pastures in that area and plant lots of forage for them as well as for me. I am using pinto beans and comfry for cover crops as they grow fast in the rains and are drought tolerant. Then the foliage will become mulch and they continue to make roots to loosen the clay.

Where are you from, as in how familiar are you with our desert seasons? Winter gets a little snow that melts quickly and spring is our dry season. We are just heading into our monsoon/rainy season and this is predicted to be a wet year. The whole El Nino thing and it will be dry in South America. So this is a good time to plant.

My thoughts for your place starts with planting Mesquite trees/seeds for your wind break. If you can afford small trees you will get quicker results, but the seeds are easy to get. They grow well and will produce forage and are disiduous so also create mulch, as well as can be cut down as needed later.

The prickly pear is a great idea, I assume youtube can provide the essential info. I have had luck taking pads and sticking them into a bucket of shallow water to start roots but you can stress them a few days and then just stick them in the ground.

I would be careful of key lining off contour as this land is easily erroded. The shallow swales and burms, on contour with strategic spill ways, should really help get the water under ground. You can find the contour with an A-frame level (again on this forum or youtube). You will find rain mostly just runs off the surface so anything you can do to slow it down or capture it is good. What if you build a pond in the center, filled with rocks to reduce evaporation, or is that what you are doing? I'd make it as deep as you can. There is some pond info here that talks about "shaking" the ground to make it hold water and our clay makes really good non-permiable bowls. Then you can start your wet zone around that as well as put some "cover" plants in the rocks.

If you have rocks, build "air wells" where you are planting. The outside rocks get hot, the inside rocks stay cool and it collects ambient moisture. Get biggish rocks and pile them fairly high. This pile will also capture and focus the light rains.

I, too, look forward to following your progress. You are very ambitious to be doing this with hand tools, but your effort and patience is sure to pay off.
 
Trish Sanders
Posts: 4
Location: NE AZ USA, 6b
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Hi Linda, nice to meet you! Thank you for the suggestions. I'd love to see pictures of your place. How long have you been there?

I've lived in Arizona 13 years, first in Scottsdale, then Globe (3300 ft), then a little south of Roosevelt Lake (same). So I know the weather patterns fairly well, though my place gets colder than what I'm used to. And the wind is a whole other thing. Is it windy where you are? I was fortunate to be married to an organic farmer + SW plant expert for six years, so learned a lot about the desert plants. I would use mesquite but I believe it gets too cold at my place - USDA zone 6A/B. I haven't settled on the plants for the windbreak yet, but will probably go big on black locust. Would be happy to have other ideas.

I'm away from my place at the moment but will be getting back up there next week, anxious to get there before the rain. It sounds like our rain patterns are similar. I do want to plant a cover crop in the bowl area, which will have water standing in it after rains - but don't have a fence up yet, so it better be something the cattle won't be interested in. I don't have any earthworks done, but there are too many items on the to-do list now - including getting a shelter built for myself that is rainproof. Up till now I've been sleeping in the back of my truck, but it leaks. So at the moment I'm back at my former abode, building something I can take apart and put back together up there - and learning carpentry in the process. I wish I could be up there already. Patience.

A pond! Wouldn't that be great, out there! I will look into it. I keep thinking I should plant bamboo.

I will check to see if you've posted more about your place, as I'm sure I could learn from what you're doing.
 
Linda Ford
Posts: 32
Location: Southwestern New Mexico
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Been dragged off to other things and not checking the forum, but I have thought about your project many times. It is impossible to do everything all at once so prioritizing is most important. For me it was trees first but I already had a house and basic fences. I'm using Ariz Cypress for the outside wind break. They take a lot of water to establish but will get broad and tall to catch their own rain water and be self sufficient. Also some Afghan Pines. I am at just under 6000 ft, so it does get cold (occasionally below 10) but since the Mesquite and Honey Locust I put near the chicken yard fence are deciduous they should overwinter well. BTW: the Cypress are quite "weepy" and the Hummingbirds like to lick the sap. Deep wells around the trees seems important and I put in 3" PVC when they were planted so that in the dry seasons of future years I can directly deep water. [anther note: the thin walled pvc will accept the "caps" without being too snug.]

