I spent much of last winter in Cochise County, Arizona, where friends and I have failed for several decades to make money raising cattle. We’ve been more successful caring for the land and building a strong community along the San Pedro. I focus on the latter two on our Facebook page.
The San Pedro River Valley taught me new skills: turning large pieces of wood into small pieces of wood with a pruning saw, running a gas generator without a functioning starter cord, securing propane cylinders in the back of a station wagon, and removing mice from my car's ventilation system. (Tomcat mouse traps rock, but peanut butter still rules. Cochise County mice ignore Tomcat brand bait.)
I peppered my neighbors with questions as I settled in to my off-grid cabin. “How can I tell if the solar storage battery is charging or discharging?” “Can I use your wifi?” “Do your chickens eat onion peels, or should I put them in the trash?”, and “Where’s the transfer station?”
After I had water, heat, electricity, wifi, and trash sorted out, I moved on to a mystery. “What are the clothespins on the mailboxes?” My neighbor said, “That’s so people can deliver notices of community events.” “Really?” I said, “If I put a clothespin on my mailbox I’ll know what’s going on?” "Yes," she said. “All it takes is a clothespin.”