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Initial layout ideas for this property?  RSS feed

 
Heather Staas
Posts: 23
Location: Western MA, zone 5b
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This is my first post here, I hope it makes sense! I'm in the process of purchasing this 7.6 acre property, hopefully to be moved in by late February. Existing wetland area, house, barn, driveways, culverts, perimeter fencing, etc. cannot be changed, the 'bones' of what is here is what I can work with and around. It's "just me" living and working there, labor and daily hours are in limited short supply, so self-sufficient and low-labor systems are a must.



The fields as they are will be used to graze sheep and raise lamb for a CSA start up. I'd love to incorporate on contour tree/fruit/vegetable/beds within the pasture areas to help create cell type grazing areas. I will also be adding a kitchen garden, rabbits, and egg laying chickens to the property. The house, driveway, and rectangular open garden space on the Southwest quarter of the property are the highest places, everything else has rolling hills down into the culverts, but then a VERY steep hillside on the entire West edge of the property, that runs down from a major interstate highway, and is wooded.

Honestly that big "blank slate" rectangle garden area on the southeast corner has me the most perplexed. It's plenty of room for chickens, rabbit, garden, but it's not the most practical at all in terms of shade, winter access, neighbor privacy, etc. Between the house and barn actually would be more practical space for them for many parts of the year! But the southeast corner is probably more space than I want for "just" garden, especially if I'm growing fruit, berries, etc. elsewhere on the property! I might put in a walipini there. and a farm sign up near the road.

Business farm plan for this is to begin with selling CSA shares for lamb, and move into adding rabbit and eggs to the shares. From there, begin to offer shares other farm produce, both some staples that people are familiar with as well as introducing them to novelty and unusual items to try. Growing slowly over time and several years as both customers and plantings become established. But lamb with rabbit and eggs will always be the main production goals.

I'd love to hear, just from the initial overview, what YOU would do with this property, what you would put on it, and where! I don't think I'm going to do swales, I think this ground already holds water really well, and worried about having too long of a wet spring to get animals out on pasture as it is, but I think food tree lines would be fine. Apples, crabapples and pumpkins are "for sure" as I also use them for fall and winter sheep feed suppliments. I know you don't have a lot of property details, but just as preliminary ideas I'd love to hear any thoughts and suggestions for design layout or how you'd use the space. Stuff that helps me brainstorm and think about what/where its' all going to go. This is zone 5b/6a. And the immediate North side of the house is the septic field, can't change too much there, except next to the road going Northward, there is a nice pocket of possible tree/ shrub space there.
 
Ann Torrence
steward
Posts: 1191
Location: Torrey, UT; 6,840'/2085m; 7.5" precip; 125 frost-free days
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bee books chicken duck goat trees
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Sweet piece of ground.
What's the deer factor? Fence for deer before any fruit trees or you might as well put your $ on the ground and set it on fire.
Fences adequate for sheep? If you set up a paddock system, I'd want to run water and electric to the center of that area. Electric to power electric fence and deicers.
Do you want a hoophouse or greenhouse in the future? We are housing our hens in one this winter and life is so much easier. They can go outside in clement weather, of which there has been none since Thanksgiving. When we finish building out the main house, I want a tunnel between the back door and the hoophouse.

 
Heather Staas
Posts: 23
Location: Western MA, zone 5b
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Deer factor; unknown! But thanks for pointing that out for consideration.

Current perimeter fence is pretty good for sheep, with a few minor repairs. They'll be up near the barn at night. I've got a lot of electronet and solar chargers that will help move them around and keep them out of where I don't want them. Wish I could get in there and do contour lines already, lol.

If I put the chickens next to the garage (west) there is a window there that could easily be converted to a door instead, making it easy to access them all year. Rabbits will also go in the garage probably mid-Dec to mid-March. Not sure about greenhouse yet, something to think about. I like the idea of extended growing season and some nice outdoor working space out of the wind/rain, but not sure I want the upkeep and maintenance.
 
Dustin Powers
Posts: 42
Location: Washington State
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Start planting support trees, nitrogen fixing pioneer species. Any where from 1:1 to 1:10 ratio productive trees:support trees. You can start out with an affordable amount of trees and next season begin to propogate your own new trees from cuttings.

I also like to buy apples, cherries, pears, etc. to eat, and start those seeds indoors. While it may not produce a true to type fruit, it will make viable root stock for grafting.

What is the plant and soil profile of the pastures? What type of "weeds" are growing?

Does the hill continue going up on the other side of the roads bordering the house? Capturing hardpan runoff from these roads is something to keep in mind.

Whats the plan for watering livestock? Have you considered several small ponds?

Whats the predator situation?

Quail is just as easy and productive as rabbit.
 
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