Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Concrete keeps creeping in

When TC and I were looking for a place in AZ we had a few specifics in mind.

Room for horses, top of the list.

Room for TC's stuff (and a shop)

A safe and decent sized dog yard.

The ability to ride out from our house without too much "city riding".

Not soooo far out of town that I could not find gainful employment without commuting for 2 hours.

Size of the house was only moderately relevant, and a "mobile home" was not out of the question.

We went with the east side of the Phx valley because that is where my kids are and because I know that side of town better.  We looked in some specific area's because we like the Superstitions, and we were really hoping to have irrigation for pasture.  Queen Creek, Apache Junction, San Tan Valley were the preferred towns.

The place we ended up with is about as perfect for us as could be.  It is a rural neighborhood, each property is zoned as a "ranchette" and cannot be less than 3 acres.

We are basically right on the edge of civilization, but that is changing quickly and we are starting to wonder if we moved far enough away from town.

We moved in August of 2013. It is now Feb of 2014 (in case you weren't aware)  In that very short amount of time I have watched the contractors wipe out 5 different very large  alfalfa and cotton  fields and start building houses on them. The farm fields were producing right up until the day they started surveying.   These are not more of the lovely little "ranchettes" but more like gated communities where every house is one of 3 models, the yard is about the size of my desk at work, and the houses are 3000 square feet ... each ... and ... every  The houses are so close together you could hop from roof top to roof top and never even have to strain yourself.

These neighborhoods have great names like "Pecan Creek" (because there used to be a huge pecan grove where it sits now.  There is "Encantera" which has its own golf course. "Castlegate",  "Johnson  Ranch, I, II, and III. I have to laugh about Johnson Ranch because part of it is built right on top of a place that used to have 3 gorgeous houses on it that were built back in the 40's or 50's.  Unfortunately because of some underground testing (explosives) that was going on in that area by Mcdonald Douglas, the ground was cracking and the houses were falling in the cracks.  The last time I saw the houses one was almost all the way in, and another the entire swimming pool had fallen in.  Rumour has it that the government (who backs Mcdonald Douglas) paid the residents of those homes a huge some of money to walk out and never look back.  They did too, didn't even take anything with them.  I swear this to be true, I saw the houses with my own eyes.

There is one community that is intriguing.  It is the "Will Rogers Equestrian Neighborhood" It is the latest thing in a horse community.   It is the same cookie cutter houses all behind the big brick wall.  But then they have added a huge barn, lighted arena, and some well groomed trails through the neighbor hood where you can ride as long as you don't go off the trail. For a monthly fee you get to keep your horse there at the barn in your community. Only residents of the community get to keep their horses there.  I mean as far as gated communities go, that would be my choice for sure....but I think I would probably shoot myself before I would live in a gated community.  Not really, but I'm sure it would be depressing for me.

Now, this is the part I cannot fathom.  Why do people move way out of town just so they can move into a neighborhood just like the one they left in the city?  Why do people move to "the country" but insist on bring the city with them? They do not like our horses and the flies that come with them.  These people do not like the smell of the dairies that used to be in the area. And now the dairies are gone.  They did not care to have drive further to get their groceries, so now there is Walmart, and Frys, and Safeway, and Fresh and Easy, and Sprouts, and every fast food joint you can think of...right...down...the street.

Yes it is more convenient.

And yes, I hang my head in shame because I do take advantage of that convenience.

But if it wasn't there.....I'd be just as happy to drive my butt 25 miles to town and do my shopping once a week.

There is a FB page I follow which is a local sale and barter, strictly for our area.  Often the posts are not about sales but about things going on in the community.  Recently a young woman in one of the housing developments posted that she heard gunshots, and wondered if anyone knew what they were.  Someone else asked, "How Many?"  She couldn't say because after she heard the first one she shut all the windows and hid in her bedroom.

Okay, I'm not trying to be mean here, really I'm not. I'm sure she was terrified, and I feel for her, but I had to post a comment and this is what I said.

"I sure do miss the old days, before all the cookie cutter houses were built.  Back then if we heard gun shots we went to the neighbors house to see if they needed help burying the body."

