Let’s take a walkabout my zone 1 garden in the future food forest! *YouTube video*

On the day everything was wet here a few days ago and I did the tour of the future food forest I decided to tour what I call Zone 1. I am only about 1/3 of the way through the book Gaia’s Gardens about home scale permaculture BUT I am learning so much. I had never thought to include my front yard in the design, doh! I had thought I’d have grass and a rose garden and just pretty flowers and that’s it. Talk about feeling like a ditz!

 

So, I have dubbed this my zone 1 garden in the front yard and back yard that all already is fenced in on it’s own on the 8 acres overall and the front yard already has a lot of mature trees for shade to create that “canopy” affect that you really want in a mature food forest, or really that you NEED!

 

So now I’ve got plans in my head, I’ve drawn them out and I’ve talked about them on our Facebook page a lot so today in this video on YouTube I do a walkabout showing you this area in “real time video” and where I plan to put things! There are so many details I do not have planned out but rather just have the frame work figured out thus far!

 

If you have any ideas or suggestions I’d love to hear them!

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

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Homestead Video Tour at Little Farm Big Dreams 6 mths in!

Hey everybody! I put together a quick post strictly to share with you my first video tour of our start up homestead in southern Arizona! I wanted to show everybody what it is now as I’ve become utterly fascinated with homesteaders on YouTube sharing not only their farms and many helpful tips but their LIVES with the world. And maybe one day I’ll have so much going on here that I can do a video or two a week but for now I thought I’d start by sharing with you what I’m working with.

 

We have lived here about 6 mths now and in that time it was a huge transition period; getting used to living in the country, doing some repairs to the house that had sat empty for awhile, working on cleaning up and clearing 2 of the 8 acres (which is what the house and all out buildings set on, the rest are raw, as you’ll see in the video) and getting started home schooling.

 

I shared a post here about our big 5 mth update with a ton of before and after photos of what it was like when we moved in and things we’ve done!

 

If you’re interested in our endeavors in home schooling I shared a post about that here with a ton of information about why I chose to home school as a single Mom who is self employed!

 

So, about a week ago on a super windy day (I know, I’m sorry, lol!) I decided to do a quick video tour of the property. This is my first time working with videos and tying them together through YouTube and learning some basic editing tricks. I still have much to learn but I’m excited to one day incorporate more videos into this blog for an over-all experience for those following along for education OR entertainment!

 

Here is the link to our YouTube video, our first homestead tour!

Please give it a like and hey, maybe you’ll even feel like subscribing to keep an eye out for any future videos and/or to make me feel special! Lol! 

 

As always, thanks for stopping by our little piece of heaven here online! =D

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

 

#startuphomestead #singlemomhomesteading #southernarizona #sonorandesert #8acreproperty #littlefarmbigdreams

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How to re-use washer gray water!

So in early November walking around my back yard I noticed some water standing at the back of the house and after some curious poking around I realized it was the gray water draining from the washer to the side of the house and then due to improper setup and slope it was running under the house. Standing water anywhere is a no no, but especially near, under or up against your home!

I didn’t want to call a handyman out to fix it and I got to thinking with all the research I’ve been doing lately about gardening, permaculture and especially desert gardening with minimal or the least amount of water. So I got to doing some research on the uses of gray water…and quickly landed on this idea to redirect the washer gray water INTO the side yard where it is supposed to go but to then dig a trench so that the water will be gravity fed into that side yard in certain areas SO THAT I can have my future rose garden there. Ever since we moved in I wanted this small area to be a rose garden one day and this water drainage “issue” can now be the SOLUTION for that. As Geoff Lawton of Permaculture always says, let the problem be the solution!!! Think about it!!! =D

 

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So I quickly got to work on that. This project took me about 2 half days maybe, all by myself in early November and the only tools I used were a shovel and a rake. After the project was finished to make it look cuter I gathered some bricks and river rock laying around on the farm and “fancied” it up a bit and that’s it. So the project was 100% free, very necessary to not cause damage to the house and will be free water for a future non-edible garden AND…reusing something that would have otherwise gone to “waste” and just been absorbed into the ground elsewhere and non-contained, non-purposeful way! Those are all major bummers!

