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New Property Project

 
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I purchased a piece of property in the Pacific Northwest about three years ago. It is on a natural lake along the coast (about 3 miles from the Pacific Ocean). Temps typically range from low 80’s in summer to mid 20’s in winter. Lots of rain and wind, thick cloud cover and dense fog. I love it. Typically the temps are around 45-50 in winter and 60s-70s throughout the summer.

My property is a hillside, more specifically it sits within a bowl that faces north, so when facing south and looking at the property from the lake, I have the main ridge to the south, a small ridge on the west and a small ridge on the east.  

The land is extremely steep near the top of the ridge and gradually lessens in severity as it gets closer to the water. It is currently completely overgrown by deciduous trees (I believe Birch or Ash).  

The land naturally forms a cove, and from the highwater mark (there is natural flooding each year of about 20 feet in height as the lake fills up ) there is a large grass area that gently slopes to the water (approximately 50 x 75 ft).


(pic from kayak while paddling over to property)

Plans & Goals:

1. I would like to replace the deciduous trees with evergreen (Douglas Fir, Spruce, and Ceder - Pine if it will grow) and develop a wood lot for firewood harvest.  

2. I would like to grow vegetables year around if possible. I would like to grow as much food as possible in as little space as possible in as little time as possible (hey, I’m lazy, greedy, and privileged).  Or, better yet, grow just enough food at just the right time all year long.

My thought is to maximize my growing season in the summer with cool plants to warm plants on the flat and along the shoreline. Good, rich soil, self watering, and is available for probably 4-6 months out of the year. It gets about 4-6 hours of direct sunlight every day in the summer.  

I also plan to use one of my docks (8x16ft) put a 3ft beds on each side, then cover it with a permanent cold frame. It will basically be a floating green house. This will be tied to the pilings 20 ft off shore where my wave breaker logs are, and it could also be floated out into the bigger cove and anchored each day if needed for direct sunlight in winter (but I would prefer to keep it behind my logs if possible).  

This will be used for cool crops in the winter (salad greens, etc) and hot crops in the summer (peppers, cherry tomatoes, etc).  

3. I will also be supplementing my diet with fish caught from my dock.


(frequent visitors down by the shoreline - often there to greet me when I arrive)

Challenges:

1. One major challenge is the orientation of the property. Because it is in the bowl with a 200ft ridge on the south side and two 100 ft ridges on east and west side, the property is in perpetual darkness for 6 months out of the year. Once the sun dips into the southern sky it rarely breaches the southern ridgeline at all, and if it does, the sunlight is filtered by the 100+ ft evergreen trees on the ridge line (not my property, cannot cut them down).


(view of the property near the top of the southern ridge - dense undergrowth, ferns often 6ft tall in places - I love this kind of forest but it’s not really well suited for gardening)

Progress:  

1. I planted several evergreen trees on the property when I first bought it. A Douglas Fir, A Spruce, and a Cedar Tree on the flat area within the flood zone. This is their fourth year and they are doing exceptionally well. They seem to double in size nearly every year. The cedar is now as tall as I am. The flooding does not seem to bother them at all.  I also planted the same assortment up inside the treeline. They are robust, with new growth yearly, but not doing nearly as well as their counterparts out on the flat (I would imagine because they are fighting with the undergrowth).  So, I do believe I will be able to systematically replace all deciduous trees with the evergreen trees I prefer.  

2. I’ve experimented with various sleeping arrangements in hopes of finding a long-term solution that provides the comfort level I’m looking for. I tried a dugout, but it was too small. I tried sleeping on the covered deck, which works fine for 6-9 months out of the year, but during those 6 months of winter it is too cold. Sleeping is actually fine all year around in a hammock on the deck, it’s the daylight hours of 30-60 degree weather that gets to me over a long stretch of time.  

I have a small camp stove on the deck which works well for immediate heat and cooking.


(visitor while I was away down by the shoreline - I get rather frequent visits from bears, cougar, bobcat, and coyote. My property seems to be a natural highway from the valley to the east and in the summer time the shoreline is prime hunting ground for the cats - laying down at night in my shelter, I've heard them kill small animals down by the water just 20 or 30 yards away. It's a little unnerving but altogether fascinating.)

Future Updates:

I'm very interested to see what I can do with this north facing property in the future. I do not plan to use power tools. Only hand saws for cutting firewood. I will cheat with an electric drill/screw driver. I would like to get 100% of my caloric intake off the property, but I don't know how realistic that is. It's fun at any rate to just try.

I plan to update this thread as the project progresses.


(current shelter to be used this summer while dismantling dugout and building new shelter)
 
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Welcome to Permies, Isaac!

It does look as if you've got your work cut out for you in the short term! I love the idea of floating gardens  - the self-watering concept on steroids.

