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Just bought a new homestead, what do you think of my new site?  RSS feed

 
Ian Taylor
Posts: 59
Location: Grafton NY, 25 Miles east of Albany
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I'd like to document some of my plans here, seeing as I am going to be spending so much time working on establishing this site (read my whole life) I think i'd like to start a blog to document some of this as well. I was "evicted" in a sense from my previous homestead site, I was going to purchase the land I had been renting for some time but the owner (My Grandfather) decided he didn't want to stick to our original agreement/terms so I walked away from the deal. After some thought and nearly buying the aforementioned piece of land that I would have needed a mortgage on I decided to scale back a bit and look for stuff I could buy debt free, so I settled on this one. It is in Grafton NY, 26 acres, 1800ft asl, usda zone 5a, clayish soil with tons of rock/boulders and about 25mi east of Albany NY right near the VT border. The permaculture eye I have developed over the past 2 years helped me to see what would work well for what I want to do.



To give an idea for contours, the camera is facing north.



The property is oddly shaped with a small mobile home onsite with a good well and septic system. There are a couple fields with reasonably good and deep soil and various solar aspects and a thin soiled, rocky but wooded portion off to the north. The pond as you can see is quite large and was made probably about 50 years ago by building a poured concrete dam into a valley with a small stream. It is a very well built dam complete with overflows and everything and the pond is rocky bottomed with stone laid up all around the shoreline to suppress weeds, depth is mostly about 3ft with some parts as deep as 6ish. The pond was the greatest asset to the property in my opinion, here is a better picture, only about half is pictured:




Any good project needs to have a clear goal in mind

Goal:

To produce 90%+ of my food needs onsite in closed loops systems (few to no outside inputs) and 95%+ of my heating fuel, and furthermore to have a picturesque, beautiful and relaxing site on which to live, also to offer free or cheap permaculture and gardening workshops to the surrounding community and serve as a model example with which to sell the idea of permaculture, which in our area really needs to get sold a little more. That sounds ambitious but it is certainly doable, hopefully within 4-5 years I will only have to work at my "day job" 2-3 days a week so I will have plenty of time and I would like for the homestead to provide perhaps a small income some day so I may not even need that.

I have already begun some planning and would like to be done with that phase by spring, I plan to develop the majority of the food producing systems completely in year one (2015), i'm going to forgo having a garden to concentrate entirely on establishment until the next year. I want at least areas 1 and 2 to be built the first year.

Here is the layout having been divided into areas of use.



With a rough illustration of the info below



The structure you see is a small mobile home which in 2-3 years will be demolished to build a home that I will detail later. The green lines along the road are going to be fuelwood and privacy hedges, its on a main road and I like privacy.

Area 1: Currently brushy field, faces Northeast to about 2:00 position, low angle slope.



Plan is to add 4-5 swales and add trees in a pattern similar to Stefan Sobkowiaks orchard in Canada. I have to go around the small circle in the middle though as that is an early 1800's cemetary with intact gravestones. There is already a dozen or so wild appples growing in there though so even that area produces. I would like to include a greater variety of plants than Stefan though and include more N-fixers which will probably include:

Multi-Yield Nitrogen Fixers:

black locust, yields soil improvement, forage, firewood, construction wood
Siberian Pea Shrub: forage, soil improvement, edible beans supposedly like mung beans
Autumn Olive: forage, soil improvement, edible fruit
Seaberry: soil improvement, edible fruit, forage maybe (Don't know if foliage is edible to livestock)

Fruit Trees:

Apple: mix of cultivars for human eating and more wild varieties for forage
Pear
Plum
Quince
Cherry


Nut Trees:

White Oak (not many, gets too tall)
Chestnut (Probably a American/Chinese hybrid variety)
Hazelnut
Hickory Nuts
(very few, I want to keep allelopathic species to a minimum)
Walnuts (Same as above)

Other:

Aromatic perennial herbs like mint and thyme
Vines like kiwi and grape
Woody berries like blueberry and currant
Perennial edible greens like mustard



The lanes between the swales will be left generously large to accommodate sheep, ducks and chickens left to graze and forage through the system in a controlled manner. Also being a north facing slope every higher slope shades the lower swales much more so than flat or south land. Wide spacing and plating the taller trees toward the bottom remedies this.


Area 2: Currently field that has started growing large brush and small maple saplings in patches. Faces due south in parts and southwest at a 7:00 position in others, medium to low angle slope range.



Plan is to clear the maple saplings that have overtaken the area and to add a single line of nitrogen fixing trees and a couple heat loving fruit trees (maybe peaches and pawpaws) along the northern top fencerow, there are already a few mature beech trees there which I will leave. Below is going to be a small but deep holding pond with a couple of rice paddies beneath, what I would like to try for the drain canal for the rice paddies would be "quince circles", everyone in the tropics does banana circles and quince is the only wet feet loving fruit tree I can think of for this climate, willow would work too but doesn't produce much of a value. Interspersed will be some terrace gardens for growing 3 sisters gardens and other heat loving annual vegetables. Down toward the bottom of the slope nearer to the small stream will be annual crops that prefer more cool and shade.

Area 3: Currently mix of maple saplings and large brush throughout. Faces nearly due south at a 5:30 orientation and medium angle slope

Plan would be to graze all the brush down in year one or two with goats and sheep and establish something similar to area 1 with the orchard crops but this will be a much warmer microclimate so I can add in peaches, pawpaws and persimmons perhaps. I can also space the swales closer since it is south facing and the higher swales wont block sun to the lower ones.

Area 4 Currently mixed brush with a preponderance of wild blackberries and blueberries. Faces nearly due east at a 3:30 orientation, low slope angle. Possibly lightly managed grazing land if needed and a place to collect wild plants, starting to get far from the house and likely barn sites though so it wont see tons of use I dont think.

Area 5 Currently weeds and tall grass, slight due north slop angle. Also a 20x80ft bare concrete slab which was once a barn foundation about 15ft from the road, really the worst spot I can think of for a barn besides right in the pond. It would be put to better use as a farmstand as its near the road, already has its own driveway and isolated from the house area.



The road is literally right over that ridge, a swervy drunk driver could take the whole barn right out if it was still there.