( yes I realize now that I probably should have specified carcass)

I''m sure you are thinking that I am being a bit hypocritical since I just moved there, but I really was there in the old days.  Exactly 4.3 miles from where I live now, is the house where I lived when my rockstar son (19 years old) was 2.  I spent many years in Queen Creek, before San Tan Valley was even a "town".   Only back then it really was BFE, it was 25 miles to the nearest pay phone or store of any kind. We carpooled our trips to town when ever possible, and we really did go to the neighbors to see if they needed help with a "body" when we heard gunshots.

There are people in our area that have lived there their entire lives.  One of my co-workers has lived 2 streets over from my house since he was in elementary school, and he intends on raising his own young children right there and they will inherit the property from him when they grow up. There are a lot of families like that out here.  He raises cows.  On the back side of his property just across the street a huge development has gone up, and it seems as though the city folk aren't loving his livestock...that were there before they moved in.

I realize that this is starting to sound like a whiny rant. In fact I am willing to admit that it is a rant, but there is something motivating me to speak my mind on this. Right now, in our ranchette neighborhood, there is someone who has decided that he wants to be a land developer and wants to parcel off a section into 1 acre lots.  I don't think he will be able to do it.  Our neighborhood is pretty adamant about "keeping it country" as much as possible.  Still I just don't get it.  Is it all about the money? It has to be.  If you  parcel it off into 20 different lots you can get a lot more money for it than if you sell it as one big one.

But at what cost?

Every time I see another farm field or orange grove get plowed under and planted with houses I can't help but wonder if these contractors have any clue what they are doing to us.  Where do they think that food gets grown for people?  Where do they think that cotton for clothes comes from?  Where do they think we will get our hay to feed our horses?  

I wish I could ask them.

Then I wonder about the farmers.  Most of these farms have been around for generations.  One has to wonder why they are selling out?  Is it because the seniors are gone or retired and the youngsters don't want any part of farming...they just want the cash?  Or is it because they were offered an obscene amount of money and couldn't resist.   Did they relocate, or just give up?

I remember when I worked at Shoppers supply and one old farmer came in. He had to be in his 90's and I walked the whole store with him, very slowly, one step at a time.  He talked about his farm, about how most of it was gone now, and the other farmers, his friends were gone too. He was so sad about it.  I think that progress made him as sad as it does me.

I suppose I should have known it was inevitable.  If I wanted to stay small town like we were in Casper, we should have picked a smaller town to move too. TC jokes that he is packing up and moving the Wickenburg to live in the desert and gold pan till he dies.  Maybe we should have picked Globe, or some other obscure little town.  I mean don't get me wrong, I love where we are, and I am a people person so I don't mind having neighbors.  I guess I just wish they would quit planting houses.

Ok, rant over.


  1. Every time my hay farmer in NV delivered to me, he talked about selling out because he was ready to retire and couldn't find anyone to take over the business. I constantly begged him to not give up, because he was the only hay farmer in our valley who consistently produced quality hay. Now that I'm in AZ, I've already lost one hay farmer after just one year, and another is talking about quitting. I'm worried that I may have to give up on my horse habit simply because some day the stress of trying to find ways to feed my horses may just get to be too much for me. When we were looking for a place to live, I was seriously scared by how few hay fields there were here.

    I was amazed by how many properties with more than 2 acres were surrounded by subdivisions, gated communities, and mobile home parks. I always checked the satellite view of homes before asking to see them. You can tell that this area has suffered through fast and possibly uncontrolled development. We agreed that the minute the city sells the land in front of us that contains bridle trails, we're out of here. I'm trying to be optimistic, but I suspect I can consider myself lucky if we make it 5 years without that happening. I feel for you because you knew this area long before my neighborhood was built, so you've already gone through what I'm afraid might happen to me.

    Well, I obviously can't sleep, because I'm up at 3:00 in the morning reading blogs.

  2. Developers and city folk look at an empty lot and see nothing but room to put a building on.

    I look at an empty lot and see the homes that are already there . . . the rabbits, the fox den, the Redtail Hawk nest, the gopher and prairie dog holes. Some of us love the wild untamed landscape that is the West, while others just want the wildlife (and the cows and horses) confined to a zoo.

    I snorted OJ through my nose at the body comment.

