Friday, December 26, 2008

Happy Hanukkah, However You Choose to Spell It

Happy Hanukkah, Chanukah, Hanukah, Hannukah, Chanuka, Chanukkah, Hanuka, Channukah, Chanuka, Hanukka, Hannuka, Hannukkah, Channuka, Xanuka, Channukkah, Channukka, and Chanuqa.

Not only are there 8 days of Hanukkah, there are 16 different ways to spell it. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Visit from Santa

I guess I've been good this year. Santa just dropped by in his Toyota Tundra to deliver some cookies that he baked in his solar powered oven. Delicious! It was the perfect end to a productive day. 

Earlier today, Don stopped by to help me start on the brown coat
 of the dome. The brown coat is the final inside stucco coat and is the same mix as the scratch coat: 2.5 parts sand, one part portland cement, and a small can of fly ash. But instead of scratching the coat afterwards, it is smoothed out with a foam sponge. Since I didn't have a foam sponge on site, we cut off a little piece of my pillow. Perfect! My pillow was a tad too long anyway. 

It is nice to see the holes get filled and the rough edges get smoothed out.  

Happy holidays everyone. I hope you get to eat some delicious buttery solar powered cookies, too. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Musicians Invade Terlingua

This last month has been a great one for music. Some of my favorite songwriters have ventured this way to play some shows with me around Terlingua, Lajitas, and Marfa. More are on their way. Much thanks to the Starlight Theater in Terlingua, La Kiva in Terlingua, The Thirsty Goat in Lajitas, and the Marfa Book Co. in Marfa for hosting our shows. Thanks also to Marfa Public Radio for playing our tunes and having us on the air. Here is a link to a photo album

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Terlingua Recycles and Plants Gardens

This morning was a bit nippy, just above freezing, as I met the rest of the recycling volunteers at 8 am to take the town's recycling into Big Bend Park to sort. The National Park Service gives us access to their great recycling facility, and the Rio Grande Electric CO-OP graciously donated a recycling truck to make access to that facility possible. The Terlingua Recycling program accepts donations and has an annual fundraiser to pay for the gas and insurance to run a volunteer crew to the recycling facility about once a month. They even trust us to run the recycling machines at the facility. My favorite is called the "Cram-A-Lot". It removes the air from plastics, cardboard, and cans by squashing them to death before they are reincarnated into new products. We broke a record by finishing the job in under an hour. Pat, who owns the Terlingua Springs Market health food store, treated us all to coffee afterward, as she always does for volunteers on recycling days.

The day warmed up quite nicely, getting to about 80 degrees. I went over to the Terlingua Community Garden to pick up some metal scraps that they were giving away to volunteers. Shannon and Zoe were there planting rows of winter greens, and they let me plant a row of broccoli. I am looking forward to eating some in a few months

Another exciting and eventful day.

Here is a great Bill Moyers interview with Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma and writer for the New York Times.

worlds meet again

the moon, venus, and jupiter continue to monopolize the night sky here in the big bend.

Monday, December 1, 2008

worlds meet

For those of you who missed the celestial conglomeration of the moon, venus, and jupiter last night, tonight is even a better opportunity to see it. The part of the moon that is not directly sunlit, will have a faint glow due the the reflection of sunlight from the Earth. Now this is why I don't miss television.

Monday, November 10, 2008

RailRoad Folk Tour

I am now back in Terlingua, back from the month long RailRoad Folk tour with my friend and songwriter, Elam Blackman. While I have been a songwriter for awhile, I would consider this my first national tour. The economics and logistics of touring independently never seemed appealing to me before the idea of doing it by train. Well, it worked! We performed in Central Texas, Far West Texas, Yucca Valley, Santa Monica, SF and the Bay area, Portland Oregon, Bellingham Washington, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Chicago, and New Orleans. I could write pages and pages about it, but instead, here are way too many photos.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


It is hopeful to think that the progressive, positive, and organized counter movements which have formed over the last eight years might become empowered instead of demonized. And that when we speak up about the environment and our human role within the natural and civil world, that our voices will be absorbed instead of deflected.

Now let's remove the Bushes and plant some trees.

Monday, September 1, 2008

It is Butterfly Season in Far West Texas

Beautiful bright yellow butterflies gracefully floating around the green summer landscape like delicate bubbles, UNTIL...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

These Posts are Now Solar Powered

read the full story here.

