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Windmills and Other Cool Things in Tajique


TEN ACRES. ALL OURS.
(or: our own little slice o’ heaven)

Map Detail of Tajique

The real purpose of my seven day trip to the Southwest was shopping. With a capital S. The kind of shopping trip that adds no weight to your luggage but weighs up your heart in a good kind of way. Ever since moving back East seven years ago, my trips back to The Land of Enchantment have been bittersweet. That’s because I never knew when I’d be coming back. This time I know for sure I’ll be coming back a lot, thanks to a cool couple from Albuquerque who accepted my offer on their 10 acre parcel in beautiful Tajique. And thanks to John Warren at Abo Properties, who made it all happen. So now we own 10 acres in Vermont and 10 (raw) acres in New Mexico, which, given how long it’s taken my husband (who’s done all the work, if the truth be told) to sort out the first ten acres, makes us just about the craziest couple with two horses (one of which is pregnant), one pony, one cat, one goat and two dogs, not to mention a three-year-old son, that I know. But we’re fond of the “Unusual Life,” as my mentor MH would say. Some would say Bizarre, but we pay no attention to them.

360 Degree Views
So here it is. The views are amazing. Ours is part of a giant subdivision that used to be a very large ranch. It doesn’t appear that people are building quickly in this part of the country. Yet. Most folks aren’t odd ducks like us, who like to be as far out of the grasp of the city as we can get. We both did our time in cities. I spent five years in San Francisco and a year in L.A., while T logged about 20 years in Minneapolis. As Truman Capote said after hanging up his editing pencil at The New Yorker to go back to New Orleans to work on a novel: “…and I have never set foot in another office. I must say that I really hate offices.” Well, the same holds true for me and the place where you generally find offices. I really hate cities in a fundamental kind of way. They’re fine to visit, of course. But you can’t exactly fit your horses, their grain, tack, stock tanks and hay bales in a studio apartment, now can you? I left the city more than ten years ago and have never looked back.
Now getting back to wells: We have a neighbor on one side who very kindly informed me of how deep her well is and how many gallons per minute it pumps out. Water, of course, is a big deal in NM. Our neighbor’s well is 240 ft. and pumps out 15 GPM, which is a pretty good sized geyser, even if you have livestock, as we do. This means that drilling a well will be the next big priority for us, not to mention putting some electricity in. We do have a generator, but that could get noisy and piss off the neighbor. (We only have one neighbor.) Part of our crazy plan involves bringing the horses (and Walter, our perpetually naughty goat, if he behaves himself) out to Tajique for at least part of the year. (Don’t ask me what that will involve, because I don’t know yet.) Phase I will also involve bringing our 26 ft. travel trailer out and parking it on the land. From there we’ll probably build a little strawbale casita, and then…”Let me think about this strawbale idea for a minute before you start planning woman, let me THINK,” my husband the carpenter begs. “I still haven’t finished my book on timber-framing.” Well finish it already!



Rick’s Tire Shop

I met several employees of Rick’s Tire Shop whilst en route back to Mountainair. J was snoring away in his car seat and the photo op. presented itself. I expected to hop out of the car, snap unobtrusively, then be on my way. To my surprise two friendly mechanics came out to greet me. It was quite important to them that I be made aware that the sign informing passersby of their whereabouts (i.e. “Tajique, Nuevo Mexico”) had been proudly emblazoned on the shopfront “for 60 years.” I thought it was swell of them to fill me in and said so. I also shared that I was about to become a vecina. Were the townsfolk apt to bite? “Oh no, we’re a friendly lot ’round here,” they assured me, “you just gotta watch out for the fires and flash floods.” Hmm. Yes well, this could prove to be even more of an adventure than Vermont homesteading! Visions of the 1975 British sitcom “The Good Life” are starting to dance fancifully before my eyes. I wonder if I should don Barbara Good’s hilariously over-sized swimming goggles now or later?

Tajique Windmill

This is a fairly typical example of what windmills look like in New Mexico. The more I read about windmills, the more I’m convinced that this country needs to implement better and more eco-friendly energy sources in a hurry. It’s quite shocking that Vermont, a state famous for its excessive liberalism and off-the-grid mentality, would have so many dissenters making such a stink about windmills and what eyesores they’d potentially be upon our verdant green hills. However, as the good folks at Williams Windmills will tell you, “a windmill is one of the most energy efficient and ingenious ways ever devised to pump water from the ground. It harnesses the free and renewable power of the wind and uses that energy to lift underground water to the surface for agricultural and other uses.”

Now that’s a whole lot better (not to mention eco-friendly) than harnessing power from Vermont Yankee, whose nuclear reactors could well explode into a mushroom storm cloud a la Chernobyl any minute, thereby laying us all to radioactive waste. But don’t get me started on Vermont Yankee and the megalomaniacal greed of corporate America. Just another reason I prefer life as a country bumpkin. 

Our friend the windmill here goes on quietly ignoring corporate greed, the vanity of human excesses and the hideous waste of resources by consumers, and just keeps on doing its job. The basic design of windmills hasn’t changed in almost 120 years. These amazing machines quite simply harness the wind’s energy, then use that energy to power water pumps located deep beneath the ground.

The windmill seizes the energy of the wind with its large, circular fan (also called a “wheel”), which is located atop its tower. As the wind blows, the fan rotates. This turning motion is a key component of wind power, because it’s where the free energy of the wind is captured.

Below the turning wheel a long rod moves up and down. This “sucker rod,” as it’s called, is powered by the windmill’s motor. The motor is a set of mechanical gears that converts the rotary motion of the wheel into a reciprocating up and down motion that powers the cylinder pump located underground. Water is then trapped underground in an aquifer.

