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Anyone want to help layout our 3 acre property?  RSS feed

 
                    
Posts: 177
Location: Bay Area, California (z8)
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Well, Peter, you've found a good reason to rebut/push off/dismiss almost every suggestion in this thread. Which is interesting. It appears that you are available to hear only certain kinds of suggestions. What types were you hoping for?
 
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peter have another thought….

i have no idea where you are located??

but…. the evergreen state college in olympia washington has an environmental studies program…… you might want to get a hold of them & see if some students might want to make it a project designing your home??? i have seen them planning downtown buildings in large cities that are environmentally friendly!!! just another perspective!!!
kd
 
Posts: 8
Location: SW England
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May I suggest that you have a toilet that's accessible from outside when wearing mud-splattered boots? And a huge sink / shower pan / floor drain / wet area for sluicing down filthy dogs / those boots / garden tools?
We have a similar sized property and have built just that adjacent to the garage area and that's one of the most useful areas for keeping muck out of the house. Of course it's possible that you don't have mud like we do in SW England, near Glastonbury
 
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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Good idea. Most of the old time farmhouses in the US had a mud room. Plenty of hooks/hat racks to hang wet and muddy gear, a toilet and sink. It often doubled as the pantry, and a dining area for lunch. It was between the kitchen and 'the yard'. Nobody wanted to bring the farm into their living quarters.

 
Posts: 176
Location: springfield, MO
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P Thickens wrote:Well, Peter, you've found a good reason to rebut/push off/dismiss almost every suggestion in this thread. Which is interesting. It appears that you are available to hear only certain kinds of suggestions. What types were you hoping for?



Thanks I am glad you agree my reasons are good.



quote=karen denman]peter have another thought….

i have no idea where you are located??

but…. the evergreen state college in olympia washington has an environmental studies program…… you might want to get a hold of them & see if some students might want to make it a project designing your home??? i have seen them planning downtown buildings in large cities that are environmentally friendly!!! just another perspective!!!
kd

We are near the Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas Missouri border.

Good idea. I will see what I can dig up on the school.

John Polk wrote:Good idea. Most of the old time farmhouses in the US had a mud room. Plenty of hooks/hat racks to hang wet and muddy gear, a toilet and sink. It often doubled as the pantry, and a dining area for lunch. It was between the kitchen and 'the yard'. Nobody wanted to bring the farm into their living quarters.



Actually I have been trying to figure a good location for an outhouse and what to use the added fertility for in the future. Possible future site for a fruit tree? I need to see what kind of codes are required for something like that. I have a feeling I will have to keep it quite.



 
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Dont know if anyone mentioned this:
book "Gaia's Garden" has a decent small acres plan.
 
Posts: 151
Location: Madison, AL
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A few thoughts on your house design:

In the kitchen, I think you will hate having the sink on the the edge of the island. Consider scooting it to the middle so you have counter space on either side and moving the fridge to the dining room side, which gives you one cooking zone and then ample counter space for canning, etc. Also think about raising the height of the island on the other side of the sink up 6" -- a higher counter is easier for some tasks, especially for tall people, and it helps hide the inevitable sink clutter a bit. Also -- no window at all in the kitchen?

Regarding the window in master bath -- have you considered a Solatube instead?

I don't think your laundry room is big enough. If that's your main entrance from working outside, you need somewhere to put dirty boots and coats and act as a mudroom. Also access to a bathroom from the laundry/mudroom area is very beneficial, and a sink in the laundry room comes in *very* handy.

If you are planning to use your dining room, there isn't much useable space for a table and still leave access to the doors.

Both the office and the guest bedroom only have one window, which makes for very poor light quality -- natural light from 2 directions is much better. Since you are starting seeds in your office, I think that should definitely get another window.

I would see if there is a way you can combine your laundry/mudroom with your seed starting area. Access to nearby water will be beneficial for both, and starting seeds can get messy.

I would consider moving the stairs to an outside wall -- it frees up a lot of options in terms of rearranging the plumbing, and it permits a window in the stairwall. If you have the power out, the stairs will be much safer with a little natural light.