It also looks as if you've got lots of competition for whatever you decide to grow - please keep yourself safe! Even a couple of raccoon can be dangerous if they want what you've got.

Have you considered researching the benefits of deciduous trees in a mixed forest with respect to wild-fire safety? One of the reasons (apart from a shortage of beavers) that some of the BC interior fires have been so bad in the last couple of decades was the shift in forests to only evergreen. That doesn't mean you can't shift the deciduous trees to ones you find helpful such as chestnut, hazelnut, fruit trees etc, or that there shouldn't be conifers in the mix and particularly where you tend to see them since they're a particular favorite of yours.

As to housing, permies has done lots of research regarding "wofati" building which you'll find under the natural building forum. You might get lots of good ideas from browsing through there.
 
Isaac Hunter
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Hey Jay,

I will look into those and will check the other forum as well.  

Thanks

Isaac
 
Isaac Hunter
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Jay Angler wrote:Have you considered researching the benefits of deciduous trees in a mixed forest with respect to wild-fire safety? One of the reasons (apart from a shortage of beavers) that some of the BC interior fires have been so bad in the last couple of decades was the shift in forests to only evergreen.


Now that I've thought about your response, let me clarify. I will most likely not be "removing" the deciduous trees altogether. I just want to make their footprint much smaller. Currently the trees in question are 40-50 ft high, some look to be over 100ft (just guessing). They are all in various stages of rotting from the inside out, so are quite dangerous. Since I'll be using a handsaw to cut them down (most fall on their own) I'll be cutting them at about mid-chest level and so they don't die or if they do die, shoots sprout up right next to them. Whatever these trees are they grow like weeds here. I know they are not the typical maples we have around here. These trees are very "spongy." When they dry out they are very light and the flesh of the tree is real flaky. But get them anywhere near water and they suck it up like a sponge almost immediately. It does burn quite well, though.  

I primarily like evergreen for the privacy they afford (and I think they look much better), whereas deciduous work great in the summer but leave you exposed in winter. In the end, there will certainly be a mixture of young evergreen and deciduous. Just more of the former due to preference and privacy.

Fire danger is certainly growing in my area, though the last few years have been mild. Last season we never even had a fire season. Everything stays green throughout the year in my immediate area, and the risk of wildfire is slim here. Doesn't mean it can't happen, but....

Jay Angler wrote:As to housing, permies has done lots of research regarding "wofati" building.


This is actually what I currently have only very small (4x6). I plan to rebuild with a footprint of 8x10, which will be big enough to hang my hammock and put in a small wood stove. Right now I'm thinking it will be pushed back into the bank, 6ft at the back wall, 5ft at the front wall, though it might have a couple of levels, following the natural contour of the rock surface under the topsoil, so I might have 6ft height throughout. I plan to use a tarp for the roof at first, and I may add a more permanent roof in the future, but I'm not sure what the benefit would be. If insulation is needed, it might be more cost effective to buy thin, rolled insulation and add it to the tarp roof. My hope is the wood stove will take care of any condensation, but that will have to wait for testing in the future.

Unfortunately, I will most likely not be ready to build until spring (there's a lot of excavation to do and it's all by hand), which means the new shelter will be finished by the beginning of summer, so any winter testing will have to wait for next year. But, I suspect this summer will be a glorious one, all things being equal.  

Isaac
 
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Isaac Hunter wrote:

Currently the trees in question are 40-50 ft high, some look to be over 100ft (just guessing). They are all in various stages of rotting from the inside out, so are quite dangerous.

In my area - further north than you - we have something locally called "Cottonwood", although I think that common name refers to more than one species across North America, and my neighbor would agree with your approach. They're a short-lived tree that prepares the land for more longer-lived successors, and they rot so easily that my neighbor's learned that they should be felled as soon as showing signs of rot just for safety's sake. This is very different from the cedar trees which can stand dead easily for decades and not be near the threat. But as you also noted, once dried, they make fine firewood.

If you're looking for evergreen for privacy, are there some pine that would grow well there whose seeds are large enough to be worth harvesting? I'd love to plant some suitable pine here, but by the time they'd produce I'll likely be pushing up the daisies as they say. For some reason, my land has lots of cedar and Doug Fir, some Grand Fir and Big Leaf Maples, lots of miscellaneous small stuff, but I haven't spotted a single pine tree! A useful low evergreen shrub with edible berries is Salal, and I've been trying to encourage the plants here. I've not found a good way to propagate them yet, but it's on my list.  

Isaac Hunter wrote:

Unfortunately, I will most likely not be ready to build until spring (there's a lot of excavation to do and it's all by hand), which means the new shelter will be finished by the beginning of summer, so any winter testing will have to wait for next year.

