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Where to start

 
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Hi all,

First thanks for your time reading this.

Second, I am feeling a bit overwhelmed and trying to figure out where to start. I recently purchased 11 acres in eastern Washington for developing into a homestead that I will eventually retire to. I currently live near Seattle and to get to the property is about a 6 hour drive so I am trying to figure out what I can intensively work on during my couple week long visits to the property throughout the year. It is raw land with 20” of rain annually mostly Doug fir ponderosa pine for trees. Some areas are level, some moderately sloped most of the sloped areas are <17 degrees. Historically the property has not burned but there have been fires in the area. The site has southern exposure. Prevailing winds are from the SW in the summer and the property is bordered by a road on the west and south side.

My first inclinations are a small 12x16 cabin off the access road that will make it more comfortable for my wife and daughter during our trips and also starting water management. Money is limited so I was thinking of starting with 2-3 ponds placed high in the landscape and getting 2 100ft long swales dug where I can start a zone 4 area to plant sapling trees. Oak, maple, chestnuts, walnuts with fruit and smaller nut trees as the understory. Does this seem like a decent place to start? Any suggestions? I mentioned before money is limited but I found what I think is a reasonably priced landscape contractor and I have a bit of a nursery from starting fruit, nut trees and shrubs from seed or softwood cuttings. Any advice/cost saving measures are appreciated.

Natalie
 
pollinator
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Location: Australia
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Hello,


I would suggest you start, with anything!

Its obvious you have a vision for the place. It is also obvious you have skills and the right intentions.

But If you have not already I suggest drawing a little map or plan, and sharing your plans of the journey!

I think you may feel like this is a lot, but it is just many steps, many shovels of soil, many seeds planted, many little things to fix, each is easy!

I know that once you start you will find your rhythm and you will achieve and you will probably eventually find problems that are more challenging, but when you come across those challenges you can always ask permies for encouragement, innovation, wisdom and empathy!

Sincere regards,
Alex



 
pollinator
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Location: Bendigo , Australia
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You speak of limited cash being available.
Being realistic about what you can achieve depends on the available cash at the moment.
You speak of a 12 x 16' cabin initially, are there alternatives in the short term, say 18 months.
- tent,
- caravan,
- shipping container,
- garage that turns from accomodation now to workshop later.

If its not going to be used during a severe winter period a simple shed / garage may work.
What is the weather like? 20 inches oif rain is better than where I am in Australia and I catch about 100,000L of rain a year in tanks.

You also speak of creating ponds at an early stage, for what purpose that a bit of rainfall collection may suit instead?

Planting trees etc at an early stage is a brilliant idea that many miss because of the focus on accommodation.

Are you far from anywhere that water could be carted in the drier period s and stored in a large tank and used for watering etc?
 
Nat Kadziel
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Hi John,

Thanks for your reply. The weather is a four season climate summers hover around 80-90F while winters lows are around 10-15F with about 45 inches of snow. I don’t have a well or water access on the property so I thought ponds at the top of the property would allow for irrigation when needed during warmer periods or possibly flood irrigation for fire season. I know several of the farms in the area have water storage containers above ground so I imagine there is water delivery in the area I just haven’t been able to find the company yet.

John C Daley wrote:You speak of limited cash being available.
Being realistic about what you can achieve depends on the available cash at the moment.
You speak of a 12 x 16' cabin initially, are there alternatives in the short term, say 18 months.
- tent,
- caravan,
- shipping container,
- garage that turns from accomodation now to workshop later.

If its not going to be used during a severe winter period a simple shed / garage may work.
What is the weather like? 20 inches oif rain is better than where I am in Australia and I catch about 100,000L of rain a year in tanks.

You also speak of creating ponds at an early stage, for what purpose that a bit of rainfall collection may suit instead?

Planting trees etc at an early stage is a brilliant idea that many miss because of the focus on accommodation.

Are you far from anywhere that water could be carted in the drier period s and stored in a large tank and used for watering etc?

 
John C Daley
pollinator
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Location: Bendigo , Australia
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Can I ask what area are you in? I will study water etc in the area.
Ponds at the top may help, but normally a large catchment area is needed to get water flowing.
Some of my dams have a catchment of 20 to 100 acres, and most hilltops do not have that.

