Adobe House: Building the Bear Cave

| 4/25/2011 11:32:48 AM

Dave L HeadshotBeginnings… 

Our venture into homesteading in the desert began in 2003 with 10 acres of high desert in remote southeastern Arizona. We were nearing our retirement from teaching and wanted to fulfill a lifelong dream. Building our own home, enjoying a sustainable and healthy life, and being part of an active rural community again were all parts of our dream.

The land on which we elected to build our new lives is high on the bajada, or alluvial fan, of the Dragoon Mountains. From our place, we can look over the Sulfur Springs valley and see other mini-mountain ranges with such wonderful names as the Chiricahuas, the Galiuros, the Pinalenos, the Dos Cabezas, and, far to the south, the Pedregosas. While small compared to the Rockies, these Sky Island ranges are home to deer, bear, cougar, coatimundi, and dozens of other species of wildlife. Even an occasional wandering jaguar is spotted in the southernmost regions.

cochise stronghold 

Although the beauty of the valley and the mountains is hard to dispute, the land, seen up close and personal, is a bit of a mess.  At one time this valley was a savannah, grass lands with sycamore and willow trees bordering the stream beds. But years of intense overgrazing have replaced the grass with a jumble of mesquite, creosote, and a variety of spiny succulents.

Despite the obvious abuse, or perhaps because of it, we loved the place at first sight. Like an abandoned kitten, scrawny and unkempt, our land looked rough. But we believed that with work and care, we could reclaim it to a condition where it would be a comfortable home for us. Knowing we were in for years of work, we vowed to build one step at a time.

4/7/2014 7:25:06 PM

Hi Dave. I have 20 acres in northern AZ I'm planning to homestead on. Can you tell me the names of the books you used for 1) the abode Bear Cave & 2)building the beautiful cupboards in your main house. Beautiful job on your project.

Rick Greene
2/2/2013 3:33:09 AM

How did you build the foundation for this house?

4/26/2011 11:42:58 AM

How fun to go back and look at these pictures! It was a TON OF WORK! But it turned out so well and it has become such a functional building. I love the way the Bear Cave sits in the landscape and that it has such a cozy feeling on the inside.