Jami McBride

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since Aug 29, 2009
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Recent posts by Jami McBride

Hey Hunter - not sure what 'help' you are asking for..... but if you will give the age & breed of this sow, plus your goals for a pig purchase I'm sure Permies People would be happy to share their views.
8 years ago
Welcome to you all . . . .

It's good to have you here

I asked this same question of a professional pole building contractor here in wet Oregon. He said for extra support he likes to use a cement collar (a ring of cement around the top section of the pole). This ring would be tapered several inches above ground for water run off (if necessary) and to keep soil from the wood where it meets the ground. In Oregon water gets into the wood, but is able to escape as the cement collar is only 10" deep. Then as you say, rock is used beneath and around for good drainage. The cement collar is a bit more ridged than the rock so it helps strengthen the large poles used in horse barns, etc. I did some searching and found other types of pole collars, as well as using wood or metal beams to cross brace poles. If you are interested in more details of how the bracing is done just let me know and I will go into more detail. Apparently this bracing was how it was done in the old days.
8 years ago

alex wiz wrote:Jami, how much money did you all spend to get established on your homestead?
How much time did it take to get reasonably established?
What do you do for income?

Not much, just a down payment, but then I was in debt. I started out debit free and renting - I planned it so my utilities were cut in half and my house payment was $250 less than my old monthly rent. So my over all expenses when down from $300 - $400 a month just to move out to land My income increased from animal breeding and sales. This was just part of my plan, the rest was to set up solar fencing and back up for my pump house, and to raise all my own food. I've taken a good bite out of my grocery bill and doing better all the time. But I don't live off grid - this is one of the things I'm working toward, to have back up systems in place for all things I rely on now.

The time needed is crazy, I've never worked so hard so long with a never ending list of things I'm not getting to. But I'm under staffed here so it's not surprising that things move very slow. It's a great diet - the country life.

I have worked for myself, part-time from home, doing small programming jobs since 1997 - I could work more, but then it would cut into my life I NEED high speed internet - and electricity to run my electronics consistently.
Now I bring in money from the animal sales just so I can deduct 'farm expenses' this helps with all the things I purchase to work this land.

I could have done much more radical things like off-grid homesteading when I was in my twenties, but I am of an age now I do want I can with what I have, more than some less than others. But for me, I'd never be without some kind of power. I shoot for off grid back-up options to make my homestead self reliant. I heat with my own wood, and my electric is between $50-$100. My next step is to get past generators and add more solar. Wind and water power are not options for me where I'm at now.

Regarding the garage by the road -

Brainstorming ideas for the placement of buildings, roads, etc and land use is a great idea.... Every blue-moon I have to have my septic tank emptied (or at least I should *grin* it's been 5 years) and my well may require some parts replaced before I leave this land. These are just two examples of why you may require some type of road big enough for trucks to have access on your land. I know in Oregon fire trucks have to have certain amounts of access if you have a loan on the property and build on it, but of course this is all code regulations. I am very thankful for my roads here in muddy Oregon, but you may be able to get by without making any - like if you live in the Southwest, or plan on walking to your homestead. Just do your due diligence and you'll know what is best for your situation and goals.

8 years ago
Wow, you've done a lot of work . . . .

I have a couple of reality-checks from my perspective/experience -

First off, neighbors. You mention this requirement a couple of times - the odds of getting decent, reasonable, friendly and helpful neighbors, are not good. Add to that the fact that you won't know about what you got in the grab-bag of your purchase until circumstances test you and your neighbors. You can try to analyze your future neighbors before buying - use google maps to view said property and how the neighbors property and house/buildings line up around your possible purchase. No line of sight is very nice. Check easements, and shared roadways. Check if any of their property stands between you and a resource such as a waterway or main road access. If on a hill check what the up-hill neighbor is doing with their land before it comes close to the property your considering. And look at how they are using their land. The one's without fences, encouraging deer/wildlife and not keeping any animals of their own are type (1), the ones who don't work at all, don't work the land and don't need/care to do either are type (2) these are the troublemakers for everyone else in my area. Enough said.

Example 1: Met another permaculture guy down the road a few miles from me when he came to buy my pigs and sheep. He has just bought an old sheep farm of 40ac and was in the process of living the dream, my animals were his first jump into livestock.
He has since had neighbors shoot at his place, and kill one of his sheep, spray roundup past their shared fence line killing off vegetation way into his land, and this nasty looking neighbor and his two grown nasty sons glare as they pass by. They are of type (1)
This is land in a farming valley, been used for farming and livestock forever.... but. I have personally found that country folk are much more aggressive and invasive than city folk dare. I've been wondering about the psychology of this for a while now.

Next item, WATER - rain fall, snow, rain shadow, etc. are all nice, but having your own underground steady water source is #1 on my list. A creek/river with water rights is okay, but as you pointed out your at the mercy of the upstream owners. A spring, up-hill would be the gold standard of land finds, or if a creek originates on your land.

Land Orientation - In my case at 43 latitude my land is sloped facing south, without any natural blockage.