House Area: Currently mowed lawn mostly on top of a sandy leach field. Almost completely flat until you get past the trailer then north slope into the pond. Plan is to keep mostly as a lawn and human use area, minimal agricultural acivity. The purple square in the overview map would be the footprint of this modest home 2-3 years in the future, I have a thread about the house here:

http://www.permies.com/t/38833//scale-model-future-tiny-ish#305527

Pretend in the pictures that the lower roof is triple wall poly board and a greenhouse. Also ignore the landscaping, the model isnt site specific.






The greenhouse would be for heating the house in winter and for growing some fun crops that I don't really need to survive. What I really want to do is a polyculture of dwarfish banana with a dwarf papaya overstory and coffee understory with a couple other tropical plants mixed in and maybe a small 400gallonish aquaculture pond with just a small area for starting seedlings, and for growing winter greens/vegetables, maybe off the aquaculture water.


Well anyways that's the plan, we close on the property in about 3 weeks so ill be up there until we get snow working on it, then ill be back in the spring to get working again and to get someone with an excavator over there to start digging for the swales and paddies. I wont be living there over the winter, there is a nice old lady renting the trailer now and I didn't want to make her leave right before winter so she will be there for another 6-7 months, after which I will move in. Thanks for reading.
 
Sean Banks
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wow....like the plan...it is very well thought out....Fuki (perennial vegetable) would grow great around that pond.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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The plan to grow 90% of your own food seems unrealistic. I'll bet that you will produce many times your own needs. You may still buy sugar and bananas, but salable surplus will more than cover those things a hundred times over.

I agree that the pond is very valuable. Somebody spent a lot of money there.

----------------------------
I hate mobile homes. But, the bones of a mobile can be quite useful. If all interior walls were removed, it would be suitable for air drying lumber. With all walls and the roof gone, it could serve as a platform for mounting a sawmill or as a platform for storing logs up off the dirt. With the wheels removed, it would sit close to the ground.
 
Ken Peavey
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Posts: 2524
Location: FL
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I went to college near there in Troy.
Many fond memories of the Grafton Park area.
That's a fantastic site. I wish you the best.

If you have no blog website, you can start your much deserved bragging in the Projects Forum.
 
Ken Peavey
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I've taken the liberty of linking this thread to the projects forum.
 
Su Ba
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Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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Congrads! That site looks to have real good potential.

I currently produce, trade, forage, or hunt 90% of our food (with plenty of surplus to sell or give away). If I would forgo our weekly meals out, I could get that percentage to 99%, even 100% if I had to, but for the time being we enjoy our weekly socializing over a meal. But to achieve that high percentage, we had to change our diet drastically. Plus I am in a location where I can produce much of my own herbs, spices, salt, sugar, and coffee. Thus I didn't have to eliminate or make substitutions for those items.

Not included in that percentage figure is livestock feed. I purchase 50 lbs of barley per pig raised to slaughter time. 100 lbs chicken feed a month, which the sale of the eggs from one week per month (based on annual figures) pays for. And 100 lbs of hay cubes a month the rabbits, which the sale of two rabbits a month covers. I maintain 2 bucks and 14 does. And 50 lbs of wet c.o.b. used to keep the horse and sheep flock friendly. I guess I go through about 100 lbs per year. I have to freeze the stuff to keep it from becoming moldy because I don't use much. I eventually plan to produce my own sweet grain mix and barley, but I haven't gotten that far along in my self sufficiency plan yet. I'm just now experimenting with producing grains. Oh yes, I forgot the dogs and cats. For the 6 dogs I buy a 40 lb bag of dogfood to mix in with their homemade stew. A bag lasts 4 weeks. I could eliminate that but the dogs enjoy the crunch factor. The cats are spoiled and have access to dry food 24 hours a day, plus hubby likes to open a can a day to split among them as a treat. So that's 18 pounds dry a month plus 30 cans, in addition to home raised or local meat and fish.

Changing our diet and learning to preserve foods for those times when they are not seasonally available were the two big things we had to do in order to achieve a high degree of self sufficiency. It took several years to make the switch, tackling one food item at a time, figuring out if we were willing and able to eliminate the store bought item or find an acceptable substitute.

Our homestead is 21 1/2 acres. Most of that is in forest, pasture, or seed production. I run a one-man show, so by coming up with time saving methods, it can be done. But it took many years to figure out what worked for me and what didn't. I'm still experimenting and figuring things out.

Your land looks good to me. Looks like, given work & time, it would be a great homestead. With my own homestead, I found it to be a lot, lot of work. But I enjoy the lifestyle. My homestead is not yet at the point where it is producing enough self sustaining profit, but it should achieve that goal by the end of next year. So then the homestead will be completely supporting us, giving us the cash we need to buy stuff like gasoline, equipment, repairs and maintenance, pay the taxes & insurances, medical, clothes, internet, etc. -- all those things I can't grow, raise, hunt, forage, or trade for, and that we don't wish to do without at this time

One thing that I would add for sure, only because I'd liked to have home produced pectin, would be a couple crabapple trees. Those berries you mentioned would be nice for making jelly, jam, and syrup.
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
pollinator
Posts: 563
Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
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Ian, this is great that you're still going in spite of obstacles! I hope the other land gets good stewardship also in the end.

I love the idea of free/cheap permaculture courses and providing an example to the community. I think it's less about selling hte idea than it is about exemplifying and seducing! people will come to you when it's their timing, and there are tons of people getting the PDC bug all around the world!

I would throw in my armchair agriculturalist two cents here just that you don't need to make your goal so specific of %90 of self-grown food, you can achieve the same basic goal in many ways. By working with neighbors (like the one you mentioned to me in our correspondence!), renting out some of the land to someone you really trust and sharing the takings, getting surplus food from grocery stores that throw stuff away, I don't know, these are just brainstorms but the point is that flexibility and outside=the-box thinking is always helpful. And you'll get to the real essence of your goal. There's a lot of untapped resources all around.

You may be able to get free trees. For example, you can get free hazelnut trees for a small ($20 ) contribution to the Arbor Day foundation! 3 trees for $20, I don't know the quality of the trees, has anyone had experience with them? I understand hazelnuts are fairly hardy? can't be too bad, worth the risk. We're nearby and you can get some hickory nuts from our tree if you want to throw a few in the ground and see if they come up from seed. (My strategy is to grow bot hfrom seed and get seedlings, so there will be some trees coming up eventually that have never had to go through being transplanted. If they don't survive my minimal care then oh well, I'll basically let them fend for themselves).

