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Old 05-25-2008, 09:51 PM
20 posts, read 134,597 times
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The other night on the Sundance Channel they ran a short documentary called Off the Grid, Life on the Mesa.
It was an interesting story about people who check out of society and set up homes on what was described as a 15 square mile area in Northern New Mexico.
These people had no running water or electricity yet seemed to be pretty happy.
It was not disclosed where this area was. Does anybody know anything about this? The docu left alot of things unanswered.

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Old 05-25-2008, 10:49 PM
Location: Central New Mexico
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Sounds like the pajirito mesa in southwest Albuquerque.
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Old 05-30-2008, 03:26 PM
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They describe the site as near Taos, 30 minutes from town (unknown if they mean Taos or another town) and 5 miles from the Rio Grande.
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Old 05-30-2008, 05:42 PM
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Default Earthship??

Originally Posted by Clutch Cargo View Post
They describe the site as near Taos, 30 minutes from town (unknown if they mean Taos or another town) and 5 miles from the Rio Grande.
Sounds like the community called Earthship? You should be able to google it.
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Old 06-04-2008, 03:29 PM
Location: Louisiana
17 posts, read 67,351 times
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Default the mesa

caught that on Sundance a few weeks back..."the mesa" is located west of Taos New Mexico between state highways 64 and 285...the place is actually known by many as two peaks, they even have a website, Frontpage3
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Old 06-16-2008, 08:37 PM
Location: state of enlightenment
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Default Off the grid in TOC

Here's a guy totally off the grid in TOC (I think). It just takes a little ingenuity, a few bucks and a determination to stop supporting the oil monster responsible for so much destruction to our world. Keith Thompson: Totally Off The Grid at Ryan Is Hungry (http://ryanishungry.com/2007/05/22/keith-thompson-totally-off-the-grid/ - broken link)

Last edited by geos; 06-16-2008 at 08:48 PM..
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Old 10-02-2008, 09:16 PM
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Default Where is the best place to live off-grid?

I'm looking to purchase 2-5 acres of undeveloped land to start a simple homestead with a small farm and live entirely off the grid. I moved to Las Cruces specifically to look for land in Luna County, but after a year I'm realizing that whole county is a big turn-off due to land & building restrictions and I don't think it's the place for me. Apparently to build a house on your own land requires a septic system, and I don't want that. There's no comprehension of a composting toilet system there, because they've always used septic tanks and that's just the way it is. Case closed.

I love New Mexico, so I'm extending my search to other areas. I only have up to $10,000 to spend for a land purchase. I've recently learned about lots for sale in Cibola County and I might go up there and check it out. I realize it's much higher elevation than Southern NM with cold snowy winters and I can handle that provided I can arrange one basic necessity - water.

Is well-digging pretty much the only way of acquiring year-round water in New Mexico? It's so expensive and I don't even know if I can afford one. Has anyone else moved onto rural land and had a well put in? How much did it cost? Over and over I read the average well is 400 feet - that's crazy. Are there any undeveloped areas with access to a natural waterway - say, to start an irrigation canal?

Here in Southern NM we get dumped on during the monsoon season, so having a large cistern is a given. But that water only lasts so long. Is anyone living off-grid without a well? How?

I'm open to any area of New Mexico where there's a spot of land within my budget and the feasibility of getting water.

Am I insane and should I set my sights on another area of the country where the land is more fertile?

Thanks for any input.
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Old 10-02-2008, 09:59 PM
Location: Central New Mexico
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Have you done any searches in Socorro or Catron counties? I have traveled the back roads in those areas and have seen off the grid places. If you take 169 from us 60 just west of Magdelena and head toward the Alamo navajo res. I remember seeing a bunch of ranch style homesteads out there. Take the forest roads on the right.

We put a well in on our land about 15 years ago. If I remember right it was around 4k for what we had done. Prices have changed quite a bit since then.
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Old 10-03-2008, 01:45 AM
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Wink Utilities & Earthships

I've never used a compost toilet long term, or cistern for that matter, but have looked into both. They can work, depending.

