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Tenelach Farms - twenty acres in SW Michigan  RSS feed

 
Peter Ellis
Posts: 1432
Location: Central New Jersey
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My wife and I will soon close on twenty acres of wooded land in SW Michigan.  The property backs onto a wildlife refuge and the associated state game lands that come close to enclosing the area.  The area has been logged, I estimate thirty years go, with a number of older trees left behind and many tall straight young trees that we hope will prove suitable for roundwood timber framing

There is something of a plateau in the southwest corner near the road, estimated at two acres in size. This appears to be a likely place for our house, with a view to the east and south over a dell where I envision a pond.  The back line of the property is marked by a county drain and several lines in the back of the property appear to feed into it.  The lower areas of the property show signs of water moving through from time to time.  Sign of turkey were evident in one of the intermittent stream bed, deer were seen in the wildlife refuge as we walked the back of the property.

It is on a dirt road within about a mile of paved roads in either direction.  There is a utility line running across the property, with its maintenance easement.  At this time there is not even a driveway, of any sort.

So we have short term plans of a temporary residence, probably an RV. We'll start mushroom cultivation as soon as possible, and chickens, rabbits.  Ducks a bit further along, and goats, to help clear the brambles under the trees. Pigs, in time. The area under the power lines is currently the only open land, so garden and pasture will, initially, need to go there.

https://www.facebook.com/peter.ellis.108/videos/10210036214371752/

We will be trying to document this project fully, from the beginning, which is where we are now.
 
Peter Ellis
Posts: 1432
Location: Central New Jersey
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Getting closer.  Closing scheduled for the 7th and still looking good for that date.  Working on getting the house here in NJ ready for the market and our stuff ready for the move. Culling down enormously, saying good bye to an awful lot of stuff. Twenty years in one place can really accumulate ...
Planning two trips out to Michigan in Sept., both doing double duty, visiting the property and attending weddings of friends.

Anyone have good sources for accurate topographical maps? The USGS map is not helpful for this location.

Does anyone have recommendations on cell phone applications for mapping and/or elevation?  There seem to be quite a few available for android phones that say they can give altitude/elevation readings, but it's impossible to evaluate them from the Google Play website, reviews are all over the place on the same app.

We'll be marking the parameters of the new driveway on these trips, as well as marking the boundaries of the property and then doing some soil testing at various locations on the land.

Tons of stuff to get done, including finding a contractor to put in the driveway, getting the utility company to put in a power pole, working out the details of packing our house and shipping our goods to Michigan, getting a storage facility on site in Michigan so we can put our stuff someplace while we're living in temporary quarters and until we can get the house up and ready for us and our stuff.  Will need a well placed and probably a septic system (even though we're planning on going with graywater recycling and a composting toilet.  Temporary housing needs to be worked out, something that we can work with for the interim period.

Longer term, will need to build systems for the chickens, rabbits, ducks and goats.  Get the mushroom yard located and start putting up inoculate logs - shitake, lion's mane and oyster are top of the list, with King Stropharia to go into the garden areas with wood chip mulch when we get those started later on.
Hoping to be able to get poultry and rabbits going before the new year, despite starting all of this as we are heading into winter.
 
Tracy Wandling
steward
Posts: 1650
Location: Cortes Island, British Columbia. Zone: 8ish Lat: 50; Rainfall: 50" ish; sand and rocks; well water
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Congratulations! How exciting. We bought our property 2 years ago, and I remember the excitement. Two years in, and we're still in love with it - and totally behind in all our plans! lol But that's just life. We're pretty happy with our progress in general. It looks like a beautiful piece of property. All the best for your future plans!
 
Peter Ellis
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Location: Central New Jersey
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Thank you Tracy.  Survey came in through email today - and, laughably, the description of the property is botched up and wrong.  Not a real problem, but the surveyor should be embarrassed.
 
Ray Moses
Posts: 97
Location: Brighton, Michigan
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Congrats, that is a real nice place in the state for growing. That is the fruit belt over there, you can grow stuff there we can't grow here in the southeast area. The Lake Michigan climate helps out a lot
 
Peter Ellis
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Location: Central New Jersey
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Thanks Ray.  Yeah, we're near the land of U-pick blueberries   Closing had to be postponed for a week, but things are moving.  POD shows up tomorrow for us to start packing the NJ house.  Closing on Wednesday on the Michigan property. Getting this place ready for the market.  So much potential ahead.  So much work
 
Peter Ellis
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Here is a Google Earth image of the property.  In the northeast corner you may be able to see a pattern of lines, one running east-west and a series running north-south.  These lines are, we think, drainage ditches.  Looking at them on the ground they are shallow, the forest duff that appears elsewhere is absent from these and they are black muck.

It's going to take more observation, but I am thinking seriously that these are an opportunity to build chinampas.  One of my thoughts is that the channels might be a place for growing crayfish, I have doubts that they will be deep enough or with the flow or oxygenation needed for most fish. Another thought is to use them for growing wild rice, kang kong, water chestnut, duckweed...

I could use some more ideas for what we might be growing there. 

Designing this property is going to be both challenging and fun and I cannot wait to be there and get started on it.
112th-ave-Fennville-google-Earth.jpg
[Thumbnail for 112th-ave-Fennville-google-Earth.jpg]
 
Peter Ellis
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Location: Central New Jersey
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The boring part of these things - we have a POD in the driveway and we have started packing into it.  Today I got most of the stuff out of my leathercrafting room packed in.  Still have a bunch of stuff to organize and pack out from there. More than twenty years of stuff in this house to manage and get packed away.  Using the PODS both for interim storage while we get the house in Jersey sold and then for the actual move out to Michigan. At that end we'll get a shipping container and unload the PODs into the container.

