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Planning my "permies journey" --> Thought we could all discuss.

 
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Thinking about the aging homesteader thread:

There is a roughly 3-acre chunk of land (2 plots) not far from where I live that I can acquire at a reasonable price that most people would find absolutely useless because it sits on an odd facing side of a slope into a gully. The property value is limited by the fact that the accessible neighborhood is very old, darn near "cue the Deliverance music" visually and size-wise (still inhabited).   Insert current maybe slightly nutso grown up boy genius (me) who thinks... hmm, if I didn't actually plan to build the final home there until around 2025... I could "permie the heck out of it" as a hobby on behalf of my community in the meantime. The land is sort of unzoned, but I know it is not commercially zonable, if you know what I mean, and it's not ag-land per se. Here's what I am thinking about experimenting with and inviting anyone who wishes to play come (or a visit) along the way:

  • "Reforest" the property rim with trees such as the pome and stone fruits, replacing the current "junk trees into about a three-row permaculture orchard. Question being would I get enough light on a SW facing slope to actually get the apples, plums, etc.?
  • Terrace part of the down-slope like they do in Japan, into what would effectively be a series of raised bed gardens, putting in straw bales year one per terrace, and building up the beds for a while. Super-productivity not required at first as I don't eat THAT much, of course.  Maybe even just turn parts into a bee garden, put up the little houses for bug-eating bats and birds, etc.
  • "wild" a part of the slope but with raspberries, etc. that are crops where bedding is sort of a meh proposition.
  • Take advantage of the high water table and slope change to create a bit of a pond to pond tiny hydropower system. (Sun and wind and maybe a tiny bit of grid power pushes the water up via pumps, tiny water turbines as the 7x24 basic generators... which of course would only really work when it is not freezing outside.  

  • Any other experiments y'all think would be worthwhile on a small space like that? and what would you do first, etc.  Thoughts?
     
    Posts: 100
    Location: Far Northern California Coast, Far South Pacific Northwest
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    hugelkultur fungi chicken
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    With any  project the first thing I do is draw it out. Then draw it with all possibilities. If you plan to build a home there picking the site first would be important, then you can zone out from there. Love the idea of creating beauty in a derelict area but consider if your hard work would be protected. Are the neighbors on board, indifferent. Do they have kids that could potentially disrupt harmony when you leave your land unattended?

    I've always loved terraced gardens. My legs are my weak point so they aren't in my future. You mentioned junk trees, could you use them to build up terraces hugelkultur style?
     
    Rocket Scientist
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    Hi Paul;
    Great plan for some unused land!
    You can never go wrong investing in property!
    In my eyes you just eliminated potential neighbor's... a good thing in my opinion.
    By planting and terracing you are increasing the value, a win win!

    Having lived with hydro power for over 30 years.  I will tell you that with the right setup it is a beautiful thing.
    Now I will tell you it is much harder to accomplish than folks think.
    A lot of variable's involved with making usable power with water and it gets expensive the more power you want to make.
    Don't let me talk you out of trying, but approach it slowly with many calculations (pressure and  flow) before you start investing much capital.    
    DSCN0805.JPG
    Harris Hydro
    Harris Hydro
     
    Paul Ellsworth
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    Melanie, great points which I will "snip divide and rearrange" for discussion:

    Melonie Corder wrote: Love the idea of creating beauty in a derelict area but consider if your hard work would be protected.[/list]

  • [Are the neighbors on board, indifferent.
  • Do they have kids that could potentially disrupt harmony when you leave your land unattended?

  • Excellent questions.  Actually, for four of the five years in my little plan, protection wise, it's the little furry critters I'd be a bit more worried about -- specifically the deer population as there are no natural predators nearby. I like the question about the neighbors being on-board but I think initially I wouldn't be interacting enough to share any kind of grand design to enlist their interest... and at some point, I hope they have kids!  Because I'm not doing this for me and I don't know that my two girls want to inherit Dad's pet project. So a bit of MY planning is to plant a little curiosity about what yon city slicker is up to and over time enlist said kids and parents in the bits of madness final "to launch" year of stuff that would otherwise be hellaciously expensive to complete.

  • With any project the first thing I do is draw it out.
  • Then draw it with all possibilities.

  • Well said and started, as I have been able to do a kind of hybrid "paper grid by" taking the county's GIS system's satellite pic up to the size of an 8-1/2" sheet, then photocopying that onto PDF generated graph paper.  Hard part being "no slopes" on my overhead map So I have two choices... see if there is an extant but precise enough contour map OR (my preferred choice): become my own amateur surveyor by using a small laser level that I have with a protractor base and "do-hickey head" to measure the up angles that would let me play hiker through the woods / George Washington for a weekend on the larger tract (It's just over two of the three acres, the other acre being the access points on the northwest and southwest corners up top.

