Tasha Snoddy

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since Mar 07, 2017
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Recent posts by Tasha Snoddy

You've gotten some great advice here. Expectations, being open with yours, etc. It sounds like you guys are at a transitional faze and I'm  sure that brings a lot of stress. It also sounds like you're very frustrated and that can sometimes lead to exponential frustration over everything and I'd bet he is feeling that if you're anything like me.

The helpful thing I have found is to try very hard to step back and see what he is feeling. It sounds opposite to getting what you want, but it's very helpful in realizing how best to motivate him to help you. I know I get wrapped around the axle about things and become so focused on what I want that I sometimes totally neglect what he needs. Did that a lot this past year and it only made things worse. Once I knew what he wanted/needed I found that in helping him with that it made me way happier and we were able to communicate better and work together better. Showing him respect and gratitude for unrelated things you like does loads to help our relationship (everybody enjoys respect and gratitude...even when we feel like they don't deserve it in a certain area). And I notice he started doing the same thing towards me. People say "well why do you have to be the first one or why do you have to make all the effort?" I can only say that in changing my mindset it changes his and worked way better than I expected versus forcing him to see it my way.

I hope you take this as just what worked/works for us... and not as some kind of cut on your frustration. I'd be pretty frustrated by what you described as well. Best of luck!
7 years ago
I definitely want to build one of these, but all of the links for the plans stopped working 4/1/17.  Is there another place to find these plans?
7 years ago

Tyler Ludens wrote:Study the basics of permaculture design to help decide where to put the house and other features:  https://permies.com/t/55751/Permaculture-design-basics

That is very helpful, thank you! I'm trying to soak it all in and integrate all the ideas I've had through learning... and realizing that there is just so much more to learn! Daunting at times, but I love it.
7 years ago

Daron Williams wrote:
1. Observe your place - I would highly recommend taking some time to walk around your place and just observe and watch it. Specifically, look for signs of wet areas - not just streams but areas that get flooded in the winter, etc. Also, make sure you know where the cold winter winds come from and where the winds come from in general. Look for changes in soil type as you move around. Also, try to see if you can see signs of wildlife trails - putting a fruit tree in the middle of a deer trail would not be a great idea unless you really want to fence it off. You will also want to identify where the sunniest areas are in both the winter and summer. There are more things to look for but I hope that gives you a place to start.

  • For my place I determined that the winds normally come from the south / southwest but on the coldest day the winds come out of the north. There is a seasonal stream flowing through my property - There was not water when I moved in but I could tell by the vegetation and other patterns in the land that water had to be there a fair bit of the time. I also found a couple low points in other areas of my property that are also wet during much of the year. Most of my soils turned out to be mostly clay but some of it is more gravely. In regards to wildlife I found what I call the coyote highway where a pack of them travel through weekly - bad place for a chicken coop! Just a bit of what I observed while walking around my property.

  • 2. Establish your zones - Just encase you need more info on permaculture zones I would check this out: Permaculture Zones. Based on your observations you should establish your general zones. This will help you decide where the garden should go and where the livestock will go and what sort of infrastructure you may need and where to put it.
  • I'm still figuring out the zones for my place - it is not always black and white in regards to the boundaries. For my place I'm debating what areas will be restored to a natural state and what areas will be kept in full production.

  • 3. Determine your water and soil situation - This may also impact your zone layout. Water and soil will be your biggest limiting factors in regards to gardening and any other production. If your soil is degraded then growing plants that improve soil fertility would be very important. This will also increase the water retention ability of your soil. There are a lot of features that you can install to capture more water - swales, ponds, etc. and other earthworks such as berms that can help. There are a lot of information on these features in these forums. If your soils are poor then building hugelkultur beds could be a great way to improve the soil overtime and increase water retention.
  • I like to break my water features into two categories - active and passive. Active water features are those like drip systems, sprinklers, etc. Passive water features are swales, ponds, etc. Both have to be installed/constructed but passive water features rely on natural processes instead of me turning on a sprinkler system. I prefer passive systems since they work on their own regardless of if I'm present or not. But passive features can take more thought / time to setup initially than active features. For my place I also determined that my soil is heavily lacking in organic material so I'm trying to do everything I can to improve this and will be relying heavily on mulch and hugelkultur beds.

