My Weekly Smile this week goes to a perfectly wonderful road trip to Arizona last weekend. As some of you know, my longterm goal is to live a more self sufficient life. I’ve been taking steps in that direction for many years, by learning about organic gardening, and other homesteading skills. A while back I purchased two properties, one in Arizona, and one in Nevada, that both would be suitable for a small homestead. I am not ready to take the leap into off grid living on a homestead yet, I do keep on working towards it, one small step at the time.
Having the knowledge, the property, and a plan feels great. Being able to once in a while visit the property closest to me (the one in Arizona,) have been fabulous. The other times I’ve visited I’ve stayed elsewhere, but this weekend we camped out at the property! It was an awesome feeling spending the night there for the first time. The stars were so bright! All photos in this post are taken at the Arizona property, either of the property, or the view from the property.
The temperature difference from when we arrived at a sunny 74 degrees Fahrenheit, to the lowest night temperature were almost one hundred degrees! My property is at 5400 ft elevation, and it is desert, but a very different desert from Las Vegas (where we currently live.) The air is clean, and there’s many 10-15ft high Juniper, and Pinyon trees on the property (some trees are even higher.) Pinyon trees have highly nutritious edible seeds, a staple for several Native American tribes. Pinyon pine trees are also known to influence the soil in which they grow by increasing concentrations of both macronutrients and micronutrients. The most common use for Juniper berries are alcoholic drinks (gin, wine and brandy,) but they are also used for medicinal purposes. Juniper wood is one of the most flexible woods there is. It was often used as the base for horseback riding saddles back when the West was still wild, and are still very popular for making bows and arrows. Juniper is also a popular material for fencing in Arizona. There is an old saying that Juniper wood never breaks. Both Juniper and Pinyon have a wonderful fragrance when you burn it, and a fire made out of these trees last a long time. Are you familiar with the fragrance?
Juniper and Pinyon Trees
My property is reasonably flat, and have some beautiful cacti like Cholla, and Prickly Pear, along with creosote bush but is not covered in them. I’m hoping to preserve, and enhance its natural beauty with time, while further improving the soil for crops.
I had plenty of time walking through the property this weekend assessing plant life, and soil.
I noticed that the seasonal creek likely have been bigger this year during the rainy season, since I discovered two new paths it had taken. I’m planning on collecting rain water, so this is great. I also noticed a couple new potential places to build a cabin. Earlier I thought mostly about the view, planning on planting my own shade trees. I will still plant trees, of course (I LOVE PLANTING TREES.) My new angle is to utilize the shade I actually already have. I didn’t fully realize the amount of bigger trees further away from the road. If I decide to build where there’s already existing mature trees, that will make a big difference when it comes to staying cool in the heat of the summer. I could always build a greenhouse in one of the big open spaces with plenty of sun light, and a gorgeous view 🙂
Another thing I noticed this weekend was that we have at least a couple years of aged fire wood laying around, waiting to be processed. It would be logical to heat our cabin/house (haven’t decided on the exact model yet,) with wood since we have access to an abundance of it.
This weekend confirmed my suspicion that a fence around the perimeter is the first thing I need to build. There’s cows frequently visiting the property (the western states have open range at many places, and it is the land owners responsibility to fence out unwanted grazing animals.) A number of cows strolled by while we enjoyed dinner.
The black dots are more cows, further away. You can see the train from a far distance when standing on our property. What I didn’t know until I spent the night there was that you can hear it as well. It sounds like a low rumble. Too low to stand out during the day, but I heard it during the night. Not loud enough to disturb, just a reminder of civilization.
The cows didn’t bother us, and I like cows, but I would not want to be in the way of a herd of stampeding cattle. They could easily run you over, and of course destroy a garden. Besides cows we saw a big number of Javelinas (wild pigs,) and we heard coyotes nearby from dusk to dawn. The Javelinas looked liked they had eaten good all their life, they were fat.
At 11pm while my daughter and I were sleeping, something big walked by the tent, and touched the side of it (high up.) It could of been a cow, or a deer (there’s plenty of them as well.) I walked out to have a look, but whatever it was had moved on by the time I got my boots on. We do need to put up that fence. Our four season tent, and double sleeping bags kept us very comfortable even when the temperatures got below freezing. We were warm the whole night.
A room with a view.
I felt silly when I prepared our beds with double sleeping bags, it was sunny and 74 then. It was almost 100 degrees colder during the night. We stayed warm and cozy all night.
I got up before sunrise, just sitting outside the tent enjoying the brisk morning air, watching the sky change color several times, and listening to the coyotes sing to each other. I feel great about our visit this weekend. The best of it was just taking in the goodness of the place, OUR place. Several times I caught myself smiling, while listening to my daughter’s giggly conversation about all the important thoughts in her head.Plenty of cows in the morning too.
What makes you smile? Share some of your smiles!