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Just inherited a small home and some land, help a newbie take the first steps to doing it right.  RSS feed

 
Case Thomas
Posts: 22
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Just inherited a small home and some land, help a newbie take the first steps to doing it right. (Apologies for the length.)

Evening all,

To get started, here's all the info I could gather from the sidebar suggestions for best answers:

Photos:
Backyard:
Front yard:
(Cleanup and removal of debris in progress.)

Climate zone: 6B
Latitude: 36.3512
Elevation: 1,367 feet

Growing grass presently and various trees.

Topography Map:
(The blue dot is where I have reliable Internet, the area I'll be setting up in will be slightly NE in a line by the red double dashes to indicate our dirt road. The large divot just north of the blue dot, according to local lore, was a meteor impact site but I have been unable to confirm this.)

No present water features.
Average Rainfall: 44.1 inches.

No legal restrictions for rainwater collection, livestock. I'm not sure what other restrictions are worth noting.

Solar Orientation report from University of Oregon site:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/kdjnbh6sbiq26qk/20997478.pdf

Soil Conditions: Extremely Rocky and no other testing or evaluation performed.

Site was wooded area until 10 years ago when it was cleared for the present structures.
==========================

With all that out of the way, my initial thoughts:

Outside - Backyard

I plan to add a rainwater collection system. Not anything super fancy, a filter at the drain and a hose to collect the water coming off the downspout into a series of food grade barrels that will be dedicated to rainwater only.

I have also considered harvesting water in some way that typically would run off the ledge just past the tree line. However, I don't know how best to do that.

I will be creating an area for gardening outside the back fence that will run the length of the fence, potentially more. A portion of it initially will be a hoop or tunnel house, to allow harvest later into the year. Later, an actual greenhouse structure will be added.

I feel more trees and shrubs should be planted in the backyard and likely some berry bushes of some sort. I will research more prevalent floral additions that thrive in my area. I will be planting bamboo at one corner and will harvest it at various lengths, dry it properly and use them in the garden and for fishing poles. There is a stocked pond nearby I have access to.

We have all manner of wildlife that we frequently see, deer, turkey, fish (stocked pond) Etc. I have some neighbors that will let me barter for some of their goats and chickens.

I have an order in to our local lumber yard for some cedar and will be building 3 3x3 compost heaps. There is also a large compost drum that has the handle to turn it and it's in good shape.

There is a play structure (and the bright yellow slide is still visible in the picture) that I plan to remove and free cycle to someone or donate as it won't be useful.

Outside - Front yard
Addition of more trees, bushes and local floral types. Removal of a handicapped ramp and construction of stairs from the removed ramp.

I want it presentable out front but no idea in how to make that happen inside the fencing.

There is one neighbor nearby, who wants to see the area taken care of but has mentioned help would be limited. There's also a building being used as a barn for various storage next to them.

Inside
There is gas, electric, sewer and water. I just have to go sign all that over soon. The stove and hot water heater are propane. Inside is an electric Fridge and large chest freezer.

How am I doing so far? I welcome any and all questions, comments and concerns.
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 5859
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
348
bike chicken fungi trees urban woodworking
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Hi, Case, Great overview of your homestead! As requested in another thread...here is an off the top of my head list of things that do well in our part of the Ozarks. I think you may have less acidic soil where you are but that shouldn't matter for most of these. I would first identify what is growing there and check out it's edibility and importance before getting rid of anything. Some of our favorite wild edibles are American Persmmon and muscadine grape. Domestic Peaches and pie cherries do well here as do pears, gooseberries, most raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, bush cherries and fig. My kiwis live but do not produce (yet?). Blueberries do well with naturally acidic soil.
There is an abundance of medicinal and culinary herbs both wild and cultivated that do wonderful in the Ozarks. A great investment would be some Guides to plant identification. ID your "weeds".
Most any annual crop does great here if it likes HOT DRY summers...tomatoes, peppers, okre, sweet potatoes, melons and pumpkins...I end up having to water over the summer. We are growing more and more winter greens...no bugs then!
Several important foraged and encouraged edible 'weeds' are lambs quarters, chickweed, curly dock, poke, dead nettle, henbit, purslane, perilla.
The Ozarks are an abundant area.
 
Case Thomas
Posts: 22
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I found an amazing resource on another forum at: [URL]www.websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov/app/HomePage.htm[\URL] .It takes a bit of finagling to get it to work and the link that's marked "checkout" is deceptive in that it appears you will have to pay for something but in reality it is a free USDA soil survey of the area. Leave it yo the "Gubment" to complicate dirt...In any event, I seem to border areas containing soil types: Captina Silt Loam and Noark Very Cherty Silt Loam.

I will likely look to have the soil tested more thoroughly but in my very brief review of the soil types those definitions are accurate to my untrained eye. My research also indicates this soil to be about as perfect as it gets, provided I replenish the organic material often enough.
Edit: Fixed some spelling derps.
 
Case Thomas
Posts: 22
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Ms. Judith, I realized you replied here and in the 'Whatcha growin' in 2014?' Thread. This is still all very helpful.

