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Options for permie holding - help/advice please  RSS feed

 
Dave Quinn
Posts: 87
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I am seriously considering a house and small piece of land for a permie holding in an attempt to become close to self sufficient.

The land is quite different in that it has some challenges, but these could also be seen as opportunities it's also the only house with land thatwe stand a chance of affording so please be gentle. I have been self studying permaculture for some years and have had some successes on a very small scale, but I can't really afford a PDC, so would welcomea bit of help/advice.

The downside
The house is on a fairly main road in a rural area. When I visited there was approx one vehicle every 2 minutes at peak periods.

Location
The house is about less than two miles from the local market town in Northern Europe it has about 4 acres (1.5 hectares) of land with it. This has all amenities/facilities including the hospital for the area. It has a variety of super markets and is a fairly large town but with a relatively small population <8000. Immediately across the road is a healthy river teeming with trout.

The house is at the bottom of a steep very overgrown wooded area with a slope of approximately 50% (this varies tremendously). This slope faces South East and is so overgrown with brambles and creepers we were unable to fully survey it, so we don't know all the trees and bushes in the wooded area. This woodland extends approximatelt 400 m each side of the houseand it is about 50m horizontal to the top of the hill 80m up the slope.

At the top of the hill there is a field of approximately 1 hectare which is good quality but overgrown meadow grass here are several patches of weeds in the field. This slopes towards the South East at between 10 and 15%. There has been no grazing for the last two or three years. The climate is very mild with heavy rainfall and the wind is predominatly from the south west.

Because the house is not in the centre of the property and Zone 1 is very small in terms of an accessible garden I am struggling to think where to start. There is a flatter piece of wooded area up the hill a little which could be a vegetable plot. Do I even need to bother with swales as rain is plentiful, and might it cause problems with 'natural drainage'. I would like to build a pond, but could this cause problems if immediately behind the house , should it be at the top or bottom of the field?

I know this might be pretty vague, but I was hoping I might be able to get some ideas as the purchase / move goes through, and post pictures when I get them.

Any ideas will be considered carefully.



 
Terri Matthews
Posts: 469
Location: Eastern Kansas
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An interesting puzzle!

Most people eat fruit, vegetables, dairy, meat, sweets, and grain. If you are to be almost self sufficient then you need to look at each of these.

Sweets. Well, bees are a real possibility but I cannot advise you because you are zone 1 and I am zone 4. I have heard that some people in zone 1 kill their bees in the fall because it is cheaper than wintering them over, but that does not sound like permaculture to me! At any rate, you will need to find local bee keepers to learn what works for your area. I can tell you that bees prefer a windbreak during the winter, so perhaps hives could be set in the protection of the trees? Or behind a building? I lose an occasional hive during the winter but when I do there is often signs of illness. Illness happens to all living things, even with permaculture.

Grain. You have that open area that could perhaps be used, unless you want it for hay for livestock?? Or grazing? Some people are talking about raising grain in a permaculture manner but I have not tried that, yet.

Do people by you ever sell their timber? Because it would be very helpfull if you could have a timber company come in and clear at least another acre of land for you!

Meat. Nobody near me hunts, and if I WANTED to hunt I believe I would do well on rabbits and such. *IF* you like to hunt you might consider it. Personally I buy my meat.

Dairy. Dairy animals eat a LOT, and you say you have brambles. A dairy goat might help you clear those brambles, and with a little grain she should give you milk as well. And, because your goats cannot range far and wide during the winter, you will need hay!Goats are herd animals: you might consider getting at leat 2!

Fruit. Well, fruit trees need good drainage and you might keep that in mind when you plant them. I personally like apples stored away in the Fall, dried apricots, and canned peaches and canned cherries: what you raise might need to be what you like to eat! My home-preserved fruit does not taste exactly like the bought ones, but the flavors are close and I often like mine better!

Vegetables: again what do you like? My harvesting year starts out with greens for salads, then brocolli and turnips, then peas, then bush beans and tomatos, and so forth. I expect that you will want to decide what you can store during the winter. Some people have good root cellars but I do not, and so I can only keep potatos and squash for a couple of months. You can also dry and store beans if you like them: we did one year. As for a PERMACULTURE garden, I have not done well with that but others here have! So I will not give advice on the garden.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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sounds nice, I think I would try to get goats or sheep (rent or buy) to graze it off..and remove the brambles for you.. as for the pond, no if it is uphill from your home, is there a place for a small one that wouldn't be uphill from the house?? otherwise maybe some water catchment from the eaves.

are there fruit trees? If not I would probably put those in North of the area for vegetables..maybe remove some woods in that area first so it will be manured and cleared for the fruit trees.

don't worry about zones..they aren't THAT important when you don't have room for them..just make sure the things you need the most are closest..to the house.

good luck
 
Terri Matthews
Posts: 469
Location: Eastern Kansas
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Brenda Groth wrote:
don't worry about zones..they aren't THAT important when you don't have room for them..just make sure the things you need the most are closest..to the house.

good luck
This.

I am very likely to step out the door for one more pepper for the evening meal, but if I have to walk very far I simply will be stisfied with what I already have. That adds up over the course of an entire summer!
 
Dave Quinn
Posts: 87
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Thanks for the suggestions. My initial plan is to enlist the help of some goats to help clear the land and produce some milk/cheese. There are sevreal small 'clearings' in the woods which are currenty overgrown with brambles, and I was thinking of using them as vegetable patches and maybe keeping bees there. I've kept chickens in the past and I'd see them as providing a large part of our protein in the future.

The wooded area is also deep in leaf mulch/pine needles/bark/rotting braches that have obviously fallen over several years. It's obviously good organic material, but don't really know what I'd do with it as I don't really know whether it would be suitable to bury/ use in hugelkutur style beds or better to use as mulch.

Why not have a pond higher than the house? There's no land below the house, everything is uphill, but there would be some places where even if there was a flood and the pond overflowed, the water would run away from the house. Although there is plenty of rainfall/water, there are no actual streams on the land, so I was thinking if I could channel the water on the top field into some kind of basin, this could be turned into a useful food production/energy store and I could manage the watering of vegetable plots better with a gravity fed system.

One issue with goats is the land is not enclosed, so I don't really know how I'd stop them form wandering. Electric fence? Similarly chickens anybody any experience of just letting them forage in a forest. I know the eggs might be hard to find and the risk of losing them to foxes, but I quite like the idea of letting them roam free. When I had some in a field, they used to come back to the tractor of there own accord, but occasionaly made a run for the hills. I recall my kids splitting their sides watching dad trying to catch a chicken.

Sounds like having to walk up that hill might result in me losing a hell of a lot of weight
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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the way you made it sound was that a pond above the house would flood the house, if it won't then it is a good place for a pond..so that is the only consideration I was concerned about when I said that..a pond above the house can gravity feed water to the house..which is also helpful..but do protect your house and foundation from overflowing.

 
Dave Quinn
Posts: 87
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I realise I probably wasn't precise in initial description. If our offer on the place is accepted, I'll post photos and be giving more info and asking lots more questions

Thanks in advance
 
Dave Quinn
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Maybe getting closer. Initial offer has been rejected, but still talking.

Also some really good news. The house is near a river, but it's never been flooded and considered way above the flood plain.

Might only be a few acres, but we're hoping to build a wonderful food forest there.

 
2017 Permaculture Design Course at Wheaton Labs
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