Thursday, March 31, 2011

Dreams Do Come True

We've had a most incredible life since we got married.  May of this year will mark our memorable 9 year flight of change and excitement together.  After marrying my dreamboat, dreams started coming true!  Six months after we married, we got our first home together.  After our second baby was two days old, our house was sold and I moved out to our 39 acres of raw land with all three children in tow.  Miracle Worker had already placed the fifth-wheel a couple months prior.

It was a dream come true!  Land of my very own!  Space!  Nature!  Peace!  A more natural way of life!  Another dream come true was the building of our little house, all 750 square feet of it.  We called it phase one.

Dreams have a way of evolving.  We needed to sell and move on.  But where to?  Then this care-taking for a neighbor came up as an offer.  They needed to sell too, but the market wasn't cooperating.  So until they can sell, they asked us if we would live in their home, take care of the house, barn, land, and be here to watch over their investment.  We accepted and here we are.  Amazing all by itself!

The point of this summary is to say that good things happen if you simply start by dreaming.  Not all dreams come true, but I've noticed how others either take their place or are much better than the original dream-seed.  Dreams don't die, they grow.  They become reality!

So much of what we have has been a direct result of Miracle Worker's barter savvy.  For example, we got two of our vehicles on trades.  We got llamas as payment for a job a man wanted to make good on, but couldn't pay money.  That may or may not have been one of the best deals, since we still had to feed them!  But, my garden is better for it anyway.  MW has obtained several different types of equipment because of his trading skills.  It all adds up.  Some skills, tenacious will, and a whole heck of a lot of dreaming!

At this point on our journey, we know not where we will end up.  But this leads me to my story I wanted to tell!  It's about a new dream-seed.  I can't get it out of my mind.  It's a long shot.  But what hasn't been a long shot in this roller-coaster ride we've been on?

If this dream comes true, it will be a down-right miracle.  As I mentioned on my last post, we had to go way outside of town to our rancher friend's place to pick up his heavy equipment trailer.  Now, my hubby knows me very well.  As we drive along, he preempted me by saying, "Just remember, we can't afford it."  "What?" I asked.  "You'll see."  We finally hit this road you see above.  This road crosses BLM and State Lands.  It's on the way to his ranch headquarters, which is what you call a house in ranching terms.  At this point I'm loving the terrain.  It's beautiful.  But wait, there's more...

Look at those mountains!  No one around for MILES!  That's what you get when you're surrounded by State and BLM.  Be still my beating heart...because things are just getting better...

This is right next to the headquarters, and I'm starting to hold my breath a lot... I can't stop taking pictures...

This little trail leads to the headquarters.

And this is my first glimpse of the house.  Look at those mountains!  Nestled all nice and snug at their feet!

Wait!  Another house there next to the first?  Turns out that second one is a little over a hundred years old, like so many other original ranch homes in Arizona.  Built better than most modern homes too!!!

This little piece of paradise is situated on about 300 acres of deeded land.  It's separated into two pieces.  This one is supposedly on 160 acres of the 300.  Not only that, but the deeded parcels are surrounded by 58 sections of State and BLM.  Each section is 640 acres each.  So, this paradise just got heavenly because it's surrounded by roughly 37,120 acres of untouchable land!!!
Excuse me a moment while I start crying...

Okay, here's the thing.  I can't stop imagining what we can do with this place!  All our dreams would find full realization here.  It embodies my almost mythical view of the desert southwest and it's personality.  This place is magical.  It's pure art to my eyes.  It's music to my heart.  This is a full-bodied dream like no other.

We could grow all of our vegetable gardens, orchards, trees, flowers, and care for our animals, and still not touch the natural beauty of the place.

This place looks like it is from another time, because here, time practically stands still.  The springs still seep and run out of the rocks.  It is a place to live closer to the land, untouched by urban sprawl.

