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Posts: 16
Location: Seattle Area
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Hey all,
My wife and I have been searching for land to homestead for a while now and a piece has come to my attention that I really like the location of, but I am not sure about the geographical features. I will be going out with a machete to create some trails with the agents permission this weekend and will take pictures, but here are the basics.

The land is boardered by major public roads on the north and west. It is a 10 acre rectangle that is cut neatly in half by a creek that flows under the north road. Each side of the creek is a roughly square 5 acres. The whole parcel slopes south and the east side slopes west and the west side slopes east. The property is a valley.

From this description does any have any red flags that I should be considering? I will post the pictures on sunday or early week.

Thanks to any who take the time to read and reply.
 
gardener
Posts: 2596
Location: Upstate NY, zone 5
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I see no red flags from the basic description, and considerable positive potential. Important things to clarify would be:

How big is the creek, and how steep? Is it likely to be controllable or bridgeable? Is there enough fall in height and year-round flow to make hydropower a possibility?

How steep are the valley sides? Is there any flattish land?
It sounds densely overgrown; is there any mature forest, or all scrub, or??

How major are the roads, and how fast and frequent is traffic? Is there likely to be hazard entering or leaving the land from a good internal circulation route? How exposed is the land, or some suitable building portion, to road noise?

"Seattle area" indicates that water is not likely to be lacking. How fertile does the ground appear? Do there appear to be stone, clay and wood resources?
 
Posts: 79
Location: Minnesota, zone 4, loamy sand
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Check the ordinances. My 3-acre property is abutting a creek, and according to the county feedlot ordinance I am not supposed to have any livestock within 300 feet from it.
Considering I must also stay 150 feet away from the road and 100 feet from property boundary, that leaves me with a tiny spot where I can put a chicken coop.
With your dimensions it should not be as much of a problem, but still better know beforehand.
 
Posts: 944
Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
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Seva Tokarev wrote:Check the ordinances. My 3-acre property is abutting a creek, and according to the county feedlot ordinance I am not supposed to have any livestock within 300 feet from it.
Considering I must also stay 150 feet away from the road and 100 feet from property boundary, that leaves me with a tiny spot where I can put a chicken coop.


Don't forget the pet loophole on a property this size. Having a few pet sheep or goats [who happen to reproduce every year and are mob grazed in small moveable pens] is totally an option.

Also, you're not a feedlot. Don't have an exclusive enclosure in the restricted space and you don't violate the restriction.
 
Seva Tokarev
Posts: 79
Location: Minnesota, zone 4, loamy sand
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Thank you, Kyrt, interesting thoughts, but I am afraid the county council foresaw that. In order now to hijack the thread, I created a new one Ordinance woes, any advise how to walk around them.

My point was: they may restrict what you can do next to the stream, and their idea of "next to" needs to be researched. Despite that, I still like the idea of having a stream.
Also, when I was shopping for the land, I really liked a parcel on the other side of the stream; someone bought it from under my nose; and as I learned a year later, much of it is flooded in the spring (and that's not every spring, but occasionally.)

 
gardener
Posts: 2149
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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I second the comment about the creek being bridgeable. If you can't get to the other side of the property without going on the public road it may become a nuisance.
 
pollinator
Posts: 969
Location: Los Angeles, CA
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A south sloping property is a REALLY good feature, particularly up in Seattle, where summers are short and cool. The land will warm up much quicker in the spring, and will capture sunlight much longer into the fall.

Do you have a sense for how steep the grade is? For every 5% grade on a south facing hill, it's like being 200 miles further south.
 
Posts: 514
Location: North-Central Idaho, 4100 ft elev., 24 in precip
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Sounds like a nice piece of property! The only red flag that comes up for me is why someone hasn't already built on it. You may be looking at a property that has been designated a wetland habitat or maybe it won't perc for a septic system. I would look into some of those mundane things that can cause serious problems.
 