 

This is a heavy picture post as I took pictures throughout the whole process, as I always do. The visuals are very necessary for me to see my way through a project and to ALSO help me feel more accomplished. I also decided to do some videos of this project strictly to send to my Mom to show her but then I ended up sharing them publicly on You tube and since they help you see the water in action and everything I decided to share them on here as well.

 

VIDEO DISCLOSURE: I am no professional film maker (I know there is a word for that??) and in fact I’d call myself a super newbie to “recording videos” of anything other than family and kids playing! So these are a little shaky and there is no special editing or anything, very cut and dry and less than 1 minute for most of them.

 

Let the fun and pictures begin!!!

 

yard before move in - 3

As a fun little reminder, this is what that side yard looked like when we moved into the home about 6 mths ago now.

 

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Then this is what it looked like early summer after we cleaned up the weeds and junk. There used to be a chainlink fence there that a tenant’s animals knocked down, I guess.

 

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In early Fall I was poking around outside on a windy day and I thought I’d reuse these trellis’ we took off the front deck and put them up as a “temporary fence” since I had the posts so I just cable tied them up there. No it doesn’t look fancy or even pretty but it serves its purpose for now and when we redo the front fence, I’ll put new fencing up here as well. But free is always nice!

 

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Day 1 of the project!

This is what the area where the washer drain comes out goes to. This is the side of the house, directly under the laundry room and also next to the Ac. You can see there are bricks there I guess someone else had this intention of the water flowing towards our view (towards the camera) and out that way….it does not do that. Lol!

 

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Here is what that area looked like the day I walked over and decided to do this project.

 

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Step 1 for any project for me is always CLEAN UP! I have to start with a clean slate. Some people say that wastes time but I will tell you there is nothing more productive than working on a project with a happy, positive outlook and having a “clean space” is what gives me that outlook. Therefore…I always clean up first.

 

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This is the area just between the house and the fence, where the AC and electric meter live. These are also between myself and the majority of the side yard where those future roses will go. So I knew before starting my first trench would have to come out, around the AC and go between these two guys to then lead out into the main part of the side yard.

 

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I removed one of those bricks that was in the ground there to create an opening and got to digging the trench. I just used a regular rounded edge shovel because it is the only one I have. Thankfully the ground wasn’t too bad on this side of the house, I’m assuming from periodic soakings from the washer. Although you’ll see in the first video below the majority of the washer water does not actually come THIS way, as you’d think it does.

 

So I dug that first trench and then dug it around the AC then straight out into the side yard only maybe 2 inches deep the whole way. I really started was starting my outline and seeing what shape I wanted to have, where I wanted it to go. After doing that I dug 4 channels off of that main trench. And THEN I turned the washer on to drain so I could see what would happen after that little bit of work. This video below shows what happened the 1st time I ran the washer…

Digging a trench from washer drain part 1

Let me just say, at 20 seconds in when that water starts to go into that channel it made me feel like a Mama Bear proud of a kid doing something on their own for the first time. It was like I immediately thought “OMG, this is going to work!!!! How cool!!!”

 

So in this video we learned that with the trench obviously not done and not deep enough, after that water fills up that initial basin it then rises up and runs UNDER the house! Which is then where all the remaining water goes, preventing it from entering new said trench! Progress!

 

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So then I got to work on digging these existing trenches and channels all a little bit deeper and making some parts wider. At this point I just have 1 trench with 4 channels off of it to the left and right.

 

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A little deeper…

 

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Then I shift my focus back on that basic and I dig it deeper and wider as well, to catch more water initially.

 

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Then, thinking of that water running under the house I start shoveling mud from the pile of what I had dug out and start mounding it around the drain. I put it all up against the side of the house and all around, to block water from OVERFLOWING anywhere other than into the new trench!

 

And then I filmed video #2!!!!

Digging a trench for washer drain part 2

 

You see about half way through this video that this is the first time the water in the trench had MADE it around the corner and passed the first channel! It ALSO starts filling the basin and spilling over that brick wall on the front side AND a little bit starts spilling over on the right side going under the wire for the AC unit and back behind there. =( Add to that that once it got about half way down the channel, none of it was really deep enough so then it just started flooding the banks and overflowing. Lol! Learning as we go!

 

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Overflowing the banks because all the channels were too shallow at this point.

 

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Adding more mud around the main basin to keep water in the places I want it, without over flowing.

 

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I dug every trench deeper and as the water would flow through I’d watch curves or corners where it’d slow down so as that would happen I’d be there with my shovel to make certain areas wider or deeper as needed.

