Staking Out Buildings for Our Off-Grid Home

Once we prepared the map of our off-grid homestead on paper, we wanted to see how our homestead plans fit the landscape. We took our surveying tools up the hill and measured actual distances that we had projected from our satellite pictures. We quickly realized that the 10-year-old images in the aerial views lacked current information about our land. Many new trees had sprouted and existing trees were much larger than they appeared on the reference map we used.

As we placed corner stakes for planned structures, we found that the building dimensions that fit perfectly on projected house plans were a bit cramped by tree foliage. We had to shift several structures up to 10 feet away from the planned location to keep free-flowing passages around the different buildings. We were able to adjust the placement of almost all of the structures to leave the existing trees intact as was the original intention of our house plans. However, the walls of one of the planned guest cabins would completely surround a 4-foot juniper tree. To accommodate the guest cabin, we will transplant the little juniper to a protected location along our property line.

The juniper is a hardy desert species that can survive long periods without water. When left to grow wild, the trees acquire a windswept look with twisted, gnarled bark. New growth shoots out around broken branches contributing to their primitive look. Many of the larger trees will require a judicious pruning to remove dead limbs in order to induce new growth upward and eliminate rodent habitat. We will try to transplant smaller trees to locations where a windbreak or shielded view is needed. Other smaller plants like cholla cacti and prickly pear will be carefully relocated to a cactus garden or our preserve area.

We learned a lot about Mother Nature as we staked out the structures for our off-grid homestead. While we want to avoid disrupting the native plants and creatures of our desert building-site in Eastern Arizona, it seems we can't avoid making some modifications. It is our intention to live in harmony as much as possible with the local flora and fauna as we build our sustainable off-grid homestead and perhaps cultivate the heart and soul of both.

To learn more about our plans for our off grid homestead, click here.