Friday, July 25, 2008


S is the shape of things to come. Those things are a shower and a toilet.. Friends from the Hill Country, Elena, John, and Jaime stopped by Earth Language on their way to Taos for a several days. I met all of them at the natural building colloquium in Kerrville last year. They are on an ongoing mission to transform natural materials into functional spaces. I am ever thankful for their stop here in terlingua.

I didn’t exactly have a project in mind before their visit, other than the ongoing dome project. But together we thought of a new, and very needed addition. We decided that, while the Luggable Lou and the solar shower have been working fine, it is time to upgrade.

We brainstormed about different ways to do this. Elena drew out a simple design for a structure in the shape of an S, where the curve would serve as a wall for both the shower and the toilet, and would require less resources and labor as a result.

One thing there is an enormous abundance of out here are rocks. All shapes and sizes, great for building. We spent some time checking out the old ruins around town to see how they used the rocks for their walls. Since no one was too jazzed about using cement, we decided to dry stack the rocks, the same as they did back then. Instead of mortar, we dribbled small rocks, pebbles, and sand into the spaces between the larger rocks.

We spent two days gathering rocks…LOTS of them. We then spent one day stacking them. The wall is not as thick as the examples we saw in town, but since it is not a structure to be lived in, it doesn’t have to be as stout.

I'll be uploading some more pictures from the project, so check back SSSSSoon.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Back in Terlingua...the Adventure Starts Again

As I was driving back into Terlingua, I passed by 3 cyclists who were riding up an overpass in almost 100 degree heat. I later found out that the three cyclists were a mother, father, and son who took a year off of work and high school to ride thousands of miles around the country on a birdwatching expedition. They couldn’t leave out Big Bend, being that it boasts more varieties of birds than any other national park. This is also the time year to see them….the rainy season.

Speaking of the rainy season, Ruby, my Volvo, is patiently waiting for me on a muddy road. It'll take a couple of sunny days for the mud to dry out before I could get her home. I tried to beat an approaching storm when visiting my neighbor to pick up a 5 watt light bulb. I got to his house, but when trying to head back after giant raindrops started bombarding the ground, I didn’t get far. As a result, John Wells, my neighbor, had an unexpected house mate for the night as the road out from his house to the highway is unforgiving when it storms. The next morning, I walked the two and half miles out to the highway as the mud clung desperately to my shoes. Soon after I found out that bare feet was easier, John’s neighbor, James Kirk zoomed by on his tractor and lifted me back home.

This ended a week full of adventure which included a concert performance with friends down in an old mine shaft, an impromptu song circle with local celebrity, Butch Hancock, a visit to the almost secret Cattail falls in Big Bend, and a day of pouring a friend's adobe floor.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Green Thumbing Across Texas for a Gig

As a performing songwriter, I am expected to be a troubadour as well, traveling from town to town, serenading strangers in different settings. But driving from town to town is not so green. Nor is it cheap. I sat down and did the math for a performance I had scheduled last weekend in Far West Texas, one of the most remote regions in the country. The truth in the math suggested to me that I should cancel the gig. Why ? The round trip in my red Volvo, “Ruby”, would cost me about the same in gasoline as I was getting paid for the gig. And driving solo all the way across Texas is the sort of guilt which keeps me awake at night. Not wanting to let down the venue or lose work ethic points, I was determined to find a solution.

Amtrak services the Big Bend area, but from Austin, it is $150 round trip and includes a 9 hour layover in San Antonio overnight...making the total journey over 50 hours long on the train ( vs 16 hours round trip in a car ). There is no bus that goes out to Big Bend from Austin and no mass transit of any kind once there in the area.

So the only answer was to find drivers already heading that way.

I had participated in many rideshares before, but only between major cities, and never for a gig where I needed to haul my guitar and other related paraphernalia. I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to pull this off. I closed my eyes and thought about all the vehicles whizzing around everywhere with all their empty seats. Surely I could do this. The adventurer within was awakened.