  3. Yeah, loved your body comment :0)
    Excellent rant.
    In my province (British Columbia) many years ago the government instituted a program to protect agricultural land - imagine that, a far sighted government!- from being chopped up into housing developments. It's called the ALR, the Agricultural Land Reserve and it is very effective. The farm I live on is 80 acres and it's in the ALR, so I know it won't get sold out from underneath me and made into acreages.
    I can never fathom why people want to bring the city with them when they move to the country.

  4. Girlfriend, you missed out on all of the hubbub broo-haha a while back about the freeway plowing thru our neighborhood... Corridor 4 if you're curious. Ann knows about it too.

    I posted about it back when it was fresh. ADOT wanted our input ASAP, but still has yet to decide, or at least tell us WHAT they decided... Sometime in 2016

    Seems Corridor 2 goes through all of the state trust land, the same land developers have already dug their heels into, between us and the Superstition freeway. Somehow the developers have more 'pull' with ADOT over their currently vacant land, than current landowners who are actually living on their land... Oh and the new school? It would not be rebuilt. At least not by ADOT.

    Either way the freeway would come off the 202 at Hawes. Where the dairy is... And for offering everyone "Fair Market Value" for their property/house. WHAT A JOKE! That dairy farmer was offered $10 per acre. No lie! Not a typo- $10 TEN lousy freakin dollars. I asked ADOT if we were to expect the same? Boy did that set everyone in the room off! They wanted somebody's head on a stick after that.

    Sorry for the long comment/rant of my own. The HOA Pres. of Moonshadows already has attorneys on standby over this and has since the start of it all.

    1. Anne mentioned it, but didn't go into detail. That is fricking awesome...not! Don't they realize that these are peoples homes??????

      I have to get my letter of protest in pretty quick on the subdividing, and I hope everyone in the neighborhood writes one as well.

    2. They know. Do you think they care? Yeah, not so much...

      People in Cambria used to drive thru our 'hood to get wherever they were going by skipping the traffic lights and speeding. They complained about manure in the road getting on their cars. Easy solution- don't come thru here!

      Then they set up photo radar vans. Like watching a strobe light in a disco bar. Hilarious! They did give people the 11mph over until I reminded one of the higher ups, "Its 25 in a residential, just like it is 15 in a school zone. 15 IS 15? 25 IS 25." Strobe light effect again...

  5. I hear you, its happeneing here too, part of the trouble here is there are so many people with lots of money in Calgary and they live in the city and still takes them over an hour to get to work in the city. So many are moving a little farther out, away from the cookie cutter houses and onto a few acres of land and it takes them less time to get to work cause less traffic. But in the meantime not realizing how much land they are taking away from the people who are using it to grow thier food. I am lucky I am still in an area that is far from this happeneing as we are a long way from the cities and its horrible cold in winter and horrible hot in summer so not where most people want to live! But I can already see the day when it will come aout here as well, I have already heard they are in the makings of creating laws for acreages that have to be less than 5 acres and that will help alot cause noone knows how much 20 acres is and then it becomes a fire hazard, or the opposite they have 2 acres and 10 horses and cant figure out why they have no grass. PEOPLE! ugh they drive me crazy

  6. I see they are breaking ground a few blocks away from me again. :-(. Last year when we bought this place and I rode around the neighborhood, there were so many empty houses. This year...Every. Single. One of them is occupied and on the weekends the neighborhood is buzzing with gators, 4-wheelers and golf carts. It will be a long time before they build up around this area enough to bother us and maybe not even in my lifetime.

    I don't mind people so much, but I sure hate the city attitude they bring with them. I was looking at some of the houses for sale in my area and one of the subdivisions off of Patton advertised their claim to fame as 'Live in the country without neighbor's with horses'. Really? WTFreak man? And I couldn't stand to live on a property that was surrounded by walls. I'm old-fashioned I guess, I as a rule, like my neighbors and become friends with them. Even when I lived in an apartment complex in Scottsdale...and man, did that freak people out. A friendly neighbor? The horror!!! LOL

    1. I get what you mean, I have no problem with neighbors, in fact I enjoying getting to know the folks I love around, and yes it is a bit old fashioned, but it is a good thing.

      If you are "Living in the country without neighbors with horses" then I don't see how you are truly living in the country. Doesn't the phrase "Live out in the country" imply that you enjoy living around livestock and wide open spaces?