My signature has a topic about catching rainfall and you may find that useful.

I believe there are better systems than wells available to you today.
I take it the above ground storage tanks are big to reduce a tendency to freeze solid.
hats something I will look into .
Regards
 
Nat Kadziel
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Colville national forest area in Stevens county eastern Washington

Thank you!

John C Daley wrote:Can I ask what area are you in? I will study water etc in the area.
Ponds at the top may help, but normally a large catchment area is needed to get water flowing.
Some of my dams have a catchment of 20 to 100 acres, and most hilltops do not have that.

My signature has a topic about catching rainfall and you may find that useful.

I believe there are better systems than wells available to you today.
I take it the above ground storage tanks are big to reduce a tendency to freeze solid.
hats something I will look into .
Regards

 
pollinator
Posts: 171
Location: Chon Buri Thailand Zone 11-12
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Hi Nat,

I have watched people a lot in Thailand how they are doing and money is always an issue beside there are no well stocked Garden Centers as we Westerners are used to.

First they grab what they can get hold on.
Frequent used spots like parking spots on Highways and Public places where people have a Picnic etc. is almost a guarantee for 'wild' growing saplings or other plants.  
Old ruins of houses have a good stock of plants and some saplings coming up, you can air player some stuff or pinch some scions for grafting.
Plant nurseries, farmers markets, Supermarkets throw most likely rotten fruits and veggies away. If you "rescue" them you will most likely end up with bolting plants hence an abundance of own seeds..
Neighbors and hobby gardens sure will share some seeds/plants.
Its a bit going with open eyes around and look specifically for all kind of stuff in public places, plant it and see what comes out.

First is to overfill your land with freebies wherever you can get hold on and let mother nature regulate herself in a later stage if it gets too tight..

The infrastructure will cost but also some stuff will be found on constructions sites and safes you a coin.

My father in law says, money is laying on the street but not everybody sees it and only a few know how to pick it up.

Good luck with your project
 
John C Daley
pollinator
Posts: 2798
Location: Bendigo , Australia
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Web site detailing rainfall catchment in Washington State
https://ecology.wa.gov/Water-Shorelines/Water-supply/Water-recovery-solutions/Rainwater-collection

Such weird policies for me to see are listed on the above site.
'Under our current policy, you don’t need a water right permit to collect rainwater, with a few conditions:
Rainwater must be used on the property where it is collected.
Rainwater can only be collected from existing structures that have another purpose other than collecting rainwater.
If we find that rainwater collection is negatively affecting existing water rights in an area, local restrictions may be developed to govern new systems. However, we do not expect the collection of harvested rainwater to cause problems.
If you are planning to use rainwater as your primary drinking water source for new building construction, you'll need to check with your county to see if it is allowed.'
 
master steward
Posts: 7233
Location: USDA Zone 8a
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To me, ponds are expensive to build so if I were buying that property, I would decide what I really wanted the most.  A cabin or ponds.

I would pick the cabin and place a water catchment system on the roof with a storage tank.

I then would study Brad Lancaster's techniques, will help with that:

https://permies.com/wiki/brad-lancaster

Then I would need to decide how to get rid of human waste.

This book will help:

https://permies.com/wiki/44341/Humanure-Handbook-Joseph-Jenkins

Next, I would look for native plants to plant that will not need to be watered.  If I plant 5 trees then go back home will these trees survive without water?

That is a beautiful property so enjoy every minute you can spend there!
 
Alex Moffitt
pollinator
Posts: 230
Location: Australia
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Anne Miller wrote:To me, ponds are expensive to build so if I were buying that property, I would decide what I really wanted the most.  A cabin or ponds.

I would pick the cabin and place a water catchment system on the roof with a storage tank.



Anne has a good point it is important to take care of ourselves, or we can burn out!
I would consider it making a foot hold for your conquest!

Regards,
Alex
 
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I would start with a list (I am a list maker so that's where I start with everything.). I would make that list in 3 sections -- must haves, would like to haves, and wishes for the property. Then prioritize the list starting with the must haves & make yourself a to do list. Are there must haves that take a long time to get established like an orchard? Those would move to an earlier part of the to do list.

