They don’t live here anymore.

Stone and Adobe Houses: Mora and San Miguel County, northern New Mexico

Marriage, death, hardship, crop failure or disease. It was not natural disaster. Drought possibly. They could have moved on, further west or even gone someplace back east. Maybe it was an opportunity to travel and pursue economic fortune or the promise of an easy life. Then there are those that simply moved to town and traded  independence for the convenience of eggs and milk that they could purchase at the store…and schools and sidewalks and a bank account instead of chores.

These home made  houses built of mud and stone, raw materials scratched and wrestled from the ground, with sweat and muscle rose to stand, provided shelter wife and man.

The children’s laughter, barking dogs and clucking hens are heard no more, the only sound a lonely one of wind, whistling round the door.

Who was the last to leave and walk away, the son, a tenant or hired hand? Did they turn and pause as they left the land? Where do the grandchildren live, of this last man?

Slowly these homes dissolve and fall, where grass and trees soon cover all. Family names and stories buried, under ground and only history books remember that men once built their homes of mud and stone.

Mora and San Miguel are poor counties to be sure, some of the poorest in the country but the air is clean, the water pure and quality of life is not always based on money.

The question then is sustainable. Is a global economy really sound? With climate change approaching where will you stake your ground? What place to raise the children where they are safe and sound. Who remembers how to build a house with materials mostly found?

Click any image to enlarge for detail

One can only hope that now these folks have a better life than they did back at the farm. That life is easier for them and they found happiness.  I wonder though what bird sings outside their window, are there flowers by the door. Is the water sweet and pure? Do neighbors still come calling to help them with the chores?

About earthstonestation

promoting environmental education, protecting all species and preserving the wild places with art, music and storytelling.
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13 Responses to They don’t live here anymore.

  1. asdfsadf says:

    My mother in law lived in a mud hut in mexico as a child, she said she would never go back…

    You would move if there was no health care or doctors and the risk of death was always at your door. They wanted a better life for their kids. If you had caught an infection or fever, death was very likely, even for the poor little children.
    Their entire family caught fever, her poor toddler sister now has one blind eye. My mom in law nearly cut her tongue in half while playing…she doesn’t remember how long she starved till it miraculously healed together again.

    It was a tougher life than I gave it credit for. -before I would romanticizes about such a life…I think we defiantly need to find something in between…fossil fuels should definitely go as well as fracking.

    Churches and family was their community.

  2. graveday says:

    Wonderful earthen homes. I have helped build several straw bale homes, but the one below is the first to have earth plaster. These folks do live here, heh. The inside is also earthen. The south wall, the one pictured, had to have some remediation after some severe winter storms, but with a slightly rejiggered mix and some extra protection have suffered no erosion.

  3. sil86as2 says:

    Reblogged this on gottopickapocketortwo and commented:
    Evocative photos from a time long gone. Great blog.

  4. Horrendous waste to be sure. And everywhere. Beautiful post and gorgeous pictures.

  5. A sad,beautiful story, both the writiing and the pictures. Makes me long to go and rebuild and create another community there….if only!

    • Hi Valerie. It’s a fact that there were so many abandoned places in New Mexico during the 60s/70s that the “back to the land” folks gravitated there. Communities were created. The Lower Farm is such a place (one of the last surviving). I’m doing what I can to preserve that place. Aloha Dohn.

  6. McEff says:

    A hard life in hard times. We’ve got it easy really.

  7. So well written. Whenever I explore abandoned houses I imagine their lives too. Thanks for sharing this.

    • It is left to the imagination the stories of daily dramas large and small that played out between the walls. Peeking thru the windows or an open door one finds clues, more often questions for reward.

  8. Bill Chance says:

    Love the adobe. I remember helping someone mud the walls of their adobe garage, near Abiquiu.

    Thanks for the memories.

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