Author Topic: Homestead Layout  (Read 25124 times)

Offline Dave in Broadway, NC

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Homestead Layout
« on: May 04, 2014, 03:51:26 PM »
The layout of our homestead is nearly complete. Thought I'd post a visual and talk about what we've done and how we arrived at some of our decisions for putting things together.

Where we are. We're in Broadway, NC. Zone 7B. We moved here knowing that my wife and I would eventually trade in our day jobs to make a living from farming (that'll happen in the next 3-4 years). So besides looking at land for its production value, we wanted a well-trafficked location to make it possible to run a farm stand from home instead of schlepping produce around to farmers' markets. Here in Broadway we hit the sweet spot. We're on Main St, one lot outside the corporate boundary of Broadway proper, just after the speed limit decreases from 55 to 35. So much easier to stop at a produce stand if you have to slow down anyway! The neighbors across the road are zoned residential; the hardware store next door is zoned commercial. We're zoned for agriculture so we get to do almost anything we want (in terms of farming) while being close to where all the people are.

Production. We're developing the farm business around the following enterprises: fruit (primarily apples, but also cherries, peaches, kiwis, and figs), berries (raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries), muscadines, medicinal herbs, dairy (cow milk, goat milk, and farmstead cheeses), vegetables, and eggs (chicken and duck). Even though it's possible to generate more revenue per square foot from growing vegetables, we decided to devote more space to fruits and berries with the idea being we can always lease land to increase our capacity to produce annuals, but we needed to get the perennials going with land we already owned. Also, we are limited in how much space we can give our livestock. The zoning ordinance requires livestock to be fenced no close than 200ft from the nearest residence, so we only have about an acre and a half where we can legally keep our pigs, cows, and goats. And we're limited to a stocking rate of no more than 2 large animals per acre (we're on 5 acres, so max is 10 animals). Our preference is for smaller breeds. We currently have one zebu (a miniature cow) 4 alpine goats (and their 6 kids), and two Black Guinea hogs (smaller homestead pig). To our knowledge, poultry isn't included in those limits (we're at 26 chickens now). From late spring thru early fall, the animals derive a majority of their nutrition from what we grow on site. Otherwise we need to truck in hay and feed for them.
     
Philosophy. While we appreciate permaculture design principles, we're not dogmatic in there application. On our homestead you're going to find pockets of monoculture (i.e., the tall spindle apple orchard) amid permaculture-inspired features such as a large hugel bed to intercept runoff toward the back of the property and our 1/2 acre polyculture cherry/apple/muscadine orchard. What you will not find are GMO cultivars, non-organic pesticides, petroleum-based fertilizers, nor herbicides of any stripe. And while not certified organic, all of our production methods are consistent with requirements to be certified as such.

So the layout. We're putting in a medicinal herb garden in the quarter acre we have in front of the house. To the right of that is the tall spindle apple orchard with raspberries planted in the aisles. To the right of that is the 1/2 acre food forest and the 1.5 acres we have for all the animals. We rotate the animals around four permanent paddocks which we can further divide using portable electric fending and livestock panels. We have things set up that all we need to do is open and close a couple gates and the animals can walk out to whatever paddock is open. When it's necessary to rest the pasture, we have a small "sacrifice" pen around the barn where they stay. We allow the chickens to access the entire pasture to forage and eat fly larvae. We're about to establish a laying flock of Khaki Campbell ducks in the food forest--should have those by the end of May.

In terms of big projects, our first priority is to build a large hoop house and greenhouse so we can improve our ability to start seeds and extend the gardening season. Down the road we want to put in a building to house a USDA-certified kitchen and creamery. My wife is an awesome cheese maker so it would be nice to sell this on the open market as a value-added product.

This has been a long time coming. I first got the itch to do this stuff around ten years ago. My first wife thought I was nuts. Then on the second go-around I married a woman who's totally into this stuff and it's been the most rewarding thing in my life to put all this together with her.

Here's the layout:

« Last Edit: May 04, 2014, 04:05:21 PM by Dave in Broadway, NC »

Offline Chemsoldier

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Re: Homestead Layout
« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2014, 03:57:22 PM »
Looks awesome!

I would love to see some ground level pics.

Offline Cedar

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Re: Homestead Layout
« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2014, 03:58:34 PM »
.

Offline viking

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Re: Homestead Layout
« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2014, 07:15:32 PM »
 :popcorn:

Offline OutWestTX

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Re: Homestead Layout
« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2014, 07:00:27 AM »
It is a nice plan, but I seriously doubt you can make a living on just 5 acres unless you have some kind of niche market that pays exceptionally well.  It takes 3 or 4 acres of garden just to support a good roadside stand.  You don't have enough pasture to support a dairy cow without buying all your hay and grain.  I was a farmer for 20+ years.  I am not trying to rain on your parade, but I am speaking from experience. 

