|Cowboys! Scrape the shit from your boots before entering!|
I'm reading a novel by
The real estate bubble in New Mexico was mostly confined to certain areas -- particularly to the tonier districts of Santa Fe, Taos, and Albuquerque. Prices went up everywhere, but not to the extent they did in these fancy places, and not nearly as much as they did in Arizona, Nevada, and California, so when the crash came, the effects, while devastating to those who lost so much, weren't as widespread in New Mexico as elsewhere. We bought our home during the height of the bubble so we didn't get any sort of a bargain to speak of; yet our place has not lost much value. The recent appraisal for refinancing came in a couple of thousand dollars or so less than we paid to buy the property and renovate the ruined adobe house in 2005. According to the appraiser, historic houses in this area have held their value pretty well, and ones in decent shape like ours (though I think it still needs work) are selling at a premium. There is some comfort in that, but even if our place had lost much more of its value during the bust than it did, it would still be a welcoming home, and that's really the point of owning a home, isn't it?
The drought is causing much more widespread devastation than the real estate boom and bust cycle, and there is really nothing much anybody can do about it.
Yesterday, we had a taste of what is likely to come: a veritable dust storm, the first we have experienced in New Mexico. It wasn't like the Phoenix Habibs. There was no edge to it, no looming cloud of dust roiling over the landscape like a strange brown wave. Instead, there was a persistent strong cold wind, and the air just filled with dust lifted from the plowed fields in the area. The sky turned brown-gray and smelled strongly of the distinctive aroma of the local dirt.
Today, there is a thin layer of dust everywhere. Clean up will take a while.
This dust storm was predicted. There has been a lot of plowing throughout New Mexico to get ready for planting corn and hay and beans and chilis; the bare soil is easily raised into clouds of dust under the right wind conditions. There's been little rain or snow for years now, and the soil's scrub cover is very light where it exists at all. Dust is inevitable. Old timers remember with dread the dust storms of the 1950's drought, and they wouldn't be surprised if it gets that bad again. There is much muttering in town that we're headed that way.
The weather conditions in "Junkyard Dreams" are similar to the current drought, and I remember the earlier one during the bubble quite well. The trees on our place were badly stressed, and many of them have not recovered. It proved impossible to get anyone to come out here to trim the deadwood, though the electric co-op sends trucks out from time to time to make sure their power lines are clear of tree limbs, so some of the deadwood got cut that way.
My own chainsaw broke. I got a new one last year, but I didn't use it much before winter came on, so this spring, I'll be doing some fairly extensive tree trimming. It's been so long delayed.
We have a small greenhouse, and we put out seeds at the dark of the March moon. They're doing pretty well, but I had to bring them in because of the cold. Temperatures fell precipitously last night and we expect at least one more hard freeze by April before there actually is a spring to speak of, but with no rain, it's a little hard to anticipate whether anything we started in the greenhouse will actually grow once planted in the ground.
We haven't got our raised beds yet. Permaculture is still on the agenda, but managing it in the midst of a severe drought is something we haven't really thought through. Our remaining neighbors have not planted gardens for a couple of years now, in part because of the drought, but the farmers round about are preparing for what looks like a regular planting. One of them, in fact, has expanded his planting for this season. Of course, they'll use irrigation water when the rains fail.
We still have a feral cat colony, though there don't seem to be quite as many of them as there were when we were trapping them for neutering last fall. We counted 25 at that time; we were unable to trap one of them. Now the maximum we've counted is 19; usually, we only see 15 or 16 at a time. They love to stalk the local bird-life, but the birds are wary and smart. And they love to taunt the cats.
Another Sunday morning in high desert....