For order details call Amy 928-208-0611 or Joel 928-486-4043

The Birth of an Off-Grid Arizona Farmstead

1. Our Story of Moving Off the Grid

"Simple Living", that phrase sure is attractive and at times, even romantic. Pinterest has a never-ending supply of snippets and pretty pictures that celebrate living life with less and I've lost count of the books written on the subject. I...

2. Goodbye Fad Diets, Hello Simple Living

Hi, I'm Joel and this is my beautiful wife Amy. Having fought with weight my entire adult life it's doubtful that I've missed a fad diet. Atkins, South Beach, Mediterranean, juicing- we even went Vegan for 6 months. Up and down I would go, from 200 lbs. to 260 lbs....

3. The Path to Debt Free Simple Living

Another necessary and big change for us was how we handled our money. Not long ago Amy and I were the poster children for excessive consumerism, owned by a garage full of water and sand toys, credit cards and more monthly payments than I care to remember. We felt very...

4. Our 50 Acre Farmstead Paradise

The property is a bit over 50 acres with plenty of character as the elevation changes from 5300' to 5100' down in the pasture. It slopes South/Southwest making it ideal for orchards, gardens and solar power. Juniper, Oak and Pinon Pine are plentiful in the area...

5. Sure…I Can Build a Road. No Problem.

We started with property that was untouched. There was "kind of" a road getting to the property line that needed major improvements. How hard could it be? "There are nice dirt roads all over the world, this is going to be a breeze". Go ahead and mark that as the first...

6. Give the Kids a Bobcat to Play With

We could use a Bobcat for the road down to pasture. A nice change expense wise. This is our 14-year-old (at the time) daughter running the 963. This was to be a family affair from day one so we have taught the kids to use every piece of equipment and all the power...

7. Let’s Build a Bridge for the Farm Property!

We have lots of varying slopes so drainage is always the first consideration for anything we do. Running roads through existing, natural drainage is just making more work for yourself. We came up with the idea of a bridge made from old power poles and some lumber. I...

8. A Shipping Container for a Barn

Packing tools back and forth every weekend was getting old! Money was tight after doing the roads so I had to wait for the right deal on a storage container to come up. Ugly, dented and for some reason the previous owner cut the hinges off one of the doors. It was a...

9. Drilling a Well For Our Arizona Farm

Water. If you don't have it, all you really have is dirt. If you do have it, your property has a heartbeat and can grow into anything you can dream up. Knowing we would not be able to drill a well ourselves we started socking money away for the well driller from day...

10. You Can’t Farm Without Water

My closest neighbor had hit water at 280' at about the same elevation we were drilling so when we were still dry at 300' I was starting to sweat it. Had I picked the absolute worst spot on the property? How long till I could afford another to punch another hole? The...

11. Gravity Fed Water for the Farm

Now it was time to get to work on getting the water out of the ground and distributed around the property. I liked the simplicity and reliability of a gravity fed system even though I knew it was going to be a TON of work and a TON of material. Basically, you have one...

12 – Running Lines for Gravity Water Distribution

3 months with no cell phone, no crap food and sleeping sundown to sun up kind of resets a guy. I wrapped that project up feeling better than I had in years. The water lines ended up between 30 and 36" deep which is way below our frost line. Overkill? Maybe- I just...

13 – All is “Well” 🙂

After three months of digging and plumbing, the end was in sight. It all came together at the well head. I plumbed a second line to nowhere to tie into later if needed. I had underestimated the tools I would need for the water system. I borrowed a few but bought the...

14 – Getting Ready for Solar Powered Farm Water

Our entire property will be solar powered so the water system was designed around this. After 3 months of research and talking with anyone in the field that would take my call I went with a Grundfos 6 gallon per minute pump that will take solar or generator without...

15 – Plumbing the Farm for Water

Once the pump was in the hole we just had to button up the plumbing and do some temporary wiring for a pigtail to plug into the generator. After firing the generator, we saw water from our own well for the very first time. Exciting? Oh yeah. After pumping to the tanks...

16 – Solar Powered Arizona Farm Water!

I ordered all my solar stuff the week before setting the pump so there wasn't much of a break in between back filling lines and getting right back to work. Solar energy is super cool but pretty darn ugly in my opinion. The well is close to a potential home site and...

17 – Becoming an Arizona Beekeeper

Major construction projects went on hold so we could save more money. We still had plenty to do without spending a bunch of dough, thankfully. Through all this we never stopped researching food and how to grow it and everything pointed to a need for a couple strong...

18 – Buying the Backhoe

As we planned projects for year two, we knew it was time to buy our first piece of equipment if we really wanted to start making progress. The backhoes were far and away the most versatile machines we had used. We were spending $1600 per week with transport not...

19 – A Farm Needs Fencing

The next major project on the list was fencing. There are several types and styles of ranch fencing that all get the job done but we really wanted the look and quality of Juniper/Cedar fence posts. It blends perfect with our native trees and will easily outlive my...

