Nestled in the valleys of the East Mountains of New Mexico is, at this moment, a couple trailers, two goats, a few budding homesteaders, and a whole lot of cacti.
When I moved here a month ago from my native Illinois, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I didn’t expect the national forest in my backyard, the wind, the monsoons, or the amount of deep red clay that will eventually form our houses, barns, and fences. I also didn’t expect to be eating green chili nearly everyday, but I’m definitely not complaining.
I expected the heat and the amount of compressed earth bricks we’d be making. I didn’t expect the hardships that would come with living off-grid. In the perfect world of a homestead blogger, houses build themselves during the length of an article and food is grown during the length of a YouTube video. Rose tinted glasses obscure the amount of frustration, impatience, and forces of nature that push back projects over and over and over again.
It’s incredibly easy to get overwhelmed. The main house alone, at current best estimate, needs 12,000 compressed earth bricks. We have about fifteen usable ones. If things had gone to plan, maybe the house would be half built right now, but they didn’t and we’ll be living in the trailer through the winter. Murphy’s Law reigns supreme here, anything that possibly could have gone wrong DID go wrong, but we’re making progress every day, brick by brick. And to be frank, after spilling black water all over my legs a few weeks ago, nothing can faze me anymore. Nasty.
I’ve had a month to humble me, to make me grateful for hot showers, septic systems, ovens, and having my phone charged in the morning. Honestly, I think the best part of this all is that I wake up every morning without power and I’m still so incredibly glad to be here.
Within a week of being here, I had fulfilled a years-long dream of having goats. We bought two baby Nigerian dwarf goats, Rocky Road and Butterscotch. In a few years, we’ll have them for milk, but for now, they’re simple reminders of the life I moved a thousand miles to have. Years down the line, we’ll have donkeys and ducks. We’ll have our own houses built, with an orchard out front. I’ll wake up with my phone charged. But until then, I relish in the simplicity and fill my lungs with the mountain air, grateful to be here.