Living The Dream


The last 48 hours at the homestead may seemingly have been uneventful, but there’s always something going on here at Hacienda Dominguez & Chelenzo Farms.

Whether it’s ants, flies or rats, something’s always moving through the house and at some point you almost have to accept that they’re simply part of the household when you live in the country.

Much of the last two days was spent much like how I’ve spent the last twenty years at “the company,” making and filing and pushing paperwork. After a spectacular debacle by our bank and a two-week fumble to straighten out our accounts, I finally had a chance to set up our online bookkeeping for our nascent and somnolent enterprise (yes, it’s a baby business).

That meant sorting through and uploading a hundred or so of a few months-worth of expense receipts (bor-ing, but quite necessary).

Meanwhile, I was about to have a virtual office meeting with my colleagues back in New York when Olivia Luz comes running back to the office tower, yelling, “The boys caught a rat and brought it in the house! Barker and Zeus dragged and left it in the kitchen!!!”

On one huff, I’m thinking, “Great, now I’ve got to reschedule this junta at the last minute.” And on the other, a sigh of relief, “Finally, the puppies have ‘broken their cherry’ (gratuitous oxymoronic Good Fellas reference) and caught their first rat!”

Coincidentally, Mama had to run out to take my father-in-law to meet the fur trader who sold his house to him yesterday.

Within a matter of five or six weeks, Grandma and Grandpa came to visit from Florida to help with renovations on 48-BRE, and spontaneously decided to move to New Mexico. So, within a week they reached out to the owner of an unoccupied house that is literally down the dirt road from our little oasis - a mysterious artist-cum-backwoods man who travels the world for art shows and moved to Wyoming to be one-with-the-wilderness some years ago, after inheriting some serious cash. He told my in-laws he hadn’t considered selling, but why not? adding, “I’ve bought lots of property, but never sold any.”

Five weeks later, they, along with Chelsea, go down to meet him at the relatively-abandoned house being otherwise occupied by rodents and “Rocky,” the 75-lb raccoon that Roland came across when he opened the shed door. He said it said, if only with its eyes, “Yeah, what do you want?”

Anyway, albeit our quirky seller greets them shirtless with but a few bangles dangling and shimmering upon his arms, he otherwise seems like a “very nice guy.”

After their closing later that afternoon, my in-laws got straight to work, cleaning out “all the rat shit,” and tearing up parts so that they could begin their own renovation and occupation of their own home much sooner than later.

Anyhoo, back at the ranch that morning, I descend from my ivory tower (we literally painted the walls and staircase white) to do some of my own abatement. What I found were a few surprises.

First, I was admittedly disappointed not to find a big fat packrat on the kitchen floor, as I was hoping that our rat terriers had finally started earning their keep, much like we we’re waiting for our girls to start laying eggs.

Instead, what I got was a sneak preview, for they had dragged in the already-dead and shriveled mouse that I had taken out of the big black empty garbage can we have outside, which it had fallen into a few days ago, to eventually starve and drown in the rain water.

I also discovered that Olivia Luz was alone with all the animals out and about at various corners of the yard (310 acres). This included 11 chickens, 4 new chicks, and two dogs.

Much more alarming than the dead rat alert, this set off an internal alarm, because I had that pending meeting and for the last couple of days Kevin has kindly sent us warnings of all the hangry predators set upon our land (a pack of coyotes one day, a hawk circling our house, the next). He’s like our own personal Watchman, who I imagine watches from his porch while sipping his morning cup of Joe at dawn and then his after-work cocktail at dusk. We are lucky to have him as a neighbor and harbinger, essentially serving as our own private wilderness weatherman who is quickly building a large credit holding with us redeemable in Manhattans and Old Fashioneds.

Anyway, in a slight panic, I dial mama’s number many times to no avail, and meanwhile tell Olivia Luz we’ve got to gather all the animals, so I can get back to business in the virtual office.

After a frantic fifteen minutes that deed is done - the ladies are back in the coop, and the dogs and daughter are securely in the house, with the dead mouse back outside the door again.

Apart from grandparents officially moving into the neighborhood and locking down the homestead, the other highlight is that I picked up Dominic, our nearly-20 year old who is starting his first deferred year at Princeton in a few weeks (yes, I needed to drop dat), from ABQ, who flew in from Jersey to spend a long weekend with us while we celebrate Olivia’s birthday at MeowWolf and the Beer Creek on Monday and Grandpa Roland’s, while river rafting down the Pecos on Tuesday.

Which reminds me of all the other exciting upcoming plans we have: A Friday evening hike at Cerrillos,Hills park; the Spanish art market at the Santa Fe Railyard on Saturday morning; and the Hausman’s anniversary party, celebrating 40 years of living here in Cerrillos, that evening.

And to think, here I thought I had “nothing to write about,” the writer’s always-looming nightmare, which I am wholly fortunate enough not to have to entertain, all the while living the dream.