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Purchase Advice  RSS feed

 
Posts: 13
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I posted before about land advice, and I'm doing it again.

My family is now considering four acres of rural property that is about 160ft wide and 900ft deep. It is mostly wooded with a mix of deciduous and coniferous trees.
Its on well water and uses a combination oil and wood stove.

My question is about land management. Included is an older aerial image of the land. as you can see it is a a narrow strip, and heavily wooded. Our plans are for hugelkulture beds and some fruit trees in the fron and and some chickens goats and rabbits and in the rear, with the possibility of clearing some land in the rear in order to grow some grains. Does anyone have any experience with these narrow acerages and can they speak to pros and cons of such set up? any advice on the usage as well....thanks

Moe
property.png
[Thumbnail for property.png]
The land.
 
Posts: 244
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I am sad to see no one responded to you.

this looks like a very deep standard size suburban yard...as far as width goes. It is my opinion, even though i never had land like this, is your goals are not too bad. One is dependent on what neighbors do a bit for how much light you get .

Just my opinion but fruit trees even though beautiful do not require as much attention as the animals. I might move animals a bit closer to the house and something requiring less attention to the rear.
 
Moe Hunter
Posts: 13
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No love for the forum lost here. As a noob to the forum and permaculture It is difficult to know what to look for in a property. I have more questions than answers at this point. I hope that changes over the years. Further, looking for a home where I can start my journey is quite taxing and as the many people who have done this before me know that one has too look at many properties before they settle on one.
Thanks for your help. I may not ask advice again until I actually have a plot and have begun my observation.
 
Posts: 59
Location: Virginia
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Please allow me, an utter newbie, to pretend I have experience with such an acreage. My wife and I live with our seven children on a place just under two acres. We have planted fruit trees and are now keeping chickens, turkeys, and bees in the back yard. Here's what I know:

1. My wife is very concerned about how our property "looks" and maintaining the look and feel of the neighbourhood. In a small and tight neighbourhood, this becomes important. We are the only ones in this neighbourhood with chickens (and turkeys!), and one of the neighbour's has gotten quite upset over the roosters crowing, the turkey's gobbling, and the fact that we've even (gasp!) slaughtered chickens in our backyard. (The sheriff even came out to chat with us about that.) She's also very concerned about the fact that her children are allergic to bee stings. There's something to be said for privacy. Our land is so open we have very little privacy. While you can easily place privacy screens on your property borders, that will likely reduce the amount of light you have on your property to work with.

2. I've been surprised as I have slowly discovered the local zoning ordinances. In our county, if you have two acres or less, you can only keep 75 chickens or 37.5 turkeys or some combination of the above per two acres. Thus, if you only have one acre, you can have a flock 37.5 chickens, or 32 chickens and 2 turkeys--but no more. This limits our industry. Had we bought 2.1 acres, this limit would not apply. These numbers are ordinance dependent, so you'll need to check them out where you are at.

3. Again, going back to the zoning ordinances, we cannot keep our chicken coop within 25' of the side or rear property line, or 60' of the front property line. The county inspector has been out here several times to inspect. Thankfully, we were within limits every time--even before we knew what the limits were.

4. We have two areas of our yard that have limited our industriousness. One is the septic leech field, over which we have not planted--with some oops! exceptions. The second is a "dry lake bed" which floods every spring. Indeed, when I sent my son out to try digging part of this into a more permanent pond, the zoning inspector was out shortly to inform us that we couldn't dig a pond without approval from the county. (Guess who complained again that time?)

5. When I thought to put an electric fence around our bee hives, I checked the local zoning ordinances. Electric fences are illegal on any property less than 25 acres in our area. What about the fact that this will encourage bears to come visit my hives?

I guess, as a bottom line, it really gets down to the neighbour's you have and your local zoning ordinances. While I think homesteading on two acres should be a very possible endeavor, I have been very annoyed with what the county has told me I can and cannot do. I understand that this is to protect the value of our neighbour's property, but that doesn't mean I agree with it.
 
Moe Hunter
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Despite the hardships you have described, I'm encouraged by your progress. We have also considered a 2 acre lot that has a better layout for our wants. I was afraid it might be too small. You sound like you have a good handle on things and I will seriously reconsider the two acres.

Looking forward to the futre.
 
Posts: 94
Location: Kansas
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Could you plant grain in the front area that is already cleared out?
 
laura sharpe
Posts: 244
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man i feel for you, a pushy judgmental neighbor. One can ruin the entire neighborhood. I wonder, does yours also have a car alarm which goes off whenever a pidgin farts?
 
Moe Hunter
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The front could be planted except for the septic field which occupies the left side of the front yard.
I was thinking that clearing some of the trees on the rear would make room for some garden space and eliminate the risk of them falling on the house.
 
Posts: 16
Location: Florida Panhandle AKA L.A. (LOWER ALABAMA)
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Moe, best thing you can do is purchase raw land with potential, building your own place and staying debt free, yes i know not an easy task, small acreage is doable but usually a neighbor has an issue and that as they say is the ball game, a discussion between family members overheard by the neighbor and you have code enforcement/county official showing up at your door before the work is even started and of course they have to show because a complaint was filed!!