It's located in a part of Arizona that actually leads to the Grand Canyon Skywalk, at the southwest portion of the canyon.  To help us make a living we could tap into the tourist traffic that skims by the area.  We want to give folks a chance to experience off-grid solar power (no chance of electricity here otherwise!) in their own little cowboy cabin.  Maybe they can go on horseback to take in the scenery.  Or, they could participate in a real roundup.  Or, go on a nature hike.  Maybe a moonlight hike/ride.  If you've never experienced the moon in an unpolluted night sky... all I gotta say is oh, wow!  There would be gardens and orchards galore to either help out in or simply enjoy.  It would be a place to find and experience the ancient peace of the southwest.

Okay, I'm into this dream deep.  If there was a Dreamer's Anonymous, I'd have to sign myself up!

Like I said, it's a long shot.  It's a dream.  Highly improbable.

It's for sale.  Did I mention that?

We are average folk, living on way less than most people live on.

So, like I said, it's a dream.  Need I say more?

This post has been linked with the Dandelion House Farmgirl Friday blog hop.

Hop on over and enjoy linking up with exciting farmgirls!
There are no limits to our dreams!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Horse Trading

I have bragging rights!  I don't call hubby the Miracle Worker for nothing!  He's got an uncanny ability to find good deals which can be finalized simply by trading.  Naturally it's not always easy to trade because once in a while we still need that green stuff they like to print so much of, in order to pay our few bills.  Imagine trying to pay for fuel or auto insurance with the barter system!  Not happening.

For a tank of diesel fuel, I'll trade you this goat!

What?!  Why not?!

I'd better leave the bartering to my hubby.

As it turns out, so much of our subsistence is owed to his horse-trading abilities.  The most recent of these amazing trades was found by Miracle Worker on Craig's List.  MW found this ad for a Case Backhoe.  He had pretty much talked himself out of even trying to get his hands on one, but figured it wouldn't hurt to dream.  So, he clicked on it and began reading.  For the backhoe this gentleman wanted to trade for a pickup truck!  Didn't matter if it was a Ford, Chevy, or Dodge.  MW called him up and they got to talking.  After discussing the value of each item, they agreed for the backhoe we would give him the truck and a solar system.  Both parties were very satisfied and agreed right then and there they would do the deal.

As is common around here, it takes a lot of time to get from here to anywhere.  My favorite movie line sums it up, "Well, aint this a geographical oddity!  Two weeks from everywhere!"  Yep, that's us.  Actually it just feels that way!  We packed up the family and hit the road within an hour with title in hand and solar system in tow.  We borrowed a rancher friend's one ton pickup truck and heavy equipment trailer, which added a few extra hours to our trip even before the three hours it would take to get to our destination.  In other words, it took all day to get there.

MW explained the solar system to the man and showed him the truck.  Then MW got to operate the backhoe a bit and look it over.  With everyone happy, we headed out.  Deal done!

We spent the night in a motel there in town.  We really didn't want to drive a heavy load home in the dark.  Besides, we were tuckered out!

The next day, yesterday, we headed home.  Instead of taking the risk of getting this load stuck in the wet Big Sandy, we off-loaded the backhoe and we caravaned up the mountain.

It took an hour and a half to drive it to our care-taking home!

This wasn't the end of our day.  We needed to return the rancher's truck and trailer.  To do that we had to go back into and through town to drop them off.  Before getting onto the interstate, the rear drive shaft fell out!  MW took it out, put the trailer on my truck, put the rancher's truck into 4-wheel drive and we got everything delivered.  Looking at the condition of the drive shaft and u-joint, it wasn't our fault, it had been in bad shape a long time.  But since it happened on our watch, MW offered to fix it for him.

We didn't get home last night until nine.  We all went to sleep rather quickly.  And today the kids got to ride in it and learn to operate the backhoe arm.  They loved it!

It's amazing what can be done with a small dream actuated on the barter system!

I left so much out of this condensed story.  There is another story within this one that I want to tell.  It's about how dreams really do have a way of coming true.  We've got so many examples to prove it.  Now I'm wondering if another dream seed has been planted....

Come back soon and I'll tell you all about it!!!

