About this time next week, we should be pulling into Terlingua and El Punto with a trailer load of construction materials. Our next project is a ramada. Our plan is to construct it of four posts sawn from recycled electrical poles, pressure treated lumber for roof support and a roof of translucent poly with a good UV inhibitor (the plan thus far). Walls on the south and west sides will be added later, probably spent sotol and lechuguilla flower stalks, often reaching 10 feet or more. These will be wired together to form a screen and serve as walls on two or more sides.
The ramada will offer shade from the sun while the shorter western screen wall will allow air ventilation during the hot months. The open east wall will allow for outstanding views of the Chisos, Christmas, and Corazon Mnts. Because of the panoramic views north with Hen Egg, ‘Molar’ (my name) and Aqua Fria Mountains, and Black Creek Draw badlands, I would prefer not to screen that side in. However, a removable screen would be useful to block winter north winds. That will require some creativity to design and install so that it is sturdy enough to withstand the winds.
The structure will also allow a place to hang a hammock for sleeping outside on warm nights. Like many roofs in the desert, the ramada roof will also serve as water catchment, emptying into a barrel or two on concrete blocks. I hope to establish some plants on the south side that are indigenous to that section of the desert and the rain water can be used for emergency landscape watering (or to water the future food garden).
Another project I have in mind is to build a compost bin. Instead of the traditional wooden or straw bins I have used in northern climates, this one will be built of rocks. Rocks won’t decompose in the sun and the air spaces will allow for air flow. I might line the interior with some type of fence wire to deter snakes. Right now, the scraps dumped on one spot of the desert ground are quickly eaten by critters, which is fine with me. I can share.
In addition to El Punto projects, I intend to do a good amount of hiking. Those stories will come later.