Also, I wasn't clear if you're going to do hugel beds, but one thing we have a lot of in htis area is wood, esp. rotting wood. Another is stones, and sepp holzer's picture has stone piles at hte bottom of the hugelbeds, between the beds, to cool that area and moderate the temperatures. For trees specifically. I found it on the sepp holzer section, I think, it wasn't in the hugelkultur section , not sure where but if you look at my recent posts I believe I replied to that thread and you could find it that way.



 
Cj Sloane
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Location: Vermont, off grid for 24 years!
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Ian Taylor wrote:It is in Grafton NY, 26 acres, 1800ft asl, usda zone 5a, clayish soil with tons of rock/boulders and about 25mi east of Albany NY right near the VT border.


Howdy neighbor. You're about 66 miles south of me.
 
Ian Taylor
Posts: 59
Location: Grafton NY, 25 Miles east of Albany
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I agree about the mobile home, definately not my first choice but its better than a tent until I have the time to build what I want. Ill try to cannibalize it the best I can when that time comes.



I agree about the crabapples, we luckily already have a dozen or so of them, they seem to grow wild in a bunch of places. And as far as livestock feed I think ill grow it, I can alley crop a couple small patches of corn and barley in between some swales.



And the goal of 90% food production is more of a rough goal, i'm not going to go out with spreadsheets lol. The goal would be to make the most production wise of the land that I can and share/trade/sell the surplus (in that order). There are things i'll never produce myself, bread being one of them, ideally i'd like to trade with a nearby baker (I met a gentleman from Petersburgh who was trying to start a small bakery there, only a couple miles away). I also will have to buy sugar, I don't foresee having the ambition to grow and boil down sugar beets or corn for molasses which are our only sugar sources in this climate. I'll also probably buy other odds and ends like ice cream or if I wanted cows milk for some reason ( Cows are too big to be practical for a small farmstead, just sticking to sheep and goats for milk).

Ideally though there should never come a time when more than just a few token items are something i'd have to buy from a grocery store. Even now, during the height of our harvest time I haven't been to a store in weeks and with good management and expanding what I make myself could improve upon that to almost never. The idea would be to produce nearly everything either myself or in the community and trade for it non-monetarily with my surplus production. I would like for the way my diet is provided for to more closely mirror the way rural people in this part of the world ate a couple hundred years ago with some modern improvements and streamlining.

And I agree, I dont think the people out there who wax poetic about the benefits of permaculture but have no functioning demonstration are convincing anybody to get going and try it. There really needs to be something that people look at and are just blown away because it shatters their preconceived notions of what a farm or homestead can be. That's what happened with me, I had planned to do some sort of homesteading since I was a kid but much more conventional. Then about 4-5 years ago someone that I know brought me to the Radix Center in Albany and it just blew away what I thought could be done after seeing aquaponics systems working in a real functioning solar greenhouse and I pretty much knew what I wanted to do with my life after that. If I never saw a functional demonstration I never would have been hooked.

And I plan on maybe making the swales as hugel beds, ill do it if I have the scrap wood. I think hugelkultur is an awesome idea but has less utility in a wet climate like this so i'm not going to go out of my way to import offsite wood to make them. We certainlyu have no shortage of stones and boulders so I can get creative building things out of that, basically everywhere but what is already a field is ledges and boulders all over, there are literal tons of stone.





And 66 miles is pretty close, where in VT are you? I almost made the move to Bennington at one point a few years ago but it never worked out.





Super excited to get started with some of the larger livestock after watching all of the farmstead meatsmith videos, I only have a handful of rabbits now. And I just had a friend start making me a blog so I will have one in a couple weeks.
 
Amedean Messan
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Location: Melbourne FL, USA - Pine and Palmetto Flatland, Sandy and Acidic
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Awesome, anyone catch the usage of "The Sims" game as a home design program? Whatever works!
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
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Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
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Thans for sharing about your inspiration! I'll have to check out hte radix center some time, that's really inspiring that you suddenly knew what you wanted to do with the rest of your life. Very cool.

 
Ian Taylor
Posts: 59
Location: Grafton NY, 25 Miles east of Albany
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Some stuff happened, like I closed on the property 4 days ago and its mine now.

Then I wasted no time and started doing things, here are some of those things:

Started clearing that big clump of maple saplings in Area 2 (Refer to 1st post if confused). I'm about half done and will finish up later this week.



And in doing so got plenty of good material for Hugelbed/Swales that are planned for area 1 (Again read post 1). I still have 3x this many trees to cut so I think I should have a good amount of wood.



And here is a cool trick so you don't have to drag as much brush to make piles:



And I took some pictures of the pond with the leaves dropping all over and stuff:



And some pics of the dam that made the pond, somebody did their homework with this thing, its built like a brick shithouse, concrete slabs with rebar a foot thick backed up with boulders and soil, it has a cast in overflow with an auxiliary overflow pipe and the whole southern border of the pond is a roughly laid stone wall. It is also to the best of my knowledge a spring fed pond. I think this for 2 reasons, one is that the water was like 65 degrees F in August, second is that you can see the little brook that feeds it spring right out of the ground about 30 yards before the mouth of the pond. I think it would make a good trout pond based on the cold water factor. Although it is currently a bit grown up and disused I think I could be pretty easily fixed up, mostly I just need to cut back the trees that are starting to grow in the dam and that hang over the pond filling it with leaves.







And I explored an area I had never explored before, area 4, I found a 25x25ish stacked stone foundation from a really old house, and like 10 yards away a dry stacked hand dug well. The foundation is growing up with trees and shrubs and the well is full of metal garbage but both can be cleaned up. This field for some reason is starting to get really overtaken with Japanese barberry. I think my solution for the time being to that is just to go through with my brush mower and mow down of some of the less desirable flora.

And after some exploration and reflection I think I decided upon something cool to do. I would like to expand area 4 a bit to about 4 good acres and plant a pick your own permaculture orchard which people can come up to and pick their own. This solves one of the biggest inefficiencies with permaculture inspired agriculture, which is harvesting. With mixed plantings it is much harder to harvest a commercial yield, but having people come and pick their own while trying to make it fun and educational for them at the same time solves that issue. Just have people do your work for free.