I have planted fruit trees: 2 peach, 1 apricot, 1 apple, 2 cherries, 2 mulberries, 2 elderberries and one cherry that had it's top broken so I call it a cherry stick and hope it will become a bush. These are "scattered" around my chicken pastures [new fences to make 5 pastures, waiting on gates so I can get hens again] rather than in straight lines. My plant adviser has also helped put in some Sand Cherries, goji berries, Jerusalem Artichokes, false indigo and onion and yarrow for around the fruit trees. There is also something called Chitalpa (a hybrid) for shade on the front/east of the house, a pecan for shade on the south side of the barn and a pinion near the windy porch (just because). On the protected side of the house (south) are 2 pomegranates and a fig. My next task is to get the ground cover seeds on the burms while things are still wet. Some pinto beans I threw out are already sprouting. It is not recommended that one plant so much at once but I am feeling my age and don't want to wait 10 years to see some result.

About your fences: I am concerned that you intend only a 3 wire. I can tell you from experience that even large calves can (and will) get through a 4 wire unless there are sufficient stiffeners between the posts - one or even two per 10 foot run. My neighbor's steers climb through where the stiffeners are missing. Any kind of branch will work. Some folks go for the 5 wire but that hasn't seemed necessary where the fence is in good repair. Also, they can jump the standard 4' fence but that is more unusual except when there is pressure, like chasing each other or a reduction of munchies where they are. If your moving them before the 2/3rds gone rule that shouldn't be an issue.

We are getting the rains now and the "weeds" are going great guns. I haven't posted pictures but now it looks quite lush while a month ago it resembled the Serengeti. Perhaps i can figure out how to get a goolge earth pic to post of the before.
Actually, trees were not the first effort. I had some large swale/burms built to direct and capture the rains as well as 2 small Hugleburms that run through the chicken pastures. That was an expense for the machine and driver but they do seem to capture these rains and one of the "lens-es" is above my driveway which seems to get muddy even though no rain can run-off over it anymore. The burm engineer was by this week and plans some tweaking of the spill/sills in the next month.

Happy Monsoons!
 
Wayne Mackenzie
Posts: 115
Location: Sunizona Az., USA @ 4,400' Zone 8a
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Linda Ford wrote:
We are getting the rains now and the "weeds" are going great guns. I haven't posted pictures but now it looks quite lush while a month ago it resembled the Serengeti. Perhaps i can figure out how to get a goolge earth pic to post of the before.
Happy Monsoons!

The Monsoon is going good in S.E AZ. The pic shows all the green growing through the wood chips that I put down 6 weeks before over bare ground.
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kevin stewart
Posts: 73
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Hi
I have a property somewhat near you east of Holbrook etc.
If you have cattle around you then you must fence them out. They eat EVERYTHING.
A roll of barbed wire is 1320. Four sides of 325 is a nice size. I put six foot t-posts 25 feet apart with fence stays. So far so good. Calves seem to be able to get in anywhere.
This land has been so overgrazed that fencing alone is not enough, it needs help.
I have been digging trenches by hand and filling them with organic matter.
A plastic lined pit for a water tank by hand and i started a five foot deep greenhouse by hand, it's possible.
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Patricia Sanders
Posts: 17
Location: St. Johns, AZ
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Kevin, THANK YOU! It's so exciting to see your pictures. Yes, your land looks very similar to mine (clay under a layer of sand, right?), and I'm right behind you with the fence. Seems like the three top things to do are 1) fence, 2) windbreak, 3) water catchment. Delighted to see you're digging by hand! I've been thinking of doing the same (walipini), but wondered just how sane that idea was, with the clay. I'd really like to see photos as you progress. And I'd love to hear about your intentions for your place, overall.