The first part was easy. I got on craigslist and searched the rideshare ads. Luck struck ! There was a driver heading out West from Austin Texas to Marfa, TX for a Film Festival. I contacted her. Even though her email alias was tagged as “Creepy”, I took a chance. I attributed the name choice to the Greenland/Iceland reverse psychology theory. She turned out to be rather normal, not overly normal, and a very good driver. The other passenger and I had some friends in common. After our rideshare team was assembled, we headed out west. The trip to Alpine cost us each $13 in gas in her Toyota Corolla, and placed me within 80 miles of my final destination. My Volvo would have charged me close to $60 each way if I had driven these 400 miles solo. Ruby demands premium gasoline. I have tried to trick her a few times, but she knew the difference and did not react kindly.

In Alpine, I stood on Hwy 118 and stuck out my thumb. Hitchhiking is technically illegal in Texas, but when the sheriff drove by, he smiled and waved. A new red pick up truck pulled over. Kaleb told me that he had seen me perform in Terlingua before and offered me a ride. After he dropped me off about 15 miles from Terlingua, I accosted the mailman. He told me he was heading into town, and so I rode with him to Terlingua. Once in Terlingua, I got lucky again and encountered the bartender of the “Thirsty Goat” in Lajitas, the bar I was playing in that night. Against the will of the drivers, I pitched in for gas for these shorter journeys to help the drivers a bit with their guzzlers. All in all, I got from Austin, Texas to Lajitas for $22.

In addition to the savings and free adventure, my final reward came from a very appreciative gentleman in the audience who started throwing $100 bills in my tip jar. No Joke !

Yes, it pays to travel green.

Friday, April 25, 2008


I'll be hovering around Central Texas for family events and music festivals and will return to Far West Texas in Mid June to work some more on the dome.

Friday, April 4, 2008

greetings from new york city

I'm in NYC visiting my sister. Some say that New York City is the greenest city in America. For example, only 20% of the population here own cars...the rest use public transportation. This is a polar contrast to any other city in America. Much of NYC has curbside composting and residents risk being fined if a recyclable item is found in their trash. Extreme dense living lends itself to less resources used per person. Still, one month's rent in NYC costs more than buying 5 acres of land in Terlingua, TX. OUCH !

Monday, March 31, 2008

Spring Visitors

Besides the giant bluebonnets, we had many human visitors in the area this week for Spring Break. This includes some of my family and friends who all made the journey out here over the past couple of weeks. I have been very fortunate to be able to spend quality time with friends and family out here. Here is a link to some of their photos.

Thanks to everyone who has been writing. I have heard from a few people about the link to this blog not working. Please note that the old URL ( ) is no longer active. Feel free to bookmark instead.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Stocks on Steroids

Is it really the right solution for the federal government to inject the economy, particularly the stock market and credit and loan bureaus, with 200 billion more dollars worth of federal emergency loans ? Where is this money even coming from when our nation is already in debt trillions of dollars ? Who does this injection benefit ? Who will pick up the tab and when ? What do the federal interest rate cuts actually do and what is the lasting benefit ? Are there any policies or rebates which encourage people to save, be resourceful, and avoid debt ? What are the tangibles which back up our currency ? Is it oil ? Is it housing ? What will we do if our currency can no longer purchase cheap goods and services from subordinate countries ? What if our leaders' eye on the prize in the middle east doesn't result in a return on our investment as they had hoped ? These are important questions to stop and think about. As the true reality of our economy presents itself, we may find great opportunities to be creative and make positive and necessary changes.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Housing Market and Domain Names

When I tried to buy the domain , I was forwarded to a company called URL Collection ( ) … the company who owns the domain name. They buy domain names that they think people may want and then hold it hostage until they find someone who will pay an extravagant fee for it. After I inquired about the domain name, they emailed me to let me know that I could buy it for $3500. Their email mentioned how it was a steal, being that they usually start their domains for $10,000. I have purchased domain names before, so I know how much they are supposed to cost. $10 !

The reason I am posting this story on this blog is because their practice selling virtual space is a good analogy for the current housing market and the reason why we are approaching an unecessary housing crisis.

While there is plenty of space and resources for everyone to live debt free in a home somewhere, most housing is artificially priced and controlled to where debt free home ownership is out of reach to most people. Due to strict city codes and outlandish property taxes, even a tiny plot of land in the central city is out of reach to someone in the creative class who could use that space to build their own home. This is a modern phenomenon. Housing has never been this indebting anywhere ever before.