I can hand out laminated cards with some basic information about the area and what plants you can pick and what they look like. People can be educated about the benefits of permaculture and walk amongst a working system and leave with a basket full of fresh fruits, nuts and herbs. I can also use the laneways between swales as livestock grazing areas in addition to area 1 and 3. Plus, one super big plus is since my parents own a brewery under the NYS farm brewery law I can sell their beer from my location under their liquor license. What other PYO orchard sells beer?

As of now area 4, where I am planning on implementing this is kind of savannahesque, mixed maple and wild apple trees and invasive shrubs (Mostly honeysuckle, buckthorn and barberry) and looks like this:






I think with some careful land clearing and the addition of a dozen or so swales the area could definitely perform well for what I wanted. It is east facing and seems t have decent albeit rocky soil. Maybe what would be really cool too is if the old farmhouse foundation and well could be salvaged and restored.



And now most importantly:

The farm has a name, Hygge Farm, it is a Danish and Norwegian word which has no direct translation into English and is pronounced roughly as (Hyuh-guh). It means roughly a warm, cozy, comfortable feeling that often accompanies activities such as enjoying a good meal around a fire with friends and family on a chilly evening. I think it sums up quite well the aim of what is trying to be accomplished here, plus the Nordic overtones remind me of this particular site. And with the name I can get all LLC'ed and stuff now and I have made some progress with developing our website and blog. Hope you guys keep interested, thanks.



 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
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Posts: 563
Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
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Tak! This is cool. Very beautiful pictures. I love the pond. Neat trick on the hugel-piling.

And the pick-your-own idea is awesome! Gets people more involved in their food.

Just a few thoughts--have you thought about a "monk" for your pond? (sepp holzer thing? it should go in hte jargon translator, it's like a pipe that allows you to raise and lower the level of the water in your pond by turning it, and also to clean it like a vacuum cleaner. picture an L pipe exit on its side, then rotate it along the long axis, it raises and lowers the level. I think it's on this site somewhere cause I can't imagine where else I"d have read about it. I don't even have a pond, I'm just bonkers about permaculture.
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
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Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
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And congratulations on closing! That means we're neighbors now!

I like the Norse name too, I am 1/4, my grampa loved the woods and he'd love the land there.

You got stiff competition from the brewery down in Stephentown, but that's a bit of a distance, there's room for two excellent breweries on the hill.
 
Ian Taylor
Posts: 59
Location: Grafton NY, 25 Miles east of Albany
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I think im going to leave the pond in the pictures as is. I am going to have a small irrigation pond dug to feed the rice paddies and water the garden on the hill that im clearing. I may implement something like that there though.

And you mean the Beer Diviner? I have been there a few times and they are pretty good. The plan for my parents is far more ambitious though and they are actually located in Hebron which is about an hour north of here, like 5 minutes from Salem. They just started construction on a 1500sq/ft brewery/restaurant on the site of a 200 year old mill along a major stream and should be opening in the spring if you were looking for a nice day trip.
 
Cj Sloane
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Ian Taylor wrote:
Started clearing that big clump of maple saplings in Area 2 (Refer to 1st post if confused). I'm about half done and will finish up later this week.


3-8" diameter is good for shiitake bolts, best cut in fall after the leaves fall or in spring before they open.
 
Ian Taylor
Posts: 59
Location: Grafton NY, 25 Miles east of Albany
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Cj Verde wrote:
Ian Taylor wrote:
Started clearing that big clump of maple saplings in Area 2 (Refer to 1st post if confused). I'm about half done and will finish up later this week.


3-8" diameter is good for shiitake bolts, best cut in fall after the leaves fall or in spring before they open.


Yeah a portion of them I think I will try growing mushrooms in. Or I could use all of them and have a couple tons of mushrooms.
 
Susan Doyon
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Congrats on the purchase it is beautiful, so many possibilities . the pond is beautiful I would want to build where it could be seen from the house . Our one pond we can not see from the house .

? on the mushrooms how long do the logs need to sit before they are ready to use ?

Sue
 
Cj Sloane
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Susan Doyon wrote:
? on the mushrooms how long do the logs need to sit before they are ready to use ?


Shiitakes should sit for about a year before you artificially "force" them. The wood needs to rest a few days after it's felled but not more than a few weeks before inoculating.
 
Ian Taylor
Posts: 59
Location: Grafton NY, 25 Miles east of Albany
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I went through and planned my swale plantings out for area 1 and itemized the trees I will need to purchase to plant them next year. Hopefully I will have the excavating done in mid spring and plant shortly after.

I have planned for n-fixers to be at a 1:1 ratio with other trees, I have read about ratios varying from 0.5:1 all the way to over 10:1 although at 10:1 I am going to have as few as 10 productive trees so I went toward the other end of the scale, I will also have animals grazing and N-fixing groundcovers so fertility shouldn't be an issue. Most of the nut trees will be on the downhill swale and most of the fruit trees will be on the uphill, mostly due to growth height considerations w/ shade.




The nitrogen fixing trees will be all black locusts since that's pretty much the only leguminous fullsize tree that will grow here. 6ft on center for trees is slightly overstacked but I plan to trim as it develops plus some things will inevitably die.

There will be 2 swales, both of which will be somewhat built as hugel mounds as I have a few extra tons of sugar maple trees stacked in my other field waiting to be buried. The uphill swale is about 175ft long with the lower being about 375ft for 550ft of total swale. They are spaced about 60ft apart, the lower swale is also about 60ft from the treeline below and the higher swale is 60ish feet from the treeline above so this roughly divides the field into thirds. The spaces in between are generously sized to act as grazing areas for animals and possibly to be hayed in places to feed them through winter. Its a hybridized hayfield/perennial/tree design.
.


The tuft of trees that cuts off the higher swale contains an 1800's cemetery, i'm planning on cleaning that area up a bit and enclosing it in arborvitae to separate it from the rest of the area as it will obviously have no agricultural use.