In the spring I got my shelter built and am still working on the olla area to try to get the soil in better shape - just a tiny area to test the possibility and work outward from. The olla is working great - I'll post a photo when I can (don't have access to it now). I'm in income producing mode now, and it might be another year before I will get significant time back at my place. It's great to see someone doing what I'd like to be.
 
Helen Gilson
Posts: 38
Location: Zone 6 Ohio but interested in Zone 6 Southwest
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Patricia, you are living our dream! Please keep us posted on every little thing you are willing to share! I am taking notes! I wish more people would post pictures of themselves too. For instance is the guy digging his own by hand is he a 20 something muscle bound kid or a 50 to 60 yr old determined to make it work? We want to do what you are doing now for our retirement. What can we start collecting now to bring with us from the Midwest into the southwest? What should we plan to leave behind because we won't need it there?

Again, love you posts! Thank you so much for sharing your adventure!
 
Patricia Sanders
Posts: 17
Location: St. Johns, AZ
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Hi Helen! I wondered that too and almost asked him ... but I don't want to make the assumption that you have to be, say, a young strong guy in order to do this. I think it's Becky Bee who talks in a book about cob building, about a woman in her 70s who's crazy about cob and does it herself. I'm 48, and I'm perfectly capable of digging a hole, so I figure if I can dig a hole, I can just keep digging until it's as big as I want. Just a matter of pacing myself.

I'll try to post more, though like I said I probably won't get out to my place much this year. I PMed you!
 
kevin stewart
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Happy New Year
I spent decades sailing my boat hither and yon, and anchoring for years in the same hither and yon.
For the right mindset that's a good life but i always wanted my own place.
This land is what i could afford, but with the right mindset...
You will see that the locals use railroad ties as corner posts for their fencing. Ha! Good luck digging that hole with my walmart shovel. Consider a couple of t-posts with brackets to make an "H" or a 45 degree angle. I used 4 by 4 posts and i regret it.
I said 25 feet apart but didn't say that as i had the money i would put another post between them, making it 12 1/2 feet between. You will learn that those inexpensive fence stays add up quick but you must use them.
Cattle recognize barbed wire, they will walk right through regular wire. I did use grey conduit pvc pipe as fence post for about 400 feet of fencing. I spray painted the top 6 inches white to 'fool' them into thinking it was t-post ( i know, waaay too much time alone out there.) Those posts were closer together.
I found a juniper tree growing outside the fencing so i surrounded it with heavy chicken wire and then posted Four strands of barbed wire around it. I also built a small berm around it to hold the rain.
On my way out there i pass a property that has been fenced for years but i don't see a significant difference from the surrounding overgrazed land. I believe you have to change the land to help it hold on to the water and organic matter.
Hopefully on the satellite picture you can see the worm squiggles where i dug trenches and berms.
I will go sailing again.
And Helen, i'm a 57 year old pilsbury doughboy who once had a muscle but misplaced it.
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Helen Gilson
Posts: 38
Location: Zone 6 Ohio but interested in Zone 6 Southwest
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LOL @ Kevin

You both are giving me so much hope that our plans and dreams will be coming to fruition

So what do you do in the cold weather days to help your landscape?

What part of the year do you recommend starting out in this climate? Is there a better time?

 
kevin stewart
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Now you've got me started.
As i stood in the monsoon rain looking at my overflowing gutters i realized that gutters have to be big and without complicated curves.
My greenhouse(unfinished) is uhhclose to the holding tank and the gutters will be direct deposit, straight lines.
In april i heard that the st john's junkyard had the large square watertanks.
I have about ten small catchment ponds. If i'm there in a rain i move the water to the tank with a 24 volt boat pump and many feet of drip hose. Unfortunately my best catchment ponds are the farthest away.