I didn't get as far as planned on all this. The local tick population welcomed me last summer with tick fever.

This year I will really get to work! Ha!
 
Lenn Sisson
Posts: 25
Location: North Georgia
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Hi Case, if you haven't read The Resilient Farm and Homestead, by Ben Faulk, I would highly recommend it. He has some really good ideas.

What have you done so far? I notice that your first post was nearly a year ago, so I'm wondering how your project is coming along.
 
Angelika Maier
pollinator
Posts: 961
Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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Your overview is very well and briefly written!
1.) Rainwater catchment. Don't use barrels. You need something substantial, between 20.000 and 40.000+ liters. Barrels are good for TINY roofs we use them at the chicken pen and it is very handy to have it close.
2.) Yes more trees, all sorts of fruit, do you need windbreaks (probably), maybe as a shelter belt ( hedgerow)?
3.) A greenhouse is great but I would start with a usual garden and then extend to the greenhouse, because it is too much at the time and a greenhouse needs some different approaches.
4.) Presentable, plant flowers, flowering bushes, medicinals, espalierd trees, look that there is something flowering each season. A nice pond. Plant something along/over the fence.
5.) Wildlife you might need good fences ask your neighbours.
6.) don't forget to plant enough potatoes.
7.) Don't exclude chicken and ducks. Many people convert play equipment/cubby houses to chicken houses.
 
Case Thomas
Posts: 22
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Lenn, thanks for the suggestion. I'm always willing to give things a look from a different angle and will rip it out and start over if it isn't working!

I didn't get very far, I contracted tick fever from starting to clear and move stuff. I'm a relatively young man but this kicked my rear! Couldn't tolerate temperatures, short periods of work reduced me to taking lots o'naps. It was particularly awful.

Anyway, y'all be sure to watch out for those little buggers. I'll post progress as it presents itself.
 
Case Thomas
Posts: 22
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Thank you, I tried to put all that out there and not drive someone mad trying to read between the lines or decipher some weird idea I had. Haha!

I will likely reconsider the rainwater catchment. I haven't started that project but based on the above per liter figure, I'll need to revise! Presently our area has a maximum that's charged but in reality, I mainly want the garden to be watered from the catchment system. Eventually, we might expand to using that collected water elsewhere with proper treatment and filtering considerations being made.

I've actually placed an order for some fruit bushes recently but we do not have a single fruit tree purchased. I do need a better windbreak for sure. Something I lightly considered it looks like, in the margin of my notebook.

The greenhouse is at the urging of my father-in-law. He has a well-established garden on his property and lots if small-heavy equipment to care for it. I'm happy with the light container gardening I did last year, but the yield is insufficient for my planning. I want to dry, can, use as much as I can over a safe, healthy period of time.

Overall, I really appreciate the suggestions. I'm working on the presentation portion of things too, and I just might slow down and methodically do what I want rather than try to cram it all in at once.

Deer did make their way into my tomatoes last season, I left a gate open and they walked right up to the porch and snacked for a bit.

I hadn't considered a pond. Without much research they seem a little more work than I like but esthetic-wise I like the suggestion.

How did I forget potatoes?! I will have to fix that for sure. We loves our taters.

I'm not ruling out winged friends, I just don't know much about their care. Plus, 'free' meat and eggs, what's not to like?
 
Angelika Maier
pollinator
Posts: 961
Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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In Australia we do the rainwater catchment like this: gutters - tank - pump - drink, most of the times we use either leaf eaters or first flush diverters. No filters. The first thing you might check if the gutters are OK and have slope, they strangely fall to the wrong side in most cases.
For the fruit trees it is important to have early and late varieties, especially you want late and very late apples. Don't forget the berries, currants, gooseberries etc. Fruit trees go in early as they need some years to start bearing.
 
Sherri Lynn
Posts: 89
Location: Piedmont, NC
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As a newbie myself (started 2011 part time visiting - went to full time living on the property in 2012), the step by step plan I was looking for didn't seem to be available. I am still looking for additional resources and finding my way. Some of the resources that I have really liked were: Ten Acres Enough, an online permaculture course from NCSU taught by Will Hooker (I took it free by going through the classes he videoed and posted - just bought the books and went through it as if I were taking the class), You Can Farm by Joel Salatin, The Accidental Farmer, and I refer again and again to Carla Emery's book The Encyclopedia of Country Living. I really like Backwoods Home magazine to help me stay motivated. The thing I was looking for and didn't find is the book that gave me lots of different examples of homesteading and the step by step process they went through to make it. To make it, to me, you have to go through getting established for yourself to get self-sustainable, then get established to make enough money to pay the other bills. The process we went through was trying to get out of debt, buying land with no debt (using soil maps as our guide), putting in our fruit and nut trees that take longer to produce, getting a home established and infrastructure buildings, upgrading soil with compost and organics, learning about chickens, and this year we are planning to branch out into marketing our eggs and produce through a farm stand that we are finishing. From what I have found, there seems to be an average of five years to get established enough to start making some money. So far, my spouse and I are keeping our day jobs still to pay for the infrastructure while not getting into debt. You may be able to find some good blogs for encouragement and go back to the original starting date and start reading there, especially if you know they turned out well. While we haven't yet reached the money making part, we are working on our blog and trying to put in some things I was looking for, such as a timeline. It's www.powellacres.com

I have just reserved the book from the library that was suggested earlier. I would love to see some suggestions on blogs, and of course, I love the permies site. I also like books that were written around the 1970's during the "back to land" movement, as they had a can do attitude and managed things on very little capital input, without suggesting that you have to hire an expert to get the job done.
 
