Ash Fork area off-grid residential living.
Recent times have brought a new kind of resident to Ash Fork and surrounding areas.
Juniper Woods Ranch, north and south, Kaibab Knolls and Kaibab Estates are for people who wish to live off the grid. Not that anyone in those areas has much choice. Kaibab Estates, north of town on Double A Ranch Road has some electric service available but not to all properties. The other developments are far away from the power lines.
Because of the depth of the water table, 1,400 feet or often much more, wells are not affordable. Water, must be hauled, collected or delivered, and electricity must be either generated or gathered and stored by solar panels.
Hardy souls solve this in a variety of ways. Some are very elaborate and expensive and some are far simpler and often ad hoc.
Properties are often large – frequently at least forty acres or more. Dwellings are mostly smaller than norm. Some are large and have all the comforts of a normal on-grid house. Many more are small cabins, or frequently trailers, mobile homes or RV’s. One resident the author knows well lived in an arctic tent for two years.
Living here is not for the faint-hearted but it can be rewarding. Self-sufficiency, living close to nature and seclusion are the oft-cited reasons. For desert dwellers who like four seasons, Ash Fork has them all, but a mercifully short winter. Temperature swings can go forty degrees or more during a twenty-four hour period. The wind blows, the grass grows and sometimes a rooster crows.
Animals abound - large and small. Some are majestic and beautiful like deer, elk and antelope. Some are dangerous like javelinas, bobcats, rattlesnakes and scorpions. Many look cute but can be a nuisance like packrats, mice and prairie dogs. They were here first however, so we learn to live with them even if we must be wary or occasionally get vehicle and home wires gnawed.
Free-range roaming cows can trample gardens and coyotes, hawks and owls can carry off small dogs or cats. It is their nature. All we can do is learn to accommodate the occasional danger or destruction. Some two-legged animals are more dangerous and unpredictable. They are found everywhere however, city, town or country. Fortunately, there are fewer of those critters in the country.And most folks are armed.
There are three types of these new residents – full time, part-time and once-in-a blue moon types.
Full time is the most challenging. Dirt roads can turn to a quagmire of mud with a summer storm or a winter or spring thaw. Preparation is essential – being stocked up on food and fuel is a good idea. Water is a good idea too.
Part-timers like the author can pick-and-choose a time that is clear weather but must also be prepared for change – which is unpredictable and frequent.
The third type falls into two different categories. Some who own property but rarely visit. Those people with plans to emulate city standards but find the cost prohibitive often just sit on their investment or sell.
Some owners improve their property and some turn it into a junk yard of rusting vehicles or dilapidated shacks. Some are squatters posing as caretakers.
Juniper Woods Ranch South has a community center and a church!**********************
Tombstone, Arizona bears the sobriquet “The town too tough to die.” It grew up as a mining and ranching town in southeast Arizona near the Dragoon Mountains. It was, and still is, off the beaten path on the way to yet another mining town named Bisbee to the south, nearly on the Mexican border. Both sprang up and prospered briefly on the backs of men searching for gold, silver and other valuable metals in the late 1800’s. Like countless other similar communities, in the Old West, banks, bars, bordellos, hotels, stores and other trappings of civilization flourished bright, but briefly – until the ore ran out.
Both were wild and wooly towns in their heyday but their births and near deaths hinged on a single industry – mining. Bisbee survives to this day primarily as a tourist attraction. Historic mines and buildings, steeped in the mystique of the Old West, bring visitors from all over the world. In recent times, it has also become an arts center of sorts. For both of those reasons, it is certainly worth a visit.
Tombstone, to the north of Bisbee didn’t have the same amount of mining activity and if not for the eighteen brief minutes in its history, it would have likely shared the fate of so many other towns in the west and simply dried up and blown away. Perhaps it would then become another form of tourist attraction similar to Cleator or Oatman – a ghost town.