Now, this is a really useful apparatus in a part of the country where water is a precious commodity (as it is everywhere, but desert folk tend to take especial notice).

The following chart gives an idea of the power needed to adequately supply for the needs of livestock. (*note there is no mention of the water needs for goats, so I suppose we’ll relegate Walter to a sheep’s ration, if it isn’t too far beneath his regal goatly sense of dignity!)

Average Water Needs
Gallons
Milking cow, per day
35
Dry cow or steer, per day
15
Horse, per day
12
Hog, per day
4
Sheep, per day
2
Chickens, (per 100) per day
6
Bath tub, each filling
35
Shower, each time used
25-60
Lavatory, each time used
1-2
Flush toilet, each filling
2-7
Kitchen sink, per day
20
Automatic washer, each filling
30-50
Dishwasher
10-20
Water Softener
up to 150
3/4 inch hose, per hour
300
Other uses, per person, per day (ave.)
25

Golly, that’s a lot of water! We’re aware of it here in Vermont, too, of course, because we have a “dug” rather than a drilled well. And the summer before last it actually went dry. So we rationed ourselves carefully until we had another rainfall. And the rain falls freely here in the East (almost too freely at times), but parts of the West have been in a draught for some time. Automatic washing machines are among the worst offenders of water waste. In Vermont we have a front loading washing machine that adjusts to the load of the laundry. We have a low flush toilet. These things make a difference. The shower is another offender, but nobody wants to be accused of having B.O. In our travel trailer we take “navel showers” simply because our water tank can only hold so much and the water heater can only heat so much. Also, all gray water has to be dumped from the tank that holds it. But gray water can be reused for all sorts of nifty things.

Size of
Cylinder,
Inches
*Capacity
per Hour,
Gallons
Elevation in Feet to Which Water Can Be Raised


Size of Aermotor Windmill
X (6′)
A (8′)-
F(16′)
X (6′)
A (8′)
B (10′)
D (12′)
E (14′)
F (16′)
1 7/8″
125
180
120
175
260
390
560
920
2″
130
190
95
140
215
320
460
750
2 1/4″
180
260
77
112
170
250
360
590
2 1/2″
225
325
65
94
140
210
300
490
2 3/4″
265
385
56
80
120
180
260
425
3″
320
470
47
68
100
155
220
360
3 1/2″
440
640
35
50
76
115
160
265
3 3/4″
730
65
98
143
230
4″
570
830
27
37
58
86
125
200
5″
900
1300
17
25
37
55
80
130
6″
1875
17
25
38
55
85

Holy mackerel, look at that! I’m no engineer, but the gallons per hour numbers are mighty impressive. And windmills are nice looking too. At least I think so. 

Payloader or Backhoe?
(I forget)
My son is crazy about backhoes, payloaders, log fellers, grapple skidders, excavators, steam rollers..you name it. Actually he names them, with frightening accuracy. So when he demanded: “Mummy, take a picture of the payloader”(or backhoe, I’ll have to ask the expert…), I had no choice other than to comply. And it’s pretty too, in a utilitarian, manly-work-vehicle sort of way.

Socorro or Bust

We didn’t make it to the Abo ruins, alas. I wanted to go, but after averaging at least two hours per day in the car, I felt that J and I deserved a break. So we spent the last day of our visit in Mountainair at the motel, kicking back and taking it easy.

Local Flora & Fauna

The plant life is so different in the West. There’s so much more open space, that everything just stands out like a cut-out on a pop-up card. Only much more magnificently, of course.

Horses in Fields of Gold

I’m never far from horses, wherever I go. Or if I am far from them, I go find some. These guys were out for a long lazy graze on a sunny afternoon. They were obliging about these snapshots, but then came mosying over to exact payment. And were none too pleased to discover that my pockets were short of carrots that day. 

Faux Cactus, Tajique

These guys aren’t the genuine article, but I like the way the flowers frame them. There are sunflowers all over Highway 55. It was just a beautiful day to be taking pictures.

Abo Properties
(where my dream came true)
Abo Properties is more like a house of treasures than a real estate office. Actually, only one part of it is a real estate office. The rest of it is like the best living room you’ve ever seen in your life. It’s actually a shop with lots of beautiful, one-of-a-kind art work, made by artisans from throughout the region. Amazing tables, chairs and bureaus. Photographs aren’t allowed in there, so you’ll just have to put your imagination to work. The hardest part was keeping J from running through there, screaming like a banshee. “This is like our living room, only you can’t touch anything,” I explained ineffectually. “This is like OUR living room!” J repeated, dropping the part that didn’t suit him. I started to get nervous when he brought out the crayons. The little poem “Lovely to look at, delightful to hold, but if you should break it, consider it sold,” played like a bad Beethoven’s Fifth stuck on bass-coming-up-through-the floor, playing over and over again in my head.

Colorful Freight

Ah yes, I forgot to post this last time. I’ve never seen such a colorful stream of freight cars. Just whizzing past like Thomas and His Friends. If only we had Ringo Starr to commentate (“Peep, Peep” said Thomas. “Watch out little train,” said Gordon) I wouldn’t need to add a single thing. I saw this train later, or one like it, puffing along Highway 60. At least I think I did.

Tajique Sunflowers

These sunflowers were just ubiquitous. I love the fact that they were ubiquitous near our property. In fact, they’re such a big deal in this part of the state that the locals have a Sunflower Festival to celebrate. We missed the festival this year. Next year, though. And many years after that. I got a piece of you, New Mexico.

Comments

Comment from Kelly Belly
Time September 19, 2008 at 8:04 pm

Que Bonita!

Comment from Elefanterosado
Time September 24, 2008 at 7:23 am

Tu eres bonita, Kelly Belly!