There are lots of resources that will say that spending time on the land before making big decisions like building type and location is a good thing, so long as you stay sufficiently warm this winter. Hopefully you'll get a feel for where the big storms hit, where the water flows, which areas flood and how to keep you and your food dry. Many people look at the temperatures in the Pacific North West and think that hypothermia isn't a risk, but if one gets wet, can't get dry, and there's a breeze as well, the risk is quite real. The nice thing about building small is that it won't take a lot of wood to get it warm. Have you looked at the Rocket Mass heater forum? There are some that are designed as a bed platform, which would be good for keeping bedding dry. I'm living in a stick built house with lousy thermal mass and I notice a big difference when I visit my sister whose much older home was built with concrete block walls, but no insulation. In many ways, her house is the more comfortable house to relax in, as the temperature is more steady.

Please keep us updated as your plans progress - and I always love seeing pictures of nature and animals!
 
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Welcome aboard, Isaac!  Beautiful spot, and love your idea of a floating garden. No sun?  Anchors aweigh!  Better still, no need for fencing out the critters. Although, might be interesting to find out if anything would swim out to it - raccoon? Bear?
 
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I love the floating garden/modified chinampas idea myself.

I would be cautious about getting rid of the cottonwood. They are known to act as atmospheric water pumps, taking water out of the soil through their roots and transpiring it through their leaves. Removing them, rather than replanting in a different location, might make your microclimate more arid. They are probably one of the causes of any hyper-local uptick in biodiversity.

I would probably replant in cottonwood so as to take advantage of their love of wet feet. A good idea might be growing those where other perennials won't live and then harvesting the biomass of the trees for woodchip mulch, or tethered half-log planters that will float, at least until they become waterlogged and start to turn into soil themselves. Or perhaps the solution is a cottonwood raft planter...

I would also consider whether there are any local types of willow that would be advantageous to you. Those also like wet feet.

I have often thought that it would be good to have a list of soil-building and retaining perennial riparian species chosen specifically for an ability to grow together on a variable flood plain. Two of the activities that are most needed with regards to riparian care are increased nutrient uptake, to avoid eutrophying waterways, and the shading of shallows that are quick to heat up in the sun, increasing the heat of all the water in the system and decreasing its oxygen-carrying capacity. Willows perform both of these tasks.

I know of species of cypress and cedar that will grow at the water's edge, leaning out over it for years as they grow too tall for their roots in poor soil conditions, and then finally begin to die, half-drowning in the water. This sounds dramatic and sad, but what it actually does is not only shade out the shallows, but provide habitat for feeder fish and all the tiny denizens of the aquatic realm.

I would look into the functions that each species performs before you start making changes to the mix of species. You have said there are a number of things about your property that you already enjoy. It would be a shame to lose any, especially unintentionally.

-CK
 
Isaac Hunter
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Chris Kott wrote: I would be cautious about getting rid of the cottonwood....or tethered half-log planters that will float....I would also consider whether there are any local types of willow that would be advantageous to you....I know of species of cypress and cedar that will grow at the water's edge, leaning out over it for years as they grow....



Hey CK,

Thanks for the response. As I said in another followup post, I won't be getting rid of them per se, just cutting them back and maybe lessening their dominance in the bowl overall. The biggest issue (besides the lack of privacy they afford) is the tree fall risk. Most are zombie trees, just standing there waiting to fall. Not quite dead. Leaf out each year with crazy new growth, getting taller and taller, but rotting from the inside out. I looked at cypress but passed due to their deciduous natures. half-log planters are a great idea, but I have otters and beaver in abundance and they like to crawl over everything, so whatever is floating has to be contained to keep them out. My hope is to pack as much into the floating greenhouse dock as I can to maximize its production.  

I have two cedar started already and one of them down on the flat (in the flood area) seems to love the season bath it gets when the water comes up for a few months. I assume it will one day die from drowning but right now it seems to be thriving. There is also, at the corner of my property near the shore line an evergreen that has done exactly what you described. it is a massive tree, and grew out over the water, then turned and went up. Now it towers over everything and has two tops in it. I imagine that tree is much, much older than I am, and one day it will come crashing down into the water with all kinds of calamity. It will be too big at the base to cut with hand saws and will probably be underwater and inaccessible, so it will become a new fish housing development to help with my dinner table needs when I'm old and grey.  

And willows are very much a native here. They grow up as giant bushes, but, unfortunately, they too lose their leaves in winter. When looking for property four years ago, there was a 5 acre lot I tried to buy (no dice - guy wouldn't carry) that was completely in the flood plane save for a small section near the base of the ridge. The entire acreage was covered in ten-twenty feet tall willow thickets. Completely flat property. If I would have gotten that property, I would have build a floating hut that would have gone up and down with the flooding. Floating in the winter. On dry ground in the summer. I would have moved it around to different spots on the property, all within the willow thicket. Completely privacy. But, it was not to be. Which is okay, it was a little too close to town for my taste anyway.  