Overall, I think you can do better and this *is* only a first draft. The traffic does not flow through the house well, and this is going to be a very expensive house to build, mostly because of the plumbing. Adding a "L" to the design, if it permits you to cluster the plumbing with your priorities, will probably save you money, especially if you eliminate the extra corners you get for the garage.

 
Posts: 155
Location: Sierras
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Here's my 2cents worth:
WATER will be the big issue in the future so collecting rain water and building the biggest roof (with substantial overhangs) and an underground cistern would be my priority. Next is ENERGY and that's mostly on the demand side (solar HW + PV is relatively easy)... so earth tubes and geothermal fields along with proper orientation and planting deciduous trees is very important. Look at the PAHS houses to see if you can bury part of it and use the soil for thermal mass. I'd put massive thermal mass inside the middle of the house - need big foundation pour to support it. I'd also use steel roof and 2x6 steel joists - fire and bug proof. Earthen plaster rocks for indoor finishing.

 
Posts: 67
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I would plant trees all along the property line for timber and a windbreak. I would plant black locust, persimmons, crab apples, wild plums, hazelnuts/filberts, oaks, walnuts, pecans, and wax myrtles. Here is a place I recently bought some black locust seeds from Reimer Seeds. I would then decide where you want to do most of your growing and purchase some good cover crops from Grow Organic. I got the sod buster seed mix for my heavy clay soil, and a soil builder seed mix to go along with it.

I would concentrate on your zone 1 area first and work outward from there. I'd start planning a food forest and make sure that I have plenty of space between my trees and start to work on it this fall.

 
Posts: 143
Location: Oakland, CA
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Hi Peter,

I know you didn't ask for input about the house - but you did post it, so...it invites commentary.

First, it would be great if you could post it at the correct orientation matching the site plan, which is North side up. That way everyone can correlate it better with the site design. I agree with the other comments here, and you sorely need a mud room/drop off/transition zone. I designed a place like this for a mechanic once - It was basically like a car wash - he could unpeel his diry stuff and shower off, change his clothing, and then continue on to dinner without contaminating the clean house.

I can see how the designer/drafter met your requirements, but it just seems like an unimaginative compromise. You might want to think more of your home as your spiritual home. For instance, there is no entry sequence! You walk into a strangely proportioned recess, and instantly you are presented with a forced decision of choosing to go forward down the hallway/kitchen island in the distance or heading up the stairs. That's not a welcoming, embracing, comforting moment. There are all kinds of odd psychological moments in your house like this. The larger your home, the more complexity is introduced, and therefore the more things that need to be resolved. I'd urge you to think deeply about every transition as you imagine yourself walking through your house, because once it's brick and mortar, it's hard to change it.

You should think about your home in terms of zones, just like permaculture. You should think about zones of activity and zones of rest. zones of prospect and zones of refuge.

Also, bringing the wet walls in line is more than just an inconvenience to your program: it can be an organizing principle and reduce the randomness. And do you really want to see a reflection of a urinal in your bathroom mirror?

And the roof is critical. It's your sunbonnet, your outerwear. It's orientation is fighting nature right now. Sometimes, with a complex house, designing roof down is an informative technique. Gables can be added to create interesting spaces underneath.

Anyway, I'd suggest you go buy Christopher Alexander's books. You will be inspired and think about how you interact with the built environment more.

Hope I've been of help...
 
Peter Hartman
Posts: 176
Location: springfield, MO
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Hello all I must have unsubscribed to this thread by accident. Sorry for the delayed response.


Nicole Castle wrote:
In the kitchen, I think you will hate having the sink on the the edge of the island. Consider scooting it to the middle so you have counter space on either side and moving the fridge to the dining room side, which gives you one cooking zone and then ample counter space for canning, etc.



Good Idea about the sink. I will talk to our cabinet guy when we get to that point and see what he can do.

Nicole Castle wrote:
Also think about raising the height of the island on the other side of the sink up 6" -- a higher counter is easier for some tasks, especially for tall people, and it helps hide the inevitable sink clutter a bit. Also -- no window at all in the kitchen?



We considered making that counter higher, but we like the openness that this provides.

Nicole Castle wrote:Regarding the window in master bath -- have you considered a Solatube instead?



Yes I have. Very cool. If we can't do the window for some reason we will be putting in a couple of those in the bathroom.

