I have recently purchased 104 acres in west Texas close to Sierra Blanca to build my home on. After looking at the property I feel like i went a bit overboard. (who really needs that much land?) I have devised a plan to make use of the land and solve my "one man show" problem when it comes to building and maintaining my homestead. I thought I might seek volunteers to help build a micro community. Basically a we help each other arrangement allowing others to live on my land with me and we share in the raising of livestock and a garden. I plan on building with adobe and super adobe with a little cob here and there. Has anyone else tried this approach? If so, what were the pros and cons? Anyone thought about it? I am open to ideas here. Thanks for your time.
phew! 106 acres, yes, maybe a bit "overboard." but hey, that's a whole plot of land that you just saved from big agrobusiness!
There are endless options to what you could do with that land. Look into (responsible) cattle grazing, as you could rent out that land to some ranchers.
Be careful about jumping into community living, because the hardest aspect of such things, especially when your vision for the land is not yet clearly defined,
is conflicting personalities. The hardest part of community is not working the land, it's getting along with your neighbor!
For now, sit on the land and focus on your own personal vision and aspirations, and exactly what sort of people you would be comfortable working with and building a life with. And stay plugged in with permies, there are a lot of good people here. Maybe you're not ready to get involved heavily in a permaculture project, but you could provide more than enough space for other reliable individuals to work on their own projects.
Personally, I am starting an organization currently that would help individuals startup their own ecovillages/farm communities. We will be based out of Colorado, but our people are pretty heavily present throughout Texas.
Keep in touch, good luck, it's overwhelming but so rewarding, your options are endless. Cheers!
As a point of comparison, land in my region can generally support no more than one animal unit per 20 acres.
If so let me know, I attempted a project out there a few years back, with to little resources Material/Monetary/Human
I can tell you a great deal about where I went wrong and what to look for, if its salt flat you got a lot of work ahead of you, but at the same time in 5 or 10 or 15 years if you can stick it out the potential is amazing.
You got a lot of things to consider Hudspeth county averages I think depending on sources 10-12" of rain per year(sometimes in one shot, yes sometimes it rains once per year there)so you need to find a way to get as much of that as possible, wind barriers are ESSENTIAL any soil you build will easily be taken away by high winds.
Wells are usually not an option (water is a few thousand feet down, and the water quality is very poor, not to mention it is part of an endangered aquifer) You could get tanks of water, but again they most likely come from the Aquifer and the expense will make it unproductive for most agriculture.
Yeah if its Salt Flat let me know (and look for tires, there are abandoned places just filled with tires everywhere)
I have a lot more tips for that area, I failed hard, but spent a couple years evaluating said failure.
Oh Border Patrol is hardcore there, just always be polite, after all it is a Constitution free zone
How much does a parcel like yours cost? Do prices reflect the carrying capacity of livestock? How does that compare to inexpensive areas that have adequate rain fall?
I have included some satellite images as requested to get ideas of placement and a rough outline of the property for thoughts on water collection. In the wider view I put a pin about center of the lot.
As for the price, I paid $42,000 for the lot which is just under 105 acres in 5 lots. Comparing this to other land with better rainfall totals was never really an option. I bought here for the freedom. I have no permit requirements to speak of and I can build how and where I want. I am really into more natural build and here we can play with adobe, super adobe, cob, strawbale ect, without fear of zoning or building code issues.
As always your thoughts and comments are appreciated. I don't want sugar coating, I am not a bakery so please be as blunt as you must. I knew when I started it would be a challenge and I welcome it.
It's been said that in arid climates it often takes 20 acres of catchment to water one acre of production.
I'm also seconding the wind breaks. Hot, dry winds are something to be dampened if at all possible.
As for trees in zones that you aren't directing water to, Honey Mesquite [hardy to 0F] might be an option that would supply you with sweet pods, goat browse and smoking/barbecue wood. I have heard that in very arid regions Mesquite does require some irrigation during establishment though.
Kyrt Ryder wrote:Personally I'd suggest you not rush into forming a community on that land just yet. Not until you get your water management down and a few years of experimentation with that water supply.
