Author Topic: Oh lord, oh lord, oh lord, I just bought 20 acres... help.  (Read 1661 times)

Offline Wraith

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Oh lord, oh lord, oh lord, I just bought 20 acres... help.
« on: April 27, 2018, 08:30:36 AM »
Hello friends, I have lurked here for many years and generally kept to myself because the home I had was ridiculously bogged down with an abundance of stupid ordinances that prevented nearly every use of the property. I am happy to report that come next month I will have closed on 20 wooded acres (with a house) that I can finally start to LIVE on. That said I am nearly losing my mind with "wth do I do now" I know where I want to end up, I just don't know how to get from here to there. I want my family to be relatively self sufficient. I want to clear an area of the trees to plant an orchard/garden. I want to put in a decent sized pond. I want to raise rabbits and chickens and possibly ducks after the pond goes in (I blame the duck chronicles). It is all just overwhelming right now. I know that to eat an elephant, you do it one bite at a time, but where the hell do you start nibbling first?

any recommendations on planning resources or anything?

Offline Billie D

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Re: Oh lord, oh lord, oh lord, I just bought 20 acres... help.
« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2018, 08:49:06 AM »
Congratulations Wraith!
While I don't have property, I can't be much help, but am super excited to watch this thread take off.  I dream of the day that I can finally buy my property and have the problem you are having!  ;)

One thought  -- In my head, I can "see" where I want my future property to end up.  I can pretty much draw it out.

Now that you DO have your property, you could always pull up a map of the property (Google Earth, etc) and literally start drawing out how you would like to see things go.  That MAY give you a better idea for where you want to begin?
 
My guess would be - don't bite off too much for your first project, take a minute to just enjoy your new home, and tinker a bit and decide what the area is really like before you get into something large scale.

Offline LvsChant

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Re: Oh lord, oh lord, oh lord, I just bought 20 acres... help.
« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2018, 08:57:04 AM »
Such great news! I agree with Billie... start making your plan and just take it a little at a time.

I'd start with things that take a long time to get going (fruit and nut trees, for example). We planted our fruit trees and also transplanted some mature pecan trees before we even got the house built and never regretted it. Only a few years later, we are getting an abundance of nuts and fruit from our own yard.

Offline Dave in Broadway, NC

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Re: Oh lord, oh lord, oh lord, I just bought 20 acres... help.
« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2018, 09:32:35 AM »
Go with temporary/movable infrastructure for as long as possible. T-posts, livestock panels, buildings on skids. Over a couple years it will become obvious to you where things need to go...make it easy early on to make adjustments as you go by putting off anything permanent.

20 acres is a lot of land, if you manage even a quarter of it intensively. Since you mentioned "Duck Chronicles" you've heard Jack go on about permaculture. TSP inspired me to take Geoff Lawton's online permaculture design course, which helped me make much better decisions on using our land (just shy of 5 acres) and correct early mistakes. Given the size of your property and how much you want to do, a PDC would help you make sense of it all. (Just understanding the concept of Zones would be huge for you).

Observe everything you can about your property before you do anything big. Understand how the sun, wind and rain impact your property. Understand the subtleties of slope and their impact on micro-climates, drainage, etc. This is where permaculture instruction would prompt you to ask the right questions about your property.

Everyone who's been where you are will tell you to take it slow. How many of us would have heeded that advice when we obtained our own piece of ground? The key will be limiting the number of projects that are in progress at any one time. Too many projects and you dilute your time and resources and don't go anywhere. Sequence your work so you actually get things done and get to feel that sense of accomplishment that spurs you on to the next thing.

Good luck!


Offline Wraith

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Re: Oh lord, oh lord, oh lord, I just bought 20 acres... help.
« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2018, 09:34:21 AM »
Thanks Billy, I have done that already. see the image below. Black is the gun range (wife and I are FFL's and we test the suppressors that I make) Green is the garden/orchard space to start. will also have the rabbits and chickens penned near the garage (building next to the green box.) Main house and guest house wont change much. Red lines are trails the wife wants to cut in to be able to enjoy the property with while dashes being benches to rest along the way since her mom had to have a knee replaced. And blue is the low area of the property that I think I can work into a pond over time.




Offline Dave in Broadway, NC

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Re: Oh lord, oh lord, oh lord, I just bought 20 acres... help.
« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2018, 09:36:47 AM »
what are the orange boxes?

Offline Wraith

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Re: Oh lord, oh lord, oh lord, I just bought 20 acres... help.
« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2018, 09:39:32 AM »
Dave, I thought they stopped doing the PDC last year some time. Did I misread the article? Is Lawton still doing them or did someone else take up the mantle?

