I would start out by further defining your overall goals and your more specific short-term goals. Once you have those understood, that knowledge will impact how you can work together with the landscape or even modify the landscape to meet your objectives. I suggest defining very clearly what you want to do and is what you want to do actually viable to do at your location. Your landscape may help define what you want to do. For me, it was a matter of writing out a detailed farm plan that included action steps for the next 12 months and stated objectives for longer term, e.g., I want to direct market meat poultry and develop all the food they need without supplemental feed.
While you're developing your plan, I suggest the following actions:
- getting a topographic profile of your property
- getting a soil profile from the USGS
- gain knowledge of any of your neighbor's water management activities
- speak to the different county offices about permits and inspections and codes
I would like to have all this before I put my first design pencil to paper. That's my advice.
I started out with a written five year plan for my property, this plan included topographical maps, drawings of placements for all out buildings (house foundation was already in place), road work, orchards, food gardens, medicinal gardens, swales, road improvement projects, forest management plan, fences. In short, we tried to plan out everything. We have, in the past year decided on some changes, which were also drawn out on overlays of the original plans.
The more information you have for your property and neighbors goings on, the better you can set up your property to function the way you want it to function. It also makes it easier to adapt when you find that changes to this plan will make the property work better.
I have soil information including soil tests, the topographic profile, satellite photography, county requirements, neighbors plans for their property (important if you want to be friends with them). I even have drawings of each building so the construction goes smoothly.
Be ready to do re-drawings, inevitably you will find that there are better placements as you lay out your property to function the best it can for your needs/wants/desires.