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Things you wish you knew when you started

 
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My wife and I are moving to Washington State (specifically the Olympic Penninsula) in a few weeks, and we're really interested in doing some sort of homesteading that uses permaculture as its foundation. We both have some growing experience, but a lot of it is at a hobbyist and theoretical level (ex - gardening in our backyard and theory via classes). Although, to be fair, I think we do a good job with the space that we have.

We'd be really grateful to hear any of your stories about things that you wish you knew when you were first starting. Also, if you have any recommendations for resources that would help a newbie that would be sorely welcome too.

For now, we're looking to keep it simple and just start with vegetables and hopefully mushrooms. Eventually, though I'd love to start raising goats and chickens.

As for our background, I have an engineering background with computers and software and some decent carpentry experience (mostly functional tables, shelving, and framing but no structures yet). I'm actually working on software right now to help farms sell directly to restaurants and other customers so that could come in handy eventually. My wife has a soil science background mostly related to composting, and she has a pretty excellent theoretical knowledge (and some practical experience) with beyond-organic growing methodologies from a series of classes that she took at a local farm in San Diego. We have about 100k saved up so we figure that should give us a good headstart, but it would amazing to hear from the people who've been there already.
 
pollinator
Posts: 2615
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
193
forest garden solar
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For me it would be starting at the foundation aka the soil (observation/planning, earthworks/swales, carbon/woodchip, soil life/worm tea, mineral/rockdust, cover crop/80% legume)

Inputs:
$600,000 in bank loan for land and house
$100,000 in cash for support systems

I am not too sure how much house and land you can get for $600,000 in loans, put lets say 1 to 3 acres and a 6 room house (3 bedroom 'could be 2 bdrm + 1 study, etc", 1 living room, 1 kitchen, 1bathroom+laundry/mechroom)

Now how to spend the $100,000 for homesteading/permaculture stuff and what is the number value I would associate it with
Soil
1) Swales
2) Carbon/biochar/woodchip/strawbale
3) Soil Life/Mushroom Slurries/Worm Tea
4) Mineral/Rockdust/Sea90
5) Cover Crop/Dutch Clover+Herbs

Food
A) Vegetable Garden
B) Herb Garden
C) Mushroom "Garden" (Wine Cap, Oyster, etc, etc)
D) Berries
E) Fruit Tree
F) Nut (Instead of picking and eating famine/war time grass seeds, I prefer nut seed)

Animals
1) Honey Bee Hive
2) Chicken/Eggs
3) Fish Pond
4) Milk/Meat from Goat/Sheep...pasture

Outdoor Kitchen
* solar dehydrator
* rocket stove
* rocket stove-Oven
* Rocket Stove-Grill
* Haybox Slow Cooker
* Canning Station
* Solar Cooker (check out GoSun esp their new Fusion model)
* Outdoor seating/living room and such is a really nice idea you can make it look very nice

Infrastructure
* Greywater system
* Better Sewer System that filters out nitrogen and phosphates
* Solar Electric
* Water Procurement and Filter System

Greenhouse
* Hoop House
* Lean to
* 4 season
* solar pit greenhouse.
 
gardener
Posts: 2970
Location: Central Texas zone 8a
637
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In terms of homesteading, dont get carried away with animal quantities.  12 chickens will give you ruffly 12 eggs a day for most of the year. 3 may be a better number for you when determining what you actually  need.

What ruminant you raise should be the one you are willing to eat. We taste tested sheep before we got sheep. If you think you want goats, go eat one. I cant stress enough to do this.  I'm bringing it up because you stated "homesteading". To me this is providing for yourself through the land.

Something i heard paul say resonated with me and fits with permaculture. "Feed yourself first". The value of what you raise or grow is so much better if it goes in your gut than to sell it. But it can be interpreted into other things. Like beekeeping. If you take what you need in honey for yourself, there is very little disturbance or inputs needed for your bees. Its when you decide "im gonna be rich, im gonna sell honey!" Is when things go to shit. The manipulation starts and the bees suffer. Same goes for ruminants cause money means stocking more which leads to more inputs.

Homesteading is such a beautiful thing if you keep it as that. You can eat happy eggs, happy lambchops, happy turkeys.  I hope both of you can view it in this manner. Yes its sad to take them down. But you treated them with respect and gave them that happy life. When you flip that around, understand that every chicken you eat that came from the normal channels was an unhappy chicken. Every chicken you dont buy through them is a another chicken they dont have to bring in to repeat the cycle.
 
S Bengi
pollinator
Posts: 2615
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
193
forest garden solar
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Another one is getting dwarf trees, as a kid I had no problem climbing 35ft trees and sitting in it for an hour or two eating fruits. I am super happy I was able to do that as a kid, but now that I am no longer a young lad am happy that most of my trees are 9ft or so and nothing over 20ft. The few that are in the 15ft-20ft range are a pain for me. At the homestead scale I like dwarf trees, and the farmstead scale it would be more and with silvopasture, I would want to keep the branches out of the reach of the animals so 25ft to 50ft trees.
 
pollinator
Posts: 458
Location: France, Burgundy, parc naturel Morvan
161
forest garden fish fungi trees food preservation cooking solar wood heat woodworking homestead
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I would say, go for it, but don't go crazy. Be realistic , changing house already is a big undertaking. Settle, stay with one thing at a time. Mushrooms and vegetable gardening are a good combination, because the waste of the mushrooms can be mulched and logs can be incorporated in hugel cultures. First for yourself and family and friends. When you know all the ins and outs, scale up and set up that computer program that cuts out the middle man, why not sell veggies to restaurants too?
Buy good quality tools, get to know some nice people that do permaculture and homesteading, see if you can get them to help or work for you or with you. Because people who are practical and work with their hands every day do things much quicker and more efficient than office people and people who are university level, in general speaking. They are different worlds. But they don't have a lot to invest in many cases, so with the right people both can benefit of each other.
Keep control, pace yourself, grow naturally. Enjoy!
 
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