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Trevor Walker
Posts: 52
Location: Southern Ohio, in the Hocking Hills
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Hello All! Thanks for being here.

I'm gonna make this a kind of project page, progress, plans, etc.
I am new to land ownership and want to get this right.
JUST bought 7.96 acres ("more or less") and have done nothing but explore it a bit.


Concerns are:
Neighbors "spreading elbows" into my land. Not entirely sure where the edges are due to old pins and no recent survey. Documents are specific though a few years old.
The whole process of being " legal ". Variances or explanations for simple cabin with no running water and no septic (composting toilet). People can be so stuck on what " modern " is.


First steps:
* Buy land, check. Yay!
* Driveway permit, inspection, culvert, and they say I gotta have culvert and stone done in a WEEK. Prohibits one guy digging the drive by hand while working full time elsewhere
* Storage shed for tools while preparing land/cabin.
* Well dig, requires driveway, not practical to dig drinking water well myself. Hire in local. Hand pump with well casing large enough to allow electric as well, later.
* Legal cabin I can live in full time, Building permit - no chance of "wink" around here, unless you have MORE land than this.
* Solar electric, may precede house if possible to mount near toolshed.

As long as I have water, toilet, and a place to stay out of the elements, all the rest can come later. COULD move in in the spring, perhaps. Mostly contingent on moving all my junk somewheres.


Somebody please tell me if I'm being dumb.
 
Steve Farmer
Posts: 383
Location: South Tenerife, Canary Islands (Spain)
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Sounds like a nice plan. Take some photos to post here and for your own gratification later when you can compare before and after.

Good luck and enjoy!
 
Bill Erickson
steward
Posts: 1128
Location: Northwest Montana from Zone 3a to 4b (multiple properties)
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This would actually be a better fit in the "projects" forum. And I've moved it there for you.

It sounds like you are going to have a very cool project here. Good luck!
 
Tristan Vitali
Posts: 313
Location: south-central ME, USA - zone 5a/4b
38
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Definitely get pictures and/or video before you start working on things. I didn't get much of my little piece of paradise before we got started in 2013 and SOOO wish I did. It's amazing how fast things change once you get started and you'll be pining for comparison photos if you don't get them now

Good luck and welcome to the life

Edit to add: why bother with a well? Rainwater catchment is way more cost effective and easy to get started with in the short term with a few 55 gal drums to start. In fact, my mother's been reading "Laying Waste - The Poisoning of America by Toxic Chemicals" (Michael Brown) and has me downright terrified of drinking well water. Lots of air pollution out there to contend with, but it's so much less sever than ground water contamination has become these days.
 
Trevor Walker
Posts: 52
Location: Southern Ohio, in the Hocking Hills
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Thanks Steve, Bill, and Tristan for your comments.

Yep, documentation is important. Not much to picture just now, but worth showing the changes. Good suggestions.


I already started by clearing a low spot for shaded parking while working. If I'm not mistaken, there is a young walnut tree down there!
And began the slow progress of removing existing trees that are too close to the road or look diseased, or likely can't put the driveway around.
Good Fiskars saw and Craftsman pole saw are harder than using a chainsaw, but much better for health.
I think there is something to knowing the labor involved will slow you down. Pick the tree more carefully, and the cut.

Walking through the land with the neighbor who sold it me, he mentioned the wild roses. Yes, the first time I visited my bare legs got all cut up.
In spring, I hope to see little pink blooms everywhere. One for each itchy scratch .
 
Trevor Walker
Posts: 52
Location: Southern Ohio, in the Hocking Hills
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Edit to add: why bother with a well?


Weeellllll ..... here's how I have to think about it:
The county and township probly dont care if I "poison" myself with rainwater all I want.
But if I want a residential zoning and occupational permit for my house, they probly want some assurances. The legal, code-compliant kind.
I'm OK with that. Standards need changing, to include such common sense as single-residence rain water treatment.
In the mean time ... I'll keep my head down.
 
Trevor Walker
Posts: 52
Location: Southern Ohio, in the Hocking Hills
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So I have been cutting a few trees by hand with a good, but short saw.
It always makes me huff and puff, and sweat. Thats great. Good for the heart.
But it takes forever, and I DO have some plans to be done with this before the trees grow back!