 

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At this point I still only have 4 channels off of the main trench. But I had dug them all to 4-5 inches deep, which was as deep as I felt they probably needed to be. So I ran the washer (not videoed) and with the washer draining TWICE with each load, it put out just enough water to fill the trench, all 4 channels and then over flow the very last channel but ONLY after that second drain cycle. So I concluded with a 5th channel, then it should be fine to hold (and trap, to soak into the ground to water nearby flowers) the water from 2 cycles from each load of laundry. I didn’t plan for it to hold more than that as we typically do about 1 load of laundry per day and that’s it, rather than doing a ton all in a day.

 

 

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With water standing in the whole system it made for digging and trenching THAT much easier. Thank God for that with our Arizona hard, clay-like soil…if you can even call it soil!

 

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I put 2 stray bricks on each side of the wiring for the AC unit just to try to keep water away from it and then put up a mud mound on the left side of it as well so that water won’t even go that way. I also put a mud mound on this front side of it where you used to be able to see the bricks in the ground, now you can’t.So it made that berm type thing about an inch taller.

 

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By this time, I added that 5th channel off the end since it was still overflowing at the end after a second drain (2 per load).

 

Digging a trench for washer drain part 3

You can see in the video that channels 3 & 4 weren’t as deep as all the others yet.

You will also see by the time of this video I no longer had issues with escaping water at the start, from the drain or the basin! Yay!!!!

 

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Day 2!!!

 

Time for clean up and small modifications!

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I started working to level all the dirt at this starting point because although you can’t see it, where I’m standing to take these pictures is a small chain-link gate. So once I started this project I decided this gate and this area would need to stay clear for myself or handymen to come access the AC to work on it or when I clean it seasonally. So in the future there may be a cute little mulch or gravel walk way here. So I leveled out that mud that was just all in a pile before I got to raking everything BEAUTIFUL!

 

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With all the trenches perfectly deep enough and 2 drain cycles putting out JUST enough water to fill all channels to the top but no more…the big work was done. So here I just leveled out the mud piles and started raking so that finished look I love so much!

 

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Main trench, channel 1 and part of channel 4.

 

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Channels 2, 3, 4 and part of 5!

 

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This side that butts up against the house I noticed while working the ground slopes down to the house so all that excess mud I had I threw that way and at the end I leveled it out so that it is a flat surface but also berms up a tiny bit at the house so that rain water or anything will flow away from the house, as it should.

 

Digging a trench for washer drain part 4

Video 4 is just a picture, video collage I put together on my phone to try to show some photos of it start to finish. Again, video disclosure, no sound or music or anything fancy. =)

 

A FEW DAYS LATER…

 

Riley man came outside and offered to remove 2 stumps from some old bushes that used to be here. As far back as 3 years, any time I’ve ever been to this property, there were never bushes here. They were always just those stumps. So I think we could resolve that they were 100% dead. And Riley loves destroying things, being a typical 11 year old boy so he got the shovel and went to town.

 

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ABOUT A WEEK LATER…

 

I was doing laundry and decided I’d come out to watch my little system with pride just to see how it was holding up a week or so after finishing and I decided the basin area just had to look a little cuter. So I gathered some bricks and river rocks from around the property and just made it cuter! My goal is to actually fill the trench and drains with sand one day so it looks cuter when it is empty and then of course I’ll plant roses. I recently decided I will be adding hibiscus to this flower bed with my roses and I can’t tell you how excited I am about that!

 

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This is how the channels are holding up about a week later. You can’t really tell I raked which is a bummer but that’s fine, the dogs had to run around and explore what I had done differently of course. Plus after Riley removed the 2 stumps I didn’t rake so that is all disheveled as well but oh well! (You see that little green patch of grass that came up where channel 1 ends and some water pools right there? Nature is a beautiful thing!

 

Digging a trench from washer drain part 5

Video 5 I filmed one morning early after I had started laundry AFTER everything was done and I added the rocks to the basin. You can hear the birds chirping, my dogs eagerly running around for the first time in the morning and my son Riley off in the distance in his chonies (not pictured, of course!) because he came out to see what I was doing, lol!

 

I love how in this video within just like 20 seconds the water is marching down that main trench like it is on a mission and it knows exactly where it is supposed to go. No issues in the way, no confusion, nothing. Just on it goes to fill up the whole system with ease. Bliss. And perfection! Pride swells!

