We're getting closer to buying the land on which we'll build.
How did you guys do it, who chose to do it all yourselves?
We are just SO overwhelmed.
First, we have to clear the building site. But before we do that, we have to clear a 15' path for the electric. But before we do those two things, we have to find a temporary living solution (like a trailer) to live in and put it on the land. And when all those things are done, we have to have the wood delivered...but there are road restrictions in place at least to the end of May, so that'll have to wait.
OMG...just so overwhelmed with everything that HAS to be done, and has to be done in the right order.
A hand-built home adventure: gracebeneaththepines.com
I empathize! We did things remotely, from another state, and didn't build the house ourselves, but picked it from a catalog. We did everything in the wrong order and screwed up a bunch. It was overwhelming even without having to do the build ourselves. So I feel for you. Hang in there! I wish I had a lot of good advice. My only real advice is to plan, plan, plan before you commit to building or installing anything. Remember the order in which to proceed: 1. Water (earthworks, etc) 2. Access (roads, paths) 3. Structures (house, shop, barn, gardens, etc)
Welll...we won't have running water or a septic system for the first year. We'll be hauling water and using a composting toilet. Still haven't figured out a greywater solution as of yet.
Luckily, the driveway is already in place for the most part. There is a proper driveway leading to the building site, but it stops just after the property line. We are trying to change the land as little as possible, so we're entertaining simply building a narrow walkway from the end of the current driveway to our home, when it is built, and just hauling everything in.
Thank you so much for your input and your response. Just reading a response is validating!
A hand-built home adventure: gracebeneaththepines.com
Honestly, no person is any busier then anyone else...EVERYONE gets 24 hours in a day, so really it is what you do with those hours that count. It sounds like simple psychobabble, but it really is not. If some 600 pound overweight guy wants to spend all day watching funny cat videos on RuKu living in the basement of their Mom, that is their choice, but obviously it is not as productive as a homesteader who chooses to build their own house and farms for the good of their family. Both however have 24 hours in a day. So make your hours count.
I chose to farm and built my home from scratch using everything I could from the farm here. How have I managed? In two ways.
I prioritize. You cannot do it all at once; no way, no how, and it only leads to burnout. So I started small, lived frugally, debt-free and slowly made things better.
My wife and I also chose ONE big project per year and work on that so that we do not get burned out. One year it was clearing 12 acres of forest back into field, and another year it was building a 30 x 48 foot barn. This year it is building a gravel road and stopping erosion on a field. Onto their own they seem small, but over the last 22 years, they have added up to some really big changes, in particular the last 9 years.
I know it seems overwhelming today, but that is just because you are trying to rush to the end. Make living out the dream the pleasure, not the end result the pleasure. When I think of clearing my next pasture and how much work it is going to take, I get down in the dumps, but when I realize I am out in the woods, on my own land, working for myself, doing what I want and when I want; I am living a dream only few people realize in their lifetime. So live in the moment and try to find happiness there, not in a completed project.
As my neighbor once said, "It is amazing what people can accomplish in only a few years when someone takes an interest in agriculture." Farming is marked by long term investments in time; it is why it is different. Write down your plans so when burnout comes, you could look back at all that has been accomplished and say, "jeesh we have come a long ways."
Like Travis said: prioritize. And then just take it one step at a time. As the old saying goes, it's hard by the yard, but it's a cinch by the inch. Break down any huge, overwhelming task into smaller steps, and then put them in order. And then get started on Task 1.
We might be building next year, if we can't find a farm for sale that we like. Currently we're on an acre and want to move up to >5 acres, but there aren't a lot of promising properties on this island (that aren't being snapped up before we can buy them, arrgh!) so we are seriously considering building our farm now. So I feel you; it's a lot of stuff to plan for and carry out!
We just put in a gray water system on our little cottage on 1 acre. it was quite simple, really. We based it loosely off this design (running it through a bucket of chips and gravel for initial filtration, then out into a manmade wetland), adapting the components to fit our particular space and our needs. Now all gray water from our kitchen sink, dish washer, and washing machine flows out into our wetland/swale, which is outside our kitchen, and from there the water irrigates our brand-new veggie garden. Swale and garden are all right in the same place, so we didn't need to build in any complex system of pipes to get the water where it needs to go.
Since you won't have plumbing in yet, you can always adapt the "hillbilly sink" idea (where you drain a kitchen sink into a bucket below, and then dump the bucket as necessary)--instead of a bucket under the sink, why not run some ABS pipe out from your kitchen into your veggie garden? You can pass it through a natural filter system on the way.
I agree 100% with Joseph Lofthouse, not only in terms of being here, but also in terms of community. Now do not get me wrong, I try and build my house out of things I have on my farm. Because this is Maine, the most forested state in the nation, it means a lot of wooden products, but I happen to have a lot of slate here, so I have used that. But doing as much for yourself as you can does not mean being an island either.
One day while talking to my banker about what I thought was the farm's greatest asset, I said it was our longevity here. After talking a bit, she concluded it was actually the number of contacts we had. I now think she is right. What would we do if we ran out of hay for our sheep. I whipped off four or five names of farmers that we have helped over the years and in return I am sure they would help me in return. This year was a tough year and we found out we did need additional hay...and got it...on barter no less.