In its time Tombstone was indeed a tough place, rowdy and lawless for the most part until the Earp brothers, Wyatt, Morgan and Virgil came to town. Whether they cleaned up the town or simply cleaned up financially, has been the subject of countless books, articles and essays. Regardless of those controversies, the Earp’s along with Wyatt’s friend Doc Holiday, a disreputable character in his own right, did take part in the famous “Gunfight at the OK Corral.” Many considered it more of an ambush or murder, but that is outside the scope of this book. It lasted eighteen minutes. Since then, the event and the participants (dead or alive) have been the subject of countless movies, television dramas, and books. Today, it is now reenacted, almost daily and businesses throughout town are devoted to the legend.
If that single event warrants the nickname “too tough to die,” so be it. However, there are other definitions of tough. Hard work, grit, sweat, perseverance, determination, adaptability and survival also define that word.
If so, Ash Fork deserves the name tough, for it has been exactly that for far longer. It was, and still is, tough because of all of the hardships, economic booms, busts and catastrophic fires in 1893, 1905, 1977 and 1987 it has endured. And that in an area of geography that is just plain tough to live on. Good times always followed by downright hard times, but the people have carried on to this day.
After several years of intermittent research, in September of 2014, I finally found an area that was both affordable and close enough to home to reach in a three hour or so drive. About ten miles from the town of Ash Fork, in northern Arizona up a very rough and bumpy dirt road.
I have added pages just for the small town of Ash Fork, Seligman and surrounding areas of interest
just click above link or
To return to the
ASH FORK PAGE
This book below offers you a concise history of the area from 1899-2017
2016-2017: During the quiet nights, I have found time to write and publish six new books including a story featuring and located mostly in Ash Fork:
The others books are
included in this link:
THE BEARAZONA BEARS
A family of bears learns what giving is really all about.
THE LAST GUNFIGHT IN ASH FORK
Young Jordie Conboy learns from his grandfather that legends and heroes are seldom what they seem.
FEETIE PAJAMAS IN OLD ARIZONA
A little boy’s love for his sister reaps an unusual reward with consequences that are unforeseen.
THE LITTLEST SNOWMAN ON ROUTE 66
When her family moves from Ash Fork to Flagstaff,
little Wendee Goldman has a hard time adjusting until she accidentally applies a little magic and finds a true friend.
STOWAWAY SUZI FROM SELIGMAN
Jonnie Halloran, a widower raising his 12 year old son Luke gets a big surprise when he returns to their ranch in Ash Fork.
LOLA, SAM AND THE JACKALOPE
Two dogs who are best friends help a mother jackrabbit and have an unexpected meeting with the mythical Jackalope.
A brief history of Ash Fork
Notes on story telling
Following the premature death of his wife,
Earl Garnett, a professional writer, decides to drive across America. Along the way, he discovers the country, as he never imagined it.
Soon, cryptic writings appear on his laptop, often coinciding with roadside memorials that lead him into the darker sides of the road. Ultimately, he must decide whether or not to follow the prompting of these haunting passages and accept the consequences.
See website for more:
Heartwarming tales of adventure, deep friendships and courage. For young and young-at-heart readers. (AGES 11-12 AND UP) Two dogs, one from the city, the other from the wilds of Northern Arizona become best friends and share countless adventures.After helping a mother jackrabbit they face grave danger and have an unexpected meeting with the mythical Jackalope. As told from the dog Lola's point of view - Illustrated with real-life photos.
Also contains a brief history of Ash Fork Arizona - "The other town too tough to die."
THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM
Science fiction or
Adam Barthold is a deeply flawed man haunted by the mysterious Arahm Tuit. He travels from upstate New York to the hills of Ash Fork, Arizona where he hopes to start a new life but instead finds love, danger and watches the world come tumbling down in red ruin, little knowing he has an important part to play in the future of human kind.
Years later, the survivors are again threatened from the east across “the waters that never end” by a civilization that didn’t learn from the cause of the fall. Oneonta must pick up where Barthold, Tibbs and others left off in a life and death struggle.
Above all, it is a story of failure, recovery, struggle, courage, sacrifice, profound love, inter-racial relationships and loss, laced with a tinge of mysticism and the unknown across the void of countless years.
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Ash Fork - Seligman, Arizona
I love these old metal posters. Colt firearms "the arm o of the law in the west"
Notes on the development of GREEN HILL RANCH
I reviewed the property in September 2014 before I purchased it, and the photos below show how it appeared that day.
