I am afraid I'm one of those who jumped in and started planting without fully planning out the design of my property. I have planted a bunch of fruittrees I suppose in no small part due to how long they can take to bear fruit. I figured the sooner I got them in the ground, the sooner they will bear fruit.
I planted my orchard with a permaculture orchard design in mind. Following the miracle farms approach where I will have nitrogren fixing trees/shrubs mixed in with the fruit trees, no to like trees next to each other etc. Although it is probably backwards, I would like your input on permaculture design of the whole property. Permaculture design is something I am just learning more about now mainly going through the links that Tyler posted.
We currently have chickens and ducks. We want to keep areas for pasture as we are interested in keeping other animals in the future.
Here is the map/layout I made, let me know what you guys think:
What types of "other animals" do you plan on having? So far you seem to be on a good track with the orchard location.
The area that has the runoff creek, have you thought about digging a pond at the low end of it to gather the runoff water and help drain the rest of that field?
If that would work, then you have already got decent pasture land about ready to go.
Do you plan on growing grapes? if so you might consider the steep slope for the vines, if you plan on having lots of vines. Or you can leave it forested as it is now.
When you add cattle or hogs, you will need to plan out your pastures so you can rotate them around in a logical manner, it makes moving them a lot easier.
It's ok, Clay. I'm having to design my place backwards too because I didn't know what I was doing. I want to try to help with yours, but it will probably take me a few days to draw out a design. I have not taken a permaculture design course, so please take it as the advice of an amateur.
Could you post a pic which shows the driveway and house area more clearly? I think it's best to start right around the house. Moving things closer to the house has made a huge difference to me, especially during periods of ill health when it was difficult to trudge out and do chores.
Location: WI Zone 5a
posted 3 years ago
Well, we are actually thinking goats next, mainly for milk. After that, I would like to raise a few cattle. Just enough to supply us with beef for the year. I was watching a youtube video where he made the case that cattle really don't need shelter in the winter. Just pasture to forage.
Our property is kind of odd. we basically have a small front yard, small back yard, and 15+ acres of side yard. So, the huge downside is not being able to put as much close to the house as we would like. We put the garden in a closer spot as it will need more attention, and the orchard farther away needing less attention for that reason.
How would you suggest to divide up the pasture into sections?
I'm interested Tyler in what you come up for a design. One of the downsides of my property is the wet area around the middle where the wet weather creek is. If we use it for pasture, it will be really wet in spring and would turn into mud quickly. Some neighbors have said I should tile it but I'm waiting until I come up with a large scale plan.
Tyler, any info you have for me is greatly appreciated!
What we did and are doing is putting in a perimeter fence on the property lines then we use either cattle panels or electric fencing to define the paddocks.
Ours are around 1/2 acre since we raise guinea hogs and this size allows them to be on a paddock for 3 days before we need to move them.
We took the outline then divided it into equal sized paddock spaces. We are still adding pasture area by clearing weak trees in the forest and then seeding with our pasture mix that includes grasses, brassicas, turnips, rape, alfalfa, cabbages, white, red, crimson clovers.
This mix gives a nice variety for the hogs to choose from with plenty of protein available.
I am liking this set up since I didn't have to spend the money for permanent pasture fencing except on the property lines.
In your wet weather creek, there should be a channel, if you deepen and widen it some that will help a lot with drainage of the rest of the area.
If the creek bed slopes, putting a pond at the lowest point will also help with the drainage of the area as well as giving you a water source at least until it evaporates in the heat.
Clay, I have a few questions (the first of many, probably)
- Do you ever have droughts in your region?
- Do you intend to only produce for your family or do you hope for commercial production? If commercial, what do you plan to produce?
- Do you already have barns and outbuildings for the animals you plan for, and can you post a pic showing them in relation to the rest of the place?
Mostly at this point I need a better pic of the house area.
I don't know that I would say drought. But, we definitely have years where we don't get enough rain for crops to grow well so farmers etc do irrigate.