In modern times, housing is quickly aquired by investors who are not as interested in building community as they are in making a return on their investment. This drives up housing exponentially for everyone because it creates a pyramid scheme where the investors up the chain must make thousands of dollars every time a house changes hands. And so the property, whether it is a domain name or a small plot in the city, doesn't go to the person who would make the best use of it, but rather, it goes to the person who is the most ambitious to make a profit. Perhaps who is most affected is the investor at the bottom of the pyramid who didn't cash out in time.

The spot where I am building my studio is not necessarily my first choice, but it is a domain that hasn't yet been considered by investors. There are many more of them ! When this project is done, the price tag of the five acres, building materials, and water and energy catchment will be less than $10,000... the price of a domain name from URL Collections.

While URL Collection sits on an address they will never sell for what they want to, I will have to keeping telling people, "It's Earth Language dot com, but with a dash in the middle of Earth and Language, NOT an underscore."

For more information, go to or

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

bicycles and gardens

I have started riding my bicycle to get my mail. The mailboxes are about 3.5 miles from me, so it is a nice 7 mile roundtrip exercise chore. The ride takes me on dirt roads right past camel’s hump. It then spits me out onto the Terlingua Ranch road, which is paved and mostly flat. Sure beats driving ! The weather right now is ideal for bicycle riding. Most of the year is condusive to bicycle riding really...may have to just adjust the time of day you choose to ride ( mornings and evening in mid-summer, mid-day in the winter ).

In other news, I planted some seeds today. Tomatoes and beets. John Wells then showed up with some green bean and squash seeds, so I planted those too. I attempted planting tomato seeds twice already, but they didn’t germinate in this soil. It dries out too fast. This time I used potting soil so we’ll see what happens. Planting seeds is a good practice in patience and planning. It makes the fruit of one's labor that much more tasty. There are many ways to plant seeds in our lives and those are the things that are most worthwhile. And the motivation behind it is that while new seeds are being planted, older ones are yielding, giving a constant flow of, in this case, FREE food. It works the same way for energy and water harvesting. The instant gratification of a mass produced, purchased item can wear out quickly without leaving any residue of appreciation for what was consumed.

The dome building is back to a snail's pace since Emile left back home to Oregon, but progress is being made. The window wells are now fully lathed, and I've started to stucco them.

I have been listening to too much news while working, so I have begun listening to a music station called Sirius Disorder, a satellite station that is actually pretty good. No commercials. I am still only using 45 watts of solar panels, but it has been plenty so far, especially since Don Mcdowell ( another local Don ) graciously donated a brand new 12 volt battery. Thanks again Don !

Don't forget about total lunar eclipse tomorrow !

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

watering the dome

For 28 days, I am supposed to water down the stucco on the dome each day. This helps to cure it and make it much more stout over the long run. Being that there was a heavy dew this morning, I was able to skip a day. The thick dew saturated the dome inside and out. I asked Don what would happen if I missed a day and Don replied, “In a thousand years noone will notice”. It takes about 6 or 7 gallons of water to shower the dome, so this morning’s dew saved some agua.

Friday, February 1, 2008

cracking open the shell

Today was another exciting day. We removed the top form as well as one of the side forms. They came off a lot easier than we thought. It was a huge relief, because we had been worrying about this stage. This is the first dome of this shape and size that Don has used his new tracing method on and we weren’t completely sure that the stucco wouldn’t cement the outer form to the traced structure underneath. If that had happened, we would have had to leave them stuck to each other and it would have also meant that that the reusable form would be embedded into the structure forever. Furthermore, the days and days of tracing that we did would have been redundant. But that was all needless worry. The reusable forms broke free rather easily.

What was left standing underneath the cracked shell was a new self supporting structure of it’s own.

Today, we also finished coating one of the window wells. Don warned us not to go any further until we do a brown coat. The brown coat is a second skin of stucco on the inside of the dome. This will make it more stout before removing the rest of the forms.

The dome is no longer translucent. It is now a structure that blocks the sun and wind… two of the biggest hurdles out here.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Blotting out the Sun and Blocking the Wind

Things are coming to a head. As we started to stucco today, it felt as if we were painting shade and shelter around ourselves. This morning started out with 35 mph winds. It was also another very sunny day. We decided to start the stucco on the side where the wind was blowing. As we worked, the winds gradually subsided. The sun in our eyes started to vanish as we blotted it out with the first coat of stucco.