Oh and orange/brown boxes are where the kids want tree houses ( I have 4 kids)

Offline Billie D

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Re: Oh lord, oh lord, oh lord, I just bought 20 acres... help.
« Reply #7 on: April 27, 2018, 09:51:25 AM »
That looks great! And I love the addition of the seating areas, and the tree houses!

Offline LvsChant

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Re: Oh lord, oh lord, oh lord, I just bought 20 acres... help.
« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2018, 01:46:49 PM »
Oh my... what a fantastic adventure! Please keep us posted on the progress...

Offline archer

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Re: Oh lord, oh lord, oh lord, I just bought 20 acres... help.
« Reply #9 on: April 27, 2018, 03:10:33 PM »
wow.. nice plans.. good luck/skill.

Offline supertrout5000

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Re: Oh lord, oh lord, oh lord, I just bought 20 acres... help.
« Reply #10 on: April 27, 2018, 07:43:37 PM »
I agree with observe  before doing anything big. I just passed 1 year on my property and just now getting started. Even if you don't do anything with all the acreage, the good thing is nobody else can either.

Offline jerseyboy

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Re: Oh lord, oh lord, oh lord, I just bought 20 acres... help.
« Reply #11 on: April 27, 2018, 08:06:21 PM »
Wow. Awesome decision!!!

I agree with LVS, fruit and nut trees first. They take years to produce. Buy the standard size (full size) trees as they grow faster. You can trim them/top them if you want to keep them shorter. Not sure what part of the country you are in. Keep track of chilling hours which is the number of hours above freezing and below 45 degrees. Different fruit trees have different requirements as well as different varieties of the same fruit.

Don't be afraid to plant a lot of fruit and nut trees. You may be underestimating the space you need for this.

Also, start planning for firewood.  You have a nice supply now, start planning how you are going to replace what you cut.  Black locust is often mentioned but maybe someone has a better suggestion.

Keep us updated,
Jerseyboy

Offline Fixit

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Re: Oh lord, oh lord, oh lord, I just bought 20 acres... help.
« Reply #12 on: April 28, 2018, 07:09:06 AM »
Looks like you are in for a busy time . First piece of advise . Walk that property for two years before any major changes . You don't want to cut out a thicket only to find out it was wild plum,blueberry,hazelnut,ect. My 30 acres has all 3 plus serviceberry huckleberry ,blackberry,black cherry,angelic ,American Colombo,mountain mint, native wild oregano ,staghorn sumac ,New Jersey few and so much more.
 Two things this property didn't have that are getting planted today are bloodshot and ramps. These were acquire from friends that have them on there property so I don't have to worry about weather patterns .
 Someone mentioned firewood . What I have found some best is i don't worry about what the tree is I just cut slowdowns , dead trees and damaged/ sick trees in that order. After 23 years you still can't tell that I have been cutting trees as it fills back in .


Offline LvsChant

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Re: Oh lord, oh lord, oh lord, I just bought 20 acres... help.
« Reply #13 on: April 28, 2018, 08:14:00 AM »
+1 Fixit. And what are bloodshot and ramps? (googling did me no good :)

Offline Fixit

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Re: Oh lord, oh lord, oh lord, I just bought 20 acres... help.
« Reply #14 on: April 28, 2018, 08:29:06 AM »
+1 Fixit. And what are bloodshot and ramps? (googling did me no good :)
Well autocorrect stuck again . Bloodroot not bloodshot. As for ramps they are a type of wild onion . Google ramp festival might give you better results .

Offline LvsChant

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Re: Oh lord, oh lord, oh lord, I just bought 20 acres... help.
« Reply #15 on: April 28, 2018, 08:46:25 AM »
Ramp festival: https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2013/05/08/182354602/in-the-land-of-wild-ramps-its-festival-time

Bloodroot: https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-893/bloodroot

Thanks! I learned something today... neither of these would grow in my region, but they sound very good to have on your property.


Offline David in MN

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Re: Oh lord, oh lord, oh lord, I just bought 20 acres... help.
« Reply #16 on: April 28, 2018, 11:59:35 AM »
Breathe. Relax. Believe it or not I'm often overwhelmed with my .25 acre lot. You will make mistakes. Heck, I just found I lost my serviceberry to rabbits over the winter. It happens.

Before you do anything take a look at any trees you want to remove. Are they good wood? DO you have a tree with burls or a beautiful crotch? I can't tell you how many times I have seen tree cutters turn $5000 of lumber into $5 of chips. If yo uneed to remove trees be smart about it and use it as an income stream.