 

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True before and after of the whole thing! =D

 

3 WEEKS AFTER THE PROJECT WAS COMPLETED…

I was outside walking around and I hadn’t done laundry in maybe 2 days so these channels were just dry (which is fine) but I noticed something green. So upon closer examination I found 4-5 spots where little grass is shooting up in the trenches or on the sides! How marvelous is that!!!!

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Since I’ve spend this whole last week currently studying Permaculture like it was my last dying wish or something (seriously, about 45 hours this week of studying and researching) these little green patches of life make me so happy and proud. Because Permaculture teaches that Mother Earth will rebound and heal itself and become lush and wonderful with a few simple techniques. These trenches I dug to redirect washer gray water are a small scale version of exactly what Permaculture is all about. All I did was redirect a wonderful resource like water and although I haven’t planted anything here yet, nature is responding, the dirt is happy, it is moist and it gets ample shade and sun and it is coming to life all on its own! It is just such a wonderful thing for me to see in action! Someday soon…or maybe in the spring, there will be happy roses and hibiscus of 10 colors here!!! And…as expected, I will smile every time I come home and walk passed this garden to get to my front door as I see the beautiful colors and smell those glorious roses!!!

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

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Swales in landscaping/gardening!

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I don’t even recall where I first learned the term “swale” or what they are but google keeps telling me it isn’t a word or I’m misspelling it, haha! But, alas, it is a thing! I’ve dug 2 swales around my 2 withering cottonwood trees and used that to slowly, SLOWLY bring those back to life. And since my pomegranate trees are right next to those I dug a small trench from 1 swale to the pomegranate trees and then dug a swale around all 5 of those trees (1 big swale) and they are doing great as well!

 

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So I thought I’d put together a post with some research I’ve found online to help anybody explore this topic if they feel intrigued!

 

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This video on YouTube shows how someone dug a swale in the Sonoran desert and left it alone for 80 years and the ending result! Amazing!!!

 

This video is a great shot of how a guy uses small swales in his urban garden. So these can even be used in small spaces or micro gardens, aka, micro swales, rather than large scale permaculture situations!

 

NOW…this video made me make a sad face when I saw his wedding ring (haha!) and say “AWESOME!” out loud at 2:15 when he shows how he redirects rainwater into a channel system, into a rainwater diversion box INTO these two pipes that shoot out rain water into 2 tree swales to water 2 citrus trees! GENIUS!!!!!! Ahhhhh! Endless ideas on YouTube. He is one worth following on YouTube, especially because he lives in the desert like I do!

 

If you think you can’t do swales on flat land, this guy proves that wrong in this video, so worth checking it out! Capturing 12,000 gallons on water from just rain, with minimal grade in the land!

 

Want to know all about swales from a permaculture “expert”? Well here ya go!

 

I think that might be enough videos and so hopefully if you think this is something you might want to add to your garden then I recommend doing your research and setting yourself up with a way to “harvest” rain water and redirect it to where you need it, even without pipes and drains!

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

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09-28-15 Phase 3 of driveway “redo”

Here in this post we pick up on Phase 3 of my driveway “redo” project which is explained in the post about Phase 1 here and then you can check out what I got done just before this in Phase 2 here! I spent the majority of the day working on this project because I wasn’t able to start until mid-morning and by then it was already hotter than I had expected. We were blessed with a few mellow days with temps in the low 90s after the rain we had gotten and on THIS day it decided to get back up around 105-110. But I was at a point in the project that I was very eager to continue and pick up on, excited to be reaching a point where it looked near done, at least to the level of done I plan to get it to for now. So I would work and take breaks and then work some more, using up the better part of a day.


I decided to start with the new driveway part that branches off to the right from the main driveway and leads to that double gate to the future pasture. You can see from this picture that those rocks weren’t necessarily in a good place so they had to be moved again. But what you can’t see is just how many weeds there were up by the fence and to the left of it. I wanted to go ahead and get rid of all of those. 

I began by raking all the loose debris and small weeds from that burn pile over to the gate, raking them up towards the new line for the driveway to “clear the path” if you will.