The previous owner of the property I did buy cut down all the native willows along the shoreline, which is typical here for vacationers who come here, clear the land, build McMonsters and then never come back but for a few random summer weekends. The shoreline is all grass and was cut with a weed eater religiously for their camping activities over the years. But, since I've had it I have not cut it and just let nature take back over. I noticed last summer the willows shoots are coming back. I imagine within ten years they will take over and displace the tall grass and will provide more diversity. By then I hope to have all construction elements back up into the tree line and very few items out for public display.  

Unless I sculpt a giant Easter Island Head standing out above the trees. That would be interesting focal piece.  

Isaac
 
Isaac Hunter
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Artie Scott wrote:Welcome aboard, Isaac!  Beautiful spot, and love your idea of a floating garden. No sun?  Anchors aweigh!  Better still, no need for fencing out the critters. Although, might be interesting to find out if anything would swim out to it - raccoon? Bear?



I've also wondered both of these things. I have only black bears here and they are well fed by nature and kept running by hunters, but I wonder if they would be interested in my vegetables growing in the float? Where it will be anchored, it would definitely be a swim for them. Bears have been known to (or, at least, I've heard stories of) breaking into cabins on the lake. Never had one come close so far on my property. They've been all over it though. Caught them at the shoreline, on the flat, up in the trees near my shelter. But they haven't touched or even looked at my covered deck or the shed. I've had hotdogs sit out in a grocery bag overnight on the deck and still nothing.  

I don't think they really care to hang around when I'm here. Even when I'm gone, they don't seem to bother my buildings....yet.  

I've had racoon, bear, bobcat, cougar right up to the edge of my deck on the camera, but nothing seems to want to come up the steps and go under the cover. Well, except for trespassers. I've caught at least one of them on my trail camera snooping around. They have no fear and no common sense. What do they say, hell is other people?

Isaac
 
Isaac Hunter
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I've been meaning to come back here and post an update, but never find time to do it. Recently, though, I upgraded my phone and now get usable internet in my tent! So I'm sitting in my recliner and able to surf the web as well. I think it will be short-lived and the internet will disappear as soon as the wet weather returns, but I figured I would take the opportunity to post an update on my property projct.

1. Current Status & Update

My last post was in 2019. Time really flies. Shortly after my initial post, a tree came down and took out the shed (and roof over the shed). I haven't been able to take the roof and shed down until this summer.   Not much in the way of real progress overall, though the shed is now gone and the rafters from the roof I'm able to recycle. It was on a large 14 x 20 ft deck that the tree did not touch, and I am now in the process of building a better workshop structure that is more suited for the location and high moisture content in winter.  

The shed was on the property when I bought it. One of those plastic sheds from Home Depot. It was fine in the summer, but as soon as the rains came, the inside had terrible condensation problems and was a magnet for mold. Anything I put in the shed had to be stored in water tight containers and rather self defeating.  

The walls were spared any damage from the tree fall, and I plant to recycle these as well in the new structure. The front of the deck already has a front railing and gate that leads out to the catwalk down to the dock. The major problem with the previous roof was it was a standard V design that faced into the winter weather. Whenever a storm came in, the wind and rain just blew right in under the roof. I hope to fix this by making the new roof a single pitch (no peak) and the low side will face the weather from the north. I am also lowering the roof overall (8' on the sides and 13' peak before), with 6.5ft in the front and 8ft in the back. The previous roofing material used was plastic sheeting which basically turned brittle after the first season and exploded into a million pieces when the tree hit. I will salvage the roof sections from the shed (they were not damaged, just the frame supporting them) and put those on the very front, then will cover the rest of the deck with a 14 x 20 ft tarp on a wood frame.  

About 3.5 ft in from the front rail I'm putting in a wall where I will attach the wall sections from the shed. This will serve as both a protection from wind and rain in winter and privacy in the summer (lots of tourists in the warm months). On the backside of this wall I will put in a full length workbench with open storage areas underneath. The key, I think, will be to keep it open and well ventilated while also having the ability to close it off with tarp walls in the winter when running the stove. The stove will be installed on the far side of the deck near the workbench.  

Eventually this will be my workshop, where I will cut firewood, store supplies and materials, and use the wood stove for cooking, heating water, etc. It will be separate from my sleeping area up in the trees, but most likely not until next summer (it's already August afterall). I think I will put a permanent tarp wall where the wood stove is, and then temp ones on the opposite side and midway on the backside so I can block off a small section for heating in winter. I will temporarily have my hammock here.  

2. Plans for This Year

The rest of the warm season (May - Oct) I hope to finish the workshop/shelter to use this winter as a base and then plan to focus my attention on 1. reconfiguring the docks (I'm pulling everything back, closer to the shoreline, moving some logs around, etc) 2. build another deck inside the treeline (up and behind the workshop location 3. dismantle the temp shelter I previously used (it will be just a deck going forward 4. then start working on the underground shelter up above that.  

