Author Topic: 6 acres and a House - need a permaculture plan  (Read 6663 times)

Offline derajer

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6 acres and a House - need a permaculture plan
« on: September 11, 2012, 12:52:39 PM »
Earlier this year I purchased my first home on 6 acres in Iowa. I am USDA zone 5 and there is a gentle slope from north to south through most of the property. I own and am reading Gaia's garden, but most of my permaculture education is from Jack.

This is a satellite picture of the property.



This is an aerial taken in the morning this summer.



These are taken from my south facing back porch.

East



East South East



South



South West



West (sorry, this was late in the day)





These were taken from my north facing front porch

East



North East



North



North West



Hopefully all these pictures are helpful, I'd be happy to take any other someone might want as well.

Offline wyomiles

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Re: 6 acres and a House - need a permaculture plan
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2012, 01:50:02 PM »
Looks nice, have you visited the permies forum ?

Offline derajer

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Re: 6 acres and a House - need a permaculture plan
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2012, 02:22:41 PM »
I have visited the permies forum actually, very good site. I certainly have some ideas for what to do with the place based on what I've read there and here, but I'd like to get other opinions as well.

Offline Joe in TN

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Re: 6 acres and a House - need a permaculture plan
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2012, 04:46:40 PM »
Wow, what an awesome property!  Something very similar to that is what I am saving to buy.  Good on you for such a great find!

With such a blank slate you need to ask yourself, "What do I want to do with this land?" and then start planning.  With your aerials start skecthing out stuff as potential plans and save them.  Do different designs.  One, or most likely, a combination of a couple of them will likely be your overall plan.

Is your primary goal to make money?  Be self sufficient?  Utilize your land for hunting?  To raise a particular type of animal, or crop?

Those type of questions will help you start to envision how to shape your land.  Good luck and please keep posting, or better yet, once you start up do a blog of your progress!  Semper Fi,

Joe

Offline Prepper Recon

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Re: 6 acres and a House - need a permaculture plan
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2012, 09:07:30 PM »
I am so jealous. I am saving for something similar as well. Best wishes for all your plans.

Offline derajer

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Re: 6 acres and a House - need a permaculture plan
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2012, 01:54:49 PM »
Thanks for the compliments guys, I am pretty happy with the place myself.

As for goals, I should have posted that in the OP... My first goal is self-sufficiency followed by income. It is also important to maintain relatively low maintenance on plants. For animals, I want small livestock. I'll probably do everything, but cows and horses as I work out what's best for me.

I've been thinking about a blog actually, I need to come up with a name though.

Offline RationalHusker

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Re: 6 acres and a House - need a permaculture plan
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2012, 03:24:08 PM »
derajer,

Very nice property.  I'm in Iowa, too.  I have a smaller, open area (just under 2 acres) but also have 14 acres of heavily-wooded bottom ground.  There are several posts on the Homestead board.  I'd like to have a bit more open space as you do, but am hoping to pick up a few adjacent acres of pasture eventually.

I'm curious where your property is located (general terms is fine - I want to respect your privacy).  You can PM me if you want.  I have done some initial clearing and perennial planting, and hope to plant a few more trees and do some timber management this fall/winter.  I look forward to seeing your progress.

--RH

Offline derajer

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Re: 6 acres and a House - need a permaculture plan
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2012, 04:04:16 PM »
I am in SE central Iowa I guess you could say.

Offline Roundabouts

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Re: 6 acres and a House - need a permaculture plan
« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2012, 07:43:16 PM »
Well if you ever want to know what NOT to do I can help out there big time!  ;)  I am a slow hands on learner.  Often times end up doing over and over till I get it right.   I would say defiantly take time to draw things out.  As you do remember that you will only get older so you will want to plan for that too. 

 I am sure you are a ways out before you get animals but if you are thinking about pigs…  We have American Guinea Hogs.  They are a really great pig.  A  small pasture pig perfect for a homestead.  Known for lard and a very good tasting darker meat.  The also have a fantastic temperament.  I run mine with my alpacas chickens and turkeys.  They are very free range.  To free.  Thats why they know the command "OFF" (the couch, deck, lap)  "OUT" ( of the house, shop, garden, car) 

Offline RationalHusker

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Re: 6 acres and a House - need a permaculture plan
« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2012, 08:04:18 PM »
…We have American Guinea Hogs.  They are a really great pig...

Roundabouts - where did you buy your Guinea hogs?  Are they hard to find and really expensive?  I've seen feeder pigs advertised on Craigslist locally (Berkshires) and they're very cheap right now.  But I'm not sure about how hardy they are and how well they'd do on pasture and in the elements.  One add did say his were bred to be in a hoop structure on pasture, though.

Thanks,
--RH

Offline Roundabouts

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Re: 6 acres and a House - need a permaculture plan
« Reply #10 on: September 13, 2012, 09:01:43 AM »
Roundabouts - where did you buy your Guinea hogs?  Are they hard to find and really expensive?  I've seen feeder pigs advertised on Craigslist locally (Berkshires) and they're very cheap right now.  But I'm not sure about how hardy they are and how well they'd do on pasture and in the elements.  One add did say his were bred to be in a hoop structure on pasture, though.