Offline iccustoms

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Re: Homestead Layout
« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2014, 10:16:47 AM »
I think you can do it! Just stay flexible and cater to your market.  There are plenty of small revenue streams available through propagating plants and trees and selling those as well, not to mention getting into beekeeping (it is really fun and pretty easy). 

Do your thing and make it happen...

Offline FreelanceCrusader

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Re: Homestead Layout
« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2014, 10:54:58 AM »
Hey Dave.  It's great to see another NC farm being established.  This may be old news to you but if you didn't know the NC Cooperative Extension Service has all sorts of valuable resources available for free.  Two of the ones that I think are really useful are soil testing and pest identification.  I've done some work with some of the extension agents while I was in school at NC State and everyone I have talked to is very knowledgeable and eager to help.  Good luck!  Keep us updated as you make progress and hopefully one of these days I can make a trip to your stand.

Offline Dave in Broadway, NC

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Re: Homestead Layout
« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2014, 04:32:44 PM »
It is a nice plan, but I seriously doubt you can make a living on just 5 acres unless you have some kind of niche market that pays exceptionally well.  It takes 3 or 4 acres of garden just to support a good roadside stand.  You don't have enough pasture to support a dairy cow without buying all your hay and grain.  I was a farmer for 20+ years.  I am not trying to rain on your parade, but I am speaking from experience.

I like rain. Keeps the crops watered. Besides, the plan is to eventually add more acreage.

Offline Dave in Broadway, NC

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Re: Homestead Layout
« Reply #8 on: May 08, 2014, 08:02:38 PM »
... the NC Cooperative Extension Service has all sorts of valuable resources available for free.  Two of the ones that I think are really useful are soil testing and pest identification... I've done some work with some of the extension agents while I was in school at NC State and everyone I have talked to is very knowledgeable and eager to help.  Good luck!  Keep us updated as you make progress and hopefully one of these days I can make a trip to your stand.

Lee County finally got an agent who's switched on to sustainable methods. We had her out to the farm in February and talked to her about our goals and our willingness to host classes and workshops. She contacted us today asking if we'd like to host a poultry workshop in June and a 4H class in July. We told her absolutely yes.

Offline Dave in Broadway, NC

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Re: Homestead Layout
« Reply #9 on: May 08, 2014, 08:13:34 PM »
We're bringing home twelve Khaki Campbell ducks this weekend. They're going to do pest control in the food forest. Later in the month we'll bring home another eight or ten ducks to bring the flock of Campbells to 20 (+/-).

Offline ncjeeper

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Re: Homestead Layout
« Reply #10 on: May 08, 2014, 11:51:06 PM »
Is your soil sandy since you are close to the beach?

Offline Dave in Broadway, NC

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Re: Homestead Layout
« Reply #11 on: May 11, 2014, 07:50:22 PM »
Is your soil sandy since you are close to the beach?

We have sandy loam here (Dothan sandy loam). Well-suited to ag. We're about 90 min in from the coast. Head 30 min south to Fayetteville and you start seeing all kinds of sand in the soil.

Offline Dave in Broadway, NC

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Re: Homestead Layout
« Reply #12 on: May 13, 2014, 09:33:01 PM »
I would love to see some ground level pics.

This is a view of the tall spindle orchard. 138 apple trees on a tenth of an acre. Trees 3ft apart. Rows 14ft apart. Planting annual vegetables between the rows this summer. Will plant raspberries between the rows next spring. Conducting a trial with five different raspberry cultivars this summer to see which ones do best.





View of the half-acre food forest. Most of the trees that are readily apparent are black locust. There are 8 standard cherry trees in the row closest to the road, then 12 semi-dwarf apple trees the next row in, then three rows of muscadines. Next summer we'll put in 300 row ft of blackberries between the last row of muscadines and the pasture fence. Will intercrop with various support species and trellis a bunch of squashes, pumpkins, and melons.





View of the front of the house. This is where the medicinal herb garden will go.



I'll post more photos after we get all the annuals going.


Offline Chemsoldier

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Re: Homestead Layout
« Reply #13 on: May 13, 2014, 09:36:50 PM »
Cool. I look forward to it!

Offline keebler

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Re: Homestead Layout
« Reply #14 on: May 14, 2014, 06:18:26 AM »
It looks great to me--I wish you all the very best.
X Tar Heel.
now in Va.
Keebler.

Offline Morning Sunshine

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Re: Homestead Layout
« Reply #15 on: May 14, 2014, 06:49:09 AM »
I love your paddock system.  Are you planning to return all the animals to their homes every night?  How often will you be shifting animals in their paddocks?  I was planning a "wheel paddock" system, but I think yours is a great solution as well.  I can see that you could even add another four on the other side of the livestock path if you had room (which I do!)  Oh, I like it.  Now you have my wheels turning.....