This took awhile but I do actually enjoy work like this because I’m one of those people who enjoys raking, sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, etc because it feels like happy work for an OCD person. =) And then the result was pleasing which was what appeared to be an “intentional” path big enough for 2 cars or a large truck or even tractor! Success!


Here is another view from the other side of the debris and junk ALMOST raked away…


Me, happy to be working outside but it was pretty hot!!!


I am a huge fan of before and after’s and even before and now’s because it is a visual reminder or gratification for me of the progress that has been made. It gives me that jolt of contentment that refuels me to push on.


Once I got the rocks placed where I wanted them to remain, I got all the weeds up to the left by the gate removed and the only thing up there now is that bamboo, which will eventually be removed as well. And then I got everything raked out of the way.


This made me happy and was about the most I plan to do with this area for awhile, other than removing the bamboo and adding gravel. We won’t have a need or use for that gate until next year some time so for now this is what I set out to accomplish and from now on I’ll just keep the road way clear of weeds until the gravel goes down.


Here is a good before and now! I say “In Progress” because obviously this area of the project is not finished but it won’t be awhile and that is alright by me! For now!



Once I got the gate area cleaned up on the far side of this photo I just had to do an In Progress photo of this area, too! But the top photo in the collage above is from the other day before I got all those weeds removed.


Here is a great before and now photo collage of the work done just in front of the house, where the driveway splits left and right and where there will soon be visitor parking room by a new front gate (after the bamboo is gone)! I love this photo collage!!!!!! <3


Then I moved over to the driveway. The other day I had gotten the rocks placed and some of the weeds on the left knocked down but not all of them. So after that side gate area was cleaned up I focused my energy on getting all the weeds off this left side so you can see both rows of rocks and it look like an intentional driveway.


Here I had gotten the weeds at the end of the driveway taken care of and just had a few smaller ones up at the front to tend to.


I got ALL the weeds out of the driveway! Except you may notice that small little bush RIGHT there. Haha! I must say, when I was chopping down weeds I saw this little weed/bush of wild flowers that were blooming  beautiful yellow and I just couldn’t! I thought “Maybe it won’t be too much in the way”. So I get all the other weeds down, I put UP my weed eater and TWO extension cords it takes to reach this side of the yard, haha, and then come back out and spend an hour RAKING the entire driveway end to end. I raked from the middle off to each side to clear any other debris, small weeds I had missed and level out the existing minuscule gravel. So then once all that was done I came and stood back here to take my “after” photo, Yay…only to find just how much that little bush really bothered me. Again…OCD much?!?! So…I had already put away all my tools to get rid of it with AND I was tired and hot and felt just annoyed with the idea of getting everything back out, throwing my cords around and all that fuss just to come remove that one plant. Talk about slapping yourself for wishing you had done something the first time around.


When my pants and boots are this dirty and covered in dust, I know I’m getting something done and working with my body and it makes me feel proud, happy, capable, able and content! <3 Who said a single Mom can’t setup a homestead mostly on her own? =)


View of the driveway “done” for now from the south. I still need to remove the debris from that burn pile and, of course, remove that little bush…and then I’ll feel like it’s truly done until I move onto the next phase in a couple of months. And that next phase is gravel, trees and water lines.


View of the driveway BASICALLY done from the north. (That damn bush!) Ahhhhhh! 


People often know me as Elizabeth, the Realtor, single mom, woman who loves her aviators and who has very long, thick curly, wild hair. And the majority of the time when I’m out and about being social or working they’ll see me with my hair down and I’m typically in a long summer dress and sandals. It is my go to outfit, my “make me feel pretty and girly” outfit. But what most people don’t usually see (only a handful have really) is me when I’m the happiest which is when I have no make-up at all on, hair up in a knot, jeans on, boots on, sweating my butt off, calluses on my hands, bottle of water in my back pocket, etc. Being raised in Arkansas you might think I grew up this way but I really didn’t. We lived in city limits the majority of my life until I moved in with my sister when I was 12. At that point we lived in the country. Prior to that I had summer’s with my Dad or his parents and those were the real boonies and times when I spent as much time outside as I could, being a lil country girl playing in the mud, climbing trees, riding four wheelers, hanging out with my boy cousins! But throughout life I have come to find I am happiest outside. Being raised in the Phoenix metro from the age of 15 to 21, some “city” rubbed off on me but when I started hiking the local mountains for exercise, I realized how much I loved it. That grew and fostered a love of the outdoors in Arizona, even though it is insanely hot. But hiking and running outdoors even in the summer, over the years, I came accustomed to the weather we have here. And so this all brings me now to where I am 30 and I’ve been itching the last few years to raise my son in the country so he may have a childhood covered in mud as I did part of mine. And I do think if I never had a reason to dress up ever again and spent every day on this property working on clearing land, growing a garden, tending to animals…I’d be just fine with that! <3 I have finally found what makes me the most happy in my life and that is being far away from other people, tending to everything myself and learning a lot along the way, teaching my son useful skills he needs to know for adult life!



