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Hope, New Mexico.

You may be interested in our area -- known earlier this century as the "garden of New Mexico." Hope is in the southeast section of the state, in the lower foothills of the Sacramento Mountains, 70 miles east of the Cloudcroft Ski Run and 35 miles west of water skiing and fishing on Brantley Lake. We can see the mountains of the Lincoln and Guadalupe National Forests from our garden. The Pecos River is 25 miles east of us. The Penasco River runs from high in the Sacramentos down to the southern part of the Hope Community, although it's been diverted into irrigation canals. We are 4,100 feet in elevation, and average rainfall is 14 inches per year. We get snow about four times a year. The sun shines 95 percent of the time. Sunrises and sunsets are spectacular here. The night sky is fabulous. The weather most of the year is extraordinarily pleasant. In the hottest part of the year people use evaporative cooling (no need for refrigerated air), but we get along with fans just fine. The air is clean, ditto the water. No crime. No polluting industries except for the agribusiness dairies and oil to our east, but since our prevailing winds are from the southwest, we rarely get easterly winds.

Certified organic farm

Our mini-farm is the only certified (by the state) organic farm in southeastern New Mexico. We have 40 double dug beds (100 square feet each, most of them), we've planted 50-plus fruit trees (most about three years old), 40 pinion pines (pine nuts), 2 pistachio, two filbert, and several pecans. We have two large older pecan trees which produce well. We've also planted windbreak trees such as Afghan pines, Korean empress tree, honey locust, black locust, and elm. We have one older grape vine that produces fine green grapes; we've planted other types that will produce soon. We also tried kenaf this year (an African plant that produces fiber for paper) and cardoon (one of the earliest plants cultivated, related to the artichoke), both of which have done quite well.

In the garden we have several perennial beds: asparagus, currants, strawberries, Jerusalem artichokes, French dandelion greens, alfalfa, blackberries, and bush cherries. Among our annual plantings, our tropical tree collards and French dinant (red) celery are doing especially well this year, although our tomatoes haven't done as well as in past years -- maybe because of a very dry June. A couple of years ago we erected a 48 foot long green house(Hoop House brand) where we start many of our vegetables, flowers and herbs.

Almost everything grows here

Almost everything grows well here if you compost and water, with the exception of extreme acid-loving plants. My husband has several large compost piles at different stages of development. He's quite proud of the compost operation here.

We also have had sheep and goats (presently we have three Nubians and one Angora). Previous owners have had horses, cows, chickens, geese, ducks, etc., all allowed within the village limits. Livestock thrive here because some of the best alfalfa in the world is grown here. Many owners of race horses buy their hay here. Llamas and ostriches can be found on nearby ranches. Oxen should do well here, too. Camels have been tried here as well.

Our place is a little less than two acres, within the village limits of Hope (population 101). Our house is a rural Queen Anne two-story built for the first postmaster around the turn of the century. The wonderful porch was added in 1908. There is a small barn, garage, a corral, and fenced-in areas for the goats with goat shelters. We use well water provided by the Hope Water Co-op Corp. It tastes delicious and the required tests indicate it is safe. Our water bill ranges from the minimum (5,000 gal.) of $16.95 a month to $56 (our highest bill in the summer). Some people's bills are much higher, of course, but we are careful. Our property taxes are around $120 a year. We spend about $500 a year on propane and about $300 a year on electricity. Gasoline presently is $1.25/gallon for unleaded, probably higher than you pay.

All in all, the cost of living here is amazingly low. A number of retired folks get along on social security alone. There is a great deal of sharing of produce, etc., in the community, and there are a number of regular community functions: Old Timer's Reunion in July, lunches at the Fire Hall after a funeral, dances, art classes, card games, and basketball at the Community Center. There is a library that needs some organization but has some great books, plus there is a bookmobile that comes to Hope on a regular basis. There is a volunteer fire department, a part-time policeman, trash pick-up twice a month, and many helpful neighbors.

The school closed 20 years ago so the kids ride the school bus into Artesia, 22 miles east.

Politically, folks here dislike Big Government and went 35 percent for Perot in the last primaries. The big issue among the ranchers nearby, of course, is the grazing fee hike. It takes a while for outsiders to become accepted. I started a newspaper here, the first in 40 years or so, and all went well until I made much over certain violations of open government laws. Best not to get too involved in local government issues!


Hope, New Mexico: pop. 101; elev. 4,086 ft.

Eddy County: pop. 52,800; 1,814 sq. miles; pop. per sq. mile, 29.1; county seat, Carlsbad (pop. 28,100); per capita income, $8,872; median household income, $19,310.
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Copyright 1994 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Finding Your Homestead: Some "Best Places" in the United States
Author:Hudgens, Gayle
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Jan 1, 1994
Previous Article:Homesteading in Bayfield County.
Next Article:Fountain, Florida.

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