I itemized a list of trees that will be purchased also, as the graphic above shows they will be about 6ft on center with 2 shrubs in between each tree. The numbers add up to a stacking density higher than 1 tree per 6ft but I am planning on a couple trees in places other than the swales, mostly along the north border of area 2. The following should make up most of my tree/shrub order this spring, hopefully most of the planting will be late May-ish.

N-Fixers:

Black Locust: 50

Pea Shrub:30
Seaberry: 40 (some planted in area 2)



Other:

Apple: 8
Pear: 6
Quince: 9 (these are for my quince circles that make up the overflow canal for the rice paddies)
Cherry: 3
Plum: 3
PawPaw: 10 (some in area 2)
Peach: 5 (all area 2)
Chestnut: 10
White Oak: 3
Butternut: 7

Hazelnut: 20
Haskap: 10
Highbush Blueberry: 10
Currant: 20
Trifoliate Orange (Used as a prickly hedge along with seaberry along north border of area 2)


The idea is under these plantings to create a living mulch with rhubarb, comfrey and hostas with wood mulch/cardboard filling that gap until they take hold. In between the swales will be seeded with clover, forage crops and perennial grasses for grazing, most of this field should be scraped to bare dirt so I can almost start planting from scratch with fewer invasives taking the system over.



I also want to plant a privacy hedge by the road in front of where the house is going to be/trailer is now out towards the road and around the cemetery so I will probably order about 75 arborvitae and another 30 or so black locusts with maybe a couple semi-dwarf blue spruces.

Also as the soil here is less than perfect in both texture (clay) and nutrients (few) ill be buying 30-40 yards of composted yard waste (which I can buy at 15 a yard) which will be incorporated into the swale material and spread lightly in between.


My figure for costs is about $12,000ish total, that's 6K for excavation (includes terrace gardens, mini pond and paddies in area 2), 5K for plants and about 1k for compost and amendments.


So that's the plan for spring along with terracing the field in area 2 and adding rice paddies and a couple fenced terraced vegetable gardens as was described in the OP.
 
elle sagenev
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I believe Ben Falk uses seaberry as forage.
 
C. Hunter
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SUper cool! And I don't think your plan to grow 90% of your food is HORRIBLY unrealistic, although I wonder if you're gonna have enough hours in the day. That said, that's a fantastic part of the country, and you've got lots of neighbors producing very local stuff, so it's possible to eat low impact and local even with bought stuff. Good luck with your plans!
 
Ian Taylor
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Yeah my next door neighbors have a CSA actually so for a few odd vegetables i'd probably get them from there to save me the trouble of creating favorable conditions for 20 different kinds of vegetables (http://www.soulfirefarm.com/). With my experience vegetable gardening for quite a few years now I think I will probably only bother to grow the following: Corn, Beans, Squash - Beets, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrot, Garlic, Kale, Peppers, Tomatoes, Lettuce, Potatoes and Onions, everything else I will buy if I want it most likely. The vegetable gardening is a huge time suck and is made worse by trying to manage dozens of different kinds of things. And actually add in a little bit of my own meat/fish and tree nuts and fruits and I already have a pretty much full diet.

Also there is a small bakery like 10 miles away in Cherry Plain and i'm not baking my own bread/pastries lol so i'll probably buy bread there. Besides sugar, and a few tropical fruits that I dont plan on growing in my greenhouse (Coconut, pineapple) or aren't in season (The banana trees only produce for like 1-2 weeks a year I think) and what I listed above I don't envision needing to buy too much, maybe like some cheese and milk since I dont want to mess around with trying to make 30 kinds of cheese from my sheeps milk. I only work like 30 hrs a week for most of the year so I should have plenty of time to maintain everything. Also a goal is to not buy any meat at all and just eat what I produce and no more. I have never encountered a reasonable scale livestock operation that met my standards that I would ideally like to buy from.

The vegetable garden I have had for the past few years took like 2 hours a week and 20hrs 2x a year to plant and then harvest and prep for winter, but I would probably want to double its size so lets say 4 hrs a week. I want to have maybe a half dozen sheep and a half dozen pigs and a dozen or so ducks and like 2-3 chickens. I'm not sure how long the maintenance on them would be but probably not more than 10-12hrs a week plus fall harvest/preservation time for the sheep and pigs.

I'm still kind of on the fence about producing my own cooking oil though, I think ill try it and see how time consuming it is to make my own soybean and sunflower oil. If its a real pain in the ass I might just make a little bit every year for fun.

The high standard is more because from my experience the food I grow myself is way better than I get even at a farmers market. Also I just like doing this sort of work, I can be outside working for 12 hours and it just doesn't feel like real work, i'd do it even if I didn't have to. Also I have noticed that maintaining a "well oiled" food producing landscape and keeping it in production is way way less time consuming than establishing one and everything should be mostly established within just a few years.
 
Cj Sloane
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Danielle Venegas wrote:I believe Ben Falk uses seaberry as forage.

I don't think so. He does a lot with the berries and the plant fixes N but I don't think forage for animals. Pretty thorny. My sheep haven't bothered with it.
 
Peter Ellis
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Looks like a terrific piece of land to work with. Reading your plans, I have a couple of observations and comments.
I am currently reading Farming the Woods by Mudge and Gabriel (thanks to the authors for providing the free copy and to Permies and Paul for me being one of the randomly selected recipients 😃).

With regard to allelopathic trees, particularly the juglone producers, they make a very good point. These trees are toxic to some plants, not all. They are, in effect, just another way of disadvantaging some species and advantaging others. So you just design guilds around juglone resistance and use the allelopathy to your benefit.

Hugelkulture is not recommended for growing trees, as the wood will settle as it breaks down. Incorporating it into your swale system, which is, as Lawton pounds home, a tree growing system, is not best practice. On the other hand, you have issues with thin and rocky soils, which to me suggests using hugelbeets to build your raised beds of improved soil for your gardens. Hugels do much more than reduce irrigation needs and with your conditions they are definitely worth considering.

Regarding paw paws - ten is not very many. They are a clumping sort of tree and need to cross pollinate. I would plant ten in one patch, rather than dividing them across the property, to help with pollination. Also, they are understory trees and the young ones don't do well in full sun.

With regard to sugar and your climate - there are definitely sources other than sugar beet and corn. Tap some of your maples! Set up a couple of bee hives for honey.