You'll find a variety of different types of compost toilets, and many claims, but the basic principle is always the same: heat, moisture and decomposition. In balance is the key. And that not always easily achieved. Problems with odor, insects, too much or little moisture, and improper decomposition are common. These systems can work, but particularly if on a budget you might be best advised to build your own, or at minimum understand well the principles involved. The systems that seem to work best have owners who understand and maintain them well. Regular balanced usage also helps.

In comparison a common septic system might begin to look rather simple. Contractors will quote a high price for installation, but the premium brands of compost toilets are not exactly cheap. If you do it yourself the concept is to drain all effluent into one large tank where solids naturally settle and liquid passes out the other end to drain into the soil through perforated pipes branching out like tree roots. The key to it working well is proper sizing, and this dependent not only on load but even more importantly how well or not the soil drains. You must know the soil composition and factor for it. Plus it helps to limit the types of things you drain into such a system, because as with compost toilets a fairly delicate biological process is involved. The use of greywater systems can be helpful, but I'll get to that.

Wells can be 400 feet in depth, or much more. Sometimes they are shallow and even dug by hand, but of course this requires a high water table, which probably means fairly close to a river of a certain size. In other words, probably expensive and more than you wish to spend.

It is possible to use cisterns for all your water needs. You may have to practice a certain economy, but more importantly perhaps design the system well. Generally all the water collected will be runoff from your roof. If for potable water use you cannot have a roof of asphalt singles, etc., but of a material that will not leach toxic chemicals into the water. Beyond that a few simple filters will insure good water, even something such as reverse osmosis if you wish. One key in this is insure you have adequate storage. Since you can count on only infrequent recharge in a climate such as New Mexico's, gather what you can when able. If cisterns run dry people will pay to have water hauled in, but if you factor properly for your usage and climate perhaps can avoid that. Among other things, these tanks should be designed for potable water, opaque, and quite possibly buried underground.

Which means you may be using at least a small water pump. Which means electricity, and since off grid this probably means solar collection. A whole other aspect of design.

Not to mention insulation and what not so comfort and modest heating costs assured. Etc.

In some respects New Mexico is a good local for such things. At least in northern New Mexico the mentality and building codes seem conducive. I believe New Mexico is one state where you actually own water falling on your roof; as ludicrous as it may sound, I understand in Colorado technically you do not and are not supposed to collect it. Colorado also does not allow greywater systems, something quite common at least in Taos County. As with a pure septic system you can't pour just any old thing down the drain without suffering for it, but not only can a greywater system take a good deal of the load off your septic system, but also save you water. Either works best if biologically balanced. If you have the inclination and either a good deal of money or time to do it yourself, you can install systems using aeration that result in near total composition of all solids (thus very little or no pumping) and a final effluent that is suitable for garden use, or even potable water if taken to that degree.

You may be familiar with them, but if not a visit to the Earthship houses near Taos, NM could prove educational. They use and exhibit many of the elements of design you may end up incorporating in your own home. Michael Reynolds instigated much of this, and as far as I know still involved:
Green Home Building: Natural Building Techniques: Earthship
They offer books for sale, among other information, which specifically cover all the aspects of Earthship design and construction. These dwellings can be quite innovative.
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Old 10-03-2008, 06:37 AM
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Idunn has several valid proposals. However, all of these systems are not especially cheap, in fact, 10K will barely get you started along these lines. We lived completely off the grid in Hawa'i'i for about 5 years. This was during the early 1980's when expenses were much less than they are today. We collected rain water in a 15,000 gallon ferro-cement catchment system (we built ourselves!), we had solar H2O heating panels and photovotaics (primitive by todays standards) on the roof, oil and propane lighting and a back-up small generator. We had 470 commercial grade guava trees (I harvested twice+ yearly), Brazillian plums, star fruit tress, several varieties of avocado trees, pineapple, three varieties of papaya, several citrus trees including mandarin orange, Hayden and common mango trees and an extensive garden...oh I almost forgot...about ridiculous 50 chickens! Loved it! SHOULD NEVER HAVE SOLD IT AND MOVED HERE but such is life and its passages!

Good luck on your endeavor(s) but 10 grand will need to morph into at least 50+ if you want more than bare, lifeless dirt/rubble in the least hospitable habitat imaginable I'm afraid.

Last edited by dracul; 10-03-2008 at 06:41 AM.. Reason: Living off the grid in the naked jungle rocks!!!!!
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