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Rachel Barclay
Posts: 6
Location: Southern New Hampshire
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My husband and I just recently moved into a new home. We have 2.6 acres, some of it lawn, some of it woods, including a stream. These are the features we'd like:

- Free range chickens/ducks
- Large garden
- Possibly milk goats in the future
- Bee hives
- A fire pit
- A place for "play"

What do you think is the best use of our land? The septic and leach field are up to and behind the pine trees in the front yard. We were thinking of using the back yard as garden area (which we're also thinking of expanding the retaining wall for more usable space back there eventually. The retaining wall expands the entire back yard area) and a fire pit while using the front lawn as free-range area/open space/play area with perhaps some fruit/nut trees (something to note is that it slopes downward). The chicken coop/run would be next to the garage and into the wooded area surrounding it...we figure we would pen the goats in with the chickens in one big "wooded pasture". If we decided to get roosters and drakes we were thinking of putting the duck coop separate and by the stream. Does this seem like an efficient way to manage things?

Alder Burns
Posts: 1374
Location: northern California
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The classic permaculture advice is to start small and observe. This might conflict with getting food production in gear, but if you choose a spot for a small vegetable patch and also start a nursery, perhaps in pots, for your permanent plants that might take up most of the available time at the outset anyway, along with all the other chores that ordinarily go with a new place.
You want to get to know the place in depth before committing to anything drastic in terms of land clearing, earthworks, major infrastructure, and so on. Identify the plants, animals, insects. Which ones are found with which others? (We once did a permaculture consultation on a property just about this size and found a listed endangered plant near the creek, and several other rare ones in a wooded area where they were thinking about putting chickens, shade gardens, etc. Thanks to our walk-through they were able to relocate these projects just a short distance and save the bulk of the rare natives!)
Another thing I always talk about at a PDC, which is better for many purposes than all the contouring and mapping and what-not, much quicker, and more intuitive; is to get out on the land in a hard rain and observe how water moves across the landscape. Almost nobody thinks of this, and yet the lessons to be learned are many and blatant.
Look at sun angles through the seasons and times of day....important for gardens and anything else needing either sun or shade like solar panels, outdoor living spaces, etc.
If your land was inhabited before, perhaps long before, you need to see it through the seasons to make sure nothing comes up that you didn't know was there before....perennial vegetables like asparagus and rhubarb might be hard to find from fall through winter, especially if the yard was "cleaned up" for sale; also the ephemerals like spring bulbs and woodland wildflowers, and where wild mushrooms grow (these often appear in the same area year after year)...
permaculture is a more symbiotic relationship with nature so I can be even lazier. Read tiny ad:
Video of all the permaculture design course and appropriate technology course (about 177 hours)
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