  • 4. Setup any necessary infrastructure - It can be very hard to do much if you don't have the proper infrastructure to do the work. This might be as simple as a shed or much more complex.
  • My place does not have a garage and only had a small shed when I moved in. The first thing I did was put in another small shed to hold some of my tools so they would be out of the weather. Next year I hope to build a much larger shed with an attached greenhouse so I can more easily do some DIY projects and grow my own plants from seed. This will save me money in the long run and will enable me to do a lot more projects than I can now. For example, I don't have a place to store scrap wood at the moment but the new shed will have a place for that.

  • 5. Plant your perennials/support species first, annuals second - I would focus on your perennials and support species first since these can have the greatest impact on your property at the start. But a lot of annuals can function as support species and greatly improve your land. Depending on where your land is in regards to soil health you might get more bang for your buck by establishing cover crops of annuals first to steadily improve the soil. Also, if you are planning on providing food for your family and need to do that early than the garden may be a first priority over fruit trees. But if you want to plant fruit trees it is good to get them in early since it will take time for them to be productive - this also applies to other edible perennials.
  • For myself getting perennial plants in along a busy road that borders my property and along a dirt road that I share with my neighbor so we could have some privacy has been my biggest concern. It is cheaper for me to establish a living fence than to put in a regular fence but it takes a bit more work and a lot more time to get it established. This made it a priority for me to do first. Next on my list is working on improving the soil over the rest of my property. This will be done a bit each year and depending on the long term goal for the area I will use different methods. This is where establishing zones is useful - I know that my main kitchen garden area will need more work to make sure the soils are in top shape than the far northern zone 5 part of my property. In the zone 5 part I'm going to plant native plants and let them slowly improve the soil with less intervention on my part. The kitchen garden will get inputs of mulch and compost each year for at least the first few years.

  • 6. Repeat the above - As you move forward just keep observing and keep going through these steps. While your zones may be mostly defined early on you might decided that you should adjust them based on observation or based on changes in your management decisions. As the soil changes and as you get your water system setup your management tasks will change. Your needed infrastructure might change as you move forward. All in all the key is to keep observing your land and adjust based on what you see.
  • I went through and did a full design for my property when I moved in. But even though I have only been living here since September I keep modifying my design based on new observations. My water system keeps adjusting as I get a better sense of where the water is going during heavy rains. I just put in a new water catchment feature to get water from a dirt road that I did not plan on doing but I noticed the water was already ponding on my property so it was better for me to control it and move it to a more useful location. I know that my design 5 years from now and 10 years from now will be very different than my design now but that is part of the fun and it is better to adjust to your property than try to force your design on it.

  • Just some of my thoughts and an overview of the thought process that I have been going through for my place. There are a lot of variation on this process but I hope that helps and good luck with your homestead!

    Thank you for the warm welcome! Luckily, I had my childhood to observe some points of the land. We noticed were the warm winds flowed in the fall and where vegetation grew rampant (water there). I don't remember the cold wind places (I avoided a lot of the cold, haha) so I will have to ask my Mom if she noticed. I recall a lot of the sun patterns, but am planning to take better notes as an adult. The soil I know from experience is mostly red clay with chunks of rock, which I know will need a lot of help, along with rocky ground in the forest.  The fields have only had 2-3 horses over the last 15 years with not a lot of maintenance, so they have been overgrown by thistle and brush. There are gullies and contours where I know that water flowed as well. I feel you on the coyotes...they yip out there all the time. Not sure where they travel through, they seem to be everywhere so I know my coop can't lack in security and I've wondered about a guard dog/donkey/ in the future.

    I don't know why I haven't looked into the zones yet. I will remedy that right away. A quick perusal seems to follow general common sense. I think placement of coop/buildings will probably tie in with this then. Thank you!