We used a different mix for this first scratch coat. It needs to be stout because it is the binder that future layers will grab onto. The mix we used was 2.5 gallons of sand, one gallon of cement, one small can of fly ash ( the ash left over from coal burning power plants ), and 3.5 medium size cans of water. We mixed the stucco on the watery side because the wind and sun can dry it out fast. The first batch that we made wasn’t sticking. We then realized that the sand we were using had too much gravel in it. We decided to use a double layered filter to sift the gravel out of the sand.

Stuccoing is not too difficult, but stuccoing above your head can be a bit tricky, as some of it ends up falling down on you. It is also a bit tiresome, even for 82 year old Don Bryant.

It is very important to scratch the stucco soon after applying it so that the next layer has a rough edge to grab onto.

The tools needed for this part of the project are a hawk ( much like a pallet a painter uses ), a trowel ( 14’’ pool trowel for this size dome ), a few 5 gallon bucket for carrying around water, sand, and the final stucco mix, a wheel barrow, a hoe or two, something to scrath the stucco with, and a mud board for use as an interim for storing the stucco mix before putting it on the hawk.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

giving the energy an outlet

We set up some minimal infrastructure for the electrical outlets and dome light. We also recessed five double outlets into the lath. There will be a plug in from the south side of the dome for the battery bank. The battery bank will store energy from the sun and the wind.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

harvesting water

These past few days have been like a Portland Oregon winter...rainy and cold. We took a day off to go to the Chinati Hot Springs to warm our bones.

We returned to find that about an inch of rain had fallen over the last couple of days ! That is a lot for out here, especially in the winter. It came at a perfect time too, being that we will be mixing our stucco next week. We are using our neighbor’s water catchment system for this project. Being that her roof is 900 square feet, her catchment system gives us several hundred extra gallons of water from this recent rain. The conservative formula to know for water catchment is that an inch of rain provides 60 gallons of water for each 100 square foot of roof. We added another 55 gallon tank to our water storage system here, so we can now store over 100 gallons of water on site. This abundance means that we can take showers, water plants, do dishes, and mix adobe and concrete without guilt.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Great Wall of Texico

A small group of us went to the Paisano hotel in Marfa today to protest the proposed wall between Texas and Mexico. Our government has contracted a private company to build a prison-like wall between Texas and Mexico. They claimed that the meeting today was to garner public feedback, however, the decision has already been made to build the wall and so this meeting was really a huge waste of time for the people who attended, as well as a waste of gas for those who drove many many miles. Throughout the meeting, there were a number of intelligent and specific questions asked , but none of the questions were answered directly and all questions were given the same response : “ We appreciate your feedback, Please submit it in the comment box.”

Being that the Rio Grande is the only consistent watering hole for wildlife for hundreds of miles, where will the wildlife get there water with a big wall blocking that river ? That is just one of many important issues that they couldn't answer. The only hope we have is that we can delay the wall until the next administration in hopes that the next administration will not be in favor of a symbol of segregation.

Monday, January 21, 2008

vamanos veggie

Sometimes the best work parties are the ones that happen unexpectedly. I met Jori and Betsy at the Terlingua Ranch Lodge when I played a show there a couple of nights ago. We got to talking. They told me about their travels across the country on waste veggie oil. They have traveled over 5000 miles by using the grease that restaurants throw out. They spent the last couple of nights camping out at Earth Language and today they helped us finish the foundation of the dome. Their help turned a full work day into half that. We spent the rest of the day hiking and playing an old Yiddish card game called Klabberjass that my grandparents taught me.

To finish the foundation, we filled in the gaps between the bricks with the same materials as the bricks themselves ( 5 parts gravel, 5 parts sand, and two parts cement ).

Here is a link to Jori and Betsy's blog about their travels using grease.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

We are making very good progress on the dome. We have put the bricks in place so that the dome is now level and ready for the rest of the foundation to be poured. The dome is also mostly lathed and we are now framing the windows and the door. There is a lot of detail work involved at this stage, so it is a bit of a lengthy process…more than I thought. I knew it would be more than I thought so it is turning out to be about what I thought I thought I would think it ought. We hope to start with the stucco next week. We will also be adding the electrical conduit and outlets.

