Old West Living: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly…


So far, I have shared tiny snippits of what I have been experiencing here in the Old West part of Arizona. So much has happened that it is hard to keep track. I have mainly chosen to share the moments filled with bliss and beauty…and of course, each moment, no matter how challenging, is filled with bliss and beauty, but sometimes we have to look deeper…deeper past the fear, the unknown and the intensity…to find the inner beauty.

I don;t have the luxury of spending a few hours writing today, so I will just share a few of the most intense aspects of this journey. First…when we arrived (My lover and I, 5 of our children, 3 dogs and one cat)…all we had was the clothes on our back, our camping equipment and our desire to live on our own land..no matter how challenging life might be.

We first got lost….really, really lost…in this grand old West. We had run out of drinking water, our 8 year old daughter’s cat was over heating, our dogs took off after something…unknown…and we were all rapidly over heating and dehydrating in the heat of this high desert climate. I must admit…I took off by myself after our animals, directed my family back to the car and proceeded to loose it. We thought we had found our land (not quite what we envisioned, as we had bought our place site unseen).

Fear gripped me, anger ran through my veins and I felt a form of fear I had never before experienced. I thought I had made a HUGE mistake! We faced a number of challenges on our way, those wonderful, unexpected moments that ate up most of our savings…we had no work lined up and a large crew of kids and animals depending on us to keep clear heads…

We found our way back to town, picked up a ranch map and set back out, determined to find our land (luckily, we were not on the right piece of property the first time). Sigh of relief…that dank, hot, dry, piece of barren land with not so much as a tree, bush, and no shelter to speak of…was not ours! Okay, things were looking up…a little…

We drove around, not sure if we were going the right way…we were driving past numerous properties that were fairly flat, with a few short trees scattered here and there, but nothing like the pictures and over head views we had seen of our own piece of this barren ranch land…and then…our hearts filled with hope as we turned West and spotted this glorious piece of property with various sizes and types of tress, sloping hills and a beautiful rocky ledge that was heavily wooded (relatively speaking, that is)…could it be?

We turned onto the steep, rocky driveway…watching clouds of dust swirl by the side of our car. By the time we reached the top, we were all choking on dust…we pulled up to a small single wide trailor…looked like something out of a movie…I alsmost expected an older man in a cowboy hat to step outside and aim a shot-gun at us…telling us to get the heck off his land…but it was no longer his land…this was now our little piece of earth…

We all stumbled out of the van…feeling dazed and confused….the kids ran up to the front door…they were not impressed by what they found. This hard, unforgiving economy had left this little trailer in all sorts of chaos. The people who owned it had handed it back to the lender…seeking “greener pastures”. They left all of their belongings, but stripped the place of anything of value…including the water storage system, solar system and wood stove…what they did leave us was their cast off belongings, which had attracted plenty of pack rats….who also left us plenty of pack rat shit!

I took a deep breath, feeling overwhelmed, but somewhat hopeful…having run a construction business in my early twenties…I learned to have vision…I could see that we had our work cut out for us, but that this was clearly doable! We arrived just before mother’s day…with no money to spare for presents…I made a big request. I asked that my kids and Mountain scraped the metal trailer top to bottom so that I could paint a desert mural on it…to help us all feel more engaged…

I think they thought I was crazy…with all of the intense work needed for our survival…I wanted to play with paint…but it worked. I transformed that little piece of trailer trash into a piece of art…we then proceeded to clear and clean the inside of our little rat trap…

If you’ve seend the movie “Chocolat”…you might remember the woman who asks for help with her hubbies libido…he finds her dark, chili chocolates and then comes across his wife, down on her hands and knees scrubbing away, her glorious ass pointed in the air…I spent so much times scrubbing on my hands and knees…that the only thing that helped me get through it was thinking of that seen in my mind’s eye…while feeling the wiggles and jiggles of my own ass pointed in the air as I scrubbed away the past…preparing for my family’s future…

We camped for the first month…then moved in a tad prematurely…We hadn’t painted the two bedrooms, nor had we put down new flooring to ensure that critters couldn’t get in…That’s when we got a real surprise! My fifteen year old daughter stumbled out of one of the bedrooms…hit the wall…and began stuttering.. a rat…a rat…a rattlesnake! Now, here is the funny part…I have a mild phobia related to rats….however, rattlesnakes are potentially deadly…especially the green Mojave rattlers, which cause the most fear in locals…

However, me being me…I found myself feeling relief that it was not a large, squirmy rat I had to deal with (Mountain was at work and I had no phone…and no vehicle…)…So, I sent the kids outside…and began thinking about all of the horror stories I had heard about the deadly green mojaves…my youngest daughter was creaming and crying…yelling at me that I shouldn’t be in the house with a killer…I decided she was likely right..I was completely unprepared.

So, I called my neighbour…well….one of my closest neighbours…who lives about 1000 acres and many intense country roads away…It took him and my other neighbour nearly 15 minutes to arrive…by then, even with all of their snake awareness…we could not find the intruder (of course, technically we are the intruders…likely he was here long before us). I found myself feeling apprehensive, yet pleased. They had planned on killing our rattler…which made me feel uneasy…I did not want to start our new living arrangement with bad snake Karma:-)

Joy takes a deep breath, reminding herself that this moment has passed….I must cut my time short…the rain Gods have finally granted us what is shaping up to be a monsoon…the first we will experience…I hope we are ready! We will likely be stuck on our ranch (if we can make it back, that is) for at least a few days….so this story will have to be continued…from my heart to yours, Joy


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Luck Fawyers says:

    Courage. We’re proud to be connected with you all.


  2. Ruby says:

    OMG!! You have the gift of leaving your audience in suspense! What happened? Did they find the snake? Is everyone alright? My my my what a crazy story! Hope you all slept safe that night (and for all nights ever after) whew! Waiting with baited breath for the next installment!


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