Great grey clay. Look up youtube : "car tire pottery wheel".
I have the wheel, i have the wheel bearing. That's it so far.
I tried drip irrigation for my many trees, without the water pressure the timers just don't work well.the cows like to eat drip hose, 600 feet went missing.
The trees were small, i removed them. The poor soil issue has to be addressed.

I included a picture of the fence posts you should not use. They are difficult to get into the ground and termites
I also wanted to show that sometimes our desert home looks like ireland




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kevin stewart
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Patricia, do you mean all year 2015?

I live in california and bought an old honda civic just for the long drive. 45 mpg makes it a cheap trip.

Helen, my neighbors...three miles away as the crow flies, have built a small place using R30 insulation. I think of them often as i freeze in my plywood shack.
I can get an RV chep in los angeles and am considering it now that gas prices are low. They have terrible insulation but it would be nice to have a ready made apartment.

In 2013 march it was cold at night, april sometimes, may was nice, june was hell, no more than 1/2 hour outside between 9am and 4pm,seriously, july it rains or at least a lot of cloud, august nice





 
Will Meginley
Posts: 115
Location: Concord, New Hampshire
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Hi Kevin,

I'm curious as to why you went to the trouble of fencing in that juniper seedling. Just wanted to let you know that if you fenced it in to keep cattle from eating it you can probably save yourself the trouble in future. Cattle don't eat juniper. In fact, juniper are unnaturally common in most of the arid west today because of overgrazing livestock in the past - they'd eat pretty much everything EXCEPT the juniper, allowing it to get established in places it would once have been smothered by grass. Now that I think about it, not much of anything eats juniper that I know of. Save the berries, though, if you home brew. (Used for making gin.)
 
kevin stewart
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Ah, but a cow doesn't know that it won't like juniper untill AFTER it's chomped on the tree. The base of this plant was a lot thicker than you would expect for one this size, like Arizona bonzai.
This is the only juniper for miles and miles. About six miles away they are starting to creep long.

I was wondering about making alcohol from cactus pads but the cows ate them all.

So far the only tree i've has success with is the fake christmas tree i plunked into the ground.

 
Will Meginley
Posts: 115
Location: Concord, New Hampshire
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kevin stewart wrote:
I was wondering about making alcohol from cactus pads but the cows ate them all.


I'd consider some blue agave for that purpose. Can use the leaves to make cordage, too. Save any prickly pear that survives for eating! Slice it into strips, dip it in lime juice and sprinkle with a little bit of salt, then grill and add to tacos or fajitas. Don't boil it. It gets really slimy like okra when you do that.

Regarding the juniper tree, a little nibble here and there won't kill it. They'd have to completely strip it of leaves and keep it defoliated long enough to starve the roots to do that. Not gonna happen. Most cattle weren't born yesterday. They've seen it before and know it's not worth eating. (Silica content's too high. Cutting juniper for 20 minutes is pretty much the equivalent of rocking your chainsaw and it has the same effect on cows' teeth.) I know it's the only thing that has kept going so far on your land and you don't want to see it go, but for everyone else's future reference that wasn't really necessary.

I agree, you're probably on the right track thinking you need to get the soil water storage amped up before attempting to plant trees again. Another thing to keep in mind is microsites. When I was on a Forest Service tree planting crew in northern Idaho planting bare root stock and plugs we were instructed to plant trees just to the northeast of stumps, medium sized rocks, and other objects about a foot or so in height (the size of the trees) where possible. Seedlings need light to grow but can get fried from too much sun (hence, the reason that most south aspect slopes out west are predominantly grass and brush even if all the other aspects on the same mountain have forest cover). Planting them to the northeast of those objects gave them enough sun exposure to photosynthesize but shaded them from the harsh southwest sun at the end of the day long enough for them to get over transplant shock. If that was important on the Canadian border I would imagine it being even more so down there in your neck of the woods. Food for thought...
 
