Graduate school has left me feeling a little too soft and a little too removed from the agriculture and food system that I am so interested in. Even after reading articles, books and blogs, attending lectures, and even visiting a few CSAs over the last several years, I finally decided that no amount of well-intended interest can take the place of action.
With the value of growing my knowledge and skills base firsthand in mind, I have moved out to the headquarters of my family’s ranch in Southeastern New Mexico, the Heart Diamond. While I’m out here, I plan on studying and implementing as many permaculture design and sustainable living strategies as I have time for and as are appropriate for the place and the climate the ranch is located in.
The ranch house is located in the bottom of a draw that feeds into the Pecos River below Brantley Dam and above Lake Avalon, just outside of Carlsbad, NM.
The water supply for the house and surrounding cattle and horse pens comes from well water that was pumped by a windmill before it was replaced by an electric submersible pump several years ago, still located beneath the old windmill tower.
My first project, after and on top of a mountain of chores to restore the house to livable condition, was to put in a small winter garden to keep me in greens and a few small root veggies for the upcoming winter. The winters in Southern New Mexico are cold, but with enough sunshine and warm days mixed in to get a 3rd growing season’s worth of produce to keep your cheeks rosy.
The front of the house has a small bermuda grass yard watered by the grey water stream from the kitchen and laundry room. The rest of the fenced off area around the house is on a moderate grade and has been severely eroded over years of car traffic and runoff in the absence of a cover crop.
In my next posts, I’ll start spelling out what I learn and plan for strategies to slow the erosion and improve the productivity of the land immediately around the HQ.
I’m also looking for some ideas for good desert fruit trees and shrubs. So far I am thinking about pomegranate, fig, apricot and maybe some drought tolerant varieties of apple. Any more suggestions?
Next up: My first swale