Mixed Land - some slopped, some flattish, some wet, some dry. Trees are a super resource as you know

Have water and soil tested - I know it's a pain, but. My water has a lot of iron, not a big issue. However, people in the valley below me have dangerous levels of boron in all of their water - yikes. People in the valley east of the nearest small town have naturally occurring arsenic in all of their ground water. They find it very hard to sell because Banks won't loan on such land. Not all dangers come from man made sources.

To sum up, neighbors are a wildcard factor. Not much you can do about it, and they haven't made a mail-in test kit for them yet....
Water is King, so having at least a good source to start out before all your water-works and storage are in place is such a blessing.... and may be the thing that makes or breaks your dreams. Remember: water is a natural solvent, always seeking to balance it's self.
Look at land through your permaculture eyes - you'll want gravity hills and rises, places for collection, a mixed bag of features and resources for you to capitalize on and add to.

Going off grid is a whole other conversation --------------------------------------

For this I'd say moving water would be awesome!
Off grid doesn't have to mean completely without power, just providing it for one's self sustainably- IMO.

There's a thread on Dirt Road Maintenance here you may want to look at for DIY tips.

I'm not sure if you mentioned, but what area are you looking in?

8 years ago

Hans Quistorff wrote:A maintenance trick is to take an old bed frame and weight it with some logs. Fasten a chain to the ends so that it tows at about a 30 degree angle. Drive slowly as close to the edge as you can so the the surface is swept to the center of the road. Then drive back on the other side. This works best when the road is damp [not wet or dusty] and there is time before the next storm to pack it by driving the same as when you were grading it to pack it properly. other people will drive down the center and pack the ruts. If you personally always drive with with the drivers side wheel in the center of the road you will be surprised at how much longer it will last between maintenance.

I like the 45 degree drains under the road. What is often done with driveways on slope here is to build a 2x4 'U' channel and put it across the road at an angle to keep water from running down the ruts and washing them deeper.

I will have to look into these U channels -

I also drive on our main road like you say, one tire on the crown and one on the side keeping out of the normal ruts. But the driveway road on my place is flat, and most of it is working great even though I'm sure it could use some rock in places. That reminds me, does anyone have suggestions for keeping new loose rock from getting moved off road. I imagine applying it when the ground is soft and then compacting it would help, walking on a loose rock is so annoying.

Here are the pictures I promised - I hope they help. It hasn't been raining today, but it was last night. Water is flowing in my hand-dug ditch, but the entire low-area is not flooded just a puddle or two - so that's a big improvement. However, when lots of rain is coming down the entire area up to the berm of my ditch is flooded in 2" of water. The animal areas across the driveway are very mucky this year. I put them there because it did have rock and was very solid and nice one year ago.... In the last picture, all that muck used to be my looped driveway, but it's a steady down-hill until it flattens out just before connecting with that other bit of road in the first pictures. I have much more road, a large parking area and road to my pump house, but these are the only places that are in need of help - so I guess it's not to bad :-)

8 years ago

Brett Hammond wrote:So in this case, the key is ELEVATION, and KNITTED 2-INCH stone. If you build up your driveway 12 inches higher than surrounding soil, with a gradual slope on the sides of the driveway down to ground level (or ditch) so you don't have mini landslides, it doesn't matter if the driveway is saturated at the bottom or not. Because the top 12 inches will drain after rain and provide a solid base (on top of the saturated mush subsoil) that will stay solid, provided you keep the water level always 12 inches below the top of your driveway. Don't allow the water to build up along side your driveway or everything will sink. This is why a culvert under your driveway, from the ditch you dig between your hill and driveway, to the other side of your driveway,  is important: to keep the water level ALWAYS 12 inches lower than the top of your driveway. AT ALL TIMES, ON ALL SIDES.

Make your driveway at least 13 feet wide so your vehicles are not putting pressure on the sides, and slop sides 40 degrees or less, from the drive down to the ground (or ditch) along side. The wider the drive, and shallower the slope, the more it will stand up to weather. One advantage to making all slopes gradual, other than lasting much longer, is that it is easier to mow any grass that grows there.

#4 - KNITTED STONES. Stones smaller than 2 inches will not last very long in a driveway. A few big stones will not last very long and will eventually sink. I put down some bricks in old pot holes and were sunk into the mud in less than a year. 12 inch chunks of concrete sunk here. If you dump a pile of 2 inch or bigger stones into mud, then will eventually sink.

The key is allowing 2-inch stone to KNIT in large numbers, and create a matt to drive on. If you put 4 inches (or more) of 2-inch stone on your whole circle drive, on top of a 12 inch base of packed dirt, the stones will knit together before sinking (provided you put the stone on dry dirt base). Never dump any size stone on top of mud unless it is an emergency and you have deep pockets, because it will sink. When the stones have time to knit together (on a dry base), there is a lot of friction between a stone and its neighbor on all sides. This side friction prevents the stone from sinking, and spreads the pressure from your vehicle out over a very large footprint. The double layer (4 inches of 2 inch stone) has a second layer that will spread that weight over an even larger area, and the 12 inches of packed dirt, even more area. So by the time the weight of your vehicle reaches the mushy sublayer 12 inches down (actually 16 inches if you count the 4 inch of stone), it is dispersed so much that nothing sinks. If you can afford more than 4 inches, then do 6 inches of stone to be extra safe. I did 4 inches of 2 inch stone over a dry base of dirt, and it works fine. My driveway fill dirt, is mostly sand, which everyone told me would not pack well and my vehicle would sink into it when it rained. But with the knitted stone on top, it is fine.

