History of the Eco-Ranch
We did not start our journey through life together with this destination in mind. Like so many, we wanted a career, children, home & security. We spent our early married years working toward that end……. And like so many, found ourselves in debt, afraid to take a sick day because we couldn’t afford it, “living on money that we hadn’t made yet”, replacing perfectly good clothes & other things because some advertising executive told us we needed to follow what is “trending” and generally being unhappy unless we were spending more money!
As we started questioning this new American lifestyle and yes, it is new! My parents (born in 1904 & 1912) and grandparents (born in the 1870’s) used something until it could no longer be repaired, bought only what was needed and then ONLY with hard cash, not credit….. we not only saw the idiocy of it, but also how precious world resources were being depleted! In fact, during the late 19th and 20th centuries, while the WESTERN world used resources at a breakneck pace, contributing to climate change, the other 85% of the world watched and envied our lifestyle so much that they built toward copying the West.
Now, with an additional 5 BILLION people wanting to live as we have, the world is under severe stress from resource depletion and destruction! Add to that the tax code and trade changes of the 1980’s & 90’s and we find that the generations that are following us “baby-boomers” and many of us, are now the first generation of Americans to live BELOW the standard of living of their parents.
This is due to the erosion of the Middle Class, overly wealthy billionaires speculating their excesses and creating “bubbles” that we end up paying for, outsourcing of manufacturing and services to $4.00 a day workers in “developing countries” and the insidious onslaughts of advertisers telling us we are not “whole” unless we own this or that trending piece of crap!
In 2001 we had enough! We bought a small parcel of land in rural north Florida and began building a sustainable homestead. But building codes, “butt-crack” code enforcement & building inspectors and finally a massive flood made it impossible for us to live as we wanted to (e/g: at the same level as our parents) and stay under the control of over/ridiculous regulation. An opportunity presented itself for us to move BACK to the place we loved, TEXAS and a part of it we had always dreamed about, the Big Bend area.
By this time we were accomplished at raising our own food, as well as chicken farming. We were studying hard the technologies of solar power, wind power, rainwater harvesting, sustainable construction and alternative agriculture.
The construction and development of the Eco-Ranch has been and will remain, dynamic. While we congratulate those who have a plan for decades and stick to it, we have seen in just the five years we have been here, how much things are changing and what seems cutting edge today can literally become outdated next week. So our plans, have changed and evolved!
This was supposed to be an “Earthship” built primarily out of tires….. but Robert hates working with tires AND was severely injured in 2011, making moving heavy things difficult. We had begun collecting empty bottles and found we LOVED working with them, so the house plans were changed and bottles became the primary building blocks of the “Eco-Ranch”!
Many people believe that sustainable, off grid living means a tiny “house” a barrel of water, a couple of solar panels, some golf cart batteries and “a light bulb and a laptop” and “living like refugees, camping on our own land!” We see these kinds of dwellings all around our desert and if this is what someone wants, great! However, we did not work for over 40 years to spend our retirement “camping” on our property.
So the Eco-Ranch was designed to be self-sustaining, comfortable to anyone, spacious and have as near to a zero carbon footprint as possible; WHILE PROVIDING ALL THE AMENITIES WE WANTED!
The message is that we all can live like we want (not as the advertisers say), debt-free, near zero carbon footprint AND actually have time to relax and smell the roses without worrying that we may fall behind on our “life debt” payments!
Our YOUTUBE channel, “ecoranchusa” has nearly 100 videos following our construction, successes & failures. Go there are see the progress from day one! Follow us on the journey!