Category Archives: Uncategorized

Own a vehicle old enough to deserve a name.

Fifteen years and a couple hundred thousand miles will show the developing personality of your trusty set of wheels. Meet, “Flo”. Originally purchased from a alfalfa farmer she was surprisingly straight. My son and I spent a couple days removing someone else’s failed attempt at dressing her up. Plastic mud guards and the usual assortment of JC Whitney add-ons topped with pin striping sure dated the truck. Finished with a color sand and buffing of the original paint she came back to the original bright white Ford intended. (Luckily, we found people willing to pay for the things we took off. Love Craigslist!)

“Flo” is short for “flowing oil freely”. She is quite happy leaving her version of a breadcrumb trail to find home again. Over time I have deduced my leaky gremlin to live under what is referred to as the high pressure oil pump. $1000+ fix at the dealer, $500-600 to do correctly myself. So far I have opted for a scrap sheet of plywood in her parking spot to soak up the offending oil. Most likely this will stay the course until it becomes a drivability issue. There just always seems to be something more important fighting for our dollars. Besides, what good is a name like “Flo” for a truck that doesn’t leak?

A new model outfitted the same runs about $55000, carries an annual registration fee of $800 plus a couple thousand dollars per year for insurance.

We have @$9400 invested in Flo. Registration for 5 years was a total of $162 and insurance runs $500 annually.

She can carry the same weight (albeit slower) and gets better fuel mileage getting to the same places than the new expensive model. No, she doesn’t have that intoxicating new truck smell or a smooth, squeak free ride. The longer I live my life without a truck payment; those things matter less and less to me.

More money saving

The first 20 years of my adult life had me convinced that is was good to never have to borrow anything. On some subconscious level I probably felt smart or accomplished for being able to afford anything I ever needed (even if I knew I would only use it once). I also liked being the guy who could help out a friend or neighbor in any situation. Oddly, I had an issue with borrowing something from anyone else- I just couldn’t do it. I used to be able stand in the center of my garage and count the thousands of dollars in tools and equipment that were used for one simple job then put on display in hopes someone would need it.

We’ve been on the path to simple living for a few years now and my attitude has changed toward borrowing. It was not easy at first; several times I found myself digging for my wallet just to buy what I needed. I’m well past that now. Turns out, my friends and neighbors take just as much pleasure in being the “go to guy” as I do. Growing into a humble man that can accept help with as much enthusiasm as when he gives it was a huge step for me.

Funny how I’ve learned that being more “self sufficient” has very little in common with “doing everything yourself”. Cheers to my friends and neighbors.

How do you afford this?

The wife and I are self employed and have been for years. Every year we take home less and less. Government regulation, competition in our marketplace, rising cost of everything (fuel, insurance, equipment and on and on) have us working harder for less money than we were making ten years ago. Two teens at home, the youngest homeschooling, cuts into the amount of time we can spend working so employees must be paid to do jobs we have done ourselves for years. Honestly, I am surprised at the end of every month when she tells me we covered everything again. I’d like to cover some of the ways we squeak by each month all the while setting aside money for projects on our property. It will probably take me a few weeks to cover them all.

I’d say the most important thing we did a few years ago was to turn the television off. We still have it and rent the occasional movie or find something on Netflix if we’re looking to unwind but the $100 per month satellite subscription is long gone. My first thought was, “$1200 can buy a lot of x,y or z- that’s reason enough”. After a few months you find yourself finishing old projects, finally getting around to putting that piece of junk on Craigslist for sale, finishing books you couldn’t get into years prior. I’m sure someone in the blog world has done a better job of breaking down the ins and outs of why turning the tube off is a great move than I ever will but my point is easy to get.

Several years ago our typical evening would start with take-out or some pre-packaged container of processed whatever in the microwave so we could be ready to catch our favorite shows. Once the TV was off my wife started picking up old cook books and my taste buds were extremely supportive of this. Our idea of date night went from going out to dinner to pouring some cocktails and cooking a meal together at home. The side effect of saving a ton of money was never on our minds but sure was a nice bonus.

Real conversations with your family. This one really doesn’t need much explaining. Whip out a board game like “Sorry” and even your teens talk and smile.

There is a certain calm that comes with not being inundated with commercials for things you don’t want or need several hours per day. The cravings for fast food, soda, restaurants and new cars seemed to disappear almost immediately. Those ad guys are really good at what they do! Has this affected our spending? I am sure of it.

Dropping out of the televised world easily saves us several thousand dollars per year but the quality of life you regain is where it’s at. That is something I can’t put a price on.

Some simple cuts with the chainsaw and we now had life size “Lincoln Logs”. Pretty simple framework. The placement of the logs was a simple measurement of the width of a full size truck so the tires roll on the logs themselves so we didn’t go broke buying material. If we had to do it over again we would use 2×12’s instead of 2×6’s for added strength down the middle.Image

Turns out those poles are every bit as heavy as I thought they would be. After laying out the basic shape we came in with the Bobcat and prepared a bed for the cross beams to lay. ImageImage


Our property has several natural waterways as it drops elevation over 250′ from top to bottom. Once our home site was chosen we started planning the different dirt work projects to divert water away from the building pad. We camped on the property every weekend through the monsoon season so we could watch firsthand just how much water we will be dealing with to help us decide how best to get it to pasture below.
Most things up here begin with, “You know what we ought to do…….” This time the thought was to add a bridge to the long list of things we had never done nor had any experience with.
Knowing where a stack of old telephone poles were for the taking we got to work.

The name.

Trying to name a blog about our family’s journey to a simple life has not been easy. While I hoped for something witty and clever I found myself heading for practical and easy to understand. Proof that my brain is starting to think more like my heart? Let’s hope so.

We are the Holmes family. Mom, dad, four kids, ages 30 to 14 and a delicious little granddaughter. Each of us has a story but this is about our journey together.

Arizona is where we live. After searching for a few years, we found our perfect property 100 miles from where we currently reside. Fifty acres of virgin Northern Arizona at 5300′ elevation. What follows will be the story of a family with no previous experience developing this raw rural land into a forever home.

Arizona Holmestead seemed to cover all of the above quite well.