I already kind of used your idea of building up - for my hay storage tent. I had an area just above where the water is standing on my driveway now, up toward the house. This area has a large oak tree near the road and always became swampy at the back near the hill. So I had a dump truck load of washed 2" rock dumped there, sloping up from my road, about 3' deep and meeting the hillside. This is where the last 20' of french drain was buried. On this I put my pallets and car canopy. It has worked out great, so high and dry - a perfect hay barn, easy to load just off the driveway.

I cannot widen my driveway in at least one of the bad areas - the one where the cow walks is hemmed-in by large trees and pole fencing.

All my my oak-park (the center of my loop driveway) is gently slopping and has no problems. Even my road on the up-hill side is higher while my road on the down-hill side is lower - so the rain is moving without causing any issues to the roads. The area the cow walks through is a bit lower than the part where the fencing is - so bringing it up higher in that section sounds like the answer.

Thanks for all the detailed reply ~

I'll take some pictures and post

8 years ago

Cristo Balete wrote:Since your French drain can't drain anywhere else, is there a way to move it even 18 inches? If where it drains is level, road fabric or even weed block fabric and large crushed rock would help.

Funny you should say this - the second guy I hired to put in my french-drain was suppose to continue the ditch and rock all the way, but stopped at the drain part. It was a big job and he was out here for many hours, maybe he bid the job wrong, but I couldn't get him back out by then he was to busy with other jobs.

LOL - yes, my daughter and I went out during a downpour and dug a trench starting at the end of the french-drain rock (a bit up slope) to end right at the bad area that has standing water. The next day we dug a fish-pound to hold even more water, but it only helps a little.
From here we are at our front gate and the main road, so no where to go - at least not this winter. The french-drain end was flooding better section of road, but past that it went right into the cow tent (very bad) so I had to move it further down the driveway no options.

Cristo Balete wrote: You don't want it slowing down while in the driveway section, even if it's seeping after a heavy rain.

You've got that right..... but I'm in a pickle now with this extra water coming into this area that was already in use cow/car/truck. So I have some earthworks in my near future for sure.

But before I start anything *grin* I do need to learn about roads and best practices. That's where you all are helping me loads.

And I'm going to use this information to help with redesigning the cows common areas.
8 years ago
Awh Brett, you must have been posting as I was

I agree - raise the road above the soaked land! And your right, the guy that does the road around here lives in the neighborhood and puts down what we call quarter minus - dust + small rock, and all it does is sink. But this guy is liked and respected so he has job security.
8 years ago
I'm learning a lot Thanks everyone.....

One issue with my driveway is that it is perpendicular to a steep uphill incline. My buildings/driveway are on a wide pad cut into a slopping hill. So all that winter sub-water is moving down and past my driveway to continue down hill. Add to this that the french drain empties into this area and there are no better places for it to empty to, just worse. I'd like to put in a few cisterns to pump surface water into from this area for summer watering but that's a big dream. The driveway in this area isn't that bad, but it's starting to have surface puddles during rains, and be a little soft with tire groves showing. This area is as long as a small truck, and a bit lower than the rest of the road and up-hill land. I think some large rock in this section along with some shallow surface water draining might suffice.

The area of my looping driveway I'm here to learn how to fix is where my daughter has to walk her dairy cow to get to the milking stanchion/tent. Everything worked great last winter (year 1), but this year that section of my circular driveway is a muddy bog - where did my rock go! I can actually get stuck with spinning tires in this area now, and so I have not been able to use this turn around. This area started out as 'rocked' as the rest of my road, so I'm learning that animal traffic is a big factor on all land, even when rocked.

I'm so glad to learn that the soft-squishy muck needs to be removed first - that helps a lot. And I like the idea of using the fabric under permanent animal housing or buildings.

Where I'm at - just digging ditches isn't always the right answer - for one it can call to more water, so ditches need to be only as deep as the surface you want to help drain. Any deeper and you will collect water that moves well under your road, in the subsoil. In winter our soil is 100% saturated. Another part of my problem in dealing with water coming to my driveway is if I send it out to the roadside I have to go under the main road to get to the uphill of the road where the ditching is hit and miss and I'd have to improve that too. On my side of the road there are no ditches, my land is lower and flat coming off the main road.

Venting Here - it's a big construction project to properly fix my driveway and the main road in front of my property. Now moving about 250-ish feet toward the back of my property is a seasonal creek where all of this could be sent to (in theory) - I just find it all very overwhelming (the construction parts). It sounds so easy - just hire someone! I find that they can't do what they don't understand, and won't do what they don't agree with, $700 later lesson learned. Okay venting over - sigh....

8 years ago