Christopher Colwell
Posts: 16
Location: Seattle Area
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Pics
20160507_180424.jpg
[Thumbnail for 20160507_180424.jpg]
Gorgeous old stump. Definitely not the largest
20160507_180329.jpg
[Thumbnail for 20160507_180329.jpg]
Thick. Raw.
20160507_175619.jpg
[Thumbnail for 20160507_175619.jpg]
Only pic that shows the road
 
Christopher Colwell
Posts: 16
Location: Seattle Area
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So, it's definitely going to have wetlands delineation on up to 5 acres. I hope that's all. None of the leg work has been done. Lots of wildlife presure in the form of bears, dear(ofcourse) and most definitely more. Also political presure in the fact that I would be buying into a community of wildlife enthusiasts. Of which I ofcourse am one, but I am also an outsider and any homestead will require the clearance of whatever minimum diameter the local regulations dictate for the trailer I am planning to put on it. I would love feedback on that. I am choosing to look at it as recycling since I can only afford used. I have an idea of many of the costs, but not all. How much does it cost to clear land? I know I can bring it down by doing lots of work myself, but the bank won't loan to me unless I can qualify for the amount it will cost to hire it all done. Anyway, thanks for all your input. I shoudl be asleep.
 
Christopher Colwell
Posts: 16
Location: Seattle Area
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Also, I am struggling morally with the amount that I must clear to create any permaculture systems. Should I be looking for depleted and bare land that I can try to nurse back to health rather than moving into an established ecosystem and making nature my bitch? Even if I strive to minimize it, a certain level is inevitable.
 
Kyrt Ryder
Posts: 944
Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
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Christopher Colwell wrote:Also, I am struggling morally with the amount that I must clear to create any permaculture systems. Should I be looking for depleted and bare land that I can try to nurse back to health rather than moving into an established ecosystem and making nature my bitch? Even if I strive to minimize it, a certain level is inevitable.


Don't think of it as making nature your bitch. Think of it as integrating into nature as a presently-missing piece.

Humans are natural too, we [of many but not all societies] have just tried to separate ourselves with poor results.

Sure you'll be removing a certain amount of forest, but if you work well with the system you should be a net positive on it.
 
Glenn Herbert
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Posts: 2596
Location: Upstate NY, zone 5
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If you were planning to focus on pasture or sun-loving row crops, you would be seriously disturbing the natural order in your area, one which the land is apparently well on its way to returning to. If you want to do more in the way of forest gardening, you may integrate well. I wouldn't be overly concerned about the essential clearing for a dwelling, as anybody buying the property would have to do the same unless they were not planning on living there. Are the local wildlife enthusiasts absentee owners who keep their own properties entirely pristine?

That road would be considered minor around here (a rural area outside a small city), so it doesn't look like you need to worry about traffic.

The septic situation may indeed be an issue, so get a feasible plan in place before committing, also investigating what non-standard options may be allowed.

The atmosphere looks gorgeous, and I would be happy to come into such a place if I didn't already have excellent land.
 
pollinator
Posts: 10114
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Glenn Herbert wrote:If you were planning to focus on pasture or sun-loving row crops, you would be seriously disturbing the natural order in your area, one which the land is apparently well on its way to returning to. If you want to do more in the way of forest gardening, you may integrate well.



I agree with Glenn. You may not need to clear more than an acre to grow all the food you need. Is hunting allowed? If so, your protein requirements may easily be taken care of without livestock. Personally I would leave as much of the land intact as possible, developing only the small cleared part around the house, and only if absolutely necessary, clearing more later on. But I bet you won't need to. There's probably tons of stuff to eat there already.

I'm always spamming this, because I think it's important; grow the most food on the least land: http://www.growbiointensive.org/
 
Author
Posts: 28
Location: South Carolina
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Clearing land is very expensive and energy intensive and a sunny site will provide more opportunities to grow food and heat homes with solar energy. I made the mistake of buying a forested lot and having to remove trees to plant the ones I wanted and it was far more difficult than I expected. Tall trees cast a lot of shade in winter and it takes a large clearing to get good solar access. My current property was previously pasture so it was completely clear. It's been a joy being able to start immediately with earthworks on this site then reforesting the area with useful trees and shrubs. After a few years the vines are already shading the house and in a few more years we'll be shady in the summer and open to light all winter.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 10114
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I think Shawn makes some very good points. Clearing is very expensive. However - if you have the money for clearing, I think a permaculturist clearing a little of this piece of land would be preferable to just about anyone else, if the permaculturist wants to preserve most of it intact. Many other types of folks could be more heavy handed and damaging. Though I personally encourage permaculturists to purchase the most damaged land they think they can handle, on the other hand, a permaculturist might be less likely to damage beautiful intact habitat.