Will Meginley
Posts: 115
Location: Concord, New Hampshire
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Helen Gilson wrote:Patricia, you are living our dream! Please keep us posted on every little thing you are willing to share! I am taking notes! I wish more people would post pictures of themselves too. For instance is the guy digging his own by hand is he a 20 something muscle bound kid or a 50 to 60 yr old determined to make it work? We want to do what you are doing now for our retirement. What can we start collecting now to bring with us from the Midwest into the southwest? What should we plan to leave behind because we won't need it there?

Again, love you posts! Thank you so much for sharing your adventure!


Somewhere in these forums the topic of production rates when digging by hand came up and geoff lawton himself replied with some general rules of thumb. I don't remember them exactly and I can't seem to find the thread again but I believe he said that a very unfit person would probably only be able to dig a couple meters of swale in a day by hand. A fit person who's gotten "into the groove" could probably turn out 20 meters or so. Again, that's me going by probably faulty memory, but that seems about right. I would also think your site will play a huge part in the equation. If you've got nice, uncompacted loamy soil with no stones you'll probably be a lot closer to the high end of the spectrum than somebody digging in brick-hard clay with lots of stones.

As for what to bring and leave. Life is life, no matter where you are - though you probably won't have as much use for cross country skies where you're going. Do the research, though! There are some places in NM and AZ that have snow cover through most of the winter. You probably won't need as many parkas and you'll probably want a lot more pairs of shorts. Other than that, life's not really all that different.
 
kevin stewart
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I have one tree trunk, i think it's been here a while.

I decided that the sun was such a scorcher in summer that individual sun screens were needed. I didn't make many, i had all the little trees out of the ground a little later.

I planted agave in the trenches. Rabbits and night critters ate them. Before the rains everything is starving.

The first trenches were one spade wide and needed a foot to press into the sand. After one rain i easily dug two spades wide without using a foot. I got so excited at how easy it was i overdid it and had to search for bags and bags of poo, er, organic matter.

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Daffy O'Caiside
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Hello everyone. I live in an area somewhat similar to a few of you that have posted on here. It's a little over an acre of moderate-at-best cattle range just under 6000 feet that's dotted with stunted junipers, rabbitbrush, blackbrush and some grasses. I started living on it this spring in the back of my truck, then built a shed and started living in that, then upgraded to a fancier shed which I now call home and probably will forever. I've been catching water off of the first shed with an eave gutter running to rain barrels with great success, and plan to do the same with my new casita which has nearly eight times as much roof space to catch on. I'm hoping to be up to just shy of six hundred square feet of roof to catch on by the start of the next monsoon, and 680 gallons of reservoir to catch in.

All that water will hopefully be put to good use as I plan to start planting in the spring. I'd really like to plant an apple tree. There's just something about picking an apple off of a tree that makes me feel like a rich man, but I probably should bide my time and get a windbreak planted first. I've considered digging up juniper saplings from around the area and transplanting them because they're free and I imagine they'll take, but I'd also like a tree that will be of a functional height before I'm in the grave, so I don't know. Anyhow, as has been noted there's not much point in planting anything on a range without a fence up, and that's still a work in progress as well, so I shouldn't get ahead of myself.

I managed to procure some old rolled up fence from the roadside that's four wires high, has tensioners maybe every 6 feet, and only enough rust to cause a minor case of lockjaw. It's hard to properly tension it - especially as it's all bent a little akwardly from being rolled up haphazardly for so long - while tying it off to t posts or stapling it to wood posts, but I hope it'll have enough tension to keep the cows out at least until I have something a little more tempting growing inside. I've put in the t posts every five paces and every fifth post is wooden so I can get good tension going again from that. Although really I've been able to tension it pretty well with clips to the t posts. But anyhow only about a quarter of the fence line is completed so I've got some time to mull over my choice of trees. I don't really like the idea of a fence, it's just those damn cows. I'd like to put in a gate on each fence line just so I don't feel trapped in.