Thanks,
--RH

We got our AGH from here Cascade Meadows farm.  We got one male and one female.  Then went back and got another female.  Hard to find? depends on your area. How far you need to travel.  I figured we would have to fly some in but they were only 35 min away.  So we lucked out.   Cost?  That is a very broad  $75- $300.  Depends on what you are getting or doing.  A castrated male that someone does not want to sell the meat you can get on the down low side.  Breeders are going from $100-$300 depending on genetics and if they are registered.   

To me there is much more than cost to consider.  The AGH are still on the critically endangered list.  So I am enjoying helping bring back this breed for future generations.  I also wanted a small pig that is easy to handle, would take as little human intervention/ input as possible.  I was not looking to make a living on mass meat production.  So a large animal with fast growth is not something I was looking at.  The slower growth rate is a plus to me. 

I also did not want to be stuck with hundreds of pounds of meat to have to freeze or preserve or sell all at once .  I wanted to store just a bit but mainly have all my food stored out in the pasture.  Cuts down on energy for running freezers.  We can have a suckling pig roast any time we want.   

We also needed a breeding pair as I did not feel it was self sustaining to go out and buy a pig to finish off.  So I wanted a breed that would not have huge litters.  Just enough to keep us in food with the ability to sell a bit of the extra. 

These factors about this breed is why we choose them.  We decided we wanted pigs by pure accident.  I love pork.  However everything I had heard or read about raising pigs was not for me.  What I had see from family and friends was not for me.  So was pretty sure we didn't want pigs.  Although I do think they are cute and do love pork. 

We were also against any poultry.  I didn't like how other people were raising them all very dirty and smelly.  The biggest factor was we wanted to be self sustaining as much as possible.  Well it didn't make sense to me to have to buy chicks yearly (or pigs) then buy feed then pay for the waste removal after butchering.  I mean what were we to do with all the guts and stuff we would not eat.  ( most had said throw out with your weekly trash)  Burning was the only thing I could think of that would not bring in predators. (Not going to work in middle of summer or winter)

Worms maybe but cutting everything into smaller pieces so worms can do their thing quickly. Nah not for me.  So we started looking at mini cows.  That's where we came across the pigs.  Cascade meadows  set up is a close to self sustaining as I think it's possible to get.  When I asked so when you butcher a cow what do you do with all the stuff you don't eat?  Well we feed to the pigs of course. They chuckled.  They we on and explained if we didn't have any animals pigs would be the first to get.  They are the farm disposal system.  They keep pastures in check and their poo is fantastic fertilizer (since most of their diet is grass and such).  he picked up a pig poo broke it and before we knew it had it stuffed in our face saying take a sniff.  Sure enough it just smelt like grass.  NO ZERO NONE NADA ZILTCH of the foul smell I had smelt at other farms.  So we were sold.   Of course it didn't hurt those tiny piglets were just so dang cute.  Mom and dad were also cute and greeted us at the driveway for a belly rub.  Dad or Roots was his name had huge tucks that were razor sharp.  He had been trained to not head butt for attention.  So we got to rub his belly and get a real close look at those weapons he was sporting.  Our Sunny has his tusks coming in they are about an inch now.  They won't be fully grown for another year or two.   From what we have been told. 

Now we have turkeys too LOVE them great animals.  We also have what I call our practice flock of chickens.  It wont be long an they will go in the freezer and we will get a heritage breed. 

So in building your plan I would suggest some focus up front on the waste side of things and how everything  can be connected.  Then hold on to your hat it is a wild ride.  Never had so much hard work, stress and fun in my life.  I have waited for this dream for 40 yrs and it's everything I though it would be and more.   ;D

Offline RationalHusker

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Re: 6 acres and a House - need a permaculture plan
« Reply #11 on: September 13, 2012, 10:32:07 AM »
derajer,

Looking at the aerials of your property some more, it is really very nice.  Do you own the timber to the south?  If so, about how many acres is timber?  You have a great south-facing slope.  Are there any terraces (perhaps it was once cropped)?  If not, that might be the first thing I would do: create a few swales/terraces on contour and build your planting plan around that.  Lots of perennials (trees, shrubs, and herbaceous).  Think about how many and what types of livestock you'll want in the future and leave plenty of grass for that purpose.  But incorporating other perennials into your grass pasture would be great.  I think your ground has tons of potential.  Do you own any of the waterbody to the south?  Wonder if you could put in a windmill and pump some of that water upslope, where it could be stored in cisterns and then gravity fed to gardens, trees, livestock waterers, etc. 

--RH

Offline derajer

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Re: 6 acres and a House - need a permaculture plan
« Reply #12 on: September 13, 2012, 12:27:38 PM »
To my knowledge no crops have ever been on this property, if you I could show you the layout better you'd see that the south and west edges are very steep drops, so not very good for machinery.

I would love to do some swaling and terracing, but that's one of the things I have the least understanding of and part of the reason I posted for advice here.