Best case scenario find larger tract of land, with water already on it, preferably with copious amounts of trees. Agriculture tree classification is the lowest tax level, i wont cut a tree unless i absolutely have to

Remember you can pick your friends, but you cant pick your neighbors and that is the bane of small tract permaculture, neighbors

cant harvest chickens?? excuse the language but WTF !!!

regards Stark

 
Moe Hunter
Posts: 13
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I mad a purchase. 1.8 acres on a well and septic system. The goal is to learn to be self sustainable while we are still working our regular jobs and to then sell the house in 6-10 years and use the return to build our own earthbag home in the pacific Northwest. For now though, this is what I have got. its 200ft by 400ft of level ground. The front of the house faces south east.

Now we have to wait for the thaw to come before we can do anything.

I cant help but wonder how we will design our gardens and animal pens. We already have rabbits and we want to have a small flock of chickens as well as a goat or two. what and adventure..
home.jpg
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Fm Stark
Posts: 16
Location: Florida Panhandle AKA L.A. (LOWER ALABAMA)
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Moe Congrats on your purchase, thawing out gives one time to reflect and observe your land..... where does water pool or run off too. if at all, does it drain quickly?, does water flow into your property? direction of wind? sun full or partial? when and where, extrapolate for the different seasons, these observations can help with the placements of gardens and pens, an example.... a lean-to for animals, open towards the south make for warm areas in the winter but doesn't help if trees, especially non-deciduous trees are in the way....... take the time to use the pic you uploaded and label areas either grid style or existing path areas and make notes about what is happening in each of the designated areas, (yes that means getting out in bad weather to observe isn't that what waders rubber boots and slickers are made for), writing down what you see/feel in a journal/notebook so that you can refer back without having to remember exactly what happened, your notes will help with the decision making process.

this may seem like a waste of time but in the long run it can keep you from making poor decisions which can be a waste of labor, materials and monies, yes it can be frustrating cause you got the itch and what to get gardens in due to the growing seasons, etc..... trying to become self sufficient as quickly as possible.... the longer you stay at your homestead the better you will know the land/environment and therefore the less notes you will need, over time they will become second nature, it really helps when it comes to larger tracts of land, especially when you start to expand into the unused portions of your homestead

Homesteading is a process and success is dependent on a case by case basis of (partial list) weather, micro climates, precipitation, run off, soil makeup and condition, financials, transportation, barter/trade availability and of course the time/labor one has to put forth for their homestead to be a success

Regards Stark
 
Moe Hunter
Posts: 13
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Great advice.

Observation is a must you are right. I like the idea of making a grid and taking some notes about the features and behaviours of each of each grid square. That could definitely save some time and labour. As for the bad weather, I love bad weather.


Thanks for the support and I'll be sure to keep participating in the forums as I the journey progresses.

Moe
 
Posts: 1793
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
46
forest garden solar
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I think that you only need 1 acres for a food forest and then another 1 acres for animals(goats/sheep/dwarf cow/etc)
From the photo it seem that the house is to the south and that land runs North to South?
So I would put the pasture in the west side(away from your current neighbor.
The pasture would be shaded by the trees "nextdoor".
The food forest would be on the west side getting more sunlight due to the lack of trees in the pasture.
You an also keep a pond with fish in the food forest, a bee hive, and ground birds like turkey/pheasants/chickens.

On avg you can keep
1 cow/acre
6 sheep/acre
7 goat/acre.

Obviously if you go with dwarf breeds you could double or triple those numbers.
I would go with 2 dwarf cows (4/6 acre) 2 dwarf sheep(1/6 acre) and 2 dwarf goats(1/6 acre).
That should be about total (6/6) aka 1 acre, plus they eat different type of layers of "grass" so you get to stack more.

 
Fm Stark
Posts: 16
Location: Florida Panhandle AKA L.A. (LOWER ALABAMA)
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S Bengi agreed, more can be had with dwarf beasts of burden, but the animal per ac AVG is just that an average, i am not in favor of small amounts of land, i would recommend 10 ac if it can be had due to zoning and tax ramifications, land use and pasture rotation, 5ac if you can get it and zoned as Ag

How fertile the land is paramount when considering the type of animals and breeds, ignore its condition and the law of diminishing returns comes to pass, you will end up having to purchase copious amounts of feed to supplement your animals. That is until you can build up the soil so that your APA Avg can support the number of animals you have on hand and even then there is a limit

As for dwarf animals while there is a better chance of avoiding the feast or famine syndrome, more time will have to be spent in labor, caring, overseeing, veterinary costs and housing


regards Stark
 
Posts: 95
Location: NW Montana
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Fm Stark wrote:As for dwarf animals while there is a better chance of avoiding the feast or famine syndrome, more time will have to be spent in labor, caring, overseeing, veterinary costs and housing



Could you please elaborate on that? I think a couple lowline Angus cattle would be perfect for a small stead like Moe's and I'm curious about additional costs and time you mention.
 
