Lots of questions! I tried to keep it organized so I could get to them all. I'm going to post another reply or two by the end of the day with some more pictures to make some of this clearer...
Glenn Herbert wrote:
First, I would like to know what interval the big contour lines on your map represent. It doesn't seem very slopey... 10'?
20ft intervals, from USGS Topo Maps. (The northeast and thickest line is 700', and the stream bed around 620' at the southern tip of the plot. I'm in the process of having a surveyor come soon to get a more precise picture. It also turns out that we have a subdivided plot of land up the western edge of the runoff stream, which could be a good pond site, and could also offer access from the north road.
How big is the creek next to the field, does it run year round, and how rocky and deep is its bed? Can you tell how big the worst floods in it have been?
The creek almost totally dries up in the peak of summer, at least from what I remember as a kid and from what my father tells me. It is somewhat boggy most of the year, as there isnt a super-dominant stream path when it isn't in full force like it was a month or more ago. The entire strip is bounded on both sides by rock walls. (I'm going to make another post with some pics highlighting some more features)
Is the red line a path or trail from the house to the field, or a proposed road?
It's currently a footpath through the woods, almost big enough to drive through, but it isn't connected to the main driveway- there's a rock wall in the way (that could be changed). I think for road access to a site near the field, coming from the northern edge road and coming down from the higher point of the property may be a more readily available way to get to the field. I like the idea of a road in about the same position as the footpath, but that may have to be a longer term project after I clear a lot of the dead wood and thin out some of the infected trees.
Do the neighbors, at least one of whom look to be landlocked, have a legal right of way along their common edge with your upper tongue of woods, or is it all informal?
As of yet I don't exactly know. Until now noone has spent much time in the field and adjacent area to their property- the land is boggy as I said above and when the forest isn't totally barren you kind of forget they're there.
Is the road near the big creek at the bottom of your land good for access? Is that creek too big to easily bridge, or too regulated to do it without hassle?
There is a small bridge at the southern boundary of our plot, and small stretch where building a bridge to gain access to the field from the south could work- but I think that's a longer-term project (at least a couple years from now).
As for regulations, I'm looking in to it a little more. There is some bad erosion along the road, and I want to explore some more of the grants that seem to be available for stream bed restoration and maintenance. Anyone who has experience with this, let me know! There is a sizable pond a few hundred yards north of the plot on the other side of the road, which feeds the western creek (Peters Kill) year-round.
Do your far future plans include using the existing house for something, or might you want to separate it and concentrate on fresh development?
Yes, although how and for what is still pretty up in the air. The family's use of the property going forward is an ongoing conversation we're having. I want to try to turn the garage into an office/workshop of sorts, as we may be able to put a greenhouse adjacent to it in the future.
I want to focus on an independent site so that I can have my own space to settle in to, but also want to inoculate the original site with as much permaculture as I can as to take advantage of the fencing, access, and height of the developed area. I will be starting on hugel beds this next week by the pool, east and uphill from the main house. I just picked up some seeds to try and get a few vegetables and herbs going for when i finish the beds.
You have a nice looking field, and it would be somewhat of a waste to use it for house building when you have a lot of scrub woodland next to it.
Thanks! I'm not really planning on anything too permanent for now- I don't see myself building anything all that big for at least a year or two, once I've planted some more and and gotten a better feel for everything. I think where you're thinking (just west of the southwest corner of the field, across the creek, is where I'll end up putting my semi-permanent 'campsite'. It's pretty secluded (being on the other side of the ridgeline from the house) and is pretty centrally located to the rest of the site. I may have to apply some drainage fixes to make the path across the creek to keep it field-accessible though.