Then I would walk the property and make a really good map (or have the husband make it because maps and I don't get along). Walk it when it is wet and walk it when it is dry. Are there places that stay wet and soggy? Are there places that always seem dry? What areas get good light and which ones don't. Add things to the map where you think they would go best based on what your walk about showed. Make several versions -- 1 year plan, 5 years, 10 years. See if you like how it looks. Edit as needed.
 
pollinator
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Location: Málaga, Spain
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Everything starts with water.
 
Nat Kadziel
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Thank you for these great ideas! I'm fortunate that I have a friend who works for a local orchard and she gives me all their unwanted fruit for free. Most of the fruit is just slightly damaged so not only do I get free fruit I also keep the seeds. I've gotten a good amount of pit fruit trees so far. We also have a food forest here in Seattle that I have taken some softwood cuttings from over the years and have grown out a few shrubs from but plan to ramp that up this season. Definitely planning on dense spacing for planting since there are deer on the property and I am sure I will lose a few.

I love these other ideas! I am going to keep a closer eye when I am out and about for trees I might be able to harvest seeds from. Thank you!

See Hes wrote:Hi Nat,

I have watched people a lot in Thailand how they are doing and money is always an issue beside there are no well stocked Garden Centers as we Westerners are used to.

First they grab what they can get hold on.
Frequent used spots like parking spots on Highways and Public places where people have a Picnic etc. is almost a guarantee for 'wild' growing saplings or other plants.  
Old ruins of houses have a good stock of plants and some saplings coming up, you can air player some stuff or pinch some scions for grafting.
Plant nurseries, farmers markets, Supermarkets throw most likely rotten fruits and veggies away. If you "rescue" them you will most likely end up with bolting plants hence an abundance of own seeds..
Neighbors and hobby gardens sure will share some seeds/plants.
Its a bit going with open eyes around and look specifically for all kind of stuff in public places, plant it and see what comes out.

First is to overfill your land with freebies wherever you can get hold on and let mother nature regulate herself in a later stage if it gets too tight..

The infrastructure will cost but also some stuff will be found on constructions sites and safes you a coin.

My father in law says, money is laying on the street but not everybody sees it and only a few know how to pick it up.

Good luck with your project

 
Nat Kadziel
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Yeah the water policies are weird in WA but actually better than a lot of US states. There are many that make collecting rainwater illegal. Water rights are insane too. I have a stream running through my property but I cant touch the water to use and even if I applied for water rights which are $$$$ I doubt I would get access because the rights are based on length of owning them. I reached out to my local jurisdiction and luckily as long as I fill my ponds with rainwater and catching rainwater for drinking purposes. My plan is to have infrastructure for different things next to the ponds that have roofs so I can divert some of the rainwater into the ponds at least initially to fill them up. Ex. A firewood shed next to a pond that I can divert to pond.

John C Daley wrote:Web site detailing rainfall catchment in Washington State
https://ecology.wa.gov/Water-Shorelines/Water-supply/Water-recovery-solutions/Rainwater-collection

Such weird policies for me to see are listed on the above site.
'Under our current policy, you don’t need a water right permit to collect rainwater, with a few conditions:
Rainwater must be used on the property where it is collected.
Rainwater can only be collected from existing structures that have another purpose other than collecting rainwater.
If we find that rainwater collection is negatively affecting existing water rights in an area, local restrictions may be developed to govern new systems. However, we do not expect the collection of harvested rainwater to cause problems.
If you are planning to use rainwater as your primary drinking water source for new building construction, you'll need to check with your county to see if it is allowed.'

 
Nat Kadziel
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Hi Anne,

Thanks for the reply and recommendations. Im thinking of doing the compost bucket system for waste, will check out the link you sent. Thank you!

Anne Miller wrote:To me, ponds are expensive to build so if I were buying that property, I would decide what I really wanted the most.  A cabin or ponds.

I would pick the cabin and place a water catchment system on the roof with a storage tank.

I then would study Brad Lancaster's techniques, will help with that:

https://permies.com/wiki/brad-lancaster

Then I would need to decide how to get rid of human waste.