Until then,
Happy Dreamin'

This post is linked to the Prairie Homestead Barn Hop #6

Enjoy looking at what so many other wonderful homesteaders do!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Help and Thankyou!

It's a blank canvas with only a few strokes on it.  It's a start.  I'd rather see a whole lot of green where I see a whole lot of brown!  So to get on with it, one week ago I moved our pile of 'help' into the garden beds!  A great big thank you goes out to my llamas and goats for all the 'help'!

Speaking of help and thank you's, my six and a half year old son wants to be a farmer (he even wants suspenders to look the part)!  So he eagerly asked if he could help me.  That's him on the right hand side of the photo.  Amazingly he smoothed out the manure in the middle bed and inspired our oldest to help out.  I think he realized his little brother was making him look bad!  So he pitched in too!  And that wonderful little skidsteer is what I used to transport the pile and dump it into beds.  Imminently better than a shovel and wheelbarrow!  What would have taken days, only took about two hours to complete!  Ahhhh... lots of help!

A neighbor started four organic bell pepper seeds, and they ALL sprouted!  Since like me, she hates to thin and discard seedlings, she gave two to me!  Aren't they adorable!?  Thank you!
Fresh Spring-timey green.... sigh...

On a rare trip into town today, I picked up yet another version of help, Epsom Salts.  I'll use it for the Peppers and Tomatoes.  Next on the list is Fish Emulsion and Blood Meal.  I want lots of happy pepper plants this year!

I also picked up these two Anaheim Peppers.  Hopefully I'll accumulate a few more soon.  I hope to have enough peppers for things like homemade enchilada sauce and salsa verde.  Oh, I can taste it now!

I bought a grapevine!!!  Not much choice in variety, so it's just a Thompson Seedless.  We'll see how it goes, er, grows!

This of course is a good sign!

The garlic is doing nicely!  I am very hopeful that this will be a successful crop.  Garlic is known to be an antiseptic, antimicrobial, antifungal, antiviral, antiparasitic and even anti inflammatory!  Wow!  It's a miracle plant!  Lots of help from these unassuming, even stinky (to some, but I love their odor) plants!

The apricot has finished blossoming and leaves are emerging.

Now it's the peach's turn!

I sincerely hope this year will not get started as late as last year!  Last year I got so fed up with waiting on the weather to warm up enough that I just planted on faith in early June!  You'd think being in Arizona this wouldn't be a problem!  But when you live in higher elevations, the rules change a bit.  As it is, I'm already feeling impatient waiting for planting time!

Hope you're having better success in the exercise of patience!  Boy is it tough!

This post is linked to the Dandelion House Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop!  Take a look, meet other farmgirls at heart, and be inspired!

It's fun!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Summertime Dreams

We have so much to do.  But the weather isn't cooperating.  It's not easy to just sit back and accept a forced rest!  Especially on a Monday!

Early this morning.

It's Spring, dontcha know!  Which makes it so difficult to sit inside!  Things are getting ready to bloom!  Plants want to grow!

This spearmint begged me to take it home.  I didn't argue...

Now was as good a time as any to start collecting seeds! 

My onions, which have been living on the windowsill most of the winter, are getting ready to bloom!
I hope to collect the seeds!

I collected some garlic plants from the old garden, and a lettuce seed must have come with them.  Now I could have enough for a small salad!
Yep, Spring is here.

But you wouldn't know it by looking outside!

Here inside, the windowsill is producing a few Anaheim Peppers, and Bell Peppers!

The kids' science projects are sprouted and growing rapidly!

Our Home School Co-op in town is doing a project involving homemade instruments and the sounds energy can produce.  Plenty of noise, fun, and experimentation this morning!

Lot's of noise!!!

In the meantime, my MW is going crazy cooped-up indoors.  So much to do!  So on this rare occasion, he's enjoying his PJ's he got for Christmas!

It's perfect!  Remember the movie, "A Christmas Story"?  Well, MW shares a name with the main character, Ralph, or Ralphie!  It's a family favorite.

