Our Land in McElmo Canyon

NEW! Here are some pictures of the strawbale workshop building.

Table of Contents

  1. Panorama from our front room
  2. Map of where our land is
  3. Site Plan
  4. Links to Strawbale Construction sites
  5. Current floor plans of the house
  6. Cortez Strawbale Building Codes
  7. Aerial Photos of our land
  8. Photos of Phyllis and Dion on the land
  9. Link to climate charts of the area
  10. Our Future Plans

Here is a panorama of the view from where we think our house will be placed on the land (just to whet your appetite). Click on the individual thumbnails to see larger versions. The picture on the left is to the North, and the picture on the right, to the East. If you want to see a true panorama try this .6mb image. Sorry the quality is not stellar, but it is pretty darn good enough to let you know what we will be seeing out our front windows.

Panorama view 1 Panorama view 2 Panorama view 3 Panorama view 4

In mid-September 1997 we purchased a 16-acre parcel of land just outside of Cortez, Colorado. In May of 1999, we sold our house in La Jolla and moved to Cortez. The previous January, we had purchased a 12x60 mobile home and had it moved to our land and hooked up. Here is a map showing where our land is. Cortez is about 44 miles Northeast from the "Four Corners" inatersection of the states of Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado. There is about 1.25 acres of gently sloping meadow near the road with the balance of the property in juniper and pinyon forest, going up a hill. The property is bordered on the top of the hill and the west by the Ute Mountain Indian Reservation.

Here is a site plan showing how the land sits in relation to the road. The area at the upper right corner is the meadow area. It extends South (North is to the top of the picture) just to the green strip (these are trees) and West to the extent of the green strip and to the East all the way to the property line. The dotted dark blue lines coming up from Country Road G at the northern boundary is a dirt road which goes up the hill (down the page) until it ends at the well. All the rest of the land is forested. The house site would be between the dirt road and the edge of the meadow.

Water in this area is very important since it is a high desert climate. This property is blessed with a permitted well, a water tap (municipal piped water) at the road, and has 6 shares of irrigation water from an irrigation ditch. Electricity, phone and water are all present at the road.

The property is in Montezuma County and as such is not subject to any building permits and the only inspections necessary are electrical and septic. If you do not already know, we are planning on building a straw bale house. No, not having someone build it for us, but I am designing and building it myself! Also a strawbale shop, carport and brewery building. For those of you who are SB literate,both the shop and the house will be post and beam.

If you are not strawbale literate, here is a link to a site that has pictures and explanations and links to many other sites to tell you all you ever wanted to know about straw bale buildings. The link to "Colorado Strawbalers" has pictures of several bale houses, completed as well in construction. If you want to delve further into strawbale construction, take the link to "Surfin' Strawbale" which is one of the most comprehensive collections of strawbale info and links available.

Also, if you would like to see strawbale as well as other methods of "green" home building, please visit the Green Home Building Web Site. This is a new website that is devoted to all aspects of sustainable architecture and natural building.

At this time, one straw building (workshop) has been completed. As of July, 2003, we have been living here for 4 years. I am still working in high tech and am currently commuting to San Diego for work.

The current state of our house plans

NEW! The text of the Cortez, Colorado Strawbale Ordinance. Thanks much to M.J. Epko for for cleaning them up and adding nice formatting. It was scanned in from the original ordinance, converted by OmniPage Pro OCR software and then I had to spend about an hour fixing up what the OCR did not do right. It was poorly formatted because I did not have the time to do the HTML work on it, when after about 6 months on my site, out of the blue, M.J. sent me the current cleaned up HTML version. Thanks much, M.J. Epko!!

NEW! Aerial photos of our land.

We are about 20 minutes away from Mesa Verde National Park where there are many cliff dwellings left by ancient native American people.

Here is a picture of our land from across Couny Road G, looking across the meadow and up Gifford's Knoll. Our land goes up the knoll approximately 900 feet.

Here is a picture of Phyllis sitting just above the well head, approximately 300 feet up from the road.

Here is a picture of Dion sitting just above the well head, and uphill.

We will be putting up additional information like a map of where the property is and a map of where things are on the land, so check back now and then.

The climate in the area is a relatively mild four season climate and the canyon we are in makes it warmer in both winter and summer than the nearby town of Cortez. There is an abundance of sunshine (321 days per year) and a growing season of about 125 days. Again, the microclimate of the canyon extends this growing season, but we do not yet know how long.

As far as plans for employment, Phyllis plans to continue her weaving and jewelry making and her business of selling naturally dyed yarn. I am currently still working in San Diego and commuting home about every 6 weeks. I am looking for an alternative career that will allow me to move back home on a permanent basis. Most preferable would be some sort of high tech, being able to telecommute.

People have asked us if we plan on being farmers and the answer is, "No." While we plan on having a large organic garden tucked in between the natural vegatation in the meadow on the lower part of the property, we are definitely not going to be farmers. However, there is an organic farm two neighbors down from us, a llama farm next to that and across the road, an ostrich and emu farm. Much hay is also grown in the area, so it is a farming area.