The underground shelter will eventually, I think, become a small cabin, with room for a recliner and a small wood stove. As I stated already in a previous post, sleeping on the property, even in winter, is not a problem. My hammock is set up so I am toasty warm even in 25-30 degree temps. The issue is idle time during the day. When I want to watch tv or read books or write, sitting in 30 degree weather for any length of time is a torment without heat.  

I have recently switched from using a laptop to using just my phone with a bluetooth keyboard as my primary computer, so this should help. The phone has much more utility and flexibility and with my external brick battery lasts all week on a single charge.

3. Long Term Plans

Once the workshop, decks, docks, and permanent shelter/cabin are usable, I hope to focus the bulk of my time on cultivating the flood zone areas of the property. The workshop deck is located in one corner of a flat area that was constructed by the previous owner (retaining wall) with an area approximately 25x50ft, then probably triple that down by the shore. As stated in my original post, I have planted several evergreen trees along the perimeter of the flat and would like to put in a full vegetable garden in the center.  

I'm hoping to find some winter blooming flowers to put in hanging planters in the front of the workshop and around on the property at the high water's edge. Once the docks are in place I also want to experiment with the floating greenhouse, though I'm concerned about beaver and otters (though this summer I have not seen a single otter, not sure why - last summer they were everywhere).  

I hope to make a concerted effort the rest of the summer season and then through winter to put up a year's worth of wood. I would also like to get started on putting in some trails. I have one that wraps around the east ridge and connects with a game trail that heads into the valley. I really want to put in a trail that moves up the bowl to the southern ridge. At the top is an old skidder road they used for logging back in the 90's. Not sure where this "road" ends up. It might just run to the backside of the valley and dead end or it might connect somehow with the main logging road on the main ridge (the main ridge is a peninsula and is thankfully gated. About a 1/4 of a mile into the valley, if I cross to the other side, I can connect to another skidder road that runs to the back side of the valley. I think there is also a turn off (overgrown at this point) that connects to the north ridge road. This supposedly connects to the main ridge road, but I've not yet walked it out (it is really long). I would like to connect all of these "roads" into a network of trails and pathways, as well as put in a trail from the backside of the valley up to the main road.  Once I'm able to, I hope to put in about three hours a day just for cutting trail and exploring the woods.  

On top of that, I have purchased an inflatable paddleboard with a rowing attachment for it. I hope to put in a few hours each morning rowing as well.  

Isaac
 
Jay Angler
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Thanks for the update, Isaac! Yes - trees have a habit of changing plans for people in my neighborhood also!

I agree that in really wet areas, airflow is an important tool for keeping the mold away. It's a bit hard to form a picture from your description, so I'd love to see pictures as you make progress on the re-building.
 
Isaac Hunter
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Jay Angler wrote:Thanks for the update, Isaac! Yes - trees have a habit of changing plans for people in my neighborhood also!

I agree that in really wet areas, airflow is an important tool for keeping the mold away. It's a bit hard to form a picture from your description, so I'd love to see pictures as you make progress on the re-building.



I was going to take pictures today but got stuck in a downpour so had to retreat to the tent to hold up until better weather arrived. I'll try to post an update soon with more picks. Got the front roof on today and the privacy wall up as well. Now there is just a lot of cleaning to do on the deck (the tree fall made a real mess of things) and I have to put up two more rafters that cross the width of the deck (14ft) so I can stretch a tarp from the front to the back. At this point I don't plan to have side walls or a back wall, just open air, except for in winter when it's storming, then I plan to hang up temp tarp walls as needed.

Will post pics soon. Looks like it's clearing up out there!

Isaac
 
Isaac Hunter
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Here are the pics I promised:


Here is the front wall on the deck. The  catwalk on the left is about 4ft wide and 4ft off the ground and leads down to the dock. To the right of the wall the deck is open, approximately 14ft across and 18ft from the wall back. From the wall back I plan to stretch a tarp over two wooden rafters for a roof. The wood stove is set up about 3ft high just to the right of the wall. I'll post pics as soon as the tarp is up and everything is organized.  For this deck area, I plan to pull out the wood frame that is at the far end of the deck (it used to hold firewood) and this will be replaced by potted plants, etc. I'm pulling two (dead) hanging baskets from the house to hang from the rafters in this area. I also put in my first order of ivy and flowers this week. It will be interesting to see if the ivy survives the winter season from flooding. The water is at the low point now, so it will take until Jan or Feb before it rises the 20+ feet to the retaining wall. Then a storm has to come through and dump enough rain to jump the wall and cover the flat area. Some winters the water never makes it over the wall. But many years it does. I think the highest I've seen it is 4 ft over the flat, covering the first few feet of the catwalk. When it's like this I can paddle right up to my deck and just get out. Fingers crossed for a mild and uneventful winter this year.