Since then it has been a work in progress. A collaboration partnership between John and Wendy Green and Kevin and Suzanne Hill. Myself and Wendy put up the finance and Kevin and Suzanne the expertise and sweat equity.
Matt Green, Alex Hill and Will Cox have also lent a willing hand in the work.
We hope to make the property into a great getaway for ourselves, family and friends wanting to escape from city hustle and smog and enjoy nature and quiet. Also a place that fits in well with it's surroundings and has minimal impact on the environment.
Job one was cleaning up the place which was strewn with trash of all sorts and the inside reeking of propane from ill fitted and poorly thought out use.
Much material was left in the interior of the main rooms but both bedrooms were completely unfinished. Both are now finished and furnished, and a bathroom and shower are well under way. In time we will add a water tank and solar power to augment the propane heat and power generator.
Temperatures range widely during fall and winter. Coldest I have been there was 18 degrees (and that before we got a heater) but ranges in February March have been high 60's to low 70's in the day and 30-35 at night.
Security is always a concern when we are away for brief periods but there are security cameras in place and nothing of real monetary value is in the rustic little cabin or out buildings. On top of that all is well buttoned up and secured heavily.
April 2015 was pretty nice but May hit with steady rain and unseasonably low temperatures. June however made up for it with brutally high temps from the mid 90's during the day to mid 60's at night. I find that I have to reverse my winter activities. Outside hiking in the early morning and evening instead of waiting for it to warm up and not freeze. We continue to make improvements and adapt to the changing needs of the seasons.
July continued the trend of higher temperatures, but spending time exploring nearby areas in the jeep instead of on foot has been rewarding. Ash Fork and Seligman are nearby, as well as other off road wilderness developments like Juniper Woods Ranch South and Westwood Ranch to the northwest and the Kaibab National forest to the northeast.
August and September were wonderful in terms of weather. 80's day and 50's - 60's nights. Thunderstorms are awesome but brief. Sometimes they sweep all around the hill but miss all together. Fun to watch the light and thunder shows. Often however, they make the roads muddy and hard to drive. It is a great base for exploring of the surrounding area. Have been also getting to know our "neighbors" better.
The new year 2016 brought some new additions, new acquaintances, friends and new opportunities. Also a few losses. Daniel Harding died on April 1st. He was a fixture in Juniper Woods Ranch north for many years. An old style close to the vest rancher who had traveled world wide and had many careers. He raised horses, goats, chickens, donkeys, peacocks and was also very good outdoors man, well liked my many in town and myself as well. He will be missed.
I added another 10 acres to the place and started a second cabin which I call "The Bunkhouse." When I am alone, I now hang my hat there. It is very rustic with few modern conveniences except for a few solar batteries and collectors and a propane heater which I hope to supplement with a wood stove by this fall. We don't lack for firewood on the hill.
2016 started very dry and most of the stock tanks are low or damn near empty. Winter snow was light and the steady rains of spring have been absorbed into the ground so here has been little runoff.
February and March were consumed finishing the inside of the Bunkhouse. By April I was starting to base myself there while doing some writing in addition to hiking and exploring. I have mostly finished "The Elephant in the Room", an apocalyptic yarn in which Ash Fork plays a central role. Nowadays I am spending about two weeks of every month up here.
Much has changed but the land stays the same. The weather changes frequently but is by-in-large mild. Wind, rain or snow followed by clear sunny skies or big western floating clouds. Quiet is the norm, interrupted mostly my mooing cows, coyotes singing, owls and other birds adding their calls with the occasional faint sounds of distant trains from the Santa Fe line.
2017 Started with heavy weather. Snow, HIGH winds, rain and corresponding mud made roads impassable for days and weeks at a time. This, coupled with a leg injury restricted my time to visit.
April had it's pleasant days and the water made for the beginning of spring flowers. The stock tanks are more full than I have ever seen them.
I was side-tracked by injury and a cross-country road trip in the early part of 2017. The summer and early fall brought some major changes. George Fernand, our long-time friend and neighbor, moved up to the property to act as caretaker. He and Matt have made some significant improvements to the land including gardens and more water collection.
