Hello all I am new to the forum. My family of 4 just bought a home on 5 acres in southeast Idaho. I am relatively new to the concepts of permaculture and homesteading. I plan on spending a considerable amount of time learning about both and trying to better understand my property before I make any real decision. I am wondering though if there are any measures that I can or should take immediately to set myself up for the future. Particularly ones that require time such as composting. For example there is quite a bit of brush and dead fall around the property. Should I be doing something productive with that immediately? Any other advice or ideas about the future of the property is also welcome.
Some info on the site:
Elevation: 5,029 - 5,170
13 in of rain and 50 in of snow on average
well on property with some irrigation running to parts of the property
I'm attaching some aerials of the property as well as some regular photos taken from the site. A type of Juniper seems to be the primary tree growing here.
Welcome to Permies, and congratulations on the new homestead : )
A lot of permaculture people spend the first year on a homestead doing a lot of observation. We can observe which direction the cold and hot winds come from, which direction is most prone to wildfire, how water flows over the land, and different microclimates like frost pockets, areas that stay green for longer in summer, flood-prone areas, high water table, and so on.
While we're observing, it's never a bad idea to build soil up with hugelkultur and other methods. Animals can also be kept on a small or portable scale, and they can supply some food, and their manure can help with soil building. I am keeping dairy goats while developing my homestead, and I also keep pigs and chickens with portable infrastructure.
Annual vegetable gardens can be moved later on if the location is not ideal after observation, so it's often a good idea to grow some things in the first year. During this year, any changes that can be made are often ones that can easily be moved, rather than long-term things like tree planting and earthworks.
Thanks that is sort of what I was thinking with regards to the brush starting some hugel beds or chipping it for mulch. I have read conflicting information about using juniper in hugelkultur though.
It occurred to me that I didn't mention anything about my goals in my introduction. I am still sorting out my goals and fortunately I am not particularly wedded to any particular vision. I'd like to better understand what is possible or most suitable for my area and pursue that. At a high level I want to harvest more and more of my own food. I hunt/fish and will get a large portion of my meat from that. I am interested in keeping animals for meat and their other benefits but also concerned because the family and I like to travel and camp quite a bit which seems untenable if you are responsible for animals. I'd be interested to hear what others on this forum do. I'm also interested in keeping and improving the beauty of the property.
At the moment I am very poor at identifying trees and flowers and the sort. I do have many shrubs/bushes that are growing types of berries but have no idea what they are. Does anyone have advice for identifying unknown plants? I have used two apps (PlantSnap and Plantnet), very interesting apps but I don't know if I trust the results.
Observation is super important but if you know that you will be wanting specific types of trees start doing research now. I.e. You know you want an apple tree, find out what kind of trees do well in your climate, find varieties that are pest-resistant in your area and get seeds or cuttings. Look into perennial bushes and flowers you think you want.
Start a small nursery area and start planting seeds, cutting etc. Use this nursery to experiment with plants, planting methods, composting, hugels, soil amendment, and etc. You can learn a lot from an area like this and save a lot of time and money. I waited to start a nursery for experimentation and it should have been one
You could ask us. It works best if you can isolate one mystery plant per thread.
Thanks I suspect I will get laughed off the forum with some of the plants I question but that won't deter me.
Start a small nursery area and start planting seeds, cutting etc.
I am all ears when it comes to thing I can actually be taking action on. To be clear your suggestion is to start a small patch somewhere to act as a nursery experimenting with different trees and bushes and if they took off I would transplant them to my desired location later?
I don't have any specific fruit tree I am really set on growing just know that I do want to try some of my best options for my area. The former owner said he did plant fruit trees but they never really thrived because he couldn't get them enough water. I have located them and believe they are plum trees but am unsure.
Everyone in my family loves berries so I will definitely want to grow some or all of blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries.
Diego Footer on Permaculture Based Homesteads - from the Eat Your Dirt Summit