 
Christopher Colwell
Posts: 16
Location: Seattle Area
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I appreciate that perspective Kyrt, thank you. Like Glenn said, anyone else who buys the land will do the same and I will hopefully be a better steward than others.

The enthusiasts are the neighbors, and I don't know them. I have talked to 2 of them and one warned against letting the community know about any building I want to do because they might try to block it. There are lots of houses around the lake and the property I am looking at is on the south side of the the only access which is why I called the road major. Way more traffic than I would have expected for the location.

I worry about what Shawn is saying. I do plan to go the way of forest gardening, but I would like to get good sun in my zone 1 at least. While the property does slope gently south, the trees are majestic and tall. I bet I could do the math and figure out how much land I would have to clear for a sunny homesite, but until I do I worry about how much I might have to take out. I am no stranger to hard work, but the bank will want a full accounting of what it will cost me to hire everything done.

I am arranging to meet an environmental consultant up there to walk the property and get an idea of possible usable areas. I will check in with you all after that and let you know if I am going to move forward. Thanks for all your input!
 
Glenn Herbert
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Posts: 2596
Location: Upstate NY, zone 5
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With the amount of forest you have there, it would seem obvious to eventually build something timber-framed or a log cabin. The number of trees you would have to take for an acre of clearing might suffice for materials. Even if you can't build now, if you can peel and sticker and shed-roof the logs, you could probably keep them safe until ready to build.

Is there a place with fewer big trees to the south, and a southeast exposure? Morning to midday sun may be more useful and comfortable than midday to sunset sun. A square acre could give you 200' clear to the south and 100' clear east and west of the house, which, while not perfect solar exposure, is not bad.
 
Kyrt Ryder
Posts: 944
Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
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Christopher Colwell wrote:The enthusiasts are the neighbors, and I don't know them. I have talked to 2 of them and one warned against letting the community know about any building I want to do because they might try to block it. There are lots of houses around the lake and the property I am looking at is on the south side of the the only access which is why I called the road major. Way more traffic than I would have expected for the location.


Smells like some significant complications, tread carefully.

I worry about what Shawn is saying. I do plan to go the way of forest gardening, but I would like to get good sun in my zone 1 at least. While the property does slope gently south, the trees are majestic and tall. I bet I could do the math and figure out how much land I would have to clear for a sunny homesite, but until I do I worry about how much I might have to take out. I am no stranger to hard work, but the bank will want a full accounting of what it will cost me to hire everything done.


The bank doesn't have to know about your plans to open up solar gain to the house and zone 1 garden. All [s]he needs to know is the cost to clear the amount of land legally required for the trailer [which isn't necessarily as far as you might at first imagine. I know the Mobile Home my family purchased and set up (admittedly back in the mid 80's) had a good handful of trees two meters from the walls. Admittedly, most of these trees were less than two decades old at the time it was installed so perhaps they weren't included as 'trees which may have required removal.']

EDIT: I may have conflated this thread with another one that was about moving a mobile home onto land. My apologies if you're intending to construct a home from scratch. Though I imagine [but do not know one way or the other] that parking a mobile home and building a home should have basically the same requirements so far as clearing goes. IF the laws haven't changed since my story took place lol. I guess the simple point I'm trying to deliver is not to make assumptions, but to read the code in depth.
 
Glenn Herbert
gardener
Posts: 2596
Location: Upstate NY, zone 5
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"on the south side of the only access"
It might reduce the amount of neighborhood interference if you can put your access point on the other road (the north-south one?), so everybody is not reminded of your presence every time they drive in & out to the lake...
 
Posts: 65
Location: West Texas - near Big Bend National Park
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Christopher,

Any chance you have coordinates for this parcel of land so we can see what else is around you?

Kevin
 
How do they get the deer to cross at the signs? Or to read this tiny ad?
It's like binging on 7 seasons of your favorite netflix permaculture show
http://permaculture-design-course.com/
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