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[–] TeranNotTerran [S] 0 points 3 points (+3|-0) ago  (edited ago)

Continued from submission.

Van Horn's water is said to be the best in West Texas. It's naturally high in fluoride which may be a bad thing but I suspect it's calcium fluoride which may be fine. They don't fluoridate the water with sodium fluoride as a result. About twenty miles east of Van Horn is a truck stop and exit off I-10 called Plateau. Their water has very, very little fluoride and is not fluoridated. I found this out from public records online.

Now some of my favorite land anywhere is just north of Van Horn. There's this road that takes you up towards New Mexico and between two mountain ranges. The land is a lot greener and the climate is cooler. Unfortunately, I've yet to see a "small" parcel for sale there. Almost all of it seems to be seeral thousand acre ranches. I also love the area south west of Marfa that I drove down, but most of it is fairly expensive and is almost certainly outside of connectivity. I'm expecting closer to $10,000 an acre in that area.

When I started this quest I thought most likely I'd end up holding on to my Van Horn property but moving the essentials out of it, just having it for storage or to head to from time to time. Now I think it's actually in the ideal spot to start. And while it is convenient and cheap for me to propose a place where my property already is, I'm only about $4,000 into the property and that was not a very big factor. But on the bright side I know the process for buying the land, I know what it's like to work with Culberson County's Clerk. I've seen it first hand and thus there's not as much guesswork.

I'll start with the downsides. The summers are up into the 90s and the sun is pretty strong there. Maybe a hair over ten inches of rain a year. There's no trees. It's not naturally a good place to homestead, without notable intervention. The land is mostly duney sand/dirt with thorn bushes. The thorn bushes tear up the paint on your truck doors and can flatten a tire that's not built for them. It isn't sexy at all. You hear the big rigs go by at night. There's a train as well but it never seems to sound the horn. There's a little bit of light pollution since I-10 is about a mile away.

So you're remote enough to not have public power or water. It's downright creepy hearing the Coyotes and feeling like a rancher could kill you in the middle of the night and no one would know. Yet you still see an active interstate all the time. And it's windy. It varies from a nice breeze to pretty strong. Still not as bad as Wyoming, but sand and wind are a terrible combination. Personally, I've grown to hate strong winds.

Now this is why I think it's the right area.

It's actually very private. You really hard to look hard to see my trailer. Even knowing where it is I sometimes have a hard time pinpointing it. Something about the dunes and the distance makes it hard to spot. There is a rancher with cattle in the area that just kind of roams through. Pretty smart to do in an area where no one is using the land, you just buy a few parcels and the rest come for free till people fill them up. There's some cell coverage. Sprint 3G and T-Mobile LTE. It's very faint but you can see the tower. I think an LTE modem with a signal booster should get pretty reliable internet and I have already had some luck with that but using a less than ideal setup.

I've yet to see any snakes at the property. Tons of rabbits. Unfortunately, lots of mice as well. Good place to bring your cats. There's some ants in spots, I hate ants.

There are huge pecan orchards nearby. This means people are getting lots of water and the land can be made to be fertile. It's also so sunny that if we provide the rain I think we can easily have two growing seasons. Obviously we have to provide the dirt and do a lot of work to the land but even down in Terlingua Ranch the people moving out of that 85 acre property were moving to a place where they could drill a well and sell Pomegranates. It's definitely not the NIle and you have to work with it, but I think there's good potential.

In the morning and at evening with the light just right it really is a beautiful place. When the sun is strong is looks pretty bland and not very interesting. But there are times when it feels extremely special.

I am extremely confident we can find more parcels for sale near mine. But even if they are ten parcels over, it's not like anything is in between. Effectively if we establish it the right way it'll be our neighborhood, more or less. There's direct access to just about every property with the road clearings that were cut long ago. There's a lot of area to grow.

Nearest neighbor is at least a mile away and on the gravel road. A bit past that is the rancher. I haven't met either yet but plan to leave a letter with the neighbor on the gravel road. They weren't there the last time I was in the area.

The two miles of dirt takes about five, maybe ten minutes to cover at most. Then it's about 12 miles on the interstate to Van Horn and I think the speed limit is at least 75, maybe 80 out there. Realistically, 15-20 minutes and you're in town. If you go east you can get to Plateau in a little less but the gas is more expensive. It does have the essentials though, so if anything were ever to happen to Van Horn we have a backup place we can go. And the food is good.

For a full fledged city, El Paso is 136 miles away, just over 2 hours. Would be nice if it were closer but given how much Van Horn has, going into El Paso shouldn't have to be a frequent thing unless you want very nice groceries. The Whole Foods in El Paso is actually one of the nicest I've ever seen and is a good place to spend Bitcoin if you convert it to a gift card first.

Since the property is so near the interstate it's quite possible to leverage that traffic. You could buy up 40 acres for $10,000 and open a dirt bike park. How many dirt bikes cross that exit every day, unaware they could be riding? You could offer camping, bed and breakfast, even a store if people know where to look. Now drawing much attention to it may or may not be desired at first but the potential is there. And given the natural beauty of the area I can see tourism being another job opportunity. And I think Van Horn is short on work, I often see signs of places looking for help, especially the truck stops. May not be the best or most interesting work but at least there is something.