I will update this web page as time permits and further photos and updates are made.
Please e-mail any comments
or questions to:
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Ash Fork - Seligman, Arizona
Below is how we found it.
Run down and littered with trash in September 2014;
It was a busy year in 2017. We installed a full-time caretaker and are almost finished with a custom designed 10' x 20' solid greenhouse. The main cabin's bathroom features a composting toilet (as does the Bunkhouse) and will soon have a shower completed.
EARLY SPRING OF 2o18 - We will begin to offer a variety of opportunities to you for learning more about off-grid living and sustainable gardening.
SUSTAINABLE ORGANIC GARDENING
Our on-site caretaker, George, has years of experience with land management, permaculture organic growing in California Nicaragua which he adapted for the semi-arid world of Ash Fork and surrounding areas during the last three years. He will be offering classes and hands-on learning for those who already live in the area and those who are considering it.
It is our intention for these to be affordable and of differing duration. Some will be one day seminars. Others may involve several days on-site.*
You will be able to stay in our accommodations or haul your own tent or trailer. Food and meals can be provided at additional cost.
WATER COLLECTION TECHNIQUES
Water is our most precious and limited resource. We've developed relatively inexpensive ways to collect and store rain water and melting winter snow. For irrigation purposes we've developed practical distribution and purification methods.
Hauling water or getting it delivered always is an option. To haul water, you must have satisfactory vehicles that are costly and must be maintained. Delivery is more expensive per gallon. We can show you how to minimize or eliminate this cost.
IDEAS FOR BUDGET-MINDED PEOPLE
We know of few people who live, or wish to live here that are rolling in money - including us. If you are that fortunate, our offerings aren't for you. BUT if you want reasonable ways to live off-grid on a budget, including growing your own food, generating electric power with solar, wind, or conventional fuels, we can help you learn how.
TRY BEFORE YOU BUY TESTING
We know many people who are interested in off-grid property but know little about what it's really like. Often they buy land and find out that off-grid is harder than they expect - or more expensive.
I will continue to update this as plans, timetables,courses and costs are developed. If you have questions or requests please use the e-mail link below:
* ON-SITE visitors will be required to sign a liability waiver in the event you injure yourself or are attacked by a blood crazed Jackrabbit.
Please e-mail any comments
or questions to:
BELOW are photos of the area, and Green Hill Ranch.
August 2017 - One of my favorite photo subjects - Picacho Mountain to the southwest.
October 2017 - Roundup time - this was less than a quarter mile from the property on 10 Tank Road.
ABOVE: A view of a northern storm from the Bunkhouse - And below it, a view from state route 89 looking at an isolated cloud burst to the east towards Williams. It is typical of the nature of storms in the West.
Frosty morning in early April 2017 - Mt. Picacho in the clouds.
April 2017 - a rainy & snowy winter yielded plenty of green for the calves and cows.
A BIG javelina crosses "Bunkhouse Road" - the first one I have seen at the property - April 2017
BELOW - THE MAIN CABIN: 24 X 24 - TWO BEDROOM, BATH,
KITCHEN AND LIVING ROOM. SHOWER UNDER CONSTRCTION.
10 X 24 FOOR DESK ON EAST SIDE FACING THE VALLEY.
Took a six mile hike one day east to a high hill in Kaibab Knolls in August 2015. Probable elevation 6,400 feet. Magnificent 360 degree views. Top photo is Picacho Peak to the southwest. Middle photo is Mount Floyd to the northwest. Directly above is from a ridge looking back due west on the cabin.
How true...or not... depending on what I put on this dang web site :)
Mount McKenna in Flagstaff seen facing east from the main cabin 2017. Lola is unimpressed.
BELOW: The caretaker's quarters:
Some examples of crops and greenhouse nearing completion. It was custom designed for maximum efficiency and used rigid poly carbonate panels to withstand wind and sun.
BELOW: The "Bunkhouse" where the owner of the ranch hangs his hat most of the time.
Sunrise in September. Warm days. Cool nights. Looking east from the main cabin.
Dramatic sunset in October 2016 looking west from the Bunkhouse.