Moe Hunter
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I am considering using the back of the property to grow a small stand of firewood. I don't expect that it will be able to supply all the firewood necessary for my heating needs, It's more for the experience as well as to create a small living screen. Something that runs the the width of the property and 20 feet in depth. some alder for smoking and black locust and ash for firewood. Further, the food forrest would be limited to a quarter or half acre. We will put in four to five annual beds that we woud rotate.as for the animals, our rabbits and a few chickens to start. It's alot to get my head wrapped around, I will always welcome input.
 
S Bengi
Posts: 1793
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
46
forest garden solar
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Hazelnut is really good for coppice and also for nut.
You could also run some vines(grapes) on the firewood.

Hazelnut seedling cost $2 if you search around you could get it cheaper.
http://www.burntridgenursery.com/nutTrees/index_product.asp?dept=54&parent=
 
Moe Hunter
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I like the idea of increasing the bio diversity as well.
 
Fm Stark
Posts: 16
Location: Florida Panhandle AKA L.A. (LOWER ALABAMA)
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Glenn, your question almost needs a minimum of a pamphlet answer, here is a hopefully a short read and should not be considered anywhere near complete

Idyllically the soil would be able to support every animal you keep on your homestead, put simply the more animals you have the more resources (Money, Time and Labor) that are required,

There are only 8760 hrs give or take per year how do you want to use them

Example; TIME and cost of FEEDING a cow being fed 3lbs of corn (you do want some fat in your meat, as very lean ground meat will not hold together, COST) requires one motion of dipping, say a 3lb coffee can into a storage bin 3 seconds each time, if you are feeding two times a day per cow 6 sec/day/animal approximately 36 min/year, call it 10 sec per feeding and you are up to 2 hrs/yr/animal, doesnt sound like much but it all adds up, the more animals you keep the more time required,

Oops i forgot about HAY, initial COST and a lot of TIME (ever try to moving/stacking bales of hay? squares are relatively easy depending on weight, now try a 800/1000/1200 lb round bale, which are either 4/5/6 ft in diameter, yes they weigh that much), how good of health are you in, do you have access to a tractor (initial COST and fuel COST) Doing it by hand requires power, brain as well as muscle, Brain power for the planning and execution of getting the bale(s) moved to your storage facility and then again to the feed area, you will likely need an extra hand to help (COST), i am 6'3" in the 230lb range there were times, especially in the beginning that were quite taxing (no tractor!!) Grass doesnt usually grow year round especially the farther north you are located, and you will need hay to supplement the grass, now there is a storage of the hay to consider, true you only have to build it once (initial COST) but it still needs to be built, how many animals depends on how large, Note this is just feeding one specific animal, other animals may/will require other supplemental feed and housing

Dont forget the COST of fencing, free range is a nice idea until your errant animal gets into a your garden, worse what if it is your neighbors garden (talk about COST)!! ever try to control a 1 year old bull (approx 900lbs that gets a hey i am feeling frisky attitude) and bolts on you,

Housing initial COST, for birthing (want milk?) cows dont just give off milk, like humans they have to bear offspring to lactate and that usually requires a vet (COST) unless you are doing it yourself), feeding station(s) {dont want the feed to go to waste or become contaminated}, watering (pumped? COST {piping valves and other sundries initial COST} or done by hand? MAJOR TIME, a cow will consume 5 gal of water at a time, i use bathtubs or deep sinks for my watering stations, Think they dont need housing, think predators

Manures, (did he really have to go there) nope, but i did, a resultant of the aforementioned COST(s) and there is a lot of info out there on what you can do with it, but remember you still have to do something with it and the more animals you have the more you have to deal with

Homesteading requires lots of time, especially if everything is done by hand, either that or more people needed to accomplish the work, which means more food that needs to be produced to feed the "help", IMHO the more automation the better, there is a reason they call them chores, less chores leaves more time to enjoy your family, friends and homestead

Hope this helps clarify the subject

regards Stark









 
Glenn Underhill
Posts: 95
Location: NW Montana
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Thanks for the reply Stark. I misunderstood and thought you meant dwarf cows were more work than big cows. I'll get back to the original subject so we don't hijack the thread.

Moe, you could consider pigs instead of goats. In my experience, goats want to eat brush and that's it. They nibble on grass, but mine don't consider it a big part of their diet, although they do eat grass hay for roughage and some pasture herbs. But for the most part, my goats will not graze, they browse. They can be used for clearing brush, but then when your brush is cleared you have little to feed them. Also, you can't let them around your fruit trees because they strip all the bark off them very quickly. They are affectionate, funny and cute, but that makes them more like pets (and much harder to eat!). However, goats can be milked, but if that's the way you go just know that you will probably be providing a lot of inputs to them, which means feeding grain from possibly unknown sources, contrary to permaculture/organic principals.

A pig can be worked, tilling, clearing and planting, mashing seeds in. They eat more variety than goats. Then in the fall you have bacon, sausage and ham and no worries about feeding in the winter.



 
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