Offline Cedar

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Re: Homestead Layout
« Reply #16 on: May 14, 2014, 09:18:56 AM »
Conducting a trial with five different raspberry cultivars this summer to see which ones do best.

You might want to keep those 5 varieties anyway. Some come on at different seasons, some are more/less susceptible to pests/diseases. Some tolerate cold more. And many have different tastes. So you might not want to put all your berries in one basket, to day...

Like here, we are growing:
"Cascade Delight" - summer red
"Anne" - everbearing, golden
"Brandywine" - everbearing, red (but doesn't sucker)
"Latham Red" - summer red
"Fall Gold" --everbearing yellow-gold

Cedar

Offline Dave in Broadway, NC

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Re: Homestead Layout
« Reply #17 on: May 14, 2014, 07:19:16 PM »
You might want to keep those 5 varieties anyway.
Cedar

True that. The cultivars we selected to grow here in Zone 7B are Prelude, Polana, Polka, Jaclyn, and Heritage. They are supposed to have staggered harvest dates to give us a nearly continuous supply of fresh raspberries from early summer thru early fall. What I've read is fruit production for these declines when the roots become subject to soil temperatures that exceed 85F. We're going to play around with short cover crops (maybe clover) and drip irrigation to keep the ground from overheating in the summer. That's also why we're planting them between the rows of apple trees (take advantage of some partial shading). We'll see how that works out. 

Out in the food forest we planted a small sampling of blackberry cultivars:  Arapaho, Triple Crown, Kiowa, and Navajo. These are supposed to do well in full sun and  relatively high summer heat. Again, we selected these because they have staggered harvest dates, and when they start producing we should have blackberries from late May thru mid August.

May as well mention that the apple trees in the food forest have staggered harvest dates too, running from late August to early November. These include Early Granny Smith, Pink Lady, Honeycrisp, Empire, Fuji, and late Granny Smith.

Offline Dave in Broadway, NC

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Re: Homestead Layout
« Reply #18 on: May 14, 2014, 08:13:20 PM »
I love your paddock system.  Are you planning to return all the animals to their homes every night?  How often will you be shifting animals in their paddocks?  I was planning a "wheel paddock" system, but I think yours is a great solution as well.  I can see that you could even add another four on the other side of the livestock path if you had room (which I do!)  Oh, I like it.  Now you have my wheels turning.....

Thanks. We did set up the system to allow the animals to have continuous access to the barn. That allows the animals to seek shelter whenever they want, and to come to us for food (apart from grazing), water, and their milking. That also eliminates the need to have a portable shelter we move around the paddocks. The wooden structure that's out there now was the original barn. It's on skids and we used to drag it around from paddock to paddock. I'm going to drag that off the field and turn it into our wood shed.

We originally had the paddocks set up in a gridded pattern with the livestock trail bisecting a row of squares to the north and a row of squares to the south. Problem with that is the animals had no access to shade in the northern paddocks. By running the livestock trail along the fence and running the paddocks as narrow strips across the depth of the field, the animals have access to shade no matter which paddock is open. Our plan is to graze the animals on a strip for 2-3 days, confine them to the sacrifice pen for a couple days, then move them to the next paddock. The thing is we won't let them onto a paddock unless the grass is at least 8in tall (12in to 16in would be better).  What the layout doesn't show is our use of electric fencing to further divide the paddocks down to more narrow strips for more intensive grazing. In effect, that gives us 12-14 narrow grazing strips. The goal is to let a strip rest for 28-30 days between grazings.

I wish we could expand the pasture, but we don't own the land south of those pine trees.
« Last Edit: May 14, 2014, 08:18:21 PM by Dave in Broadway, NC »

Offline Dave in Broadway, NC

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Re: Homestead Layout
« Reply #19 on: July 09, 2014, 04:33:03 AM »
Lee County finally got an agent who's switched on to sustainable methods. We had her out to the farm in February and talked to her about our goals and our willingness to host classes and workshops. She contacted us today asking if we'd like to host a poultry workshop in June and a 4H class in July. We told her absolutely yes.

Just a follow-up...we are going to host a small flock workshop here at the house on the 26th of July. We're doing this on behalf of the Lee County Cooperative Extension. Their poultry expert, Dan Campeau, will be on hand to cover breeds, nutrition and diets, pest management, insects, and disease. 

If you're within driving distance of Sanford/Broadway, I invite you to come out. This is the 26th of July, from 8am to 10am. Please call the Cooperative Extension at 919-775-5624 to register. The event is free. The street address is 411 N Main St, Broadway, NC.

Here's a link to the calendar item on the Lee County Cooperative Extension website:
http://lee.ces.ncsu.edu/event/48118331/small-flock-workshop/][url]http://lee.ces.ncsu.edu/event/48118331/small-flock-workshop/

Hope you can make it!