So cheapo chainsaw it is. And on the third tree, disaster. (not really)
I misjudged it - why we take two saws, even if the second is handsaw.
13" diameter tree, about 40' tall, decided not to fall the way I planned. See stupid chainsaw, like sword-in-the-stone, below.
Then see two pics of a smaller tree I TRIED to move out of the way, but it got hung up!
Was just not playing along. There are lots of climbing poison oak/sumac that just LOVE to teach me lessons.

OK. Its inexperience, and just a mistake.
But after cutting the first one .. again, this time by hand (13" trunk, with 18" saw) - it fell WWHHHOOOOMPPH, taking down the little one that was hung up.
Cannot tell you how happy I was.
Live and learn.
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stupid cheapo chainsaw, blame the tool
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leaning tree
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smaller leaning tree
 
Nicole Alderman
gardener
Posts: 1440
Location: Pacific Northwest
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Trevor Walker wrote:
Edit to add: why bother with a well?


Weeellllll ..... here's how I have to think about it:
The county and township probly dont care if I "poison" myself with rainwater all I want.
But if I want a residential zoning and occupational permit for my house, they probly want some assurances. The legal, code-compliant kind.
I'm OK with that. Standards need changing, to include such common sense as single-residence rain water treatment.
In the mean time ... I'll keep my head down.


One reason I've run across not to use rain water is that it is largely devoid of trace minerals that are normally in our water... which can lead to health issues. This had never occurred to me until I read Homestead Honey talking about her daughter--despite being fed a very healthy diet--having her teeth falling apart. In the comments, she mentioned that this was due to them solely drinking rain water:

We recently learned that filtering rain water does not give us minerals that would come from ground water such as springs or wells. So, although we get a lot of good trace minerals from our whole foods diet, we’ve also been adding trace minerals to our water, and I include them in this toothpaste recipe as well. I use the brand “ConcenTrace” and it contains a blend of a number of trace minerals that our bodies need.
http://homestead-honey.com/2014/07/21/making-homemade-toothpaste/

So, if you do just use rain water, perhaps make sure to add in the trace minerals, especially if you have young, still-developing children that you care for.
 
Trevor Walker
Posts: 52
Location: Southern Ohio, in the Hocking Hills
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Thanks for the note about rainwater health, Nicole.
Likely going to need a well in any event.
Perhaps rainwater for nonconsumption uses.
 
Trevor Walker
Posts: 52
Location: Southern Ohio, in the Hocking Hills
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So I havea new concern for this piece of property.
The picture is of a seasonal creekbed in the botem of the "holler".
You can see the hardwood with ice underneath, because the water filters under, then knocked a small cave on its way back to its channel.
In spring and winter, this "crick" has constantly flowing water.

Given some rather well draining soil, I wonder what the best approach to slowing the erosion may be?
Or slowing the water to regain more moved soil. Would surely love to have a pond - mosquitos notwithstanding.

I dont have livestock or live on the land yet, but clearly this issue with erosion is going to be one of the longterm items of attention.
Swales, of course, help slow flows downhill, and a couple spots already have a bit of terracing or swale-shaped hillside contours.

The primary area of danger is wherever I choose to remove trees, and this bottom-of-the-holler spot where all the water ends up.
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Trevor Walker
Posts: 52
Location: Southern Ohio, in the Hocking Hills
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Oooohh. Look at the little red stem in the bottom left of the photo!
One of a few wild berry plants I want to encourage.

Most of the rest of the brambles you see on the forest floor are really good at removing 100 little bits of skin all at once.
Whatelse I know not.

So there's a good question too:
There are lots of trees, primarily easter hemlock, and a few ash trees along the ridges, and young hardwoods lower down.
Two places I need some help are the forest floor in general, and any area that is cleared, but wont be protected from the many many deer.
What to plant or encourage that likes damp shaded woods in southern Ohio, and will act as "deer-fencing"?
Berries? Other things that they might eat the heck out of but would not voluntarily pass through to get to Zone 1 garden?