Other than that, you'll do fine. My grandparents managed a 200 acre farm with a few acres of forest. It's not that hard. You learn what works and make the kids do the manual labor.  :D

Offline T Kehl

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Re: Oh lord, oh lord, oh lord, I just bought 20 acres... help.
« Reply #17 on: April 30, 2018, 07:29:51 AM »
Congrats!

You learn what works and make the kids do the manual labor.  :D

I agree.  Dad and I manage about 380 acres, both of us part time, though I'm moving toward full time.   :)  We let the kids do most of the brush work supervised by the does and bucks.   ;D

1st, This is not 20 acres of lawn.  Do not try or you will blow a gasket.  Pick what areas will be manicured and what will be mostly left alone, as well as what falls between those lines.
2nd, that’s a pretty big pond.  If that layout is 20 acres, pond is probably 3-4 acres or so.  I don’t see a dam wall, so is your house downstream or upstream of that.  What about other houses.  Large ponds in larger houselot areas can get tricky and can have more legal issues.  Pond costs can also increase rapidly with size.  Good to evaluate if that is worth it to you now or if a smaller pond makes more sense. 
3rd, this looks like a good goat or maybe hair sheep ground.  Would not be a big money maker with fencing considered, but they will pay you a bit to keep the brush down.  I calculated that mine cost under $5/head per year to maintain and give me on average 1.2-1.4 kids per year, but that’s almost 100% forage and doesn’t consider fencing.
4th, I see a vertical line on the left side of the image.  I assume this is a power line, pipeline, or some other right of way.  Don’t put anything permanent on that. 
5th, wouldn’t hurt to do some timber management to increase timber value.  Cull some lower value trees and limb better ones high to make a better log.  Depends on your location though.  Some states have excellent incentives to do this work and will reduce your property taxes.  Others, nothing.
6th, keep receipts for tax time.  Betting you already know that from your other business though. 
7th, do the neighbors have dogs that run loose?  If so, plan to pen the chickens or find a good guard dog.  Know that it takes a special dog to guard chickens.  The other option is real good fence and clipping the chickens wings.
8th, don’t use this as an EXCUSE to by a tractor.  If you have the funds and want to, don’t let me stop you, but most people I see that move onto small acreage like this would be better served renting some equipment or contracting it out as needed.  A small tractor with a mower though can be a great option, but zero turns are MUCH faster especially around trees… even if the tractor is a hydrostat.

Offline outoforder2day

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Re: Oh lord, oh lord, oh lord, I just bought 20 acres... help.
« Reply #18 on: April 30, 2018, 11:03:00 AM »
First off, congratulations!
My wife and I purchased our property about 3 years ago now and the biggest piece of advice I can give, which we got at the time, was: do the minimum necessary for one year and watch/learn your property during that time. There is generally a lot of "honey do" work when you first get a new home, and that's really where you should start. Make your interior home space comfortable so you have a strong foundation to work out from. It's fantastic to have an idea of where you want to go and build outside, but you'd be surprised how it can change when you become more familiar with your land through the seasons.
We had more than a dozen ideas int he beginning that didn't pan out, and we recently redid many elements of the design based on a consult with Nick Ferguson and our years of identifying what was working and what wasn't. For example, we knew hardscaping was where we needed to start, but we didn't plan on putting in a new gravel drive and access road until Nick pointed out the major benefits of doing so. From there, we can build out easily, but putting that road in later would be significantly more difficult. This is just one of many things that came out of our consult, and I'd really recommend getting one from someone with experience. Mind you, my wife is an architect and I've done a fair amount of layout/design/building work, but we still benefited greatly from the external perspective.
TLDR: Start from zone zero and work out. Take the time to learn your land before you start making fundamental changes.

Offline LvsChant

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Re: Oh lord, oh lord, oh lord, I just bought 20 acres... help.
« Reply #19 on: April 30, 2018, 11:32:08 AM »
+1 T Kehl and Outoforder2day

I appreciate the thoughtful advice you both offered... good for all of us to consider.

Offline Wraith

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Re: Oh lord, oh lord, oh lord, I just bought 20 acres... help.
« Reply #20 on: April 30, 2018, 02:17:52 PM »
All,
  Thanks for all the input.

T Kehl, but I want muh dang kubota. The BX 26 has a 6' reach on the backhoe and I have 3 girls that are gonna be teenagers soon. I will have many holes to dig... (and no dang it I cant afford it outright but I wants it. it will be my precious)   :D

Outoforder2day, you are correct on the honey do list for zone zero, my wife has an excel spreadsheet of things I will be doing. I plan on the outside work being my escape from the inside work... Are you saying that is not gonna work out? My wife put you up to saying that, didn't she...