Nicole Castle wrote:I don't think your laundry room is big enough. If that's your main entrance from working outside, you need somewhere to put dirty boots and coats and act as a mudroom. Also access to a bathroom from the laundry/mudroom area is very beneficial, and a sink in the laundry room comes in *very* handy.



I agree the laundry is not as big as we would like but this house is starting to get huge. We are going to add a sink to the garage and that will function as out mudroom.

Nicole Castle wrote:If you are planning to use your dining room, there isn't much useable space for a table and still leave access to the doors.



We have moved our south wall out 2 feet so hopefully that will give us ample room to the garden door.

Nicole Castle wrote:Both the office and the guest bedroom only have one window, which makes for very poor light quality -- natural light from 2 directions is much better. Since you are starting seeds in your office, I think that should definitely get another window.



We will be adding larger windows in the office possibly a bay window depending on cost. I am trying to avoid a west window in that room though. Sun is just to hot in the summer.

Nicole Castle wrote:I would see if there is a way you can combine your laundry/mudroom with your seed starting area. Access to nearby water will be beneficial for both, and starting seeds can get messy.

I would consider moving the stairs to an outside wall -- it frees up a lot of options in terms of rearranging the plumbing, and it permits a window in the stairwall. If you have the power out, the stairs will be much safer with a little natural light.



I tried to get the stairs to an outside wall but it does weird things with our bedrooms.

Fred Winsol wrote:
WATER will be the big issue in the future so collecting rain water and building the biggest roof (with substantial overhangs) and an underground cistern would be my priority.



I will be adding rain collection systems for sure. I am not sure what the system will be at this point but I will start me research shortly.


Fred Winsol wrote: Next is ENERGY and that's mostly on the demand side (solar HW + PV is relatively easy)... so earth tubes and geothermal fields along with proper orientation and planting deciduous trees is very important. Look at the PAHS houses to see if you can bury part of it and use the soil for thermal mass. I'd put massive thermal mass inside the middle of the house - need big foundation pour to support it.



If all goes as planned this house will be ICF so it will have excellent insulation along some with the thermal mass benefits. Heating will be done with solar (wood). We also plan to have radiant tubing installed in the basement floor for a future solar heater. This is a basement home so half of it will be underground.

Fred Winsol wrote: I'd also use steel roof and 2x6 steel joists - fire and bug proof. Earthen plaster rocks for indoor finishing.



Being ICF we will have no external wood framing and the roof will be metal.

Jason Matthew wrote:I would plant trees all along the property line for timber and a windbreak. I would plant black locust, persimmons, crab apples, wild plums, hazelnuts/filberts, oaks, walnuts, pecans, and wax myrtles. Here is a place I recently bought some black locust seeds from Reimer Seeds. I would then decide where you want to do most of your growing and purchase some good cover crops from Grow Organic. I got the sod buster seed mix for my heavy clay soil, and a soil builder seed mix to go along with it.



We will be planting lots of trees this fall all around the property. I am still working out what varieties I want and where they will go. I just ran across a book by Lee Reich called Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden. Uncommon Fruits for Every Gardener. I will definitely be adding it to my library. I am not sold on black locusts yet. I had a dog get a thorn stuck about 2 inches into his paw. I am not sure they are worth the risk. Right now for N fixer trees I have Mimosa,
Japanese Pagoda and Grey Alder or Speckled Alder.

Jason Matthew wrote: I would concentrate on your zone 1 area first and work outward from there. I'd start planning a food forest and make sure that I have plenty of space between my trees and start to work on it this fall.



Zone 1 garden area and some trees and ponds will be my concentration over the next 9 months.


Suki Leith, I will respond to you when I get another free moment.
 
Peter Hartman
Posts: 176
Location: springfield, MO
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Suki Leith wrote:Hi Peter,

I know you didn't ask for input about the house - but you did post it, so...it invites commentary.



I do indeed want comments and feedback. I still may not take it, but I will definitely hear you out.

Suki Leith wrote:First, it would be great if you could post it at the correct orientation matching the site plan, which is North side up. That way everyone can correlate it better with the site design. I agree with the other comments here, and you sorely need a mud room/drop off/transition zone. I designed a place like this for a mechanic once - It was basically like a car wash - he could unpeel his diry stuff and shower off, change his clothing, and then continue on to dinner without contaminating the clean house.



