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!!!!! Brandon and Nikki's Homestead

 
brandon gross
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So almost a year ago I wanted to started this thread and told all the awesome people we met in Montana that I would. So here it is over a year later some pictures and maybe a few descriptions of a few of the projects we have undertaken. I am not an extreme purest like the ants, nor am I very experience designer, not a carpenter, and have plenty of mistakes over the course of our project for others to learn from. We did our design at the PDC and it was sweet to have it critiqued by Howard and Paul. Paul of course said we needed more earth works. Because of the size and goals we actually put in only two swales compared to the three we drew on our design featured here in Jesse's Video. 

Pics Below are just a few of the property during our first of many clean up day this was probably 6 to 8 months before the PDC. Most of the yard was overgrown with invasives and native noxious weed, but also some useful stuff, like cedars, black lotus, purple leaf plum, azaleas,  and American beauty berry to name a few oh an mimosas. The whole property had been abandoned for atleast 8 or more and its is crazy how nature will take back what humans work so hard to keep orderly. My goal is to observe these niches and replace the rampancy with usefully species and allow usefully species to have a designed rampancy again. This thread may not be fully in order chronologically, but I will try to show a progression.   
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Work Begining
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World after HUmans
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Chainsaw = Work/Hugeculture/ Fire
 
brandon gross
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We build a Hugelculture bed. Not correctly but we built one, and a year later with settling to my dismay deep rooted plant species seem to have found the wood and are loving it even though most are pioneer species I am happily allowing them to help build soil while I plant perennials that will soon take there place.
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Look its a baby
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Stacking a few trees for the Hugel
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Digging a six- 5 footish deep hole see that folks it clay
 
brandon gross
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Continuing the Hugelculture bed, this was long before our PDC where I got to hear Paul tell even how wrong he built his first Hugel, and I was quietly thinking, "Damn I glad he didn't see mine". Hey but mine is working just took longer to be awesome.  
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Filling for my Hugelcuture Donut.
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Kinda hard to see but thats the Hugel the next Spring
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The Ducks Love it too...
 
brandon gross
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A little more about our little Hugelculture. And heres a video of some of evan'
s cool Hugelculture, Rumor says he built one with a tunnel that sounds so cool. Sorry Got a bit out of order keep finding random pics gonna look for this years hugle planting, before showing random garden beds we have installed, then swales and there planting progression, and maybe house and other adventures of our homestead. I have limited access to interweb, but slowly and surely I will work my way to current day with this thread.
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Hugle just pielling up
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SOme growth
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Tatoes on Hugle
 
brandon gross
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I will have to find this years Hugle planting later here is a random Terrace bed I built. I put it in a low spot where water ran to the road and figured If I built it with a lot of multch it would use a lot of the water as well as filter a lot of the silt. It work quite nice I got the Idea from some googling. Its the Redneck version of this https://www.tenthacrefarm.com/2014/10/heres-a-quick-way-to-terrace-a-hill/. I used this Garden method a few times even on flat ground against fences and what not.  This bed was mostly mulch but I used a variation of lasagna gardening with it too. in the future plan on using rock to make a more permanent wall for this bed. It is roughly a foot high on the front and slightly sukin on the back. 
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Look maw an A-Frame
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brandon gross
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Same bed, I built this probably not long after the big Hugle and well before the PDC.  It was a fall planting, did a spring planting with crazy growth and now on the second spring still crazy good but having to deal with some Himalayan Blackberrys trying to make their way through and Smilex vine. 
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brandon gross
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I will get Nikki to post pretty pics of flowers and ducks, and cool ones of wildlife like the crazy big frogs that live in our pool. With my limited time I am just trying to knock out some of the gritty bed building and some less than carpentry projects.
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Little hugelcuture bed/ now w wildfower bed
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This is a bed build this spring/late winter right above the one in my last post to further catch the runoff in this low area
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Still early spring with Garlic kicking butt
 
brandon gross
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These are pics of Bed I had Built also before the PDC I think before winter. They are the same variation of the previous beds. A great sorta labor intensive way to build beds that are great if you are working to clean a property and have lots of brush laying around anyway. By labor intensive I mean there are plenty of easerways to build a bed but these turn out neat and can be very productive and free way to build a bed ( I had almost no money or time when building these).
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brandon gross
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THis bed was built a little after the last. The first one is planted with a Thronless blackberries (one of with did amazing and had wonderfull berries this year), and Hardy Kiwi. The one shown here got Pink Bannans, Blueberries, and A gold nugget kumquat. (this year added gooseberry) Nikki and her friend Brittney extended this bed and planted a Southern Home grape (I added a loganberry a few weeks ago). We are also trying our hand at cukes in this bed planted week before last. Really neat beds. They are planted against a fence that was on the property, and I planed to build animal pens off the back of it. Turns out we got Ducks and a year and a half later I final built the pen off the back. we ate going to run something across the top of the pen for the hardy Kiwi, and grape to grow on. 
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Planters need transpirtation
 
