We are fortunate to live on 189 beautiful acres, which cover the entire cross section of a small watershed, from ridge top to ridge top. A seasonal creek runs east to west through the middle. The north-facing slopes are mostly recovering redwood and tan oak forest, much of it very steep. The south-facing slopes are mixed oak/Douglas fir/poison oak woodland with large grassy meadows. We are privileged to share the land with many kinds of animals, including deer, bobcat, owls, skunks, newts, frogs, ravens, hawks, foxes, hummingbirds, wild pigs, turkeys, and the occasional bear or mountain lion.
When the land was purchased in 1989, the only existing structure was a 20′ x 40′ wooden cabin, which was fixed up and until recently served as our common house, with a main kitchen, eating and meeting areas, shower, an office and kids’ loft. All other structures have been constructed using natural building techniques and as many on site resources as possible. There are six small cabins, around 400-600 square feet each, built as sleeping and private space, with kitchenettes. There is a bathhouse/greenhouse with a sauna, showers, garden greenhouse, and guest loft. We are in the process of finishing a new common house. All of these structures are made of a combination of straw bale, cob, light clay, and straw wattle, with natural plasters and finishes. The wood used was either harvested on site, reclaimed, or milled on friends’ properties. The cabins are heated by passive solar and wood stoves.
There are no indoor toilets; we use composting outhouses. There is a swimming pond and two developed springs, which provide water for irrigation and domestic use. There is also a vertical well that was drilled in 2002. We recycle our gray water for irrigation. All of our houses are connected to electricity coming from solar panels, with a supplemental gas generator and a micro-hydro turbine in the rainy months. Since we are off the grid, our only telephone service is via cell phone.
We have two developed garden sites. We grow mostly vegetables and herbs. We also have a few old apple and pear trees that still produce, and have planted many more fruit and nut trees. We keep chickens, goats, rabbits and bees, and are open to more animals in the future, as a direct relationship with our food is important to us.