Until the weather clears, I'll have dreams of my gardens dancing in my head.
How many of you are going crazy like me?!  I know I'm not alone!
What are you doing to keep busy?

Time to finish up home school, and get started on making calzones!  Yum!

Happy Spring!

Here's one very excellent way to chase away the Winter time blues.  Come over and take a look at all the great Barn Hop #5 participants at the Homestead Revival!
You won't regret it!

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Different Solar Life

We live very differently than most.  The nearest power lines are about ten miles away, as the crow flies!  Because of that, we live off grid.  Generating our own power teaches us not to take energy for granted.  Want to run the bread machine?  Well, it will help to know if the sun is shining first!

The same goes for laundry (drier machine is the sun, ie clothes line!), freezers, crock pot, coffee maker, hair dryer, microwave, television, and so on.  All the things one naturally takes for granted living with the power grid.  You think twice about leaving lights on in a room with no one in it when you generate and store your own power!

Another precious commodity we all naturally take for granted is water...

If you want water, you gotta drill for it.  It doesn't come when you turn on the water faucet unless you've drilled, set a water pump, set up storage, trenched and set water lines, and made all the necessary connections.  If you don't want your lines to freeze, you bury them at least a foot or more deep.  Then you wrap any exposed lines and inlets in the hopes that they still don't freeze!  Every year we have had to deal with frozen lines somewhere.  Nasty icy winds tend to find the least protected points.

Got a snack attack?  Want to zip down to the corner store and pick up a gallon of ice cream?  Hahahaha!  Not here!  You gotta plan for those attacks!  Or make your own sweet-tooth remedy...

 At least I have help in that department!

When you live 60 miles (on a good day) away from the nearest town, nothing is on a whim!  Weather changes the conditions of the 17 miles of dirt road we must travel before reaching the two lane highway, which in turn eventually connects to the interstate.  Rains can flood the Big Sandy making the main crossing uncrossable.

A second exit option lies on a route which adds another 20 minutes of dirt road down stream.  If that crossing is uncrossable too, then you go another 30 minutes to the third option.  If this third crossing is flooded as well, the last option takes you all the way down past the tiny community of Wikieup where there is a bridge built for the highway.  A normal trip to town is just over one hour.  But depending on the weather, rains, floods, washouts, muddy road conditions, it can be well over two hours away.

Need a restroom on the way to town?  Ok, all-naturale! 

Pick up a rotisserie chicken on your way home from work?  Nope.  Work is here on the ranch or just down the highway, no conveniences in between but home itself.  There are no water, electrical or sewer systems in place here.  We live in pristine rural mountain deserts!

 Our road snakes its way up through foot hills and mountain passes.

Homeschooling is the most obvious and logical choice for this rural family.  Since my first child I started thinking homeschooling may be a great idea, never knowing it would turn into a necessity! 

I'm always researching new ways to handle gardening techniques.  One of my nearest neighbors is a cattle rancher and his wife.  She keeps all kinds of great books on hand.  After I'm done borrowing a book, all I need to do is drop it off in a mailbox instead of always driving all the way to their house.

This mailbox is too far from any postal route to receive any mail, but it does serve as a handy rural drop-off point!

To cut down on the grocery bill, in any way is very helpful, and downright necessary lately.

Garden-wise, this is a  pile of 'help' that accumulated over the winter months, complements of our goats and llamas.  Just a couple of days ago we transported this pile, and the horse manure in the background that was already here, up the hill to dump into the garden beds.

 This is where all the help for our homesteading comes from.

...eggs, meat...

...and milk.

And my Miracle Worker is the one who makes this all possible!

A little camera shy...

...but a first-rate equipment operator!

Without him, nothing would feel as worthwhile as it does now.  We are both living and building a dream that ultimately is all about the journey we are taking together.  Hopefully our children will be able to appreciate this special path in life!

Surrounded by my favorite people, the wilderness, and my gardens, what more could I possibly need?
We are truly blessed!

This post is linked to the Farmgirl Friday blog hop
Come take a look and enjoy visiting other Farm Girls at heart!