Grit Blogs > Homesteading with Mrs D

High Desert Autumn

By Robyn Dolan 


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Here's a high desert autumn for ya. The weather can not tell what season it is. After a killing week of frost (low 30s overnight, 60s during the day), we have had three weeks of more Indian Summer – 40s overnight, 80s during the day. This morning I woke up and it was 10 degrees outside! I thought maybe the thermometer was broken, so I opened the door. Immediately shut it and went for my coat and boots, gathered some sticks and came back in and fired up the woodstove. Snow was forecast for Tuesday, but the clouds came and went yesterday. We have yet to see what today's weather brings.

The eight surviving guineas are thriving. Soon they will be big enough to jump out of their bucket brooder and run around the house, so we are putting them in the outdoor brooder, with one heat lamp, during the day to start acclimating them to the cooler temps. We are still bringing them in overnight.

When we moved to Arizona in September of 1998, it was after two years of working and saving and paying off all our bills. We bought and rehabbed an old camper that fit perfectly on our Ford long bed, then outfitted ourselves for full-time living by putting nearly everything else that we couldn't sell or give away into storage. The camper included a 3-burner propane stove, a dorm size 2-way fridge/freezer, and a toilet. We added a solar shower, microwave/convection oven and small TV/VCR. We took a test run of a three-week vacation, and all seemed to be in order for our adventure. Three preteens, our dog Lucky, a hamster and me. We found a lovely campground with hookups in the tall pines, where we made our base for two months, then it started snowing. We moved into a motel in town, then lease optioned a house. One day I was contemplating the small yard thinking, a horse will never fit in here. We went looking for cheap acreage and had to decide between 40 acres, no trees, no utilities, or 5 acres of trees, seasonal stream, electric and phone available. It was a no-brainer, despite the fact that available utilities meant impending civilization. We closed the deal, including construction financing for the septic system and trailer setup. We gave notice on our house, and looked forward expectantly to moving into our trailer in a month's time.

And then the real adventure began . . .