At Ragamuffin House, even while discussing and writing about the issues of the day and working with NMPA to educate and strengthen the bonds among patriot groups, we've also been working on some new projects related to the Engineering Geek's upcoming retirement.
Yes, the time is coming, and our plans have been hastened a bit by the installation of Obummer's Health Care fiasco, which means that the EG's employer cannot guarantee they will be allowed to pay for his health benefits through our private plan if he does not retire before certain provisions go into effect. That and the issue of how to invest the different self-managed retirement accounts, has led to some very exciting and interesting changes in our plans.
We have been planning for a number of years to move out of highly taxed Bernalillo County, to a place that has darker skies, lower taxes, and fewer people. (The first and third generally go together). We were thinking of a place in a Preservation Development down near Mountain Air, but as we have been watching events here, we decided that for many reasons, someplace in west-central New Mexico would be better for us. We have decided to invest in a ranch in a county that has low population, low taxes, and lots of space, and where the use of firearms and hunting and fishing is a way of life, and where the people have an ethic of self-sufficiency and where there is the tradition of a Constitutional County Sheriff.
We spent one day every weekend from the middle of May to the middle of June driving with a Ranch Realtor out to the mountains and mesas of west-central New Mexico, looking at and evaluating properties for our purposes. We had quite a checklist. A few weeks ago, we went down to negotiate an offer with the owners of a perfect ranch, which was accepted and we are now in process.
This is an exciting time for us--we have reserved three cows, all of which have calves suckling, and all are pregnant. One is a Texas Longhorn. She's beautiful. In the next six months we will be getting ready to go into the ranching business, lease our house here (we own it and with this economy it makes no sense to sell it), and make arrangements to be at the ranch.
The place where we are going is stunningly, spare and beautiful! So below are pictures of a large area of the western New Mexico country surrounding our new property.
The Malpais--very young volcanic flow--is part of the landscape. Here there are 800 year-old lava flows in the foreground, that flowed down the Rio Puerco valley. In some places, pinyon trees and sagebrush have taken root among the twists and tubes of the flow.
Here in the Narrows of El Malpais Monument, the road runs between the lava flows and great mesas composed of Colorado Plateau formation sandstones and shales. At the top of this mesa is a degraded sandstone, but the Ventana Arch is in the Zuni Sandstone, a very competent layer. Weathering creates the arches, making a stunningly beautiful landscape.
The wildlife in this part of the world includes bear, mountain lion, and elk as well as the deer and antelope that play. Coyotes sing campers to sleep, and eagles, hawks and falcons provide a focus in the big, big skies.
On an immense ranch that is located across parts of Cibola and Catron counties, the very competent sandstone has weathered into huge boulders that when balanced on other rock are called hoodoos. This ranch is beyond our means, but we traveled through it on county roads to see other ranches. This open pinyon-juniper woodland and shortgrass prairie is what most of New Mexico looked like when the Spaniards came. In the East Mountains, where we now live, a misguided conservation policy has made the woodlands too thick--dirty woods--and a great fire hazard.
A view of part of our ranch-to-be from a rimrock mesa top. It is in a protected valley, with very good water rights and to our delight, very dark skies! The round hill against the sky at the upper left of the picture is one of the many old volcanic cones found in the entire western region of the state. The ranch headquarters are in the valley, and there is also an old homestead further out, with a hand-dug well and timbers. There's lots of history here! Many of the tiny towns were once thriving ranching and mining centers before the men went off to fight WWII, and the women went to work in the airplane factories in California.
This county, like much of western New Mexico, is ranching country, complete with local rodeo rings and Mercantile stores. These areas were not settled in the original Spanish settlement--they wisely settled the Rio Grande Valley along the Camino Real--but after the United States acquired New Mexico as part of the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hildalgo. Most of the people who settled and live in these parts are not Spanish, and the culture is more broadly European and American. And Texan, too! There are also different Pueblo Indian tribes and Navajo and Apache bands.
Another view of a sandstone bluff within El Malpais. It is a very large park, covering parts of several counties, and in our travels we drove across different parts of it.
We think of where we live now as G-d's Country, but we are truly fortunate, because New Mexico is repleat with places that make one sigh at the beauty of it all.