I will see if I can get the house flipped so it makes more since. Right now north is down. A portion of the garage is going to have a sink area and it will function as the mud room.

Suki Leith wrote:I can see how the designer/drafter met your requirements, but it just seems like an unimaginative compromise. You might want to think more of your home as your spiritual home. For instance, there is no entry sequence!


Can you explain how an entry sequence should go? Or better yet post some pictures?

Suki Leith wrote:You walk into a strangely proportioned recess, and instantly you are presented with a forced decision of choosing to go forward down the hallway/kitchen island in the distance or heading up the stairs. That's not a welcoming, embracing, comforting moment. There are all kinds of odd psychological moments in your house like this. The larger your home, the more complexity is introduced, and therefore the more things that need to be resolved. I'd urge you to think deeply about every transition as you imagine yourself walking through your house, because once it's brick and mortar, it's hard to change it.



This is the look we were going for. Walk in and immediately see lots of windows:


Suki Leith wrote:You should think about your home in terms of zones, just like permaculture. You should think about zones of activity and zones of rest. zones of prospect and zones of refuge.



We have tried to keep our zones inline. Kitchen close to the garden. We harvest multiple times a day usually. Rest areas will be in the main living and also on all sides of the house.

Suki Leith wrote:Also, bringing the wet walls in line is more than just an inconvenience to your program: it can be an organizing principle and reduce the randomness. And do you really want to see a reflection of a urinal in your bathroom mirror?



Ha ha no we don't really love that but it is our compromise in total sq footage and water savings.

I don't think it looks to bad though:


Suki Leith wrote:And the roof is critical. It's your sunbonnet, your outerwear. It's orientation is fighting nature right now. Sometimes, with a complex house, designing roof down is an informative technique. Gables can be added to create interesting spaces underneath.



Can you explain more about fighting nature?
 
Kitty Leith
Posts: 143
Location: Oakland, CA
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Can you explain how an entry sequence should go? Or better yet post some pictures?


There's no simple answer for that. I guess first I'd say you have no sequence. You just open the door and bam. Not that Christopher Alexander is perfect, but his observations which he has documented as patterns in A Pattern Language are pretty exhaustive. And sensitive and lovely. You really should go invest in that book. I will say that the proportions of that recess are ghastly. (sorry) Recesses as entries aren't very nice. Usually they are flush with a porch that reaches out, or they pop out. It's like open arms. Yours disappears, overwhelmed by a huge garage. Very mean space on either side of the door, door smack dab in the center, which is deadly. Rather deep for being not very wide. This is a golden section area. Your deck too. Squares are very rational and not comforting.

This is the look we were going for. Walk in and immediately see lots of windows:


It is better than I thought, as I skimmed over that the stairs are going down and not blocking the view and that there is not a wall cutting your first impression in half. But if you can avoid it, it's never a good idea to open a door, especially your initial entry door, onto a daylighting or descending stair. (It's different if there's a proper space created by a grand stair, or a prior entry area....) Psychologically it creates a moment of dissonance. Where am I supposed to go? Do I go down? Straight ahead? You will get used to it/over it, but it still adds to your home feeling not right when people come to visit. You will be drawn to the windows, it's true, but the first feeling you should get when you enter someone's home is a feeling of welcome, calm, peace and not straight to thrill. So this isn't great feng shui, you need something to slow down all the good energy flowing straight out the window. If you turned the stair orientation by 180 degrees, you could arrest some of that disorientation by the railing and some nice plants which would help define some space in front of the door. But best scenario would be to reconfigure so your entry sequence doesn't have a stair in it, and give the area in front of the door a dedicated space instead of just a bank of doors. Functionally, your guests have needs as well. They might need to sit down and take off their boots, hang up their coats. You should provide for their needs now instead of throwing together an after-thought.

For the urinal, you might want to consider swapping its position with the door, putting the privacy screen on the other side.

Can you explain more about fighting nature?