Offline TNDadx4

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Re: Homestead Layout
« Reply #20 on: July 12, 2014, 07:50:47 PM »
I love your layout! I hope to have something like that someday!

Best of luck with it!!!

Offline oktheniknow

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Re: Homestead Layout
« Reply #21 on: July 21, 2014, 10:40:15 PM »
Looks great! I would visit all your area farmer's markets to see what sells well and also what is not being sold currently that you might could fill a niche for. I would imagine that blueberries would do well there since your mentioned pine trees and raspberries.

Offline Dave in Broadway, NC

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Re: Homestead Layout
« Reply #22 on: August 09, 2014, 04:42:52 PM »
Looks great! I would visit all your area farmer's markets to see what sells well and also what is not being sold currently that you might could fill a niche for. I would imagine that blueberries would do well there since your mentioned pine trees and raspberries.

That's exactly what I did.  There's a website that lists all the farmstead and PYO operations in the state. Looking through that I saw that there's nobody doing apples, cherries, or raspberries in the 5 counties closest to us and only a few doing muscadines and blackberries. Based on that, that's where we're focusing our efforts with the perennials. A few more are doing blueberries (but not that many) so we're going to increase those, too. Several are doing strawberries so we're not going to do anymore of those than what we need for our own consumption.

Offline Dave in Broadway, NC

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Re: Homestead Layout
« Reply #23 on: August 09, 2014, 04:51:36 PM »
For anyone who wants to see a ground view of the homestead, I posted a video to YouTube that I took last week. Video runs about 30min. Won't win any awards, but it shows everything we're doing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWpi29pjnFY

Offline Dave in Broadway, NC

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Re: Homestead Layout
« Reply #24 on: May 31, 2015, 10:40:51 PM »
Update since my last post on this...

Over the past few months we've been continuing our work with the tall spindle apple orchard and the 1/2 acre food forest. We planted another 68 apple trees, 100 strawberries, 100 blackberries, and 50 blueberries. We installed the trellis for the 40 muscadine vines we planted last year, and we installed the trellis for the tall spindle orchard. And I just completed Geoff Lawton's PDC. Did another walk thru of the property. As soon as YouTube finishes processing I'll post the URL.

Layout in fall 2012, before we started in with all the trees and berries:


Projected layout as of May 2015:


Projected layout as of May 15 with zones depicted:



Offline Morning Sunshine

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Re: Homestead Layout
« Reply #25 on: June 01, 2015, 07:24:51 AM »
I like it.

Offline Cedar

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Re: Homestead Layout
« Reply #26 on: June 01, 2015, 08:53:56 AM »
Wow.. impressive. How much of it do you have done? Or is most of it still on paper yet?

Cedar

Offline Dave in Broadway, NC

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Re: Homestead Layout
« Reply #27 on: June 01, 2015, 05:24:12 PM »
Thanks!

We've done a fair amount already. Sometimes it doesn't feel like it, but when you compare the before and after photos there's no doubting it. We want to have all the fruit in by next spring so we can achieve max production by 2018 or 2019.

Fruit: We're at 100% for the apples, 75% for the muscadines, 50% for the blackberries, and 25% for the blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries. We'll finish planting all the berries next spring. But like I said, all the trellising is up. Everything else is a cinch.

Paddocks: We're at 6 paddocks, not the 10 shown. Need to rework the livestock panels over the winter, but that'll be done by next spring.

Livestock Housing: Done. Have the barn, hen house, pig shelter and duck house.

Carport Set Up for Milking and Feeding:  Done. We have a set up that works well for us. A cow in the carport isn't for everyone, but we like it.

Irrigation Lines: Installed a separate water meter for the farm last fall. This has been an absolute Godsend. Everything we put it in gets drip irrigation. Over time as the perennials put down roots they'll tap into the clay where all the moisture is and we can reduce watering, but that's a couple years off.

Implement Shed and Hay Shed: Installed.

Everything else exists on paper, but we want to implement the plan for all elements within the next 3 years.

« Last Edit: June 01, 2015, 05:40:45 PM by Dave in Broadway, NC »

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Re: Homestead Layout
« Reply #28 on: June 01, 2015, 05:45:16 PM »
Looks really great.  Have you considered using the woods for root medicinal crop cultivation?  Ginsing, Solomon Seal, Black Cohosh,  and ramps (gourmet market) are all good possibilities.

Offline Dave in Broadway, NC

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Re: Homestead Layout
« Reply #29 on: June 01, 2015, 08:00:38 PM »
Looks really great.  Have you considered using the woods for root medicinal crop cultivation?  Ginsing, Solomon Seal, Black Cohosh,  and ramps (gourmet market) are all good possibilities.

We'd thought about doing mushrooms, but I like the list of things you just provided.  :)