I'm not really planning commercial but I do have a large orchard planned. Mainly to account for loss of trees in no small part because I don't know what I'm doing, and to account for years when not everything will bear well. Those years, I'm thinking of putting back a lot and possibly having a stand out by the road.
They used to keep cattle on this property I'm told but mainly just left them out. In the following picture, you will see a metal shed that used to be used for horse stalls. Here is the pic of the house area:
Here's my first preliminary try at a design for near the house. Because you're in a northern climate, as far as possible the south side of the house should be exposed to the sun. You might be able to attach a sunhouse there (for very inspiring ideas about attached sun houses, I recommend the book Solviva by Anna Edey)
More annual gardens can be placed closer to the house if there's adequate sun, but I've put your main annual crops where you indicated you've already started a garden. The food forest area might correspond to what you've already started, and can be extended over time to fill that entire field. I've placed a swale above it on contour to help keep that area hydrated.
The goat pasture can be extended as necessary and/or transformed into a cattle pasture. Chickens in various mobile housing can be moved all over the place to help with various work, but you might want some more or less permanent chicken housing in the animal area for broody hens.
Next I'll try some suggestions of how to extend all this in the larger land area, though I think much of the land can be left to reforest, and as needed, taken out of forest for other purposes in the future. Some permanent forest should be kept as Zone 5, however.
This is what I have so far as just a rough idea of zones and possible swales. Exact swale placement depends on the actual surface features and contours.
Location: WI Zone 5a
posted 3 years ago
Tyler - Thanks so much for the time you took to put this together!
I'll have to find some info on actually implementing/digging a swale.
One thing that I just noticed now is that our existing chicken coop does not show on the picture as the tree canopy shields it from view. It's South of the house at the edge of the trees. We are using it mainly because it was there already and we only needed to do a little work on it to get it ready to house chickens.
You're welcome. The main reason to clump all the animals together in one area is for ease of care - they often eat the same food or use the same bedding, which can all be stored in one place. But if the chickens are convenient in another place, that's a good place for them. The main idea of design is convenience and trying to get parts to work together (stacking functions).
I agree with Tyler that leaving an area of wild forest would be good. You could harvest wood from it, while also providing valuable native habitat. One area that would be great for that would likely be the that nice wet area. You could actually leave as it is as a sort of wetland preserve...and then you don't have to worry about draining it! There are various edibles that do thrive in wet areas (serviceberries, and lots of other berries, though I don't know which ones grow in your area). Also the plants and soil in a wetland is really great for slowing the water seeping into the earth. This is great, because it naturally purifies the water as slowly filters through the ground and plants, and it helps add a lot of water to your local aquifer.
I really like a lot of the design ideas that you and Tyler have going on here. You might also want a tiny herb garden/spiral right next to the house, perhaps in the front yard or even on your patio in pots. I really appreciate having my herbs close to the house so that I can run out there, often without shoes (if the herbs on my patio) to get herbs to cook with. If the plants are really far from the house, it's harder to want to be spontaneous and pick some extra herbs or leaves for a salad.
I also like Tyler's placement of the ducks by the pond, as they would thoroughly enjoy bathing and eating in there. And, if you don't have too many ducks for your pond, they shouldn't do too much damage to the pond's ecosystem. Another advantage to ducks is that you can herd them from place to place. So, if you have paddocks, you can herd them to a paddock (chickens don't herd, from what I've heard, and thus need to be moved around via tractor or mobile coop). Ducks also respond well to song, and if you sing a song each time you feed them, they'll soon come running to you whenever you sing that song, and they'll follow you as long as you're singing. This comes in handy because it's a lot easier to make a stationary duck house than a mobile one, especially if you want to pull it by hand and have more than 4 ducks. You could also house the ducks with the chickens if you have no drakes (male ducks), though drakes are nice as they allow you to not have to by more ducklings every few years, and they are also quiet (unlike roosters).