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Clean Slate Property - Layout?

 
Lindsay Dunn
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I've been looking around at property to purchase to build a house/barn and start a homestead on. Starting slowly, I'd like to build the house and barn, put in a garden, get some chickens and eventually add bees, goats and maybe pigs. I'm looking at this 40 acres, but before making an offer, I was trying to envision the farm layout. That's where I need help!

The Google Earth screenshot attached shows the property border and slope of the land, which slopes downward to the east. The first slope from west to east is slightly steep and then it's more gentle after that, sloping again on the east side of the property to the creek. It's a very small creek, though it does flood slightly at the north side of the property (you can see the darker areas). Driveway would come in on the southwest corner where the road ends. I'm in Michigan and we get a lot of snow. Winds generally from the north-north-west. What draws me to this property is that it's incredibly remote, with only one neighbor who owns the forty to the west. Being at the end of the road, there'd be no traffic and even those driving to the end wouldn't be able to see the house from the road. To the north, the property is bordered by thousands of National Forest property. To the east and south is privately owned property that is just used for hunting. The road is a plowed county dirt road. Regardless of where the house is it will need a well and septic; I haven't had a perc test done, but in general the area has fertile, well-drained soil that in some places does lean towards clay.

I'd like to have ten 1-acre pastures to rotate the 4-6 dairy goats (probably Nigerian Dwarf Goats). The northwest corner of this property is just about 10 acres of pasture. As small as the creek is, I thought it would be nice to have the house near and facing it (if the soil allows), perhaps up against the tree line in the north-east corner of the south-east field for wind protection. My concern though is if the barn is near the north-west field that's a long walk in winter from the house and you wouldn't be able to see the goat pastures from the house (though I will have LGDs).

Since this is a pretty clean slate, I thought I'd get some ideas for layout, before considering making an offer. Where would you put the house, barn, pastures, garden, etc.?

Thanks!
PropertySlope.png
[Thumbnail for PropertySlope.png]
Google Earth view of Michigan property
 
Kathleen Sanderson
Posts: 985
Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
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How will you maintain your driveway? I'm thinking that you are going to have to plow a lot of snow in order to get in and out, even if you were to put the house right at the corner of the property where the road comes in.

I can't make decisions for you, but if I was getting that property, I think I would put the house on what appears to be a south-facing slope not too far from where the road enters the property. (I would build a passive-solar house, at least partly underground.)

I've copied your picture and marked it -- now we'll see if I can figure out how to insert it into a post!

Kathleen

https://www.flickr.com/photos/22296576@N06/14160226791/

Okay, I at least have a link to the picture for you. I made two red circles where I would put the house and barn (house west of the barn), and a bigger circle where I would reserve an area for a vegetable garden. The site isn't too far from the driveway, and with proper positioning you should have a view of the creek. You don't want to build on your already-cleared land; that's too useful for growing stuff. The building sites look like they would be sheltered from your prevailing winds, but would still be open to the south for solar exposure. The barn location could easily be connected to the pasture area, but is close enough to the house site for easy access (and down-wind of the house, for odor and fly control). Without actually seeing the property, there may be other issues that would cause some changes in plan, but from what I can see on the picture, that's what I would do.




 
Lindsay Dunn
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Thanks! That is actually one spot I hadn't thought about putting the house. I agree that putting it amongst the trees would be better, for weather protection as well as some shade. And that certainly would make for a shorter driveway. We DO get a lot of snow up here, but we're also prepared for a lot of snow We have a tractor with a snowblower attachment which makes the job fairly painless, so a long driveway is not the worst thing. I'm much more particular about the views (definitely want the house to face east, I love sunrises), ease of access to the barn and the barn's ease of access to pasture.

Now I want to walk the property again and scope out the spot you circled with this in mind. When we looked before, we were mostly envisioning the house either near the northwest pasture or in the northeast corner of the other one.

Thanks!
 
Kathleen Sanderson
Posts: 985
Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
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Hi, I showed the marked picture to a friend (who is also a member here), and he suggested that the barn should move a little bit north of where I put it, keeping it close to the house, though. That opens up your view to the east better.

I really like having the eastern exposure, too! My house has one big window on the east-facing wall, and it lets all the morning sunshine into the kitchen/dining/living area! Since my bedroom doesn't have a door on it (yet), I also get morning light into my room, even though it's on the other end of the house -- straight shot from the living area through my sewing/office area to my bedroom doorway. (It's a very small house, 800 s.f.). I love all that morning light!

How much road would you have to keep plowed just to get to the property? It looks like a nice piece of land -- would love to see photos from on the ground!

Oh, my friend and I were curious -- how much does a piece like that go for?

Kathleen
 
Lindsay Dunn
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Thanks! The road itself goes right to the southwest corner of the property, you can see a kind of turnaround in the picture - the west neighbors driveway is off of that and it's plowed to that point by the county. We would only be responsible for our own driveway, which depending on where the house were would be 1/4 to 1/2 mile.

Around here, property generally goes for around $1,000 - $1,500 an acre. This piece of land is not currently on the market, it's owned by a friend of my grandmother's who mentioned she was thinking of selling, since she now spends most of her time in Texas and only spends summers up here at her house which is located a couple miles away. So I'm not sure how much she will ask for when approached, but I planned on discussing it with her once she's in town for the summer. Believe it or not, spring just arrived here! I didn't want to approach her, tell her I was interested, and then discover there's no good location for a house or any other large concerns. I'm sure she'll be here by Memorial Day, so we'll find out then if she's serious about selling and what number she has in mind!
 
Jerry McIntire
Posts: 107
Location: Oak savannah - Viroqua, Wisconsin - zone 4 - 34"/yr
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solar tiny house trees
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Okay Lindsay, it's been almost two months. What's the latest? Is she open to selling, and are you still interested?

I just posted a weekend permaculture workshop on site design in the Permaculture education forum (in Living). Check it out if it might be useful.

Jerry
 
Lindsay Dunn
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Sadly, she changed her mind She ended up giving it to her son, who I guess expressed interest in it at the last second. So I'm still on the hunt, for either vacant land or a small farm; no luck so far.

Thanks everyone!
 
Jerry McIntire
Posts: 107
Location: Oak savannah - Viroqua, Wisconsin - zone 4 - 34"/yr
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solar tiny house trees
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What corner of Michigan are you in? I grew up on the east side of Detroit, and have family with land near Grand Rapids, Frankfort, and Boyne City. Love the climate on the west side of the lower peninsula.
 
Lindsay Dunn
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The Upper Peninsula! And while the climate has it's drawbacks this far north, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else
 
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