After reading "Creating a life together" I scrapped the whole community idea. The 8 of us are family and very close friends (considered family). We have similar ideas and values yet different enough to add diversity without adversity. Everyone has a stake in this and we discuss all options together.
As for the windbreaks It has been suggested by one in our group that we use tires (they can't give them away fast enough) to build an 8ft high "courtyard" for the garden. Not pounded, but supported every ten feet and using the loader to dump dirt in them and then adobe plaster. Still looking into that one but so far everyone seems to be on board with that idea but me lol.
The best windbreaks are living hedges, secondary to that are brushpiles.
The angle I'm coming from, for primarily legal reasons (though it has enticements for folks to join, too) is building a co-op apartment with several similarly-minded folks I know. We're still working on the plans, so nothing's concrete yet, but we are hoping to have a plot of land around the size of yours, and be able to convert some of that space to an event-hosting sort of space (for groups like Dystopia Rising). I also hope to raise goats and such.
I'll post my actual thoughts on this later, because I'm very tired, but I thought I'd chime in first.
scott romack wrote:100 acres does not seem too much for me. Especially in a brittle environment. Community? Yes, go for it!
Yeah, with that waterflow- depending on its quality and the nature of the soil- it *might* be possible to harness that water and build a community.
Before one can place that sort of gamble though, they need to get boots on the ground and make the land support one family and see how much more potential it has.
But indeed it is quite a resource given the location, IF it still flows [you don't know what's happened upstream since it was formed, that water might be going somewhere else now.]
You probably do want to address wind breaks. Of course the best wind breaks are at 90 degrees to the prevailing wind direction and swales are at 90 degrees to the slope, probably won't directly coincide, but wind break plants have a better chance with a swale.
There is a spineless prickly pear, I believe it was developed by Luther Burbank, that might be a good starting point. The young pads are good eating in the spring, they can be eaten by goats, etc most of the year, and then there are the pears. My grandma would skin the pads, chop them up and steam them to remove the slime and the fry them up in bacon grease. It tasted like what Okra wishes it tasted like. She said was a mexican dish that cooked it in some kind of tomato based dish, but I am ignorant about the name or how it tastes. the pears are good, if seedy and used to be dried into a kind of fruit leather.
I'm guessing you are like the rest of us, more dreams than gold, so I would suggest you pick your improvements to start with and expand as you can.
Best of Luck.
Mick Fisch wrote:Is there a decent aquafer? well depths in the area? What is the possibility of a windmill powered pump to get you some water to begin with?
Aquifer is decent by all accounts but of little use to me because the well depths in the area start around 700+ Ft. We do have our semi trailers to haul IBC tanks in though so we will not be without water to start.
Mick Fisch wrote: Of course the best wind breaks are at 90 degrees to the prevailing wind direction and swales are at 90 degrees to the slope, probably won't directly coincide, but wind break plants have a better chance with a swale.
Actually, if the 90 deg. figure checks out, this should line up quite nicely.
Mick Fisch wrote: I'm guessing you are like the rest of us, more dreams than gold, so I would suggest you pick your improvements to start with and expand as you can.
My dreams always outweigh the gold stocks lol but we are blessed to have a small trucking firm to help generate funding for the project. We are bringing in a small tractor with loader and backhoe and currently looking for a tiller attachment. Also, while I have yet to meet one of my neighbors, (truck driver as well) I am told that he has a much larger one and could possibly be retained for larger earth moving projects. Once I understand the whole contouring and swale aspects these parts of the project should go rather quickly. Currently we are considering either a pond of perhaps a couple 20,000 gal underground cisterns. We can construct these with earth tubes (stabilized of course) and liners relatively inexpensively.
I know this post is a year old but I hope you are still building up your land. I too might of gone a little overboard but who can deny such beautiful land in an amazing little valley with surrounding mountains. I believe you and I and others have like minds in creating a small self sustainable community.
And, I agree, it is those that are willing to do some good old hard work with good family and community values that I want to be surrounded by.
Remember, the Natives have survived off this very land for years. I believe a small group of people with will and ingenuity can build unlimitlessly into our future generations.
I have some ideas too. I am not the jealous or envious type but I did feel a little stab when I saw you owned the mountain top. SWEET piece of property!
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