Looking at your planning, it is not apparent that you have thought in terms of permaculture zones in your layout.

On your livestock list, I recommend more chickens. Keeping only a couple of chickens is easily as much work as keeping a dozen. A dozen can do much more work for you, and gives you more cushion for when the predators figure out where you have the snack bar set up. Lose two out of twelve and you still have lots of eggs and they can keep doing all the other good things they do for you. Lose two out of two and you have to start over on chickens.

I pretty much agree on the cow front, I think most of them are bigger than I want to deal with on a small farm. But some of the small breeds are intriguing
Have you thought about rabbits? Lots of potential benefits with them on multiple levels.

Good luck and happy homesteading!
 
Cj Sloane
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Ian Taylor wrote: I want to have maybe a half dozen sheep and a half dozen pigs and a dozen or so ducks and like 2-3 chickens. I'm not sure how long the maintenance on them would be but probably not more than 10-12hrs a week plus fall harvest/preservation time for the sheep and pigs.

I'm still kind of on the fence about producing my own cooking oil though, I think ill try it and see how time consuming it is to make my own soybean and sunflower oil. If its a real pain in the ass I might just make a little bit every year for fun.


Probably a lot easier to get your cooking "oil" from your chickens & pigs rather than planting annuals, harvesting tiny seeds, then pressing them. Plus, no equipment to buy. If you do buy an oil press, consider oil from tree crops - hazelnuts & acorns come to mind.
 
Peter Ellis
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Cj Verde wrote:
Ian Taylor wrote: I want to have maybe a half dozen sheep and a half dozen pigs and a dozen or so ducks and like 2-3 chickens. I'm not sure how long the maintenance on them would be but probably not more than 10-12hrs a week plus fall harvest/preservation time for the sheep and pigs.

I'm still kind of on the fence about producing my own cooking oil though, I think ill try it and see how time consuming it is to make my own soybean and sunflower oil. If its a real pain in the ass I might just make a little bit every year for fun.


Probably a lot easier to get your cooking "oil" from your chickens & pigs rather than planting annuals, harvesting tiny seeds, then pressing them. Plus, no equipment to buy. If you do buy an oil press, consider oil from tree crops - hazelnuts & acorns come to mind.


Good point CJ. Lard and schmaltz are both good for cooking and easier to produce than vegetable oils.
 
Ian Taylor
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As far as permaculture zones, for one not everyone even uses them (Sepp Holzer), and secondly I didn't incorporate them to the degree that I would have liked seeing as there was a significant "pre-design" of the land which didn't take any of that into consideration. I am pretty much 100% limited (unless I want to spend an extra 25K or clandestinely build a greywater system and still pay 3k for a new well) where I can put my house as the well and septic is already there and it isn't in the spot that would have made the most sense were I to have started from scratch. I considered having my rice paddies and annual crop gardens (Zone 2 stuff) situated on a southern facing slope to be more important than situating them 200ft closer to my house. I'll try to implement zones where I can but there are some compromises that have to be made unless you are starting from total scratch. I'll still have some lower zone stuff near the house, ill probably be growing most of my herbs in the greenhouse (excited to try growing ginger, turmeric and black pepper, all stuff that may integrate well with banana/papaya trees) or just immediately outside the house for the most part.

Can you use lard for sauteeing vegetables? I've never used anything other than olive, sesame or veg oil... It isnt a big deal anyways, like I said I dont care about 100% total self sufficiency but i'd try making it for fun or if its way better tasting. I like the idea of making hazelnut oil but I think that's mostly a salad oil or for baking, i've never heard of anyone using it for other stuff. If lard works though i'd probably just use that, i've never heard of anyone using it for stuff other than cooking meat, deep frying or like in soups.

Thats just a rough number, I kept the chicken number low though because I think duck meat tastes better in pretty much everything compared to chciken and duck eggs stand in just fine unless I am eating plain eggs. I wanted some though just because I have read that ducks don't tend to eat super small bugs (like ticks) and chicken eggs are better sometimes.

I actually already have had New Zealand rabbits for a whole season now and unless you live in an urban area I dont think they are all that great. They love to eat things that you dont want eaten (Though admittedly they often eat things I DO want eaten also), the ones I have are hard to catch and hate people and are extremely difficult to contain with fencing, especially the younger ones, it seems to get easier as they get fatter and lazier with age. I would imagine they would be easy to maintain if you fed them pelletized food supplemented with forages and only had them in a small, well sealed run. I'm not expecting to have much success with rotationally grazing them through with all the other animals.

I might consider some small cows but in most cases I prefer lamb/mutton to beef, usually when I eat meat it is stewed or in a sauce or ground up with spices etc, I pretty much never just eat like a plain steak by choice, and probably in the future most of it will be cured as well since I dont want to rely on a freezer to be keeping tons of meat from spoiling, salt works just fine and usually makes it taste better too. Plus, while I have heard they are slightly easier to fence in without electric and slightly less disease prone i'm not sure what there is to gain from cows over sheep otherwise. I don't drink milk plain so pretty much all of what I would collect would be used for cheese, butter or cooking and I like sheeps cheese better anyways.
 
Cj Sloane
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Ian Taylor wrote:
Can you use lard for sauteeing vegetables? I've never used anything other than olive, sesame or veg oil... It isnt a big deal anyways, like I said I dont care about 100% total self sufficiency but i'd try making it for fun or if its way better tasting. I like the idea of making hazelnut oil but I think that's mostly a salad oil or for baking, i've never heard of anyone using it for other stuff. If lard works though i'd probably just use that, i've never heard of anyone using it for stuff other than cooking meat, deep frying or like in soups.


Lard, schmaltz, it's all good. Even rendered duck fat is a thing (an expensive thing - google it!). Lard is good for baking - certainly better & better for you than crisco. I don't think I've sauteed veggies in it but I have used bacon grease for that - adds lots of flavor.
 
Ian Taylor
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Location: Grafton NY, 25 Miles east of Albany
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I know I havent posted on here in over 18 months but that doesnt mean ive been idle. Quite the opposite in fact, i'm moving along with the plans faster than I could have imagined. Ill be done with land clearing completely by midsummer I think and I have already planted a few dozen trees and shrubs. Garden terraces are scheduled to be dug around July and ill at least start digging swales around that time also. There have been a few changes to the master plan, which came from having spent dozens of hours per week working and observing here.