Your house is fully active solar and not passive at all. It's deeper on the N-S axis than it is on the E-W axis. With your concern over windows for your master bath and bedroom, I don't understand why they aren't turned 90 with a southern exposure for your seed starts. (this would aid in lining up your wet walls as well) And I also don't understand your comments about the roof overhangs. Properly calculated, they should protect in the summer and be fine in the winter. Instead of movable shades, you can ameliorate the harsh summer sun with trellis of vines or trees.

I'd probably reconfigure quite a bit of this plan, but since you probably won't be going through that iterative process, you might consider moving the garage West 3-4 feet so as not to pinch the front door so much, maybe give it a nice covered patio with posts that extend beyond the bedroom wall.







 
Peter Hartman
Posts: 176
Location: springfield, MO
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Suki Leith wrote:


I'd probably reconfigure quite a bit of this plan, but since you probably won't be going through that iterative process, you might consider moving the garage West 3-4 feet so as not to pinch the front door so much, maybe give it a nice covered patio with posts that extend beyond the bedroom wall.




We have actually already made that change.
 
Peter Hartman
Posts: 176
Location: springfield, MO
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Suki Leith wrote:

Your house is fully active solar and not passive at all. It's deeper on the N-S axis than it is on the E-W axis. With your concern over windows for your master bath and bedroom, I don't understand why they aren't turned 90 with a southern exposure for your seed starts. (this would aid in lining up your wet walls as well) And I also don't understand your comments about the roof overhangs. Properly calculated, they should protect in the summer and be fine in the winter. Instead of movable shades, you can ameliorate the harsh summer sun with trellis of vines or trees.



Our winters tend to be cloudy and wet. We get very little solar gain. I have actually spent a lot of time over the past 3 years coming to this conclusion. I have installed a solar heater in our current house and the sunny days are just to few to justify the loss of heat we get from the windows on the cloudy days. The seeds starts are getting the spousal boot from the master bedroom. That is where I have been doing it the last several years. For the roof over hangs, there is an issue with the getting sun to the seedlings in april and blocking the sun in august. You can't do both with out moveable shades. I have also dealt with using trees to block sun in the summer, but they still block a good amount of light in the winter. One of my solar heaters would only output half as much heat once it got into the shade of the tree (after leaf fall).
 
Kitty Leith
Posts: 143
Location: Oakland, CA
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greenhouse.

anyway, most people do what they want to do and don't generally really want advice. i know mine was unsolicited, so that's cool.
but i would encourage you to not be so married to this plan - it is not the only solution to your program, and it would be a shame to just settle.
 
Fred Winsol
Posts: 155
Location: Sierras
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I trust that solar hot water will be part of your house? Since freezing is THE big issue, i'd recommend a drainback system using a variable DC pump and avoid all the other hi-tech, hi-cost, closed glycol systems. I live in the Sierras at 4500 ft and use a simple batch solar HW heater for years... gravity fed rainwater... only problem is when there's snow on the window panes of the breadbox heater.
 
Nicole Castle
Posts: 151
Location: Madison, AL
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Peter, are you working with an architect -- preferably one well versed in passive solar for your region -- or with a "house designer?"

From my own experience building a house, I would suggest an architect. Yes, they are pricey, but a limited service architect, one who basically does the design but isn't a project manager, would have saved me a lot of money and I would have got the house I wanted.
 
Kitty Leith
Posts: 143
Location: Oakland, CA
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Nicole - right on - good advice.

Someone who's worked many years in the field is going to be exposed to hundreds of solutions they can call upon with ease, always with a working knowledge of integrating all the complications. After 12 years in the field, I would also caution the architect shopper to beware of high profile egos (which is why I didn't get licensed). Unless you need a stamp, (some jurisdictions an engineer's stamp is enough) there are many like myself (not fishing for work - just giving advice) who are very capable of going from concept to detailed specifications and are more affordable, because they are working outside this country's system of litigation, insurance, and self promotion.

However, a client must also be open to new ideas and possibly a total re-design. A person's sense of home is very complicated, and a good designer will try and accommodate that yet sometimes those ideas may prove to be more based in fantasy than the limitations of site & budget. A good designer will come up with something more than the sum of the client & designer's individual ideas, so that the collaboration won't compromise the final design.