To that end, experience has shown me that the people that show up immediately at your door with picnic basket in hand are the ones to be wary of. They have ulterior motives and tend to be poking around for nosiness sake, but the neighbors that seem stand-off-ish, those are the ones that ultimately will help you out, can be relied upon, and are eager to help. They just want to see how hard you work, what your intentions are from a distance, and wait in patience. I have NEVER seen this not to hold true, so just be patient and open, and when you see an opportunity to talk to these people, do so. They have integrity and are not superficial.
And then there are farmers...yes big farmers. I am not one of them, I have a small family farm, but have a family engrossed in big dairy farming, at one time 5 dairy farms in the family with one 1200 cow farm. Rest assured they will help you out when the chips are down too. I know they might seem intimidating, and maybe people do not agree with the way they farm, but big farms know there is no future without start-up farms and they will help out. So never feel afraid to ask, you would be surprised at what they might do for you. (Moving things with bigger equipment, selling some livestock at cheap prices, giving you medications for livestock in the middle of the night, dispensing advice for sick animals, etc).
So while I TRY to do as much for myself as I can, I also know that I cannot do it all. I know there is help out there, if only I ask for it...
Joseph and Travis are right on target. Community beats Lone Wolf hands down.
I have not long ago found out just how true Travis' observations are myself. The first to our door to welcome us are the first we have had issues with since, while the lady down the road who we barely saw is now our closest friend and we are working well together. As for what you should be reading, you have already found the best resource when you came to permies.com. I read a lot and there is great information available out there but the ability to carry on a conversation with people actively practicing the concepts is far more valuable to people like us just getting started. Spend some time browsing the forum here and like myself, you will find plenty of real life, location specific information and great people to guide you on your journey.
Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work -Peter Drucker
Also, a little applied psychology: I know all too well how it feels to be saying "I have to do C, but first B has to be done, but before B can be started, there's A...". That is backtracking phrasing designed to stress a person out! You can be kinder to yourself by choosing the A-B-C phrasing of natural progression.
When you put your trailer on the land, you'll have a waterproof, windproof, cleanable and presumably heatable tent to camp from, that's off the ground so it won't be damp and rocky. Could even be homey. The weather will be getting warmer as the season progresses, and you can watch your land getting greener and leafier and more beautiful, with no effort from you; and you can expand your living space outside, perhaps with pleasant al fresco dining and grilling. Water is nearby, an odourless compost toilet serves you, and at worst a hillbilly sink drain bucket for selective watering. Voila, the essentials, and maybe even an abundance of the necessities, and some rustic luxury, if you look at it that way.
You guys have over a month to clear a path for the power, and for the building spot. At the same time that you're doing that, you are by default also cutting fence poles, and firewood for future winters, giving yourself a head start on those tasks that you'll thank yourselves for. A lot can be done in a month; and living onsite, there won't be any commute to eat up time. Evenings can be spent elaborating on and delighting in your house plans--not as a "have to" activity, but as a "want to".
Come the end of May, when the frost is out of the ground and the load limits are lifted, you'll be ready to buckle down on the house, full of enthusiasm, with your plans reviewed and refined.
All will be well. Just don't expect a fully functional permaculture homestead by the end of 2017. (And if somehow you pull that off, I DON'T want to hear about it! :greenface: )
I hate to suggest throwing technology at the problem, but you evidently use a computer (you're posting here), so perhaps a GANTT charting tool will help you keep track of what needs to happen when and what's dependent on what. For an example (free for a single-project user like yourself), check out this tool (which I found via Google; I'm not a user, nor affiliated): https://ganttpro.com/ At the very least, the intro video will give you some idea of what this sort of tool does.
My 30 acres was bought by my dad while I was in the military and he passed away and I paid of the remaining balance on the land so my mom could continue living on it with out having to move off. I had no clue what I was going to do with it, so it sat a few years then I thought I would at least start seeding the land to get it looking better and so I started looking for ideas on what to do and stumbled on this site and others sites. I finally moved out to the land 2014 and started observing more where water flowed in rain due to no running or sitting ponds on it. This year 2017 is the first year I have really started doing more and plan to keep improving till I can get the land with flowing water and trees.
It is expensive to start from scratch! First water, a well? How deep? Drillers cost by the foot. Then power...solar? Expensive. Grid tie? You need poles or a transformer, underground, you need excavation. You may need to look at a property that was once developed, burned down, or just trashed. The infrastructure is very costly. You need septic? Engineered, permitted and inspected. Believe me, government wants their cut!
I went the way on raw land and it costs a bundle! I bought an energy star rated manufacturer home, it still cost me way more than I expected. Government wants their take!!!
I suggest looking at delapidated homes first. Infrastructure already there and in the long run will save you tons of money overall to get moving on your dream! I was like lucky and had enough saved up to cover unforeseen costs (no kids ...lol). Building departments and assessors
now use google earth to see what was and what is when assessing taxes.
No occupation is more delightful than the culture of earth and no culture as comparable as that of the garden.