There's also another demographic I didn't expect. People bicycle on I-10. I have a Couchsurfing account and I've already had 4 or 5 requests of people wanting to stay at my property, even though I tell them my trailer is full of mouse poop and they'll probably get a flat tire on the way over.

Homesteading has a lot of bootstrapping problems. The first nights may be too miserable, especially after long days of work. So you can rent a motel room in town, or pay $9 for a shower. You can be back at the property 20 minutes later and get back to work. It's also private enough that I've literally ran around my property naked just for the heck of it -- there's no one to see you out there. And I've put 150 rounds through my 1911 and not a soul showed up. Even the cows didn't care, I watched to see if it bothered them and it really didn't seem to. And this area is one you can get to fairly easily in a truck if you don't mind scratches. With some work the property could be reachable by even something like a Prius without much concern. Not that I think Priuses should be driven at all. But if we had ten miles of dirt to maintain and improve, the odds of bringing even moving trucks or any passenger cars becomes a lot more slim. And business opportunities lessen greatly.

So while Van Horn lacks natural shade, rain, trees, and grass, it's maybe one of not too many places that we can get started without buying a huge chunk of land up front. And I don't suspect that even with the work required it will end up being more expensive to make fertile than East Texas -- unless maybe you want to only farm and nothing else. Of course I could be mistaken.

I'm actually quite excited as I realized this talking it out to a friend on the phone today. This can work on all levels including employment. I think it will be a bit of a rocky start but it should only get better in time.

I'm open to other suggestions but this is what I propose. I don't have a name for this Goats' Gulch yet, either. And I hope this is not the only one, just I imagine it will be the first. I don't really know how long I'll make it out in the desert but I think we have a shot at this.

I'll provide exact location details to select people who are interested, at least thus far.

I would especially appreciate the feedback of @coopzy, @EggHeadErica, and @Goater as they are the most interested and involved.

Happy to answer any questions you have or listen to your own proposals. But if @coopzy and all are comfortable enough with this and haven't found any places that seem remarkably better, Van Horn is where I will go and start the first Gulch.

Thank you for your time.

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[–] Goater 0 points 1 points (+1|-0) ago 

Hell yeah man! Im kinda drunk as fuck right now so will respond properly to it next couple days with my thoughts, I think this is exactly the kind of detailed post that each Gulch needs,

It's also private enough that I've literally ran around my property naked just for the heck of it -- there's no one to see you out there. And I've put 150 rounds through my 1911 and not a soul showed up.

Now that sounds like some god damn motherfuckin freeeedom! I'm now stuck with an image of a naked dude running around with a 1911 in the desert out of my head. Nice gun that, like ya style. Love firing em off, even if I have to fly to fucking Thailand just for it.

Excellent write up bro, good insights and plenty to work off. My first thing out of interest would be the distance to the tower, if it's line of sight can def get a good signal to play with, a proper tower setup would be something Id be happy to contribute...a desert warming present? haha... just because I think it's vital to keep the place and people there solidly connected.

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[–] TeranNotTerran [S] 0 points 1 points (+1|-0) ago 

Haha, glad to hear from you! I'm happy you like the idea.

Tower is line of sight and maybe four miles. I think it'll just be a little bit of trial and error to get it right. I was thinking a can antenna would be most ideal but there should be so little noise in the area that it might not matter that much. Although I am no radio expert in the slightest.

I appreciate the offer. I'll let you know how it goes with what I've got in mind. Next time I'm out there I'd like to do a live video stream from the property, maybe on Twitch or similar.

Certainly can be important to stay connected. For me I work remotely so it's essential in that regard.

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[–] Tor1 0 points 2 points (+2|-0) ago 

Climate in Van Horn Texas 79855

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Annual

Average Max. Temperature (F) 58.8 63.7 70.8 79.5 87.5 94.9 93.6 92.1 86.7 79.0 67.4 59.3 77.8

Average Min. Temperature (F) 29.1 32.5 38.7 46.9 55.7 64.3 66.4 65.3 58.8 48.6 36.6 29.8 47.7

Average Total Precipitation (in.) 0.52 0.35 0.20 0.30 0.59 0.96 1.95 2.01 1.85 1.06 0.51 0.50 10.81

Average Total SnowFall (in.) 0.9 0.6 0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.2 1.0 3.0

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[–] TeranNotTerran [S] 0 points 0 points (+0|-0) ago 

The sun is pretty strong out there but for Texas I think it's a bit milder than average. And you do have to worry about the cold in the winter more than in San Antonio. Pipes freezing could be a thing.

Marfa has an even nicer climate but not by a whole lot. Fort Davis is also similar to Marfa.

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[–] Tor1 0 points 0 points (+0|-0) ago  (edited ago)

As long as you have a solid vehicle it seems ideal.

I guess you'll find out what its like when you dig your pit so you can pull a hundred gallon water tank sitting on a pallet straight out of your truck bed using a pallet jack.

I'd dig the pit behind your boondock homestead so it wasn't visible from the nearest road.

You could then use the loading dock pit as storage in between getting new tanks of water. Maybe cover the wedge pit with some kind of fitted wood cover 8ft by 4ft by 1/2in whatever fits and is the cheapest yet durable enough.

https://elpaso.craigslist.org/search/sss?sort=priceasc&query=pallet%20jack

https://elpaso.craigslist.org/search/sss?query=pallets

This only works if you can fill the container with the water tank on your truck with the tank on a pallet in the bed of course.