Adobe House: Building the Bear Cave

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

Tags: Adobe House, Homesteading, Environmental Impact, Rural Community, Homestead, Adobe Building, Desert Homesteading,

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.

mountain woman
4/26/2011 6:55:26 AM

Wow Dave what an accomplishment! You have good reason to celebrate. I love seeing your pictures because I've always had a hankering to live where you live but that is not to be so I shall enjoy your adventures. Welcome to Grit!

nebraska dave
4/25/2011 8:29:22 PM

Dave, wow what an ambitious plan. I think I would have had a hard time staying on the intense schedule for 18 months. I bet you certainly were glad when it was finished. However, it sounds like you are not resting too long before more projects to complete are put on the schedule. You mentioned school and 75 miles to the weekend work site every weekend. Is this to be a retirement home or just a weekend getaway residence? I am impressed that you learned how to do all the adobe block building and the home construction with the blocks from books. I don't think I would have been quite so confident to try such a big project. I would definitely say that you are now an expert in adobe block building. As for me, concrete block or brick is my building block of choice. Have a great Arizona day.

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