I own all of the water that you see to the West in the satellite image, but if you look at the aerial very closely you will see that it is all gone at the moment. What you're seeing is a former creek oxbow which is now an overflow/shallow pond. This year it completed dried up.

I own basically all the timber to the west, it's about 1.5 acres, but it can be really tricky measuring irregular land shape on slopes with the google earth ruler.

To the south there is an 8 acre plot of woods, it is completely surrounded by other properties and vacant. I hope to purchase it someday.

Offline Jeremy Downing

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Re: 6 acres and a House - need a permaculture plan
« Reply #13 on: September 14, 2012, 02:26:26 AM »
If it were me, and this is just my first reaction to the pictures, I am wanting to plant a stout treeline and undergrowth full of berry (blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, blueberry..mmm blueberries..) bushes along the road.  Since it's at the top of your north=>south slope, I'd do a few swales with hugulkultur and plant the trees and bushes into them.

This seems to me a good long-term option to enhance security primarily by decreasing visibility from the road.  Also, since the plantings can generate food, you could source some of my favorite cobblers from your food forest / road screen.   ;)

Offline RationalHusker

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Re: 6 acres and a House - need a permaculture plan
« Reply #14 on: September 14, 2012, 09:22:17 AM »
I own all of the water that you see to the West in the satellite image, but if you look at the aerial very closely you will see that it is all gone at the moment. What you're seeing is a former creek oxbow which is now an overflow/shallow pond. This year it completed dried up.

That's a great little feature to have.  Those oxbows, when wet, are extremely productive ecosystems.  Great habitat for fur bearers bait fish, crawdads, and probably some nice catfish during and shortly after high water.  It would be fun to tinker around and try to get some useful plants that like wet feet established in that area.  Also a great spot to "borrow" some very highly organic soil ammendments to top off your planting containers or a few small raised beds.

Offline RationalHusker

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Re: 6 acres and a House - need a permaculture plan
« Reply #15 on: September 14, 2012, 09:24:40 AM »
You probably have very high whitetail activity around the edges of your property.  It would be great to get a nice foodplot established along one of the boundaries to (1) help keep them away from your primary plantings and (2) import a great and fund-to-harvest protein source.

Offline Jerry D Young

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Re: 6 acres and a House - need a permaculture plan
« Reply #16 on: September 14, 2012, 02:15:11 PM »
If you don't already have them, you might want to search for "The Guide To Self-Sufficiency" series by John Seymour, "The Encyclopedia of Country Living" by Carla Emery, and "The Have-More Plan" by Edward & Carolyn Robinson

All have good small holdings information, among several other books strictly about permaculture.

Just a thought.

Offline derajer

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Re: 6 acres and a House - need a permaculture plan
« Reply #17 on: September 17, 2012, 12:14:48 PM »
@Jerry D Young - I had heard of the first 2 books and was considering buying them, but I'll have to check out that last one

@RationalHusker - I do have quite a bit of whitetail activity around the edge and am looking forward to getting a few this year.

@Zeijandi - your inclination is pretty much the same as mine, but I don't have any real permaculture experience, so hopefully I'll get some contrasting advice well.

Offline Doc K

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Re: 6 acres and a House - need a permaculture plan
« Reply #18 on: September 17, 2012, 03:54:36 PM »
I know it is a little tacky to post links to my own website, but I do think this will give you some ideas, and a better understanding of permaculture concepts. These are some of the main things I would be thinking about when setting up a new homestead.

Define your Zones.
Define your Sectors.

What is Succession?
Using Succession in Permaculture
Managing Pseudo-Primary Succession

Swales
The Importance of Edge

Hope that helps,
Doc K

by the way... the land looks great! Have fun!

Offline RationalHusker

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Re: 6 acres and a House - need a permaculture plan
« Reply #19 on: September 17, 2012, 04:15:35 PM »
"...I know it is a little tacky to post links to my own website, but I do think this will give you some ideas, and a better understanding of permaculture concepts. These are some of the main things I would be thinking about when setting up a new homestead..."

Doc, I'm not sure why, but I've never seen your site before.  Thanks for posting - I have a similar project (but with much different type of property layout).  I'm especially interested in food forests, and will check out your info.  Do you do any consulting?

Offline Doc K

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Re: 6 acres and a House - need a permaculture plan
« Reply #20 on: September 18, 2012, 07:42:38 AM »
Doc, I'm not sure why, but I've never seen your site before.  Thanks for posting - I have a similar project (but with much different type of property layout).  I'm especially interested in food forests, and will check out your info.  Do you do any consulting?

No official consulting... yet. Hopefully one day I will. But I have given a fair amount of free advice, so take it for what you pay for it! :)

Let me know what questions you have.

Doc K

Offline derajer

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Re: 6 acres and a House - need a permaculture plan
« Reply #21 on: September 20, 2012, 12:57:26 PM »
Your articles were really helpful Doc K. Unfortunately I am still not sure which water harvesting techniques I should use. I'm afraid that my house is sitting exactly where a swale ought to go.