Most noteworthy is the reduction in the number of swales, yeah digging 8 in a 2 acre field makes zero sense. I also moved the spot I will put our rice paddies since the logistics of irrigating them when placed at the top of a hill aren't practical, especially after having spent 2 months in Indonesia with my fiancee and observing rice cultivation in one of the most rice dependent places on earth.

As for what i've gotten done; The entire field for the vegetable garden is cleared, it just needs to be terraced and i'm digging up (Yes, with a shovel) the 200 year old stone wall. Which has been buried under centuries of debris and leaves and soil and rebuilding it, so that it will encircle the garden terraces like a fence. I have been doing a combination of chipping and burning the slash piles from clearing the land. Whatever, call it slash and burn but you try chipping hundreds of cubic yards of tangled branches in my tiny chipper, i'd be dead before I finished.

Also along the top of the stone fence I planted a row of alternating fruit trees and seaberries in a 2 seaberry, 1 apple, 2 seaberry, 1 peach pattern, totaling 3 peaches and apples each and 10 seaberries. At the top of a southern facing hill, with a stone wall and forest right behind it is about as warm as possible of a microclimate so i'm optimistic the peaches and longer season apples I bought should all ripen well. I went with semi common/commercial cultivars for here but they are right in the garden so they can be a little fussy, ill actually tend to these trees.

This is the garden field as of last week, the before picture is in the first post, just a scrubby maple sapling patch with a path through it then.



The seaberries are doing awesome, I planted them about 3 weeks ago and they already are nearly fully leafed out and are actually growing despite still getting frosts a few times per week.



I planted these peaches last August, not exactly peak time for tree planting. Nothing special besides a few handfuls of manure and a thick layer of mulch and they did awesome. This pic is a couple weeks old but they already leafed out great and everything, I just trimmed them very slightly this year.




Once the garden is walled in we will have 2 gates, one on the southwest corner, and one in the northeast. On one of the corners next to the gate I will inscribe a soapstone plaque saying something to the effect of;

To whoever finds this patch of earth, welcome. The wall and terraces you see before you were re-constructed in the 16th year of the 2nd millennium AD by Ria Angelita and Ian Taylor. This space served as our garden and fed our family, as did the Peach, Apple, Hazelnut and Chestnut trees we planted, and whose descendants we hope still grace this land today. If this space is in disrepair, please return it to its former glory and we hope it serves your needs as it has served ours. Thank you to the Jones and Tilley families who made this their home out of wilderness in around the year 1820 and whose hard work in fieldstone removal has saved us countless hours, and thanks to you, dear reader, for finding this place. Please respect it so that every future generation may make use of it as we have.

I always get a sense of awe when working with stone walls, just because of their permanence. I always wonder about who built the ones here the first time, and what neglect happened to them over the past 200 years to make them largely tumble down and get buried. I figured I will save the future generations the pain of wondering and just tell them. I only just started digging the old wall up, and I have a ways to go before its really a good quality "stone fence" but i'm expecting it to be a multi year project.

But anyways, along the path to the garden gate from the house I planted a hedge of Hazelnuts on either side backed up by a couple hybrid chestnuts along the tree line. Its a mix of hazelnuts varieties I got from Oikos, there is like 5 kinds and 12 bushes total. Im going to put seaberries in between these too once the ones I just planted are big enough to take and root cuttings from.



Already leafed out and doing great.



And the next field over to the east is nearly cleared also, not bad considering this was 100 percent trees when I started working here this past September, and all I use is a chainsaw and my hands. I did most of this work over our exceedingly mild winter, and I just have a little bit to clean up at the bottom and the east side. But now that most of the trees are gone (I keep a couple of the nicest ones) the soil is wide open with no trees and leaf litter to cover it so I just seeded it a few days ago. My self made mix of Timothy grass, Rye Grass, White Clover, a few kinds of annual clover, hairy vetch, daikon radish and a couple sweet lupines. The plan is for the top half of this field to be used for grazing, then towards the bottom dig a swale and have it funnel water into a small resevoir to use to water the rice paddies below it which are toward the bottom of the field. Then below that I can toss some fill to flatten the terrain and use it eventually as more garden space for crops that don't benefit from being in a fenced area, like buckwheat or potatoes.




The bottom and easternmost field is relatively flat, but also kind of swampy sometimes. Ill probably use it for grazing but cut one or two swales to catch water and nutrients flowing out of the forest above it. Then possibly at some point my dream is to build a pond down at the bottom next to the stream, giving me a true, top of the property pond (aready exists), and bottom pond. Its a long way off though, I only just started fighting back against the hawthornes and field roses that are taking the field over. I went and mowed it and ill start cutting and burning the hawthornes once the NYS burn ban is over. The probably go over and just seed it with soil building pasture seed until I can do anything more extensive with it in a few years.


But the biggest news of all:

We are going to be building a taproom for my parents brewery on this property in a couple years, at same time we build our house. The plan is to sell pints to drink there and growler fills. Also have some light prepared food options (My fiancee is going to culinary school right now in Indonesia) and also have a small fresh grocery. We are going to be producing this abundance of food anyways, much of which would just go to waste otherwise, 1 family cant eat it all. So we can offer our surplus for sale at the taproom. My parents brewery is actually in a much more remote and rural location than where we live and does fantastic, while we are only 20 minutes away from a major city. I think people will love the idea of a quick hop out to the country for some beer, not to mention the local people that will appreciate not needing to drive 15 minutes to the big box store just to buy apples, greens or eggs. And all in a beautiful picturesque setting... Everything just fits together like a puzzle with this business in this community so I think we will do great.

Also if anyone in the area wants a to take a trip trip to a great NYS farm brewery, give us a try (Shameless Plug) http://www.rstaylorbrewing.com/


 
Michelle Bisson
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Ian,

Very interesting following your story.  Please continue to share regularly.  It helps us all become inspired and learn.
 
Marco Banks
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Great work, Ian.