Here is a pic of the valley that I share a property line with. On the left side of the field there is an old utility road that I'm assuming was used to service the power lines. It is no longer maintained. It's just inside the treeline and runs almost the full length of the valley. On the right side is another smaller field that runs diagonally. I have a trail that runs from my property over and around two tiny finger ridges and connects with another skidder road that runs along the valley floor on the right side. I have not explore it to the end. The valley itself is about approximately 1 mile long. It is completely unused by people (except for me and the loggers 20+ years ago when they harvested the trees). The road on the main ridge at the back of the valley is gated, thankfully, and most hunters do not bother to come all the way down into the valley (not that I'm wandering around in the woods during hunting season mind you - I stick close to my property during those months, there's always plenty of other things to do).

Here are the plants and flowers I've ordered thus far:

-White Variegated English Ivy - Hedera helix
-English Ivy - Variegated Gold Ivy - Helix
-Pansy Mixture
-Black Pansy

I also took some cuttings from my myrtlewood tree that fell down (before I bought the property) but is still growing despite the top of it being in the water. This is a great evergreen (though it grows rather slowly) that has a great smell and a great spread for privacy. Not sure how well it will take to sprouting roots from cuttings. We'll see.  

I'm excited to finish up on the main workshop (putting the tarp roof up, getting the recliner moved from the tent to the workshop, etc) because then I can start working on the dock/wave breaker logs. Currently there are too many dock sections for my needs. I'm tearing apart 2 sections (10ft x 30ft) and (5ft x 20ft) for use in building decks and whatnot. There are four or five concrete floats under the larger dock that I have no need for. I'll either sell these or give them away. Whatever delivers the least hassle to me at the moment I'm ready to be rid of them. I would use them but the spot I want to put the remaining dock is too shallow and there are several pilings that were cut off at low water that stick up and cause problems. The two remaining dock sections I will be using are 8ftx16ft each and I'm putting them in an L shape so they fit between the two back pilings (hopefully) perfectly. I'll be rearranging the breaker logs so they are pulled back and secured to the front two pilings. I'm thankful to the previous owners who left behind two heavy duty cables for tying the logs together. There are three logs total and are quite large and about 50ft in legnth. The geese make use of them during nesting season. It's quite entertaining watching them chase the ducks away if they get too close.  

On my paddle back this morning I was watching the osprey soaring high above me, only to plunge down a second later and dive bomb into the water head first. The first one got a nice fish for his troubles. The second came out of the water empty. It's amazing the skill it must take to first see the fish from that far up, then the nerve to drop out of the sky like that, hit the water, while trying to catch a meal. Makes me want to buy a fishing pole and go fishing!

Isaac

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Isaac Hunter
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Not sure why the pics broke. I posted them just like I did the pics from the first post. Those are still working fine. I'll just attach pics going forward.
 
Jay Angler
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Isaac Hunter wrote:

There are four or five concrete floats under the larger dock that I have no need for.

Have you considered using them for a chinampas-style garden out from the shore. It would keep deer from munching stuff, but you may feel there are other water based munchers that would think you'd built it for them?
 
Isaac Hunter
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I have considered this. But the lake has both beaver and otters and they are both quite energetic about exploring. I definately wouldn't want to put edibles out there. There are also land/water rights issue to deal with. Of course the biggest problem would be keeping people off/out of it. This is one of the main reasons that I'm reorganizing the dock in the first place. Its a magnet for fishermen and tourists who apparently are ignorant of or have little concern for private property. Its so pervasive I make a point to show myself when one of then comes by so they know I'm there. I've given a few of them near heart attacks when I wait until they step onto my dock before I come out of the brush to chase them off.

Once I get the dock where I want it will be much more difficult for them to get to it and I will be putting up a camera monitoring and no trespassing signs, not to mention a few actual cameras. Since I don't have a big power boat they don't think anyone is there. Apparently that means tresspassing is okay. They are quite apologetic when I catch them by surprise though.

I think the old adage remains true: hell is other people!

Isaac
 
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I would be surprised if raccoon (assuming you don't grow berries!) beaver or otter viewed the floating gardens as a food source; but the otters would potentially view it as a basking location - electric fencing with solar charger??

Due to the lack of sun and heavy wildlife pressure I would be inclined to go almost completely water based with a float home and float gardens you could move to take best advantage of the little sun you get. I would keep those concrete floats for future projects, 100%.

A log "fence" made from floating logs around your docks and gardens might lessen trespasser issues, along with "cougar den on property" or "nudist colony" or some such "fabrication" that would best have folk turn away voluntarily - nesting geese are darn good "intruder deterrents", I would encourage them!