Projects for the year aside from what's mentioned are putting in covered compost bins for humanure and food waste, a boathouse (just to be clear this is just a shed for my boat, not some new term in the vein of "earthship"), swaling the shit out of the whole acre - oh and that reminds me of the cowpats I saw loaded in someone else's swales, I like that idea, clearly delineating my "driveway" boundary so that the adjacent shrubs can rest a little easier when I pull in, likewise delineating walkways to access my swales so that the grasses nearby aren't trod on unnecessarily, and rigging up a place to hang my hammock so that if everything else is done before winter I can lay down and relax for once. Oh and that reminds me of one other thing: a woodstove before next winter. That might as well go at the top of the list, though it might lose a few places as memories of this miserably cold winter are melted away by warm summer days in the hammock. If it doesn't snow soon, in fact, I might forget about it within the next few days.

Well, I guess that's enough for now. And there really isn't anything more to say. Everything else is just postulation and counting my chickens before they hatch. I just wanted to say thank you all for sharing what you're doing and where you're doing it. It's encouraging to see some like minded people doing some things like I, and I look forward to seeing your progress as it comes. If I have any breakthroughs, like how to make money grow on a juniper, I'll let you all know but it'll most likely be slow going as it has been. Take care.
 
Tracy Kuykendall
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Hello all! New here and reading through post, thought I'd throw out some info that may be of some use. Here in west Texas they've done a lot of remediation on old drill pits (what's left of drilling fluids after the oil well has been drilled) there is a weed that will grow in the poorest of soils, with very little rain. Its name is kochia, it has many of the soil building properties of alfalfa but tougher and when mature has a very woody stalk, you would have to protect it from the cattle but would serve your purpose as small annual tree clusters. Not sure if it would work into your plans but thought I'd throw it out there, you can find more info on kochia at tamu.org or the website for the University of Texas, they were the ones doing the remediation study.
 
Cyndie Gaines
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Hi Neighbors!

I have twenty acres 10 miles north of Show Low at about 6900 feet. I'm on year two of a three year plan. Last year, I planted fruit trees and built a fence to keep the elk and deer from eating them. This year I'm improving the soil and starting a hugelkulture project and maybe a greenhouse. Year three, a cabin. I am currently researching various cabin plans that may fit my very limited budget. I will def be looking into your yurpee.

Patricia, I think I'd take advantage of your one acre bowl and do some hugelkulture there. Worth a try and who knows what you'll end up with? Maybe just fence in that one acre to keep the cattle snacking on your garden.

I just turned 60, but still feel and think I'm twenty (OK, maybe thirty!). I'm on my own, but I think if I only get one fence post done a day, by the end of the summer I'll have a fence. And, maybe some new muscle!

We should all meet for lunch. I know we could all learn a trick or two from each other!

Best wishes for success in all of your projects!
Cyndie

 
Helen Gilson
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Location: Zone 6 Ohio but interested in Zone 6 Southwest
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Cyndie, You are an inspiration! Please post pictures of your place and projects!

-Helen
 
kevin stewart
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hi patricia

i just spent a couple of weeks out there and on my last day i saw that the cows are back.
after seeing how everything grows without cows i'm thinking of putting up more fencing.

i extended my pit greenhouse and for the winter covered it all with plastic. come summer i'm looking at 22% white shade cloth.

i don't return till late december so i won't see what survives till then.
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kevin stewart
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Hi patricia

If you go west of "the barn" you will see a homestead with a tree. I have been told that it's a siberian elm. That tree has been unattended for years, and it grows fine.
This month I planted about thirty saplings.
Last year I planted a couple of trees in november and they survived just fine.

My main objective out here is to prove that I can grow food. Once I got agressive about keeping the critters out I did fine.
The pvc hoop(ish) was $100 for the pvc pipe and $70 for two 10 by 50 shade cloth.
My hybrid hydroponics (pots in water) seems to work,just keep the water moving.
I go there every four to six weeks so progress is slow.
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kevin stewart
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Yup, I think I grew enough to fill that gap in my back teeth
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