Detour: The Organic Farm in Abiquiu, NM

by Mike on October 19, 2012 · 6 comments

This is the first in a 3-part series about our time in Abiquiu, NM. Read our entries about The Food and The Terrain too.

Unplugging, in order to plug back in

For Ang’s birthday, she requested that we get away to a 20-acre organic farm along a river in Abiquiu, New Mexico that our dear friends the Tartlers told us about. They had actually eloped there five years ago, and couldn’t stop raving about how peaceful and magical it was. We were intrigued. Already, Albuquerque and Santa Fe had already impressed us (blog posts to come!) and now, another destination. We contacted the farm owners Lisa and Jann, and booked our one night stay at The Riverhouse Casita (Spanish for “little house”), excited for the little jaunt away.

We were not disappointed. This farm in Abiquiu really is a world of wonder, magic and serenity.  It is a world of topaz-blue skies melting into blood orange sunsets that slip into twilit indigo hues, before finishing off into an infinite starry night sky.

It’s a world of golden cottonwood trees and ruddy landscapes with otherworldly contours reflecting the light of the sun in a dramatic pas de deux.

There are gentle, cool autumn breezes alternating with the radiating warmth of the sun to call every pore in your skin to life.

In this world you will find dusty, sometimes muddy paths that cut a swath through the scraggly knee-high grass, dried thistles and underbrush.

A ground-level world filled with prickly burrs, swarming ants, and delicate purple flowers.  The kind of world you have to shake off from your shoes’ soles with a pounding satisfaction, before heading indoors.

These paths lead to seemingly unremarkable, yet truly fascinating objects and locations.

The Crayola brown Chama River with an old tire embedded in its shifting silt…

An old Airstream camper, incongruously shining like a silver space ship amidst branches brandishing green and gold adornments…

Sections of the farm seem desolate, lonely. Parts, machinery, tools, projects interrupted — mostly there are reminders that there is always work to be done.

These sleek solar panels stick out like a righteous sore but environmentally-friendly thumb; they power the irrigation system on the farm.

Could Max be a farmhand-in-training? My dream is to have a beautiful farm for him to run around, like I had growing up on the eastern shore of Maryland. It was truly idyllic, and I’d love to give him that sense of freedom and nature. Tell me what’s better for a childhood?

The resident farmer is a 21-year-old transplant from Massachusetts named Michael. Max took to him immediately, and was constantly hunting around for him. “Where’s Michael?”

An abundance of firewood meant not only would we build a toasty fire at night, but we’d also have some stock to take back to our townhouse in Albuquerque.

I would apologize for waxing rhapsodic, but I feel it’s a small offense, and such is my state after our experience at the Casita, and I am not eager to turn it off — even at the risk of sounding foolish or hokey.  I am grateful, and hope to sustain this feeling for as long as I can, because I’ve missed it.  I’ve been too long in the “modern” world, the world in which we stare at screens large and small all day and night. Every day we’re at the mercy of its trappings. I didn’t realize how thick the veil was until it was lifted, revealing the “real” world. This world is always there when we need it. It can feed our souls, and clear our heads.  All we need to do is unplug from our modern world and plug back in to the world that is real.

You see, there is no TV and no internet at the Casita.  No emails, no prime-time television, Facebook or 24 hour news cycle. No blogging. It was only 2 days and 1 night, but I feel like I woke from a dream, and the best thing about it all was that I was able to share it all with the two most important people in my life.

In this world, in this context, you can only become closer to the ones you love.  Gazing at the stars and talking about life with Ang before turning in for the night, waking with Max to share a glorious sunrise and The Firebird over puffed rice cereal, good coffee, and Dr. Suess, and everything in between. It’s all etched in our collective memories now.  If this sounds appealing, if you want a taste of this again, I have some simple advice.  Unplug and plug back in. This world is waiting, and you won’t regret it.

Oh, and the hot tub doesn’t hurt, either.

After Max went to sleep, Ang and I hit the tub. Can you see the studly dude hottubbin’ through the steam? YES, that’s me.

Ang and I stargazed out in the fields for a good half hour around 11:30pm. We grabbed the photo below off Dave Arnold’s portfolio. Our camera has nowhere near the capabilities to capture the sky like this, but this is pretty much what we saw, including a few shooting stars!

Ang says you’re probably dying to see photos of the actual inside of the Casita. Why would we be so cruel as to leave you in suspense? Here’s the small, narrow living area…

There is a surprisingly large and fully stocked kitchen and bathroom area.

The whole house was decorated in a green and gold motif, with bathroom tiles and towels adhering to the color scheme ….

…as well as the kitchen. See the hanging coffee cups?

The bedroom was also quite roomy, with a ladder leading up to a loft with another bed which we didn’t need to use.

An outdoor wooden structure housed a couple of cabanas that hung netting to shield us from the bugs while relaxing, although while we were there the bugs were barely invasive. Perfect.

This was Max’s first outdoor nighttime fire, and he was mesmerized.

We joined the owners Jann, Lisa and farmer Michael at their own larger outdoor fire.

Max was stoked to see Michael again.

We had to include this shot of Max crying after falling into some burrs. He was very brave though — he reached down and pulled them out of his pant leg himself and proclaimed “I did it!”

We have to thank our hosts Jann, Lisa (not pictured) and Michael for a welcoming, wonderful, transcendent time. The puppy dogs also entranced us: Gandalf, Lola and Gracie. We will be back, as I already miss gazing up at those stars.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

LKF October 20, 2012 at 12:06 am

How did you ever leave this place?!?! It’s totally great!!! Great photos too!!


Janeen October 20, 2012 at 12:07 am

We will be sure to try this place and the area the next time we visit ABQ and Santa Fe. What a hidden gem. Thanks for writing this. We often forget how magical the world around us is. We’d rather see photos and watch what it’s like on TV rather than experience it ourselves, firsthand.


ANGELIQUE October 20, 2012 at 4:30 pm



Tara October 21, 2012 at 12:38 am

I love the idea of unplugging. It’s great that your family got to do that. It should be mandatory in this day and age. The internet and info overload have turned us into zombies. We may not have a beautiful farm like where you found, but there are some great hiking and public parks everywhere so you don’t have an excuse to go and take a 30 minute stroll every so often!


Eileen October 22, 2012 at 6:22 pm

Unplugging and getting off the grid is the way to go! Good for you! The best vacations we’ve had, have been where we did not have internet, phone or TV (in Italy) Love this post — I feel like I’m in that dream with you guys. XOX


steve mccarthy October 22, 2012 at 7:20 pm

sometimes i think we’d be much happier as a society if we all just shut it down on the weekends, no phone, no laptop, just family time and a walk outside. you guys did it right! enjoyed your photos too.


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