 
Isaac Hunter
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Those geese are something else. They don't seem to bother with me much when I'm on site. At the old place I had one couple build a nest at the end of the log which was not far from the dock. They did not seem bothered by the boat going in and out. But anyone else they went nuts.  

I doubt seriously the state or county would allow another floating house on the lake. There are a few but they are older than I am and grandfathered in. Plus, to built a structure you have to have a full septic. The same would be the case for excessive logs. I don't think the state would find out unless someone tipped them off, which happens quite often here. A neighbor is remodeling his cabin on the other side of the lake and I spotted someone in a bot just the other day snooping around, taking pictures where they tore up the ground using heavy equipment. I'm certain those pics went straight to the county.  

Luckily this is not a regular occurence, otherwise it wouldn't be worth the time and effort.  

I've thought about keeping the concrete floats, and I may for a few more seasons. Depends on how quickly I can dismantle the lumber on the dock. i know i don't want anything floating out that far again. Just the logs tied to the outer pilings. The more difficult I make accessing the less tempted tresspassers will be to try.

I also do not like the idea of a floating house simply because 1. they can't seem to keep them out of the water, they're always sinking around here and 2. I don't like having an audience - most of my living space will eventually be back in the tree line, which is why I'm planting a lot of evergreen shrubs and trees so I have some level of privacy when I'm on the decks, in the workshop, in my shelter, or down on the flat gardening.  

When I first bought this property, the previous owner had put a shed on it, just at the treeline, then proceeded to cut down all the grass and vegetation all the way to the water's edge. I really don't know what it is with people that do this. My neighbor who is remodeling has done the very same thing. His cabin was up on the hill, nearly completely obscured by vegetation year around. He went in with heavy equipment, doubled the size of the structure, then ripped out all the vegetation. Now he's going to plant a lawn. There is something about wild landscapes that bother people. At least I don't have to look at it from my property (hence, I'm building up vegetation rather than tearing it down).  

Isaac
 
Lorinne Anderson
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I suspect there re two reasons folks are determined to remove vegetation...fear. They are afraid of all the animals that might choose to inhabit the thickets and woody areas.  

The second is "view"...why one would want an uninterrupted view when all it does is put you "on display" to the rest of the lake; pride, the need to show off, to have the world "see" what you can afford???

Perhaps this means that one by one the wildlife will scare off the humans and you can slowly buy up each property and rewild them. ORget other like minded Permies to join you around the lake!
 
Isaac Hunter
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I can say most of the cabins on the lake are all pretty much the same basic blueprint. A little variety here and there. Often to extremes. There are several places like mine that are basically just a deck and a few tarps. Then there are others that are McMansions. The arm of the lake I'm on seems to be "lower rent" but I think this is because there are no road access properties on this side. On the opposite arm there are several more ridiculous places that are so elaborate and out of place I would be embarrassed to live there.  

I definitely do not like being the center of attention or being seen at all from the lake. But I do want the ability to see them coming. I've made some headway the last several years in achieving this.  

One thing I can say, I always look forward to right after Labor Day. The rains start coming in and all the tourists head back to the valleys and stay there. By December the lake is virtually empty, save for a handful of us that stay year around.  

As for animals, I suppose they might be concerned. It's now really a problem here. The animals have learned to steer clear when people are around. The cougar were hunted to near extinction over the last 100 years. They've come back, but I bet avoidance is not genetically hard-wired in them now. I've gotten pics of cougar and bob cat by the deck, but only when I'm not there. They've ventured in as close as the water's edge before while I was there, but only to kill something and then get out of town quick. Of course, with cougar, you never really know when they're there anyway.

Bears stay away, too, though they have been known to break into cabins before. We don't have wolves (yet), and the coyotes are too small.  

I really don't know what possesses people to clear the brush. But they seem hellbent on doing it. They take whole fields along the water's edge and will run up huge gas builds cutting it with their riding lawn mowers. Yet, they spent 2 weeks a year on site. The last thing I'll ever do is cut my grass down by the water. Sitting on the front deck in the afternoon, watching the grass sway gently in the breeze, there's nothing much like it.  

Isaac
 
Isaac Hunter
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Lorinne Anderson wrote: log "fence" made from floating logs around your docks and gardens might lessen trespasser issues, along with "cougar den on property"



I didn't catch the comment about cougar den on property the first time I read this. That's funny. Might actually be true, too. I could have sworn I heard a kitten crying the other night when I was in my tent. It was real faint and the wind was blowing a little so it could have been my imagination. Needles to say, when I was working on near my decks this morning, I got a good long look before I got too close. There's plenty of room under there for a momma and her cubs. That's one big reason why I'm hesitating on putting a deck up on the point on top of the hole left by a tree root when the tree fell. It's a perfect spot but I'm sure if I went to the trouble a cougar or bear would den up under it at some point.  