brandon gross
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Sweet benches my buddy John Built us
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brandon gross
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Pretty cool
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Trying um out
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brandon gross
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So I still have swale pics to post of swales, my greenhouse, the duckpen and house (the house uses ship lap, that I learned from Jesse and Josh building the tool shed that I watched more than helped). And to bug nikki to do some posting too. Hope you have enjoyed so far.
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brandon gross
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So pics of the developing hugel only one from this year but I will get some more. My basic flow for my hugle was. Rye Grass and clover, then Annuals and weeds, few perennials and weeds, and wildflowers.  I left weeds on one side and muched the other for pawpaws, blueberrys, a few annuals, swamp hibiscus, just a few weeks ago I mowed the other side and planted plum, fig, pear and apple (apple got girdled by some pest), Rosemary, a blackberry and few otherthings.  Ill get some more resent pics soon.
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Brand New
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Start of Spring last yr
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brandon gross
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MOre Hugle
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brandon gross
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hugelkultur
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One side of hugle from this spring
 
brandon gross
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So we put in two swales that are awesome not done exacly right but work well. Ill post pics if and try to explain my process at some other point, or if there are exact questions. Atleast two to three things done wrong just putting them in see if you can tell.
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First pass we used transit level to set our lines.
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Swale two lower down hill
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Swale 1 a day or two after instaled.
 
brandon gross
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Swale all new and shine with tons of raped red clay
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Swale II
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Swale II
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Swale I and II
 
brandon gross
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Duckies like them two
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brandon gross
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Catches water and ducks two
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brandon gross
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brandon gross wrote:Catches water and ducks two

The hose in the pics is grey water from our washer
 
brandon gross
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Swales
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brandon gross
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Like to play in the rain a Weird habit I have developed
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brandon gross
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We have done a lot of work since the pics where taken a long little while ago Ill try to talk Nikki into taking more recent pics.
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brandon gross
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My Buddie gave me some of this left over rd fence stuff, I was having deer problems and wanted to keep ducks out while germination was happening so this orange stuff makes a good temp fence for annuals.
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brandon gross
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JUst a few pretty pics before I call it quits today, some wild flower mixes we have grown
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brandon gross
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Purdy
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brandon gross
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More pics
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Wild Strawberry pungent taste
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brandon gross
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Found these two pics of planting swale 2 last yr
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evan l pierce
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Looking good, guys! Those look like some happy ducks!
 
wayne fajkus
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What was the swale error? Looks on contour.
 
brandon gross
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Wayne I was hoping some one would ask. It is on contor but we had three main errors among others.
1. We dug the swale with the sill side of the swale as strait as a wall. Because we are on clay our vertical sill has not eroded but I imagine that with less sticky soil types that the soil would readily wash back into the ditch. It also lessens the planting surface.
2. With the excavator that was used it was difficult to build the berm on the down hill side, my buddy and his brother digging put alot of soil on the uphill side and then used the blade on the excavator to level the uphill side makinging it much more flat. This made for less water in the swale and took a long time for that up hill side to recover from the thick layer of sub soil that was spread out like Icing on a cake.  
3. I cant remember right now, but it will come to me directly.
Evan thanks bud they do need there own tipi so let me know next time your in GA and Ill put you to work. I did a small bit of junk pole fencing that I plan on posting some pics of soon but Nikki has all the pics with her right now.
 
Nikki Thompson
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So I found these golden drops on the leaf of one of our hibiscus plants. After googling, I determined they were lady bug eggs. HOW KOOL IS THAT?! I guess the mating suckers from above left us with tactful memories of them. Buahahaha!
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Lady Bug Eggs
 
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Beginning of OUR Junk Pole Fence
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More Junk Pole
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Nikki Thompson
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Arch for Junk Pole Fence and Radish Pod Seeds
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Arch for Junk Pole
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Arch and Radish Pod Seeds
 
Nikki Thompson
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This is how our green house got started.
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Brandon Working
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Brandon Working
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Last Wire
 
Nikki Thompson
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Here's progress of the green house!
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Nikki and Brittany Working
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Wiring the wire together
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Door and Plastic
 
Nikki Thompson
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So I know plastic isn't a very good way to go, but it was given to us for free and we needed to put something together super quick!
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Inside and Braces
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Outside Braces and Door
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Plastic to Cover
 
Nikki Thompson
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The table is huge and heavy! Very ideal for NOT moving.
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Other Side View
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Plants and a Table: YAY!!!
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Closed Bottom
 
Nikki Thompson
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The green house retained heat very well! We even put our ducks in it so they could enjoy it and help the plants. We made a few additions and alterations. I hope I got pictures, but I haven't come across any newer ones yet so I'm not certain. As of today, the plastic has come down and only a few plants remain unplanted and still in the green house. Updates to come later!
 
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