Last spring I started growing things in metal stock tanks in the middle of the shipping container compound (above)… this spring the garden is going full force. Three tanks are filled with greens (two are mine, and one is Emmett’s) and we will soon add a fourth for a summer crop of tomatoes and cucumbers. The prepper in me sometimes wishes for more room, but the high metal sides do a really good job of keeping the critters out. And I’ve been wanting to read up on vertical gardening and square foot gardening to see if there is a way to maximize the space that we already have.
AZ West started out as a tiny 700 sq foot homestead cabin and over the last twelve years has evolved into an elaborate compound of structures and parcels of land. For my first six years in the desert all water was hauled in by trucks that were notoriously unreliable. We lived by the rule “if it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down”. House guests who offered to wash dishes were watched with an eagle eye to make sure that they didn’t use more then a trickle. Even the cooling systems (evaporative) require water – so when there is non, life becomes untenable.
Nowadays I have a well, and the house borders on the edge of bourgeois. But there are regular reality checks that serve as remiders that we are living in the desert . Last year the pump in the 660 foot deep well failed and had to be pulled and replaced two times in less then twelve months – and last week a secondary pump that pushes water from a holding talk to all different parts of the property had to be replaced. It isn’t a question of whether a part of the system will fail, but a question of when it will fail. As a result I’ve learned the art of appreciation – this week we are celebrating our shiny new blue pump that is optimistically pushing water to all edges of the property.
I have a long running obsession with Australian trucks and off road camping vehicles. On this last trip I also saw some great flat-beds that are manufactured to fit on smaller trucks – each one comes with different sorts of attachments, work boxes etc. We didn’t have much time to scout trucks, but I managed a few sightings while on a drive to a camping store with Lucina and Charlie.
Here are a few other Australian camping rigs that it’s easy to become obsessed with: The Earthcruiser, the Wothahellizat, and trailers like the Conqueror series or another vehicle also called the Conqueror that looks a bit like a sci-fi motorhome.
Charlie Sofo – an Australian artist who will be living in the Homestead Unit and conducting his practice for two periods over the next month. You can follow Charlie’s blog here. On the first day of Charlie’s inhabitation, his friends Joyce and Michael (who coincidentally have a daughter who lives in 29 Palms!) and his brother Liv who works with them, brought fresh vegetables from their organic garden in Camberra. The next morning, feeling a bit like a stalker, I checked on the unit and discovered traces of Charlie’s inhabitation….
I’ve just spent the last week installing a new Homestead Unit at the National Gallery of Australia. Little did we realize that a stump that I acquired from a, friend who reclaims trees in Idylwild, and then turned into a stool for the homestead, would be ferrying a few boring beetle passengers. The sea air must have rejuvenated the beetles, and when we unpacked the unit in Canberra there was a bunch of sawdust in the packing blanket.
Since Australia is a essentially a giant island with it’s own unique ecosystem they are super strict about marauding pestilence – so a team of conservators worked with Australian Department of Quarantine to assess the invaders and and to check if they had spread to other parts of the artwork or shipping crates. Ultimately it was decided that the stump would spend two weeks in deep freeze chamber that the National Gallery has set up for exactly these sorts of situations.