Deer are gonna be a real interesting neighbor
 
Tristan Vitali
Posts: 313
Location: south-central ME, USA - zone 5a/4b
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I've fallen prey to the sword-in-the-stone a few times myself with the chainsaw. What helped was doing I don't know how many hours of youtube watching, looking specifically at technique and how the pros do it. I still screw up, of course, and have trees go down in the exact opposite direction they're leaning for reasons I'll never be able to understand, but it happens much less often. I always use a ">" notch cut on the side where I want her to go now. The bottom of the notch goes level with the ground (so if on level ground, it's horizontal, but if on a slope, it'll match the slope) and the notch goes at least halfway through the trunk, sometimes as far as 3/4 of the way. I then approach from the other side with a "-" cut between 1/4" and 3/4" above the point of the notch cut - by the time you get within an inch or so, she's usually felling perfect where you want her. For the really big ones, I'll use another similar technique where you do a plunge cut that comes out looking more like ">--". The notch is cut first, then the center "-" is cut, leaving 3/4 to 1 inch of wood between the notch and your bar, then you do your last "-" from the far side, cutting in to connect with the center cut. I've had to use this on some 20" pine and hemlock I've taken down and it worked beautifully

Definitely do the youtube thing - not only can you find a lot of good videos done by pros showing the various techniques they use but there are some excellent ones on those tricky hung-up or hard leaning trees that, if you're not super careful, could spell disaster in the blink of an eye.

Felling trees is NOT for the faint of heart!

For the shade tolerant hedging, I'm using a lot of american hazelnut in our wooded sections. They handle some pretty shady places with no complaints and can be "hedgelaid" (creating that impenetrable fencing you're looking for). Coldstream is generally a good source for seedling american hazelnuts in bulk - put in 25 in 2014 and 200 more in 2015 and those planted in 2014 are already shoulder high in full shade under hemlocks, balsam fir and beech The deer will almost certainly find them tasty, so getting them up to size might be an issue, but once there, they'll do the job.

On the well vs rainwater thing, that's what we do - mineral supplements. The other big thing is eating real, mineral rich foods. As you're eating off your own land, be it veggie gardens or foraging the wilds, you can be sure you're getting the minerals you need in your food. Of course, organ meats are the other, and truly *best* source. Do remember, though, that calcium is the most over-ingested of our needed minerals, often to the detriment of our health...too many people out there eating a bunch of antacids and calling it a "supplement" when it's really just doing nothing but blocking the absorption of all the minerals we lack in our modern diets.

 
Trevor Walker
Posts: 52
Location: Southern Ohio, in the Hocking Hills
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A few pictures of first attempts to really use the felled logs from last fall.
Need to take more next visit, especially of the postholes. The layers of topsoil, yellow clay, and gray clay prove really revealing.

For now, some log peeling and showing the logs getting ready to go in the holes.
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my new toy makes logs so much easier to move
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going faster than I thought it wood
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proof I was there - and tired :)
 
Trevor Walker
Posts: 52
Location: Southern Ohio, in the Hocking Hills
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Posts going in the ground, as the uprights for a simple shed.
In the first one you can see the yellow clay that's under all the topsoil. Just sodden with groundwater, but the hillside drains well.
This is definitely wet spring. Will be interesting to see the soil change with the seasons.

Second photo you can see the first post in the ground, and second going in.
My original idea was to char the outside of the logs going in the soil, but found little time to work.
The charring is meant to keep bugs fro penetrating, an stem rot.
I'm hoping that even though this is softwood, the way I planted them will make a difference.
They are very wet still. And the soil is sodden. I post hole dug down to the gray clay that requires a spud bar to break it up. Some folks put their foundations on this since it is so solid.
Each post is getting all the removed clay pounded back in the hole around the log. Just enough space for the tamping end of the spud bar to smush clay back in.

I suspect that because of the wet wood, compacted clay, and anaerobic conditions, any rot will likely take place above ground, not below.

I'll follow up some time later as I put logs across the tops of these. Will be four uprights with two logs laid across. The idea is to join them, but make it something that can be detached.
Then later if I decide to move the structure, or if the posts rot, it won't be a big deal to lift off and reseat.
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Corey Schmidt
Posts: 149
Location: Kachemak Bay, Alaska (usda zone 6, ahs heat zone 1, lat 59 N, coastal, koppen Dfc)
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its great what you are doing and I'm excited for you! A couple of ideas come to mind: where you have an erosion problem, you can do 'bioengineering' with willow stakes. stick a couple of rows of willow cuttings (basically any size, but maybe 1-2 foot sticks about 1/2 inch diameter is good) into the ground on contour, they will root well (just have to solve the deer and maybe rabbit problem....)
also, you have great potential for mushroom cultivation, both in the stumps and the logs. its easy to innoculate with plugs which you can buy online, you just need a drill, a hammer, and maybe some wax to seal it up after. its one of those little extra steps now that can give significant returns later. lots of info online on various ways to do it, and what species of fungus will grow on what species of tree and temperature range. fungi.com is one

I have done a fair bit of pile supported foundation work including replacing old rotten spruce log foundations, which is not so fun,(putting a new foundation under an old building) and the area of fastest rot is definitely just below the ground line as opposed to deep in the ground. the other one is anywhere wood is touching wood and allowed to be wet. I have taken apart and rebuilt a lot of rotten decks built of untreated lumber, but where the builders sealed joints with tar, there was no rot. enjoy!
 
