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Expanding resource base beyond farm

Posts: 9002
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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  I've been giving much thought lately to the idea of stretching my territory. I'm on 7 1/2 acres of which two thirds will be prime agricultural land, the remainder being quite steep and best left in natural forest. Naturally I would like to lay my hands on resources from a much wider area.

    I'm not far from a city of 100,000 people, so in considering useful farm resources it only makes sense to see what is available there. So far, I have determined that there is an unlimited supply of compostable organics. We are in one of the more enlightened areas of the globe where only a small minority use herbicides or pesticides so there is plenty of useful material which can be hauled away for a profit. The city also contains thousands of trees which need to be removed each year. For many of my building projects I will employ logs from trees which I am paid to remove. Then there are all the various resources from my demolition projects.

    The ocean also provides plenty of useful nutrient for the farm. Washed up seaweed is abundant and there are plenty of useful logs. No one seems to care what we do with seaweed but there are plenty of laws regarding logs which have escaped from booming grounds. I had a beachcombing boat once. It was pure freedom but not very profitable with a very old and slow boat.

  So the wide world around my farm will provide much of my income and needed resources.

  Looking at the farm itself, there are many ways in which to expand my territory without unduly affecting neighboring properties. It's a long narrow parcel 1.2 km in length which is about 5/8 of a mile. In considering how to make this odd shape work to my advantage I've come up with several ideas.

    In another thread I discuss a mobile chicken coop which would allow the chickens to be moved daily. Since they will venture far beyond the property line which is usually 50 feet or so from the road they will probably be able to graze an area 20 acres or larger. The neighboring land is natural forest which they won't hurt. Slugs and snails and other agents of decay are the primary chicken feed available. As anyone living on the edge of a forest knows, if you remove every last slug, they will migrate from other areas within a few days. Nature doesn't like an empty niche. It may take the chicken truck two weeks worth of moving to cover all of my territory. Then I'll start at the beginning and do it again. I would be very surprised if after two weeks there weren't more big slugs which migrate from further into the forest. That was my experience over several years of gardening when I didn't have use for the slugs.

    In providing fish food I hope to also expand my territory by finding various ways both electrical and passive of causing insects to fall into the water. No doubt if I can attract every bug on the property others will migrate to fill the void. I also plan to bring nutrients to the property simply by providing adequate housing for swallows and bats. Most of the land surrounding me is managed for evergreen production with few dead trees or other natural nesting sites. By providing homes for these creatures I will not only reduce bug populations at home, I'll also received plenty of manure from neighboring properties.

    Bees gather nectar over a large area. I'm on a 120 ft plateau above a lush river valley. If I put hives at either end of the property it should be possible to gather nectar over an area of over 1000 acres without making the hives mobile. Since bears are problem here, bee hives would need to be in some sort of steel cage. Honey from my place would be more organic than just about anywhere I can think of since no one in my area is growing commercial crops.

    Many people in the city of Nanaimo own horses which they pay to board on farms outside the city. I'm of the opinion that it's foolhardy to occupy good farmland with hay burners but since these horses are going to live somewhere, they might as well live at my place.I consider this the lesser evil.  I have several areas which could use manure. Commonly, hay for these animals is trucked onto Vancouver Island from elsewhere. It's a totally nonsustainable enterprise. Many small farms on better land than mine produce no useful product but instead are home to horses. There are always ads in the local paper offering free manure.

    I would provide very little land for these horses. There are plenty of good trails around and I'm only 2 km from the TransCanada Trail so there is plenty of area to exercise them on my road and on adjacent land. When people rent a spot for their horses, they're effectively renting easy access to the TransCanada Trail.  The trails around my farm are plagued with marauding motorcyclists. By providing the public walking trails and horse area and marking it well, I'll increase the enjoyment of the property by ridding myself of this menace.

    Another means of gathering nutrient from neighboring territory would be to provide a suitable rest spot for migratory birds. Of course the trick here would be to make sure they don't eat you out of house and home. This one doesn't work very well with my plans but it could work for someone with an irrigation pond not managed for fish.
Posts: 56
Location: SW Virginia Mountains, USA
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What a well thought out assessment! More of us should do just that.
Posts: 35
Location: Oregon Coast Range zone 8b
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For protecting the bees from bears, we have had good success with a solar powered electric net fence. A neighbor has his bees on a 12'tall platform with padlocked trapdoor, which is also effective, though maybe hard to carry an 80lb box of honey down a ladder.....
The same neighbor may collaborate with us to grow crops in his field (I have the growing experience, he has the land) Cooperating with neighbors could also be considered a resource.

Great ideas! Enjoyed your post.
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