This book will help:

https://permies.com/wiki/44341/Humanure-Handbook-Joseph-Jenkins

Next, I would look for native plants to plant that will not need to be watered.  If I plant 5 trees then go back home will these trees survive without water?

That is a beautiful property so enjoy every minute you can spend there!

 
Nat Kadziel
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I love this idea. I have a long list of things I want to have/accomplish on the property already and I think sorting them into a soft timeline will help me feel a little less overwhelmed .

Misty May wrote:I would start with a list (I am a list maker so that's where I start with everything.). I would make that list in 3 sections -- must haves, would like to haves, and wishes for the property. Then prioritize the list starting with the must haves & make yourself a to do list. Are there must haves that take a long time to get established like an orchard? Those would move to an earlier part of the to do list.

Then I would walk the property and make a really good map (or have the husband make it because maps and I don't get along). Walk it when it is wet and walk it when it is dry. Are there places that stay wet and soggy? Are there places that always seem dry? What areas get good light and which ones don't. Add things to the map where you think they would go best based on what your walk about showed. Make several versions -- 1 year plan, 5 years, 10 years. See if you like how it looks. Edit as needed.

 
John C Daley
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This is no longer correct

There are many that make collecting rainwater illegal.



Every state in the USA allows rainwater capture. It is a field I work extensively in.
This statement is correct and there is a valid reason for it

I have a stream running through my property but I cant touch the water to use..........



In the past in Australia  and I know in North America, the land holders upstream [ highlanders ] grabbed as much as they could take of the stream water, depriving low landers of any water.
The argument it, ' landed on my land its mine',  is not valid.
HERE is why.
Rainfall is considered a communal issue, and when water became really valuable and even tradeable, it was taken by the highlanders.
The Governments around Australia and  the USA  water tried to sort the mess out by assuming ownership of all land flowing waters and then distributed it out by various methods
that are generally fair all round. Money was gained from the process for the treasury also so it must be a good idea.
People may want to argue about it, but its better than 'highlanders grabbing it all.

Rainfall capture is dealt with differently and generally rainfall capture from you buildings is considered fair enough.
BUT I have even seen a law somewhere that states that the roofs must be on buildings that are used for habitation, repairs and storage or animal housing.
Roofing to just capture rainwater are not allowed. It may be in those notes frpm the State of Washington!!!
 
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Nat Kadziel wrote:
I have a bit of a nursery from starting fruit, nut trees and shrubs from seed or softwood cuttings. Any advice/cost saving measures are appreciated.

Natalie



What about taking some of what you have or can get using the suggestions people are posting  - to a plant exchange in order to get more variety?
Can you get some grape vine cuttings?
Also, do you have a spice drawer in your kitchen, or friends who do?  Maybe root around in there for some seeds and see if they grow.  How about dried beans, rhizomes or root veggies from the kitchen?  Some might not come up, but they cost almost nothing to try.   Maybe some nuts that you can get ahold of foraging or elsewhere.  I've heard smashing up moldy berries and planting them will do the job, but I don't have my land yet (I'm a pre-Newbie lol) so am not sure whether the mold is good or bad.
 
John C Daley
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From Learn-the-history-of-water-law Washington State
Water is a resource held in common by state residents.
The right to use the water is subject to regulation to ensure that water is used beneficially and to protect the environment.
Without controls, conflicts would flare, as they did in the years before the Legislature enacted the 1917 water code.

Learn how water and water laws have shaped state history and play an important role in supporting Washington's communities, industries, farms, and environment.
 
Mahabba Meyer
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Nat Kadziel wrote: I mentioned before money is limited but I found what I think is a reasonably priced landscape contractor and I have a bit of a nursery from starting fruit, nut trees and shrubs from seed or softwood cuttings. Any advice/cost saving measures are appreciated.

Natalie



Another idea - maybe you can connect with some other permies or other growers in your area - like if you can find a WOOF directory, and reach out to them with bartering opportunities or if you feel comfortable, surplus freebies.

Maybe also check out David the Good's book "Free Plants for Everyone", which has some interesting propagation techniques.
 
I like tacos! And this tiny ad:
Compost Everything: The Good Guide to Extreme Composting ebook by David the Good
https://permies.com/wiki/142750/Compost-Good-Guide-Extreme-Composting
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