    If you plan to build a home there picking the site first would be important, then you can zone out from there.

    Actually, that's the easy one.  Given that to live here I have to be able to get in and out of my little valley in the winter, that limits a home site to the NW lot up top, with maybe a walkout basement leading to one of the paths.  The other end lot becomes a bit of an access road. THAT is the part I really don't have figured at all yet. Till I draw out the slopes ...

  • I've always loved terraced gardens. My legs are my weak point so they aren't in my future
  • You mentioned junk trees, could you use them to build up terraces hugelkultur style?

  • Huge agreement on the legs -- my mountain or even climbing days or at least desires are LONG past.

    Followed by... a big jaw drop. I hadn't considered the usefulness of some of the larger tree cuts (say 6" and up) enough for the terrace build-ups them along the way. If not done properly and WELL ground anchored, what I'd be creating would be a "too big rain triggers one or more mud slides" mess, likely sending all my hard work to the bottom of the gully, and getting me sued! That is also why one reason I planned to put three rows of fruit and nut trees near the top anyway. Below those rows, Attaching the ground anchors to a large wood undergirding supporting the terraces might help solve many of that kind of problem stuff I was sweating right now.  Fortunately, I have two semi-retired civil engineers I can brainstorm with in exchange for home cooked meals in the early go. That said, my first planned big tool is one of those ground compactors so that I can create some footpaths from which to work in the meantime,  clearing out some of the brush and establishing where the terraces and paths would go.

    One final point is that if 25-30% of the 2 acres doesn't end up as footpaths, it means I will have done things wrong, because I want everything except my immediate and eventual backyard to be wheelchair accessible and people interesting. So that y'all permie experts and others can teach the neighbors and kids what to put into all those raised garden beds on that crazy city dweller's converted hillside.  Make an interesting spooky walk at Halloween too, right?
     
    Paul Ellsworth
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    --very small snip, me grinning like a monkey who just tasted his first banana--

    thomas rubino wrote: Now I will tell you it is much harder to accomplish than folks think. A lot of variables involved with making usable power with water and it gets expensive the more power you want to make. Don't let me talk you out of trying, but approach it slowly with many calculations (pressure and flow) before you start investing much capital.


    My huge grin is because that is an area where I plan to have more fun experimenting than spending.  Though I admit to already "mad-scientist-ing" much of the design problems with some very old technology. (water wheels), and keeping the rest of my power-generation expectations really really small. The remaining design problems?  STEM experimenter's domain! because I really won't need to be grid-disconnected... just not grid expensive. For example, I can picture a group of HS student thinking "hey, what if we use a tesla bladeless as a water turbine?" and seeing what they can build and how much juice they get out of it compared to their expectations, etc.  Meanwhile, they learn about CAD, CNC machines, hmm wooden turbine? 3D printer? etc. Whilst building their own little bots and mini-drones and other science-y toys durig other times of the year or when we don't have an experiment running.

    For the rest of y'all, what most people don't realize is that water is hellaciously heavier than people realize, per cubic foot (about 62lbs), and how small a cubic foot is compared to even a small pond (say 20x40, 2-3 feet deep). That's close to 125,000 pounds of water if I'm trying to get that much from lower pond to an upper pond every day. Easy to calculate the GPM, rise, yadda yadda yadda... and suddenly the power required to pump the water up a full rise goes crazy. That said, my problem will be too much water already in the water table, but yup, gotta keep the top pond somewhat full. When a lower pond (the easier part) is full, I'll need to let a LOT of water out for much of the year... aka I'm planning to leave a similar water table and carbon footprint similar to what I started with but instead of the sunshine and water overgrowing trees and brush, this strange "junk property" grows useful trees, foods, and pretty stuff.

    The best crop? and why I'm thinking of doing this? permie-aware grand kids and foster kids.
     
    Melonie Corder
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    and at some point, I hope they have kids!  Because I'm not doing this for me and I don't know that my two girls want to inherit Dad's pet project. So a bit of MY planning is to plant a little curiosity about what yon city slicker is up to and over time enlist said kids and parents in the bits of madness final "to launch" year of stuff that would otherwise be hellaciously expensive to complete.



    Yes! Love that you think that way, getting them involved would be your best bet!

    If that was my goal I'd be tempted to plant some raspberries on a property edge, peak their interest a bit.
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