Before I could build my house I had to put in a permitted septic system. I rented a backhoe and did it all myself. I hauled the required drainfield rock about 50 miles in my 3/4 ton pickup. When I brought home the septic tank and slid it out of the truck (by myself), it bounced and landed in the hole but was pointed in the wrong direction. The solution was to parbuckle it back out of the hole so I could spin it around and get it back in the right position. Backhoe was gone so this was all done with hand winches and rope. Photo shows the tank part way out. Learned this trick while working as a logger in Oregon.
I am trying to be more self-sufficient, the last few years I had chickens for free range eggs for me and a few neighbors. I can do more to make my own food, it just takes hard work and intention. I have gardens and several deep raised bed grow boxes. In the photo below are Jenny and her daughter Gidget. Gidget went to live with a neighbor when she was old enough, where she got to be friends with several horses.
Originally we had angora goats here. After that changed, heavy monsoon rains made for tall grass and weeds. I again brought some grazing animals to this farm in order to keep the grass and weeds down that come with the seasons. The tall grass in the 16 acre fenced area dries out later and is a big fire hazard. The goats and donkey grazing will make the farm look better and be safer from wildfires.
View from my homestead December 30, 2014. The southwest facing slope doesn't have as many juniper or pine trees as the more northern facing hills. The cattle belong to the greater ranch that surrounds my parcel. The livestock graze on about 50 square miles of open range, made up of Arizona state trust land checkerboarded with private parcels of various sizes. Some parcels are up to one square mi. but most are +/- 40 acres.
Below - 2 days and 16 inches of snow later. I created the clearing inside my fence by removing scrub oak and other brush. I have fenced 16 acres of the 61 acres to keep my animals contained and keep the other livestock and coyotes out.
June 6, 2020. I am still hunkering down here at the homestead until things resolve. I last went out shopping last week first time in a month. I decided to stay up here on the mountain for some time so I don't have to worry about catching the virus. I am well set up with provisions, dog food, etc. I have always had a good immune system so shouldn't worry. Easy to say, but I am in the older age category they talk about. The longer I isolate, the less I have to worry about.
I have lots to keep me busy around here, spring grass and weeds came up more than usual. Now I am doing more gardening. I now have 3 raised beds in addition to lots of in-ground veggies. Take care everyone.
One of my other 'virus victory' gardens. When the spinach is done it will be carrots and red beets. I can make dried beet chips. The carrots will keep in the ground into the Winter.
The other bed is golden beets and carrots. Planted in the ground are Butternut and Buttercup winter squash, melons and tomatoes.
When the heavy monsoon rains come, it's like a second spring season.
The cabin back when I had satellite internet. The metal shutters on the south windows can be closed during the parts of hot days when the sun's rays come in. In cold weather I want the sun's heat coming in.
Green lizard in garden #1. He seems to be a friendly reptile neighbor.
I started building the house after living in a travel trailer for more than a year. Could have started earlier but there was a fall and winter season of heavy rains so the roads kept washing out. I worked on it full time so I thought it went as fast as possible. I wanted it made well so worked through the stages methodically. It was never fast enough for my gf.
First beet crop 2017. These were harvested in June. I made sun-dried beet chips from these golden beets. That is a softball in with them. I find I am able to get 2 or 3 beet harvests in one growing season.
A few years ago I planted some domestic amaranth seeds I had ordered online. It was quite a show in my little garden by the house. Some of these are grown for the 'greens' in Mexico. There are wild amaranths that come up here with the monsoon rains. AKA pigweed. They are all considered weeds but some are better to eat, like Palmers Amaranth, the 'tree spinach'.
My son Cody came to visit and helped put the stain on the exposed beams for the house. The travel trailer that we stayed in can be seen in the background.
My view of off-grid electricity from where I sit.
My homestead is in a remote location which doesn't have a power grid. This is the case with thousands of properties in this region, across North America and all over the world. With modern technology such as solar panels, deep cycle batteries, cell phone systems, satellite internet and TV, this is not a problem. Those with home power systems aren't subject to grid failures so actually have a security that people on the grid don't have.
The solar panels you are seeing on rooftops that are mostly grid-tied provide power to the grid when the sun is bright, and these homes receive power back from the grid. But when the grid goes down these people are out of power like everyone else on the grid. People don't necessarily know this when they sign up and get all the subsidies and tax breaks.
I can see the glow in the sky at night from the Phoenix area maybe 150 miles away. All that energy to make this light, and the energy for air conditioning and other uses at night comes from sources other than solar. Until they invent a way to store energy for massive systems, solar can only provide at a maximum the percentage of energy that is used during the day. If you want 100% solar and wind, figure a way to have the grid shut down at night and on cloudy days and have the people be OK with using their grid energy only when it is available to them.
Part of the plan is to use other sources than electricity for such things as cooking and heating water and house heating. Energy efficiency is what makes an off-grid home system affordable. You can buy a big, expensive system but just the battery replacement cost means the on-going expenses will also be costly.
I did have a page on affordable alternative power, HERE it is as a pdf file. This is not a webpage, links there don't link.
I do have a tractor here now. First wheel tractor I ever owned. I did learn to drive an old Johnny Popper as a kid on the farm. I might be able to get another dozer some day once I secure complete ownership of this place. I had 6 different crawler tractors or dozers in Oregon.
Globe Mallow. Spring brings color to yard. This plant is edible. You might want to cook it first as the leaves are fuzzy and will tickle your mouth.
Growing dipper gourds. Something I like to do.
First thing I did with the tractor was clear some scrub brush. I was able to pile up the brush and roots with very little dirt. The area back by where the tractor sits is now my softball field. No one has played softball there yet but Jenny likes to roll around on it.
Datura flowers 6 inches diameter Summer 2013
Dalton and Doolan, my Great Pyrenees brothers
When they were pups. The mother dog had just the one litter, then died a year later. She lives on in Doolan and Dalton.
May. I planted some summer squash in this end of this bed. The dirt look more red than it really is due to the early morning light color. I left some of the lambsquarter weeds for now as I mix the leaves in with spinach for salads. The other end will be all carrots after the spinach is re-planed and done. Or I may plant some Chiogia? beet seed I have.
Bringing home the first 2500 gallon water tank. I thought this is how all homesteaders get their stuff. The tank only weighs 200 lbs so was not a heavy load. It did have a lot of surface to catch air so I had watch the high speeds on the highway. A manager at the truck stop where we both worked actually saw the load going down the freeway and thought it was hilarious; in a snarky way. That's OK, he probably doesn't have his own water or water tank. That is Snow Mountain in the background. Looks like a mesa but is a 6000' high ridge. I walked up there once to check it out.
Eastern view from the deck. The windturbine doesn't add much battery charging but it goes for a spin sometimes.
Flowering wild vines Summer of 2013. Not every summer has this much rain or has this much new growth.
I had chickens for a while, this one found a warm place to sit.
I had learned continuous strand weaving on the triangle loom in Oregon. Here in Arizona I started making triangle looms for sale. I heard of continuous weaving on the rectangle pin frame loom so tried making one. Couldn't find the formula for making the loom with longer multiples. Tried to figure it out but gave up for a few years. Picked it back up and did figure out how to do it for any length loom and have it come out perfect. Came up with a better weaving procedure too. Now my plans are used all over. This photo sent by a customer shows scarves made on looms made with my pin arrangement formula and weaving done with my weaving method.
I can have an early spring garden and root crops like the carrots will be good all through the winter freeze. The Aquarius Mountains are so named because of good springs and wells.
Hideaway Homestead Arizona
2004 - present