For good measure, I can’t forget the progress photos of the driveway!


And of course, lastly, the final before and now photo of the driveway from the gate to the house! To some it may not look like a whole lot was done but this took me probably a good 20-25 hours total over the course of numerous days to get this work done being as I did 90% of it on my own. Riley helped with the fire and hauling around some rocks and firewood but for the most part I knew he didn’t need to be working outside in 110 degrees weather because he isn’t used to it like I am.

I am excited for the near future when I can share with you the next phase of this project. As of now, there isn’t a planned date for what we’ll do next but it will include; gravel, 6 new trees and running irrigation lines from the well to said new trees. Until then…

XoXo,
Elizabeth
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09-27-15 Phase 2 of our driveway “redo”

Phase 2 of our driveway “redo”, (you can find the info and photos of phase 1 here) picked up a few days after we had some rain that caused us to not be able to get anything done.


This is where we left off, after placing the rocks everywhere they needed to go to create the shape of the new driveway.


My main focus on that day was to clean up this “visitor parking area” which sits right in front of the house against that line of bamboo. The bamboo will eventually be removed to expose a chain link fence that lies inside all that mess. I will have to hire out help to remove the bamboo as I’ve done extensive research on it and it needs to be pulled out by the root which will require a tractor, at the very least. This bamboo was chopped down and burnt out about 18 mths ago and it returned like nothing ever happened. So once that is all gone and I get to repairing that fence I’m going to put a front gate there right in front of the front porch so that there is an obvious entrance for visitors which is THE reason I’m calling this area the “visitor’s parking area”! =) So it had all these wild little desert weeds everywhere and I still had that tree to contend with that I had cut down a good 2 months ago.


First, I knocked down all the weeds with the weed eater and then got to work on chopping up the tree for firewood, kindling and excess to burn and dispose of what was left.


After the firewood and kindly was hauled off to the shop for storage and the fire was going, I got to raking this area to remove all the loose weeds and just clean up the area.


Riley helped man the fire…his way (playing in the water hose, haha!) while I was working on another project so we could have a set of eyes on the fire.


Me happy and sweaty after a half days work on the driveway project again!

That was all we had time for that day as dark approached. I got a lot more done the very next day to wrap up that phase 3 of the project and now you can see that here!

XoXo,
Elizabeth
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09-20-15 Phase 1 of our driveway “redo”

My last blog post Creating a new parking area we left off where I had just been given free river rock from a friend and I used those to create pathways and walk ways in the parking area of our driveway up by the house. This one picks up where I began the driveway process. Ever since I was a child I’ve had a thing for long, tree lined driveways…maybe it’s a southern thing, I’m not sure. But from the first time I came to this property I thought it was odd that the gate was almost centered on the front of the house yet the driveway curves to the left to the parking area. So since I had these river rock I knew I wanted to begin the very early stages of “moving” my driveway to where I wanted it. The end goal is to have a driveway that goes straight from the gate up to the house then you can go left to the shop and where I park or go right to go to the gate to the open field. And then on top of that visitors can pull straight up and have plenty of room to park right in the front, in front of the front porch. Makes sense, right? Ha! So in addition to that I want the driveway to eventually  have 2-3 trees on each side with flowers along the bottom and for the driveway itself to be graveled to cut down on all the dust around the property. So phase 1 of that huge project (that will likely take me a year) is to “move” the driveway to where I want it. So the goal for this smaller project is to use the river rock to create new lines, then eliminate all the weeds and bushes in the way of that, clean up the pathway and just begin using it. Next I will add gravel to the entire driveway. Later on down the road (maybe next Spring) I’ll put in the trees which will have to have irrigation lines ran to them as well as critter-proof “cages” around the trunk of the tree to prevent gophers from digging up the roots so that they can plant properly. After all that is successful I’ll add some flowers!

