Just yesterday an opportunity presented itself while visiting a friend in Santa Barbara to move to a semi remote, rural ranch community in Central New Mexico with a population of approximately 950 people.
Recent events have me thinking differently though and part of me is giving every indication that I should make the leap of faith and in doing so, make the very best of a unique situation that I now see more clearly and feel more connected with instinctively as a true adventure.
One very compelling factor is that I love the people I have met there and their rural view of life being so open, friendly, helpful and genuine. I will have plenty of work, I will have lots of alone time to write, and for a time I’ll be living in an old hotel and helping out in the dining room and doing some event planning and the operation of a ranch auction where they sell and trade farm equipment and off road vehicles.
Something was just missing here with my move to the further south of Southern California and not that I don’t deeply appreciate and love the friends I have made here, have been closer to my children for the past several months, it’s just not as compelling for me to make a life here as it once was. I will not miss the traffic or the crowds either, for in central New Mexico you can be driving on one of the many two lane highways and not see another vehicle for an hour or more.
It is very much the wild west in the purest sense of cowboys and cattle ranching, where you have to actually make a significant effort to survive, the conditions are harsh at times though the conveniences of urban city life less than two hours away in Albuquerque.
It is a rather raw landscape, and open range abounds with beautiful mountains, buttes, plateaus and mesas. In the winter it does get cold with a few feet of snow fall some years. Absolutely everyone drives a 4X4 pickup and you don’t even think about going outside without your cowboy boots, a wide-brimmed cowboy hat and your trusty leather gloves.
Previous visits have always involved hard work and horses are a part of seasonal duties too which I will enjoy, though modern technology has replaced the horse at times with motorized quads and even helicopters when working the cattle and the open range. One neighbors ranch is some 25,000 acres or 39 square miles and that’s tough to cover on horse back.
Even wearing a side arm is recommended at times, simply to protect yourself if and when you come across rattle snakes which are plentiful or the occasional mountain lion. Guns are a part of life there as well as plenty of opportunities to do some elk, turkey, deer and pheasant hunting with trophy trout fishing not too far away. I guess I’ll just have to get used to eatin’ Black Angus, range fed rib-eyes on a more regular basis and don’t even get me started on the local bacon of the amazing chilis that are grown there.
One of the things you notice right away is that everyone says hello, they wave when they drive by and there are always invitations to pull over on the side of any gravel ranch road, enjoy a beer and tawk. If you make mention to your neighbors that you have a project that needs gettin’ done, they offer their assistance without hesitation with no demand for a return favor.
Everyone works together and support each other as simply a way of life that makes the most sense. It truly is a community feeling and the main town where I will be living for a while has a population of less than a thousand people compared to the 3.5 million here in Orange County. The history surrounding Mountainair, NM is all about ancient Pueblo Indian civilizations with ruins of their existence and their monuments which is very cool and full of history not seen as much here in Southern California.
So, here I am, wondering about the next phase of my life and where I should be, with my children being in their late teens now and in college or about to begin college, I am an empty nester and have only myself to look after. I am thinking that a complete change of scenery, atmosphere and lifestyle just might be the very best choice with a renewed inspiration for livin’ and getting back to the earth in a very big way.