20 – Farm Planning, Lessons Learned

At this stage of the game I had learned a whole bunch from experience and being smart enough to listen to some longtime residents. I also listened to everyone that had done anything similar. "I wish I would have done this or that different" is a common theme in those...

21 – Bringing Permaculture to Arizona

In a nutshell, Permaculture is the science of working with nature to produce a desired result as opposed to trying to beat her. This can only be done through great design and a massive amount of inputs up front on a large project like ours. He offers an annual course...

22 – Clearing Trees

Now that we had a solid plan it was time to begin the very long process of clearing trees. I had trouble with this part. Some of the trees are a couple hundred years old with lots of character including several that have been struck by lightning and somehow lived....

23 – Bringing the Big Guns to the Farm

Once we had the areas cleared and we had saved up enough money, it was time to bring the big guns in. A friend introduced me to a guy that owns a BIG dirt works company. He drove up to check out what we were doing and wanted to be a part of it right away. He made me a...

24 – Preparing the Farm Pond

By this time, we had taken several online courses, attended homesteading and permaculture workshops, enrolled in the Master Gardner program at Mohave Community College and had digested too many books to count. All things pointed toward a pond to accomplish our goals....

25 – Creating Permaculture Swales

The amount of work just to bring the keyway back to the original grade was staggering. Next, we had to plumb the overflow and irrigation pipe. The orchard is below the grade of the pond and will be irrigated by pond water full of life and oxygen. The top of the pipe...

26 – Composting Pastures

Here is an area we spread almost straight compost on for our custom mix of grass seed. Not surprisingly, it performed the best with a nice blanket of grass within 10 days that still has great roots today. Next for the pond is 26 tons of Bentonite clay to be mixed in...

27 – Lake Havasu Gardening

By now you have read the term "compost" several times. Let me back up a bit and explain more. One of the first things we did when we first became interested in this lifestyle was plant a garden in Lake Havasu City. The kids and I built basic garden beds and purchased...

28 – Outlaw Chickens

The more we researched having our own laying hens, the more sense it made. The thought of insect/pest control, fresh eggs and manure for our composting had us searching for a small flock. I admit, researching the legalities of keeping hens in city limits was something...

29 – Making Farm Fresh Compost

Fast forward a few years and our composting program has evolved quite a bit along with our understanding of it. Our carbon source comes from the trees we have had to remove to build roads and level pads. Anything that isn't good for firewood or fence posts is run...

30 – Lucy’s Great on the Farm, but She Ain’t Much to Look At

We came across an ideal candidate for the dump truck with a solid drivetrain and the right size, low sided bed. The price was fair and with the projected maintenance and repairs we would still be under the budget we had set. Being ugly even for a ranch truck, we used...

31 – The High Cost of Creating a Sustainable Arizona Farm

Now would be a good time to touch on the financial side of what we are doing. If you've made it this far through the story you have watched us lay out a lot of money and give up months of our life at a time, months that would have otherwise been spent producing...

32 – It’ll Cost How Much to Build our Farm House?

We had made the mistake of hiring an architect out of area to turn the design into a workable set of plans. What started as a request for a simple set of plans for a simple house turned into a complicated process ending with an expensive set of engineered blueprints...

33 – Laying Out the Farm Homesite

We wanted to terrace the home site to end with a more natural look once the landscape grows in opposed to the large cut and fill jobs we've done so far. Once the trees were cleared we could layout where things needed to go using a transit. This is a view and space we...

34 – Getting Water to the House & Gardens

Next up was getting water lines installed for the house and gardens. We laid out about 800 feet of new trenches that wrapped around all the build sites to keep from crossing over lines later while building the house. This was the first time I tied into the original...

35 – Passing the Grade

I must back up a bit for this next part. A large part of heavy equipment expense is in the transport. The more projects you can stack up while you have the machines there, the better. We finished two other projects the same week we graded the house pads. The largest...

36 – Rock Hard Digging

We needed a pad high enough to clear any winter shade for the greenhouse and had also gathered a large collection of rocks from all our digging projects that needed a home. We brought in another D8 for the cut and filled it with all our leftover material plus about 80...

37 – Septic Design

Now that we had water plumbed to the home site we needed a place for wastewater to safely go. Even though I'm a "do it yourselfer" there are times when you need to call in a professional. We hired out the design phase to an engineering firm that specializes in this....

38 – Septic Dig

The huge leach field required really was bad news. The digging in this area is terrible at best and would surely put plenty of wear and tear on our beloved backhoe. We've learned that properly sizing tools to a particular job saves both time...

39 – Septic Install

    The design called for so much leach rock below the 4" perforated pipe and so much topsoil above it. The pipe needs to be completely level across all 130 feet of leach field so we started by marking lines in the trench using a laser. There was another large job in...

40 – Rolling With Changes

We are so used to this adventure twisting and turning, we'd probably have heart attacks if even one thing went as planned. The plan was to be completely moved out of Havasu by April 2017 and into the new house. Lofty goal indeed. The more we...

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