So on to phase one!!!



Here is a “before” picture of most of the driveway and the front of the house just a couple of weeks after we moved in. I can’t find a better picture taken back from the gate so you can see the whole thing but in this photo I’m standing about half way between the gate and the house and you can see the driveway (where there are no weeds) wandering off to the left and my car off in the distance on the left. In this photo there was still a dead tree just to the left of my flag, on THIS side of the fence line.



 I began by placing the rocks on each side of the driveway where I wanted it to go, straight south towards the house. The rocks on the left you can barely even see because they’re amidst weeds and wild flowers.



Here is a shot of where I’m using the rocks to CREATE a whole new road that goes to the right side of the house to that double gate, which opens up into our side field. This field is now 4 acres of natural desert nothingness and in the future the plan is for it to be cow and horse pasture! So it only makes sense to create a road TO the gate even though it won’t be used frequently for awhile. Planning ahead!!!


Here the rocks are on the left and this is where the driveway will go left and lead to our main parking area at the side of the house.



This is a final shot standing up by the fence line of bamboo by the house. You can see the remnants of that dead tree I cut down that still needs to be dealt with.

I got this done in a few hours in the afternoon by myself while Riley was at school. The following 3 days we had rain and I wasn’t able to work on it at all. But as soon as the rain cleared up I moved on the phase 2! Which you can now find here!

XoXo,
Elizabeth
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09-19-15 Creating a new parking area

One day I met a woman via Facebook who has a property nearby that she said they might be interested in selling. After a few phone calls I setup a time to go meet her husband out at the property to evaluate it and let him know what I think the current market value of his property was. While there I noticed he had these beautiful river rocks (some white and sparkly) all over his property purposely placed along the driveway and around trees. I told him how beautiful I thought they were and we quickly found ourselves in a conversation about my little farm and my homestead dreams. This gentleman was older and said property he had inherited years ago as 5 vacant acres and throughout his young adult life and into married life and having children, he put a mobile home on the property, brought in utilities, planted trees, had a garden, raised a family, had horses, etc. Now that time in his life had passed and his children were grown and him and his wife had moved to a different smaller property nearby. One or two of his children had lived in the home as adults as needed on and off again and now the home sat empty and he was contemplating selling it. To be frank, my goal as a realtor is to get the listing to sell the property but in my heart of hearts if I myself had spent 30+ years starting and growing on a property like he had, I can’t imagine I’d ever want to part with it myself.

Our conversation about the river rock though lead him to tell me that there was river rock all around this area in ditches and dry creek beds that if I was ever out that way I should just stop and load up some and that people do that all the time. I made a mental note to do just that.

The next day he called me and asked me if I’d like a bunch of free river rock because at his work they were removing a ton and he was responsible for “getting rid of it” and so as long as I could meet him there THAT day then I could have however much I could take. I was super excited and free that day so I started getting ready. A friend was in the area checking out antique shops and had contacted me to see what I was up to that day. I told him about the rock and since he was in the area he offered to stop by and help me load it up. I threw on my boots, grabbed my gloves and out the door I went. Ten minutes later I was in an RV park and my friend was there waiting and we found the nice gentleman. They helped me load up my trunk and most of what was in that pile fit but there was a second pile that I just wasn’t going to have time to come back for today.

In talking with my buddy I had told him how I was leaving there to go straight to Home Depot to buy a wheel barrel because there was no way I wanted to start working on any sort of project like this (the one brewing in my mind) without a wheel barrel. I didn’t want to be that “old school”. He told me he had a super old one at him that he uses maybe 2x a year and if I wanted it I could have it, I just needed to come get it. Score!!!! He warned me it was really old and not pretty and slightly rusted and my thoughts were “It’s free!!!” And…it will be a back saver on the farm. I’ve already found myself amidst numerous projects wishing I had a wheel barrel but hadn’t made it a property yet.




So after getting home with the river rock AND my new free wheel barrel, I was super excited! The journey of awesome, friendly locals took about 4 hours out of my day but so well worth it!


This is how much free river rock I was able to load! When I got home I thought it really didn’t look like a lot but hey, free is free and so I was eager to unload it and start placing them along the driveway!

MY IDEA!