So far making myself known seems to be working. Like the fisherman this morning, they just stair at me from their boat when I come out and sit on my deck. Since there is no big power boat at the dock they're usually pretty surprised to see me. Last week about a minute or two after I sat down the guy left abruptly. Maybe he doesn't like an audience when he's fishing ;-).

Weather turned a little chilly this week. I'm surprised with it being August, but this year has been unpredictably cool and mild. I guess that means winter is coming. It always makes me nervous. I'm never quite ready.

Isaac
 
Isaac Hunter
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Got the ivy in the ground today. I ordered four plants from Etsy and they unfortunately arrived last Monday, right after I paddled over to the property. Needless to say they sat on my front porch in town for five days. I thought for sure they would be dead when I got back Friday. Luckily, they were still a little damp in the roots.  

I got them over here yesterday and this morning I found spots for them and got them in the ground. Now I just hope nothing eats them! I got three different varieties. Standard English Ivy, then ones with gold tips, and then one with white tips. Four in all that ended up being five. Put them out front of the main deck in the corner between the step and the walkway. I'm hoping this one will climb up the deck and along the catwalk toward the dock. I planted another one behind the deck hoping it will grow along the 4ft bank to hold it in place and provide an evergreen backdrop for flowers and bonsai I hope to display here. I also planted one near the steps that go up to the upper deck. Hopefully this will fill in the gaps once the deck is done and mingle with the other one I planted on the other side, so there is white and standard mixed together in the middle. On the other side of the upper deck I planted I think the gold tipped one where the deck will eventually stop, and there will be steps down to a narrow path. My plan is to connect this path midway up the bowl with the trail on the other side of the property. One direction it will come around the bowl in a circle while the other direction the trail already goes up and over the finger that sticks out on the east side of the property and dumps out into the valley (see pic above). The circle trail(s) will eventually make their way up to the top of the south ridge and connect with the skidder trail/road (still not sure where that ends - it splits at the top of the hill, right trail goes up to the main logging road while the other one I've only been part way on).  

I'm attaching pictures of the ivy to this post. Not sure why these won't attach when I'm at the lake property. It only works when I'm in town.

Isaac
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Isaac Hunter
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Here's an update from the property. I'm putting a trail in to the top of the first ridge and I ran across this bright yellow fungus looking stuff growing on a branch that was lying against what is left from a rotten tree (there is nothing left of the tree but the shell and moss). Anyone have an idea what this stuff is?  

I also included a picture of a section of the trail so far. I think at this point I'm about half way up the bowl. Today I discovered there's actually a little spur sticking out in the middle of the bowl. Can't see this from the dock below as it is completely covered by vegetation. The topography here always fascinates me.  

Last week I had some visitors. I came down from working on the trail and heard rustling and heavy breathing in the brush. Then there seemed to be movement in the vegetation all around me. I thought for sure it was some deer or maybe an elk or two or a bear, but instead a yellow lab suddenly bounded toward me out of the underbrush.

There ended up being two of them. Muddy. Excited. Friendly. After about ten minutes of wandering around they ran off up my other trail. About fifteen minutes later I spotted them on the other side of the cove. I thought they were heading home (and I assumed they lived about 10 cabins down around the corner). Two hours later they came back and rousted me out of my hammock.

I paddled down to their cabin but no one was there. I went ashore in hopes of finding a kennel they broke out of, but instead I discovered an address on their collar and it was not the same as the mailbox on the dock. They actually lived at the other end of the lake in the opposite direction!

I managed to get away from them (they were pretty clingy by this point) and paddled down that way, stopped and asked another neighbor and his wife. They were sitting on their front deck eating dinner. Apparently the dogs lived at a farm house clear at the end and the two dogs had become a real problem, always coming over and fighting with these peoples' dogs. There was no one home at the farmhouse and by the time I got back to my camp the dogs were gone. I assume after I left them they ran through the woods toward home, finally tired of their adventures.  

I've never really understood why people won't keep their pets at home. I've known too many dogs who run the countryside like that and get shot for their trouble.

Isaac
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Jay Angler
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I think the yellow stuff is in the family that I've been given the colloquial name, "dog vomit slime mold". I had a weird slime mold in my tomato bed once, and I've seen it elsewhere since. I was told it wouldn't hurt the tomato plant, and that was accurate. Someone else here on permies seems to know them well enough to use them as a weather indicator, but not I!
 
Isaac Hunter
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Talk about slimy vomit finds out in the woods. A few years ago, while exploring my lot on the other side of the lake, I came across this brain just lying around on the ground. No body attached. Come to find out its some kind of mushroom. I've never seen anything like it before and there was just this one there. No others. It was the most peculiar thing.
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