Alan Loy
Posts: 66
Location: Melbourne Australia
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Using rain water as the main water source is extremely common here in Australia. You may have more nasties in your rain than we do here but if not there is a heap of info on how to handle it. Here is an example from my state government

http://www.depi.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/188707/your_private_drinking_water_supply.pdf
 
Andrew Schreiber
Posts: 216
Location: Zone 6a, Wahkiacus, WA
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Hi Trevor,

Congrats on getting out on some land, and getting to know it my relationship with the 120 acres I live on is very special to me.

RE: erosion control methods

you may want to look up Bill Zeedyk (billzeedyk.com/) who came up with "induced meandering" and is very knowledgeable.

Her has a great video from the quivira coalition conference that I think most humans should watch.



this one is good too, but rather long:


In general, you can slow erosion by armoring the banks with rocks, and using single-layer rock or brush settiment traps, and media-luna's. Knowing how to apply them in your situation is the tough part. Happy to share more of what I know about it if you give more picture and explaination.
 
Sarah Joubert
Posts: 78
Location: Eastern Cape,South Africa Zone Cfb, Annual rainfall 570mm,
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Just thinking about your composting loo,I'm also setting up later this year and am still in the research phase. I've seen a lot of "large design" composting toilets and I know this one at www.ShareTheMoslet.com uses a lot of plastic but you could recycle used stuff. I'm thinking of this as a) it's a small unit and looks more like a "conventional" loo to my VERY sceptic family, b) seems like you could build it in a few hours with very few tools and c) has an easy urine diverting systm. I do worry about stability of the unit and the ease of use(opening and shutting gates)though.........
Just an idea for your perusal.
Keep posting, I look forward to your progress!
 
Hans Quistorff
pollinator
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Location: Longbranch, WA
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Picking out some of the things you mentioned and connecting them. Wild roses, need deer fence, looking forward to pink blossoms; What has evolved along the road edge of my property is a 6 to 10 foot wide fence of wild roses about 5 foot high. The soil is clay and floods in the winter but dose not bother them. The single pink blossoms turn into orange rose hips that I harvest with a berry picking scoop and combine with late apples and sive for a high vitamin C apple butter. The deer and neighbors cows get in because I usually have the gate open but only the raccoons are getting through the rose fence. It is trimmed back in a straight line now this was three years ago.
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Rose fence behind kite on pole for entertainment
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
pollinator
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Interesting to really see this project start-up! I can't answer your questions, but by reading the answers I learn too.
 
Pen Else
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Location: Beckenham, Kent, England, UK
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Fascinating to follow your progress, do keep it coming!

If you're digging lots of post holes, may I recommend something like this, a post hole auger? Everyone who's used mine has been very excited by the ease of use and the perfect hole that it creates!
 
Tristan Vitali
Posts: 313
Location: south-central ME, USA - zone 5a/4b
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Pen Else wrote:If you're digging lots of post holes, may I recommend something like this, a post hole auger? Everyone who's used mine has been very excited by the ease of use and the perfect hole that it creates!


I so need one of those, but with our rocky "glacial till" soil, I fear I'll be relegated to using a shovel half the time anyway!


Trevor Walker wrote:Given some rather well draining soil, I wonder what the best approach to slowing the erosion may be?
Or slowing the water to regain more moved soil. Would surely love to have a pond - mosquitos notwithstanding.

I dont have livestock or live on the land yet, but clearly this issue with erosion is going to be one of the longterm items of attention.
Swales, of course, help slow flows downhill, and a couple spots already have a bit of terracing or swale-shaped hillside contours.

The primary area of danger is wherever I choose to remove trees, and this bottom-of-the-holler spot where all the water ends up.