We have had some very cold nights here...low 20's at night. Our water is usually frozen in the mornings, but it doesn't take too long to thaw after sunrise. I bought a small propane heater to heat up the small train compartment that we now have on site. In the train compartment, we have set up a small kitchen, shelves, a card table, and a light. It is surprisingly livable and makes a great temporary living space, though we still sleep in our tents at night.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Rocket Fuel

Today, we made a rocket stove…similar to a wood stove, but cheaper and more efficient.

It’s a simple underused concept. We made ours with a 25 gallon barrel, and some stove pipe. The barrel we found at Don’s place. It was on old army barrel used to store emergency supplies. The only parts we purchased, were the stove pipes. We used three of them, each costing $7. We thought about looking for free ones, but they usually contain paint, which would have to be burned off...a nasty process.

Emile had built a couple of rocket stove in Portland, so he knew the basic formula, but he also brushed up on his skills from a book I picked up from the Natural Building Colloquium in Kerrville. Leslie Jackson, one of the co-authors of “Rocket Mass Heaters”, graciously gave me a copy in exchange for a CD.

The stove took us under an hour to make. We borrowed Don’s metal cutting tool. That made it a whole lot easier than using our teeth.

We purchased the stove pipe at the right diameter for the feed tube ( 6 inches ). We used the same size pipe for the exhaust tube, but overlapped it on itself to make that diameter 4 inches. We joined two of these together for the exhaust pipe.

Next, Emile traced the pipe diameters onto the top of the barrel to prepare for the metal incisions…one for the feed pipe and one for the exhaust pipe. We then cut a circular opening into the top of the barrel like a shark tooth pie (the cut can be started by hammering a nail into the center of the circle a few times). We bent the teeth on the opening for the feed tube inward, and bent the teeth on the exhaust tube outward. The teeth help to keep the pipes in place while also help to direct the heat flow. The bottom of the feed tube must be several inches above the bottom of the barrel to allow for air flow, which is important when you want a fire. The smaller diameter tubes snap together and then snap onto the barrel.

That’s it.

Starting a rocket stove is much like starting a campfire. Start with paper, or dry grass…then add kindling…and then the larger pieces of wood…all through the feed tube. Once the exhaust pipe gets hot, a draft is created…. making the stove roar with heat while directing any smoke out of the exhaust pipe.

We spent about 30 minutes gathering wood and kindling. Most of the creasote trees ( more like shrubs around here ) have a bunch of dead branches on them. Using this wood prunes the trees while at the same time provides the perfect size wood pieces for feeding into the feed tube. In just a short time, the stove got so hot, that the metal started glowing red. Cover this with a little cob and you got some great thermal mass to heat up an enclosed space quickly.

The idea behind a rocket stove is to use the least amount of wood necessary to create a very hot fire, while storing the most amount of heat as possible with thermal mass. They are much more efficient than a fireplace and even more efficient than a wood stove.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Getting Water in the Desert

While we don't have water catchment yet, we finally have some significant water storage in the form of a 55 gallon rain barrel. Gotta start somewhere. We picked up this barrel for $15 in town and it cost about another $15 for the spigot and epoxy putty. Emile, who has plumbing experience, easily installed the faucet by cutting a hole out with a knife and then securing the faucet with the putty. When cutting out the hole, he purposefully made the hole a fraction smaller than the faucet valve so that when screwing it in, it would create a tight, leak free fit.

Though minimal, this is a big improvement in our water situation out here as it will give us a place to keep the water we will need for mixing cement and cob. During the mixing process, we will need to make daily runs to nearby water sources. It just so happens that a very generous neighbor ( who lives a mile away ) is letting us use her water catchment for our project as she will be out of the area for a period of time. She needs all the water emptied from her cistern in order to move it to another location, so it is a win win situation. The water in that cistern may be all the water that we need for the mixing, but we also have some backup sources, such as Don's well and the Ranch Lodge, which sells water for 3 cents a gallon.

55 gallons is not alot, especially considering the amount of water needed to mix cement and cob. But for personal puroposes, it can go a long way. A good shower only requires a couple of gallons of water, for example.

Ideally, if the funds are available, the best way to start out here in the desert is by setting up a roof and water catchment before doing anything else. When it rains here, it pours, and it frustrating to watch it all wash away and evaporate so fast. There are no water limits out here as long as one maximizes the potential of catchment and storage.