Sherri Lynn
Posts: 89
Location: Piedmont, NC
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One more resource I have found invaluable is visiting other farms. Where we live (in North Carolina), the Carolina Farm Stewardship conducts beginning farmer tours (the next ones on April 26th and 27th), and the Interfaith Food Shuttle also organizes tours. As we get established, we find that the questions we need to ask are different than the ones we asked in the past.

Additionally, we have a list serve here in North Carolina called growingsmallfarms-owner@lists.ncsu.edu that Debbie Roos with the Chatham County Extension Agency put together and it is awesome to be able to post questions and get answers from experienced small farmers in our area. Wherever you are, you may be able to find a similar resource available in your area.
 
Wesley Staggs
Posts: 18
Location: near Springfield, MO, USA
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@Judith-- Can you tell us what muscadine you have growing near you? I'm in zone 6b like the OP and I've avoided muscadine because all the varieties I've found so far are for zones 7-10. I don't want to experiment with microclimates yet.



@Case--I moved to the Ozarks in 2012 and I did nothing the first year but observe. It seems you are already on the correct path. Water is #1 and that was your first mention. Try to store that water as high as you can so gravity can water your new plantings. I have found the best value locally (for me) was 110 gallon rubber stock tanks for $57 at the local farm store. I found some 55 gallon barrels for $20 near Springfield but that's quite a drive and the barrels had a chemical smell. Also, swales are the other part of the water equation. I even have a small one that I did myself with a shovel over my first winter here. Despite it's small size (4' wide and 1' deep) it was a noticeable positive effect.

Second, I would get some small livestock to help improve the rocky soil here in the Ozarks. I prefer geese since they require no feed when the grass is growing. Also get chickens; they are mandatory for me. Set them up in a chicken tractor around the property to improve soils, eat bugs (especially ticks), and get delicious eggs.

Third, get those support species planted this spring--goumi, black locust, autumn olive, honeylocust, comfrey, seaberry etc.

Those are very basic starting points. Hope they help--let me know if they're too rudimentary.
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 5859
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
348
bike chicken fungi trees urban woodworking
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Wesley Staggs wrote:@Judith-- Can you tell us what muscadine you have growing near you? I'm in zone 6b like the OP and I've avoided muscadine because all the varieties I've found so far are for zones 7-10.


We have vitis rotundifolia. I think this includes both scupernong and muscadine.... We only have muscadines, no scupernongs, on our land...and they are rampant, but only bear lots when the area is open to sun and we prune drastically every so often. I see some in the 'edible landscaping' catalog and the muscadine varieties there all say zone 7-8. I think if you could get a hold of some wild muscadines for seed you might have good luck...When we make juice and wine I had to quit putting the pulp in our compost as it looked like every seed sprouted. I have been thinking about starting a thread about wild muscadines, maybe this will get me to do it.
 
S Bengi
Posts: 1359
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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I like in Boston, the same plant zone as you. I bought some mascadines last fall, I will find out if they made it thru our supper cold winter (36 hours ago I woke up to the ground covered in snow).

I bought self-fertile Carlos and another cultivar. When I get a chance I will post the other cultivar.
I found out that I was suppose to heap up dirt 10 inches around the trunk to help them in my climate. Wish I had found out about this earlier.
If they leaf out and look healthy I will let you know.
 
Case Thomas
Posts: 22
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Well, we finally got around to doing quite a bit. We sit on the very edge of 250 acres of family land and had 2 structures on what was considered our portion. We emptied one out and sold it off, the trailer moving company came and got that thing moved.

I had to plow with the disc plow to get an area created that could sustain what I wanted to plant. Then we ran another plow through it about 30 times over a few different days in-between rain and cold. I didn't plan for all I wanted and will likely expand to another plot right beside my current one next year. I ended up just planting some basics, Tomatoes, Squash, Peppers (JalapeƱo, Green and Red Bell) and Cucumbers.

I have until later in the evening to decide on planting some Blueberries, muscidines and strawberries. The grower states today as their last day to get products until late December. It looks like I'll be planting a mess of out of the ordinary hobby hot peppers too this year potentially.

We decided to renovate the home that was on this part of the land and re-paint, update wiring, and fixtures. It would appear that new furniture was on the list too. 'If momma ain't happy nobody happy.'

I've started the ball rolling on landscaping the front yard and also prepping for winter. I had two out of three dead trees bulldozed and will cut them up for fire wood. The stumps will be hauled close by and I'll figure out something for them, even if it is just nailing some bird houses or bat houses to it and hiding it well.
 
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