That's young man work.  I remember when I could get after hard work like that --- running a chain saw all day and clearing land and brush like that.  I used to be able to work 12 hour days (and consume about 3000 to 4000 calories).  Now I've got the stamina to work hard for about 3 to 4 hours before I crap out and call it a day.  But my place is pretty much established, so I don't have to work nearly as hard at things as I used to.  I can't imagine the work that it must have taken you to cut all those trees and stack the brush.

So it's good that you're attacking this now, and getting all your systems functioning well.  In 20 years, you won't want to be shlepping trees around and doing a lot of heavy earth moving -- particularly by hand. 

Remember to organize your project on in order of greatest permanence.  Thus, earthworks first -- swales, roads, ponds . . . before you get the gratification of planting trees.  I wish I had been more patient in this regard.  I was in such a hurry to get my trees in the ground and see a harvest from them, that I ignored getting the earthworks finished.  In the years since we bought our property, I've had to go back and in some cases, cut down trees that I paid good money for, because I need to shape the earth for drainage and water retention.  Lesson learned.

There are things like establishing your bee hives, getting your pigs working for you, and starting mushroom logs --- these things are not dependent upon getting your earthworks finished.  Chickens in a chicken tractor are by definition mobile.  You can move the bees, move the electric fence to create new pig runs, move the inoculated logs . . . but it's tough to move a tree once it's been in the ground 2 years. 

I love the updates.  Fantastic job!
 
Vanessa McCray
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Hi Ian I checked you post out last week when you put it up , your set up is very nice and much success to you setting it up.
 
Susan Taylor Brown
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Ian, I , too, am inspired by following your story. Huge project you have undertaken and I look forward to watching it unfold. As Marco said, that is a young man's work, all that clearing. I am only good for a couple of hours of work myself and I am just trying to establish a much smaller place.

I love your plaque you plan to put up too. What a nice touch.
 
Ian Taylor
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Thanks for the encouragement everyone. Haven't gotten as much done recently as I hoped, just got back from visiting my wife's family again in Indonesia, at least we got to spend some time working on her families fish and rice farm.










But since I've been back I've been busy, I've started making my garden terraces, I decided instead of excavating them I will build stone retaining walls and backfill behind them. The problem with excavating is I will be left basically with a hardpan subsoil surface. I'll backfill them with logs and woody debris and I'll buy 40 or 50 yards of premixed topsoil and fill it with my tractor. Hopefully I'll be done before next spring so I can start gardening.

I've still been busy clearing too, Im almost done with the grazing field though. And wow, the difference fire makes on soil is amazing, I spread cover crop (timothy grass and a few kinds of clover and flowers) and the places where I spread it over burned places it's rocketing right out of the ground. The places that never were burned it's growing pretty slowly. I think it has a lot to do with the soil being very acidic and the ash raising the ph. Plus the charcoal cover holds moisture.

The charred stumps and charcoal from last year is already colonized by mycelium too.






 
Ian Taylor
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Well the new project has been digging holes and trenches for trees. We bought 644 trees, 500 black locust 3' tall and 144 1' Norway Spruce. I'm planting the black locust as a hedge around our fields to contain livestock. 500 trees isn't anywhere near enough to fully enclose any of them if we plant on 1 foot centers, but it will give us a big stock to take seeds or cuttings from to finish over the next few years.

The plan is to plant 1 foot on center and then after a few years coppice them at about 7 feet regularly, thus keeping out deer and coyotes. Plus they offer a massive nectar source for bees and they are grazable by sheep.

The spruce are going to be a privacy hedge/ windbreak/ snow fence/ bird habitat, there are a few spots on the property near the road and one neighbors house that I want to have a little more privacy and noise reduction.

Then after that comes the fun projects, since I've finished clearing most of the pastures, about 6 acres worth, we are going to start on building a smokehouse and root cellar this summer. Then hopefully next year onto a new house and barn.
 
Brooke Palf
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Amazing site, thank you for sharing.  The landforms and the vegetation lend themselves beautifully to your plan so far.





 
Ian Taylor
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The past 2 months I think I have done more work than I have in the previous year. My work ethic is getting like a feedback loop, I see stuff really starting to come together which really drives me to stay out dawn to dusk, even after all day at my day job.

My wife and I planted hundreds of trees, we started with our grazing field barrier hedges, we planted a few hundred feet of black locust, enough to section off the 1800s cemetery and make a hard border between our fields and zone 5 forest. We will have to plant about 2000 more next year to finish, then a year or two after that we will start laying them.

Seeing as how black locust is so hardy and tough I didn't bother mulching them. There is no way I have time to mulch hundreds of feet of row like that anyways. I'm sure they can out compete a little grass.






We also planted dozens of Norway Spruce to block out sight and noise from the road.




But the best part is I made tons of progress on the garden wall. This wall will wrap around the bottom of the garden on contour, and act as a partial retaining wall, holding back 2.5 feet of soil. There will be 3, 2 foot walls above it giving us a total of 4 terraces, 3 to plant and one to cover crop every year. The terraces are being filled in with woody material left over from clearing various fields and on top of that will be topsoil that we will buy. I will need about 100 cubic yards to fill them all in.

There will also be a wall along the east side to divide the garden from the pasture, and also along the top. It will end up being quarter circle shaped. I have the first course mostly laid around the perimeter, but I went ahead and totally finished this section just to see how it looks.





The lower face of the wall is just under 6 feet high total, the capstone is 5 feet high and the base is 5 feet thick. And considering I carry all these rocks from a derelict old wall at the bottom of the hill by hand I think I'm going pretty fast. At this rate the most of the perimeter will be done by winter.

This garden will be about a tenth of an acre, which is plenty for us. I think we are just going to do a dozen or so crops and the really water intensive stuff like kale and herbs we will grow in our smaller garden near the house.

The plans for the future after that are to dig swales in the grazing fields where it makes sense to do so, we really only need a few hundred feet of them. I also want to dam the valley again that our stream runs through to make a second pond, we lose tons of water off site by not having more capacity to store water. And then we need to build a smokehouse and a barn, then finally a house, we still live in a 30 year old house trailer after all haha.
 
Too many men are afraid of being fools - Henry Ford. Foolish tiny ad:
2017 Rocket Mass Heater Workshop Jamboree - 15 workshops in one event
https://permies.com/wiki/63312/permaculture-projects/Rocket-Mass-Heater-Workshop-Jamboree
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