My idea was to use these as a phase 1 border for my driveway and parking area so that eventually as I have the funds, supplies or time then I will add in some top soil, mulch, add a few ground cover plants and maybe some pretty bushes. And with my recent research into permaculture I just knew I could add a few berry bushes throughout this side area under the trees for color AND purpose!


A few days previous to this not knowing I was going to find myself with a heap of free river rock, Riley and I found this old railroad tie on the property and I thought it’d be a cute feature as a “parking curb” to add where I always park under the trees. So it took us a solid 10 mins to lug it from one place to the other and not sort of any complaining from my little “City boy in transition”, haha! So this photo shows where that railroad tie is and then where we laid the rocks in a half circle under the 2 mesquite trees. I think I’ll have to start calling these trees the “Married Mesquite Trees” because they are so lovely there together, complimenting one another yet growing in opposite directions to create this beautiful canopy shaded area! <3 


A quick before and after of the area from in the driveway.


A more close up before and after on the Married Mesquite Trees.

Then we ran them along the line of 4 trees that border the fence line from the driveway to the front yard. This is where I hope to have many beautiful flowers and bushes one day, welcoming me home each time I pull up!


 




A before and after of the entire parking area of the driveway after just adding the river rock. I love that it adds some structure or definition to the area that was otherwise just wide open dirt. I like structure.

XoXo,
Elizabeth
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09-15-15 Weed clean-up and a new plant!


I was showing a house in Arizona City and came across this beautiful plant! It reminded me of a bird of paradise but I had never seen this color before! My client told me that it is in fact a yellow Bird of Paradise plant! I was so smitten! She told me if I took a few of the seed pods on the plant that I could dry them out and then crack open the seed pods, plant the seeds and within a few months this bush would start to pop!


So, of course, I did just that! Thank goodness for awesome clients always teaching me something new! I am definitely patient enough to grow a beautiful bush for free, from the seed! I’m excited about this!



With all the rain the weeds in the driveway and front yard were getting out of control. One evening on a not so horribly hot day I got out there and got them all knocked down with the weed eater and raked up all in just about an hour! What a productive hour!


I especially love the look of the ground all raked up. I do hope someday that there is grass here though!















What can I say, clean “raked” dirt makes me happy!

XoXo,
Elizabeth
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05-26-15 Final grounds clean up before move-in!

Picture time! The end of May we spent another day at the house to clean up the grounds around the shop and driveway so that that area would be “cleared” prior to us moving in. Here are some before and after photos of that!


Standing in the shop looking out before…


Same view, before…


After the driveway to the shop was cleaned up!








Standing in the shop looking out towards the well into the driveway area before with all those weeds!




After! All the weeds got pulled or raked up and into a pile to be burnt!



Much better driveway/parking area!



Then for fun I really wanted to mark these walk way and driveway areas because it always felt odd that it was all just wide open, no shape or definition to the area. I did this purely for fun and for me to see visually if what I had in my head (and on paper) would look right in person. So I used black spray paint to create these lines. The picture above are the two lines around 4 tall trees, 5 pomegranate trees and the entry gate to the front yard. In the future I hope to a permanent border, water lines ran from the well and flowers and bushes filling this area inside the trees!


This is a shot of the two mature mesquite trees framing the shop that I love so much! For the longest time I’ve been envisioning a hammock between those two trees as a wonderful reading spot! I wanted to keep the walk way to the shop and the backyard gate open (as you can see by the lines) but have this rounded outline that compliments the canopy of both trees. So when I do put in the permanent border it will be in this shape and inside it will probably be mulch or something soft, other than just dirt.



This is the well and pump that sits right in the middle of the yard. Where I’m from well pumps have adorable little pump houses! Although I’m sure their primary function is coverage and preventing weather and sun damage, I also just think they’re super adorable. So the goal here is to eventually have a Pump House that looks like a tiny 4×4 little shed with a door and window, maybe even shutters. Just something that covers this but looks cute. And the Pump House will have a few bushes around it. 



This is a view of when you pull up the driveway and you’re facing the house but you look to the right, there is a big gate over there that goes into the open field. The gate needs to be repaired but I imagine one day when I’m using that field for horses or cows that having a gate on this side will be beneficial so I want to make sure that when I redo the driveway there is a pre-planned option to GO that way, as well as to the left to go to the house and shop.

Next blog post is about moving day!! Yay!

XoXo,
Elizabeth
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