Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Life in a Commune

Sorry I haven't posted in a while.  We got voted into the commune and bought a tiny house here.  It needs a lot of renovations before we can move in, so we're living beside it in our RV.  Thankfully we have water, sewer, and electric (one of the members set up an RV connection on our switch box) so there's no rush to move in.

Here's our little house.  It's 324 sq ft, so a little more space than the RV.  So far all we've been doing is using the shower.  Another commune member got that working for us in exchange for some chimney covers left in our yard.  There's A LOT of stuff piled around the house.

I'll be using what I can for various projects.  For those of you keeping score:

  • Our land, about a 4th of an acre, cost us $1,750.  Some lots are bigger, some smaller
  • The house cost $5,000.  Most lots are empty, but we wanted a structure to start with.
  • The monthly fee to live here is $25
  • Sewage is free.  We have a lagoon with Effective Microorganisms
  • Water is from the local village and very cheap
  • We have electricity here.  About 50 amps.  We pay that to the city also.  Half the commune is located off-grid, but it's so hot in summer I just can't imagine going without AC.
  • Dying is low-cost.  We have an organic cemetery where a body can be wrapped in a blanket and buried for just the price of digging the hole.  (My mom and I signed up for plots).
This is an adobe house, and it's got some major cracks inside and out.  I need to clear the creosote trees off the land so I can build a shed (I just bought the kit for it) then I can put all the stuff surrounding the house in the shed and empty the stuff in the house.  Then I'm going to replaster the entire outside and tape and plaster the cracks inside.  Until that's done there's nothing else I can do.

I have been struggling to find anyone who will come and tear up trees for me.  'Trees' is being generous.  This is just overgrown scrub brush, ugly and useless.  Also, roots from some trees close to the adobe are causing me more cracks.  I want it all gone.  After fighting on and on to try to get someone I'm buying a chain to attach to the back of my car to tear the stuff up myself.  People in the commune have offered to chop down trees, but unless the roots are gone this stuff will just keep coming back.

So, here's the plan:
  1. Clear the lot of trees, cactus, and scrub brush
  2. Build a large shed that will be a windbreak and storage (the winds from the east are insane here)
  3. Clear the outside and inside of the building, putting the stuff we want to keep in the shed and taking the rest to the dump or metal recycling.
  4. Plaster, plaster, plaster.  Stop the cracks from getting any worse.
  5. Clean clean clean.  So many spiders in that little house.
  6. I was thinking about putting down a floor since we have flooring, but I probably won't.
  7. Block all the cracks around the doors that are letting all these spiders in.
  8. Purchase beds, refrigerator, kitchen counters and storage, washing machine, and TV. (We have a window box AC unit in there now.
  9. Get Dish for TV (we already got Hughes Net for Internet)
  10. Move out of the RV.  Put everything in the house or the shed.
  11. Clean the RV, top to bottom.  Repair any broken items (our screen door handle for one), get air in the tires.
  12. Put the RV up for rent with pick ups in El Paso, Deming, and Columbus.  This thing is too expensive to just be a driveway decoration.  I want it to be making me money.
  13. Build fencing off and around the shed.  Eight feet of the shed is going to be walled off from the rest of the shed and left open to be a barn.  This is where my sheep and chickens are going to live.  I'll have a canopy partway coming off he shed for shade.
  14. Get meat chickens, layers, and sheep.  Brooders will go in the shed.  (I'll have to get electricity hooked up there)
  15. Build a greenhouse behind the house.  This is for my aquaponics.  I'll have carpenter bee nests all over it it for pollination (it will be open in summer and covered with plastic in winter.)
The aquaponics is the final task on my big list of projects.  I've already done aquaponics from when I lived in Pahrump and had a pretty good system with lots of plants and 26 tilapia.  I want to go big time with aquaponics here.  This is my design plan:

The three circles are towers.  These will hang above grow beds.  A hose will go up a shaft in the middle of the towers.  This is connected to the pump in the in-ground fish pond.  The water will flow down the towers, into the grow beds, which are above rubbermaid watering troughs that are made into growbeds for two trees each.  The trees are partway over the fish ponds and will drain into them.  So, pump to towers -> to grow beds -> to tree beds -> to pond.  One pump for three growing systems.

I will have tilapia and Australian crayfish in the ponds.  The crayfish will require a grate over the ponds, so I'll have to look into something for that.  I expect to get this going by September or so.


The commune is City of the Sun, in Columbus New Mexico.  The village of Columbus has about 700 people and very few businesses.  There's a small grocery store here and a Dollar Store.  For serious grocery shopping you have to go 30 miles north to Deming.

The commune is 3 miles from Palomas Mexico, an awesome safe town that I love to visit.  This is where I go for prescriptions or eating out.  There are only 3 restaurants in Columbus which aren't always open.  This is a sleepy town with an easy border crossing.  There's never a line.

I got involved briefly with the website, and am helping somewhat with a sick commune member.  I've also written a play for a theater in the small town owned by one of the commune members.  I'll be playing one of the principle parts with another woman.  :)  That will be in October.  I can't wait to get into acting again!!

So, that's my life here so far.  I'll keep you updated as I get things going.