I'm still relatively new to permaculture myself, but I agree with the above post. Start smaller and practice. If it happens that you have the money and the opportunity to get a bigger piece of land in the very near future then go ahead, but even then start your projects small. But this stuff is hard work, and I think there is a point where, even if you can reasonable accomplish it with your time and resources, if you're using a lot of machinery to accomplish this then the process kind of looses something, you know? And you see, once you're deep into it you will be like me- after a day working and baking in the sun you will no longer be able to form a coherent thought... But I am a stay at home mom, so besides providing basic care for my children I have all day most days to devote to my permaculture and chicken
endeavors, and while I have accomplished a lot in the past two years (how long we have lived on this property), it is really slow going. And many projects I have necessarily taken my time to do, mostly because of cost. But what I have discovered on that front is that when I'm not sure how to accomplish a project or how I'm going to afford it, that I should wait. Last year I was going to spend $300 on a compost
bin, but I couldn't rationalize it. This year I happened upon a bunch of pallets
for free and ended up building a two compartment bin for free. All winter I planned to fence
the side of my property that has close neighbors with wood fence posts and 4 foot welded wire so I could free range my chickens
. But after I fenced the garden with the "nice" fencing (to keep the chickens
out) I had a bunch of old crappy 2 and 3 foot garden fence and used it, and discovered it does a pretty good job of keeping them where they need to be (yes, a chicken can easily jump a 2 or 3 food fence, but when they can't perch on top of it they're not likely to jump over, and when they have 3 acres on the RIGHT side of the fence they're less likely to try). So the more I go the more I realize that, if I'm not 100% okay with my method (or the cost of my method) then wait and observe and see what happens. I've saved myself a lot of money and time and stress that way.
But to the hugel thing, everyone else is right it depends on so many factors. For me, mine was totally free, $$$ wise. I made a hugel bed big enough
to plant 11lbs of seed
potatoes using grow biointensive spacing (half the spacing of traditional gardening
). It's in a keyhole shape, but it's probably about 4 x 20. I used no machinery, just myself, a shovel, and a wheelbarrow. BUT I was starting on soil we (my husband and I) had just pulled a ton of grapevines out of, which basically tilled the soil, and our soil is very loose and sandy. The property we live on is very wooded so I have plenty of prunings and deadfall to use in the beds. I did the bed in two sections (although connected). The first, which probably took about 3 hours, I just mounded the wood and then the compost
and soil, but that took bringing more soil in from another site (another site being my old compost
pile...), and I didn't have enough to do that for the rest. So for the second I dug a pit about 6 inches deep, filled it with wood, and covered it back up. It probably took me about 6 hours total to do the second half. I'm terrible at estimating time, though, I just know the second took longer. This is the only hugel bed I'm doing this year, and I'll add a bed or two each year. I have also just this spring- built a fence for my garden (which is not permaculture at all- it's no till raised bed
- as I mention, I'm new to this too!), built a second chicken pen
and a summer coop, added 50 chickens to my flock (previously had 22), planted 22 new fruit and nut bearing trees and shrubs, built a huge (5x20 ish, but it's curvy so that's not exact) zone 1 bed right next to my porch, fenced the aforementioned side of my property, and of course planted and worked all the beds (well, I'm still working on it technically) in my 50x60 veg garden. But I do have to say it's money more than time that limits my endeavors, although because of that I have more time to spend actually sitting and enjoying my property. If money were no issue I would probably literally spend every spare moment mulching and planting (and I'd have 5 foot fence around my ENTIRE property and just let my chickens run all day every day, but that's a whole other thing...).
So far as equipment goes... If I had the money, but only enough to buy one thing, I would get a front loader. Which is a lot like the walk behind the person before mentioned, so that's a good option and a bit cheaper. I feel like they are pretty versatile pieces of machinery- they can scoop/dig (don't know if the walk behinds can), dig ditches, dig post holes, move/lift heavy items, and (I don't know how safe it is, I just know this is pretty common use for farmers who have them...) use them to access high places. But as it is, all we have is a riding mower (I mentioned I'm new- getting down to a lot less grass is a priority, but my husband won't let me get rid of all if it), which I use a little bit. When I have to move a lot of stuff or move something heavy a long distance it's nice- we have a trailer for it (that was free!). I use it to move the chicken tractor, although only when empty since it freaks out the chickens. And, since we can't get rid of the grass, I treat the grass like a crop- we let it get tall, mow it, and sweep it. Then I use that as mulch
in my gardens and around the perimeter of my garden fence or as green matter in my compost bins.
Sorry, I'm straying off topic. The point I am trying to make is that there is no way to learn how this works or how much it will take of X material until you do it yourself. The more you do the more you will learn. And I strongly advise you to ASAP develop a "where can I get that free" mentality, or a "what can I use that I already have" mentality. Lately I find myself frequently thinking "if I were a farmer 100 years ago (and didn't have the option to just run to the store whenever I need something) how would I deal with this?" Also, be creative, and check things like craigslist. One thing you can never have too much of is wood, esp. if you're trying to be self sustained. We only have a wood stove
in the garage (regular central heat in the house), but we've talked about switching to full wood burning before, and about putting an add on craigslist to remove trees under a certain diameter and height for a small fee (lower than what local professionals would charge) plus all the wood. A chainsaw doesn't cost that much, and you can get a lot of return... of course, don't do this until you've felled some trees yourself, so you know what you're doing:) But you could get a lot of wood this way AND make a little extra cash AND provide a service to people at a lower rate than they would pay otherwise. But even if you don't do that, unless you live in like AZ or Southern Cal, you should be able to find people who are more than happy to have you take away their brush pile. Most people don't know the value of what they have!
I don't know about other places, but there is good land available here in MN (South central). My husband has been looking for a friend who is moving here and found 10 acres with a house for like 170,000. I have no idea what type of land it was, he didn't show the listing to me, but most land here is like ours- loose, rich, and slightly sandy, although most does have some rocks (ours doesn't, somehow we got lucky). Of course, there are the winters...