I've given my employers notice that I am retiring, but that the date is uncertain, depending on when we sell the house.  Going to be leaving behind some good friends, But in this day and age, the internet let's us stay in close contact even from the other side of the world.  And there are family and friends on the Michigan end of the move too.

Our property falls outside the coverage area of LIDAR.  Finding topographical data for this property is proving difficult.  Lots of ideas but not enough information yet to work on anything. 
 
Dan Boone
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Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
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Peter Ellis wrote:The area under the power lines is currently the only open land, so garden and pasture will, initially, need to go there.


New land is such an adventure! 

I quoted the above bit, though, on the very small chance you had not already considered how they keep that area open.  Here in Oklahoma when they clear under power lines, they also spray a long-lasting herbicide.  It's supposed to be specific to trees, which obviously you would not be wanting to plant under power lines anyway.  But you might check on what they actually use there before you start gardening in it too heavily.  There might be borderline items like woody shrubs that would be suitable for growing on the easement but which would be affected by the tree poison. 
 
Peter Ellis
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Thanks for that reminder, Dan.  We're already planning on asking the utility to let us take care of maintaining the right of way.  Now we'll have to remember to check with them about what their practice has been.
 
Peter Ellis
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We made our way out to the land on Sunday and roughly laid out the area for the driveway.  The wet weather since August has resulted in at least a doubling of the underbrush on the property.  Turns out one of the major nuisances is Smilax, and it has some edible value. Not nearly enough to justify putting up with anywhere near as much of it as we have   There were also an enormous number and variety of mushrooms, one of which is either a coral or one of the lion's mane family.  Will require more careful study than we had opportunity for this trip.

There is at least one very dead, very large tree that has got to come down.  Any suggestions on taking down a tree about three feet in diameter, 70 feet tall and very, very, rotten dead?
 
Peter Ellis
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Been some major developments since I last posted.  We put the house on the market and had two bids the first day. We're in contract with a closing date of 2/13/17.  Which leads to our moving to western Michigan in the middle of February, the heart of winter Probably going to need a short term rental when we get out there while we get a driveway cut in and find a travel trailer to put on the driveway once it's there.
 
Ray Moses
Posts: 97
Location: Brighton, Michigan
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Just plan ahead for weather, lake effect snow are real common over there but the winter is by no means unbearable over there, the roads are good and the weather warms up early in the year. That is a real nice place in the state to live. West Michigan has so much going for it. Just was over there for the state Farm Bureau convention, we love it over there. A lot of major nurseries over there also to get stock from.
 
Marisol Dunham
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Location: Far South Coast, NSW
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Enjoy it, western MI is a beautiful area and you'll love it as long as you love winters.
 
Eddie Conna
Posts: 88
Location: Los Angeles for now, Maybe Idaho soon...
tiny house
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Look into building an underground house.  I've done it, and I'd never live above ground if I had the option.

You end up with a home that's virtually disaster proof, costs little to nothing to heat and cool, and has a huge reduction in annual maintenance.  There are numerous styles and types.

Calearth.org for sandbag homes.

formworksbuilding.com for dome shaped underground concrete domes.

And many more.

 
Peter Ellis
Posts: 1432
Location: Central New Jersey
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We're getting closer.  And getting more nervous as the closing date nears but confirmation of the buyers' mortgage has yet to be heard.  Tomorrow is my last day on my job of 28 years, meaning both that we'e free to head to Michigan and that our primary source of income is ending.  We have to close on schedule, or it gets bad pretty fast ;(

On the other hand, we've got an excavator lined up for when we get out there to meet and discuss the driveway, we've got lines on travel trailers and a farm truck, chickens, ducks, rabbits, pigs and goats are all routinely available in the area on craigslist and we are really eager to get out there and get started.
 
Miles Flansburg
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Great news Peter, I am looking forward to seeing pictures of your project!
 
Peter Ellis
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Location: Central New Jersey
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We have been in Michigan for about ten days now, but not yet living on our property.  Need to get a driveway installed, but things move more slowly out here.  A week after meeting with one contractor, we still don't have a bid.  A second contractor couldn't come out for a site visit because his people are off on spring break.  We've purchased a travel trailer, which we can't get on the land until the driveway is there. We've applied for a street number, but that had to be done along with a septic and well permit application and this also does not move quickly - no less than 21 days to process. There are some further things we would like to get done that are going to require having an actual street address (changing our drivers' licenses and being able to buy our truck(s)).

We've marked off the western property boundary line and roughly marked the area to clear for the house and our craft studios.  Clearing underbrush in that area has started. Right now, the biggest problem in moving the ball forward is that we're staying with my Mother-in-law on the opposite side of the state, a three hour drive one way from our land.
 
Peter Ellis
Posts: 1432
Location: Central New Jersey
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We've been doing some work clearing the ground for the house.  We've taken some video as we have been working.  Here's a link to a little walking tour showing some of the land and the views from our planned house site.  
 

Today we have a meeting with the county official for well and septic.  Property has, we were told by the seller, previously passed a perc test in the area we plan on putting the house.
 
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