Mount McKenna near Flagstaff in May 2016
One of a small herd of Antelope in May, 2016 about halfway up the road to the hill.
September 2016 deer near Ten Tank Road
All I could catch on camera of a herd of elk crossing the hill in October 2016
A blue heron in JD tank - about a half mile south of the hill.
Twin stumps on state trust land, frame a cabin in the distance on state trust land adjacent to our place.
Prickly pear cactus that abound in the area.
Indian paint brushes
Above: Cactus and flowers along Bunkhouse Road in May 2016.
June 2016 - Hot days for the cows!
Above: Lichen and moss formations on the volcanic rocks are a sign of low air pollution levels.
Snow dusted Picacho in January 2016.
View from the cabin overlooking the fog and mist shrouded I40 valley
5 miles away. January 2016.
JD Tank got pretty low in August but September storms brought it back some. Some thirsty cows are pretty happy about it.
This big boy showed up one September morning about 50 yards from the cabin. "Don't mess with me feller"
Traffic Jam Ash Fork style. Curious cows on 10 Tank Road.
Above the dam of number 10 tank a dead tree stands watch.
A common sight. Jack rabbits abound. Here I shot one in a tranquil moment
in May of 2015.
A blue heron perched on top of a Mathis tank with Picacho mountain in the background. Apparently just passing through! I have seen several in May and June.
May showers brought: May flowers! The variety and abundance of plants never ceases to amaze me.
Even the cacti got into the act.
Viewing the lunar eclipse with George from the deck. 2016
sunset in June
the remains of a very large Juniper - note Lola here for scale.
An unusual site - a cottonwood standing in a dry wash. The area is loaded with washes that are dry most of the time. But when they fill up - head for higher ground!
A very deep wash cut... note Lola for scale on the far edge. The two photos below show the bottom of this bugger and the layers of soil and rock.
Looking east at sunrise over the valley below.
An early morning in February 2015 - a visitor about 50 yards from the north cabin window. A buck Elk!
Charolais cows abound on the range...
two youngsters grazing near sunset...
Lola enjoying February 2015 snow.
walking south on Ten Tank Road - October 2014.
Number 10 Tank - the brown earthen dam in the middle. Northern Arizona is filled with these dammed up washes that serve as stock tanks.
this is looking down and away from the dam.
number 10 stock tank
October 2014 - an old cattle chute below number 10 tank.
Bluff along the road north.
Picacho Peak is the most prominent landmark and lies to the southwest. Above is day and sunset. I have been referring to this previously as "Capacho" based on what a local dude told me. Conferring with an old timer in June in Seligman and his maps, it is Picacho Mountain. One of three such named in Arizona.
The white peaks in the distance are the San Francisco Mountains in Flagstaff - about 40 miles away. Mt McKenna is the nearest.
Much old equipment sits rusting away. Here an old rock separator is the backdrop to some fresh flowers.
Old Bossy here gave me the eye but never moved as I drove by as much to say: "what? Me worry?" She was laying about 15 feet from the road.
I spent one day and about 60 miles driving through Westwood Ranch which is west and above where we are. Drove up Ranch Road from halfway to Seligman north about 11 miles to Six Shooter Trail NE to Seven Ranch Road south to forest route 42 south into the Kaibab National Forest and then finally Double A Ranch Road into Ash Fork.
Below are some photos of the July 2015 trip
through Westwood Ranch: (13 miles west of exit 136 on Historic Route 66). Westwood Ranch is five miles north of the ranch post entrance.
Heading up the road with Mount Floyd in the distance. It is quite a bit higher than where we are and better watered too.
The jeep came in handy because some of the roads get pretty rough and dusty.
Garrett tank about 3 miles up.
a little further came Homestead Tank and the old cattle trailer next to it.
Near the base of Mount Floyd is Floyd Tank - Photo below is Mount Floyd. Elevation 7,400 feet. As clear a landmark as Picacho and can be seen for miles.
Mt. Floyd from a distance as I was going over Six Shooter Trail.
Different cows at Westwood Ranch... here are a few resting on the top of a stock tank along Six Shooter Trail.