The crew cleaned up around the old house first thing this morning, exposing the one room adobe and the two room frame addition that we discovered was built in April 1947 according to a piece of the footing on which someone used his finger to inscribe the date in the cement. The demolition has been like archaeology as the crew demolished the additions from most recent backwards, giving us a glimpse of what the house looked like at various stages of construction, down to the original one room adobe, that could have been as old as 100 years. To have been much older that 100 years it would have had to survive a major flood in 1904. Given it stood less than 1000 feet form the Rio Grande, I believe it would have been washed away in the flood waters (to get an idea of what the flooding, raging Rio Grande was like before all the flood controls were finished, look up the descriptions of the flood that washed away San Marcial, NM from the eastern banks of the Rio Grand near Socorro in August 1929).
As Laurie and I walked around the property this evening, we noticed the soil where the houses stood is different from the soil that surrounded them, and markedly different from the soil that has be irrigated over the past 53 years. Laurie commented that we’ve peeled back the layers to reveal how the land would have been in the 1800’s. Some of our neighbors, the demolition crew, the building inspector for Corrales, and other people have reacted with surprise to our answer to their questions about what kind of house we were going to build after the houses were cleared off the property. I suppose it’s like so many things influenced by the popular culture that people are conditioned to believe in the idea that clearing houses off land in Corrales in order to farm the land or plant fields of alfalfa is something a normal person would never do — all they seem to be able to visualize is a huge house sitting it the middle of the property. I find it’s sad that wanting to build and live in big, obtrusive houses is considered “normal” in this culture, while living in a small house and cultivating the land is considered weird.