    I love the passive water plans, although I have to take into account that those plans may need to be long term unless I win the lottery. Of course I would have to play... but I digress. It is good to take that into account, and I will do so. Even though I haven't done any soil tests, I know that I will most likely have to do a lot of amending for gardening and for the pasture. I have looked a hugelkultur as well as "double dig" John Jenkins style bio-intensive. I'm torn there, but I know either would work better than conventional row methods like we tried when I was a kid.

    Your points  on the variations of what to consider first regarding perennials/annuals/cover were very helpful. I will be discussing this with my husband so we can lay out our goals (financially and otherwise). We too want to build a living "Fence" along the road, at least the part that is facing our potential home site. Even though it is a gravel road it is a popular shortcut and I want a little privacy.

    Thank you also for pointing out that this is a fluid process and that I will have to adjust with further observation of the land! I need to be reminded of that.

    7 years ago
    Hello All!

    My husband and I have decided to strike out and pursue our goal of living in a sustainable way for a vast variety of reasons. I thought I'd do a quick run down of where we are in our journey towards this and what we are striving for.

    And then, more importantly,  ask for your wisdom in the steps you would suggest to take first. We've been reading books and blogs, forums (here and other related), listening to podcasts, and just generally soaking up all the info we can, and practicing skills along the way.

    Our situation: We are currently in the process of selling our house in town. We have 2 teens and a preteen (all on board for moving to the country and learning to be self-sufficient). Prior military and sick of town life and depending on "the system" and the general regression of society in terms of education, life skills, etc. (that list is extensive and probably boring). Both my husband and I were "country kids" who aren't squeamish or afraid of a lot of hard work. We have the opportunity to live with parent temporarily and build homestead on parent's land in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains of VA. It's mixed forest and field at the bottom of small mountain (zone 7a), with 2 running creeks and 1 spring that gets active during heavy rain. Existing Spring-fed water trough. There's probably about 9 acres my Mom would be ok with us using. We aren't planning on going off grid entirely, but want to build in the ability to do so either by choice or if SHTF.  I'll give more details as I ask more questions, but that is pretty much the run down. Husband works, but I don't as it ends up just being cost prohibitive and crappy for our family.

    1. Gardening: We want to get started ASAP on perennials such as fruit/nut trees, berry bushes, asparagus, etc. I've been looking at local nurseries to see what works well in the area, as well as looking into the layout of the land. Any tips there or suggested resources for more info?

    2. Livestock: I want to begin livestock "practice". As a kid/teen I hobby raised bottle fed calves for market, goats (milked and did some soft cheese for goat farmer), chickens, and rabbits. The structure design(s) and placement will be important to me, as I estimate we will eventually want a flock of 20-30 chickens egg wise + meat chickens, at least 4 does and 2 bucks (meat rabbits), goats for milk/meat (looking at Nubian Dwarves) or cows for same purpose . I'm not taking all on at once (we're going to owner-build and begin gardening after all), but would like to hear your thoughts on where to begin as it's been a while.

    3. Home-building: So the building code is way more strict than I'd like it to be here, but I don't want to pay fines or have my structures yanked down. This is a shame, because alternative houses make my heart pitter-patter. We are looking a First Day Cottages, for ease of building, ability to not get vetoed as easily by our inspector, and budget considerations (we don't make much). I'm hoping to be able to work in off-grid features with this type of building. Any suggestions on ways I could do this are welcome. Also, anyone who has worked with First Day or similar companies, I'd love to get your input as well. We want to keep our total mortgage at less than $80K (Land is free, and the septic, well, and driveway all will be paid in cash prior...hopefully).

    Those are the first steps I can think of so far. Any suggestions on what I should be considering would be greatly appreciated. I'm trying to organize this all and not miss something important I should be thinking about *now* so I don't regret it later, and I know you all have a wealth of knowledge. My husband says I complicate things way too much, I call it "avoiding mistakes"... at least the most costly/time-consuming ones. But hey, I know I can't avoid them all, and realize that "analysis paralysis" should be a psychiatric disorder.

    Thanks for reading my ridiculously long and detailed post ... please feel free to give me equally ridiculously long and detailed answers! Seriously... please.    
    7 years ago