Honestly, don't fear the mosquitoes when it comes to ponds - as long as they're either deep enough or planted with appropriate species, the mosquito predators will happily move in. The top three that come to mind are dragonflies and their larva/nymphs, amphibians and their tadpoles, and, though they like to trash it nowadays, the mighty Purple Martin As far as appropriate species of flora for ponds, assuming you've cleared enough for sun around these I immediately think of pickerelweed [edible seed and insectary], arrowhead [edible tuber and nutrient accumulator] and cattail [an ultimate edible/medicinal, nutrient accumulator and great biomass] for shallows and the good ol' hardy water lily [edible seed and tuber, insectary] for areas deeper then 3 feet.

Mosquitoes like the still, stagnant water of pond and dam systems, sure, but so do all their predators

Another good option would be keyline swales, even if smaller in size and hand-dug, to help reduce the amount of water that ends up in the creek/bottom-of-the-holler, therefore reducing the erosion down there and helping to keep the rest of the landscape better hydrated.
 
Trevor Walker
Posts: 52
Location: Southern Ohio, in the Hocking Hills
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This last week I dug in some small swale / hugel / garden beds. Not sure the best nomenclature.
Basically a shallow ditch on contour, laden with sticks, covered back over. Then uphill, another shallow ditch parallel. That dirt put also on top of the first.
The second ditch laid in with recent log peels. The idea, I guess, is to create an uphill water-catcher with mulch cover to slow evaporation.
Anything that soaks in there also can soak into the topsoil just down hill. Once roots spread, they can seek out the water trough. And once the buried wood rots, it's a spongy nutrient carrying underground mulch.

After turning the soil over for this, I feel a bit better about my chances of getting actual FOOD from this place.
When I dug post holes, it looked like hopeless clay was just inches under. Where I dug beds, even the clay-loaded soil "felt" right.
Its all supposed to be well-drained soil. But when I loosen it up and see what it does with a little rain ... well tell this stuff has potential.

Pics forthcoming. Fulltime job means work-as-can, so there are few hours after work before too dark to play in the dirt.
Why won't my boss give a paid "play in the dirt" -day? <-- (One day when I run the world ...)
 
Trevor Walker
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March 30, 2016

WHAT I PLANTED TODAY, so I don't forget and can remind myself later (this is only near-enough, not everything will be where I say I put it because what would be the fun in that?):

original lower "row" -
la ratte fingerling potatos: on the downhill side, alternating
sibley squash: On the uphill side, alternating

original upper "row" -
desiree red potatos (i think, to check bag in daylight): downhill side, alternating
potimarron squash: on the uphill side, alternating


to plant on the TOP of each "row" - or not if it seems too full when i see it by daylight next.
hop mcconnell dent corn, titan sunflower at the ends, sweet peas to climb the corn and sunflower

to do gardenwise next -
a few pics of progress, more of this kind of "rows" but with more dirt and larger, begin deer-baffles, continue shed
 
Tristan Vitali
Posts: 313
Location: south-central ME, USA - zone 5a/4b
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Trevor Walker wrote:This last week I dug in some small swale / hugel / garden beds. Not sure the best nomenclature.
Basically a shallow ditch on contour, laden with sticks, covered back over. Then uphill, another shallow ditch parallel. That dirt put also on top of the first.
The second ditch laid in with recent log peels. The idea, I guess, is to create an uphill water-catcher with mulch cover to slow evaporation.
Anything that soaks in there also can soak into the topsoil just down hill. Once roots spread, they can seek out the water trough. And once the buried wood rots, it's a spongy nutrient carrying underground mulch.


How about "double-dig hugle-swale"? Can't wait to see the pics. Remember, you can expect lots of weeds if you don't get a solid cover over the berms. There are likely seeds in that soil that have been waiting for a good disturbance since the 1500s! It's both good and bad since you might find some really useful edible and medicinal plants coming up among your crops. Nature wants to grow - the ultimate green thumb. After the squash and potato sprout up, some N-fixing cover crop (white dutch clover, etc) or a thick layer of mulch (hay, straw, wood chips, pine needles, etc), just so you can be sure there's some good soil cover.
 
when your children are suffering from your punishment, tell your them it will help them write good poetry when they are older. Like this tiny ad:
Video of all the permaculture design course and appropriate technology course (about 177 hours)
https://permies.com/wiki/65386/paul-wheaton/digital-market/Video-PDC-ATC-hours-HD
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