Occasionally these relationships don't work - like the one and only time I fired a client (he was obsessed with a cozy treehouse yet wouldn't budge on his monstrously huge program) who wasn't living in the real world. And I've also seen designers who don't listen and dismiss the client's priorities, and they should also be fired. A client should also be wary of a "designer" who nods in agreement to everything they say and just delivers a set of permit drawings...

But overall, getting real help (vs. virtual forum help) where all the details can be addressed, can insure a smoother project, eliminate/reduce expensive surprises, and improve the quality of life of the home owner for years to come.
 
Kitty Leith
Posts: 143
Location: Oakland, CA
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Just wanted to add some insight into design firms. Most firms the principle architect handles multiple projects, so apart from the initial concepts, the interns massage the project into reality and work out all the details and proposes solutions to problems they encounter. The architect does intermittent reviews, and then usually a geek checks the plans for code compliance and then the architect signs.

Moonlighting is often seen as grounds for dismissal, but a lot do it. I would avoid interns who have worked less than five years, as they don't have enough building oversight, drawing of construction details, or permit approval experience.

You can feel really good with someone with about ten years experience. There are some home designers who are essentially architects who specialize in homes, as they had no interest in studying or being tested for life-safety issues for public projects like airports, hospitals, & schools, as you must be well versed in all those to get licensed as an architect. (or, like me, they didn't want to kiss ass & go through the bureaucracy of getting their training documented) They are usually people with at least ten years of experience who just decided to break off on their own, specializing in single family homes. They are just as qualified to design your home, even if they don't have "Architect" or AIA after their names.

I would avoid "home designers" who are interior designers. They know quite a bit about architecture, but nothing about integration with the site and little about the building shell.
 
pollinator
Posts: 328
Location: Clemson, SC ("new" Zone 8a)
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Peter Hartman wrote:alright I found this list:
-chlorine or bleach
-peroxygen
-sodium perborate
-sodium trypochlorite
-boron
-borax
-petroleum distillate
-alkylbenzene
-”whiteners”
-”softeners”
-”enzymatic” components

Grey water is a project for the future. I would much rather spend time money and energy on a harvesting rain water right now.



@Peter - I have tried to follow the logic of the discussion in this thread, but I still find myself confused. Could you please clarify: according to your research, are the items on your list acceptable or (I am assuming this is the case) unacceptable for use where grey water is being diverted?

Thanks!
 
pollinator
Posts: 3738
Location: Vermont, off grid for 24 years!
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I recommend laying out permanent paddocks for your ruminants which you can then subdivide with electric fencing. There are lots of trees that will make great living/edible fences (search the threads here). Black locust makes a great fence if planted 1' apart and given a few years to grow. Bordering the outside edge of your paddocks, plant full size fruit trees (maybe on hugelkultures). Half of the fruits will fall into the paddock and the animals can harvest them themselves. Vary the fruits by the times they ripen, by species and variety.

Perhaps a massive HK along the east (the lowest part of the property) to keep water on site as long as possible.
 
Posts: 183
Location: Kachemak Bay, Alaska (usda zone 6, ahs heat zone 1, lat 59 N, coastal, koppen Dfc)
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Geoff Lawton teaches to prioritize like this
water
access
structural positions


water- depends on contours, swales always recommended. MO gets lots of precip. but can get very dry in august, pond is cheaper to put in natural valley and can fill better b/c of natural catchment area

access- driveways best on contour or ridgetops to avoid erosion and limit construction cost

structural positions- based on your zone and sector analysis and positioning of water and access.- water and access start the patterning of the landscape.

from your topo map, there is a low area running from south to north near your east boundary, best dam site is the narrowest point of that little 'valley'. swales run out on contour from that dam to increase catchment and soakage. then swales on contour from the lowest point on the highest boundary-- gives the longest highest contour line, which is most useful and cost effective for hydrating the whole property. i would always consider the annualized geosolar concept- if you insulate the ground under the house and include it your thermal building envelope, you get a huge thermal mass, so even if you let some light in in the warmer months, you're just 'charging the battery'. i know this as an old thread, but i couldn't resist. best wishes
 
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Location: In a rain shadow - Fremont County, Southern CO
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hi peter,
is it possible to for you to update the over drawing of your property?

i know you have put some swales and at least 1 pond - and i am wondering what the progress looks like from an overhead view.

 
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