Thanks again for all the input. I will have to check out Nick Ferguson's stuff... I just don't think my wife is as interested in it as I am, so getting a consultant out there may be somewhat complicated.

Offline outoforder2day

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Re: Oh lord, oh lord, oh lord, I just bought 20 acres... help.
« Reply #21 on: May 01, 2018, 12:05:13 PM »
All,
  Thanks for all the input.

T Kehl, but I want muh dang kubota. The BX 26 has a 6' reach on the backhoe and I have 3 girls that are gonna be teenagers soon. I will have many holes to dig... (and no dang it I cant afford it outright but I wants it. it will be my precious)   :D

Outoforder2day, you are correct on the honey do list for zone zero, my wife has an excel spreadsheet of things I will be doing. I plan on the outside work being my escape from the inside work... Are you saying that is not gonna work out? My wife put you up to saying that, didn't she...

Thanks again for all the input. I will have to check out Nick Ferguson's stuff... I just don't think my wife is as interested in it as I am, so getting a consultant out there may be somewhat complicated.

No, this is all me. I don't think I know your wife unless y'all are in Eastern PA. To clarify, I didn’t say do *nothing* outside. I suggested doing the minimum necessary. It’s totally up to you to decide what that is. My advice is to keep the scope small, though. If you know you want a garden, why put it far away from your house in an area you’d need to clear. It looks like you have some open lawn space by the house itself. Setting up a raised bed garden with automatic watering could take quite a bit of time. Especially if you want to fence it properly.

On the trails front, have you checked contour lines to make sure the trails make sense? How about number of trees in the way that need to be removed? Before you tackle that removal, I’d have a plan and space set up for wood processing. In fact, I’d say that’s a step 1 thing: easy access wood processing and storage area.
I would highly recommend that you read The Resilient Farm and Homestead by Ben Falk. It’s probably the best book to get your head around some of these design elements and the prioritization of them.

As for the tractor, trust me I get you. I just bought a Kubota B2560 with grapple, brushhog, forks, etc. I waited three years for it and paid for mowing because of life circumstances. I knew I needed it, though, and I proved that out over those years. Now that I have it, it's game changing.

Offline kckndrgn

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Re: Oh lord, oh lord, oh lord, I just bought 20 acres... help.
« Reply #22 on: May 01, 2018, 12:30:32 PM »
Congrats on the land!

As for your tractor, the BX line might be a bit small for your needs.  I own a BX2370, bought it new 2 years ago and I have just under 200 hrs on it.  It's a great little tractor, but, it is little.  Depending on what you want to do with the tractor you might be better with a B or L series.   I have 2 acres for my primary home and 22 acres for recreation/hunting/retirement home.  The 22 acres is mostly wooded, with narrow trails on it so the BX is great for getting into tight spots.
With the BX line you will be limited to 4' implements, mostly.  Brush Hog, Box blade, tiller all need to be 4'.  If you want 5' or 6' you'll need to go with the B or L series. 
I will second, that a ZT mower is best for going around trees.  I mow most of the 2 acre home with the BX and the 60" belly mower.  When we bought the home, just over 2 years ago, there were very few trees, over the past 2 years we have planted more than 50 trees/bushes (and removed a few as well).  Mowing with the BX is a pain going around the trees, really wish our budget would allow for a ZT, but that's a few years off.

Now on the plus side of the BX, it's done pretty much everything I've needed.  I box blade the driveway on the hunting property every year and I've leveled of some land for our cabin, I BH the field on the hunting land, and bought a cheap, used 4' tiller and use it for the garden.   I even used the tractor to clear snow this past winter (that doesn't happen much in W TN).

Again, congrats on the new homestead!

Offline Wraith

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Re: Oh lord, oh lord, oh lord, I just bought 20 acres... help.
« Reply #23 on: May 01, 2018, 03:04:14 PM »
Outoforder2day, I was just givin you grief ":-) I will look up Fauk's book. The red lines are really just a guide. I will walk the terrain and clear paths as they lay naturally. I used to do it for the local forestry. It is just easier to draw squiggles to help my wife envision it.
 on the tractor front, I don't plan on buying one right away. I have coworker that lives 11 miles away with a BX that I have already claimed when he isn't using it to get me going and to help me see how much I can really justify the need.
  As for the zero turn, I have no need of it. I bought a used "big mow" a few years back from the local golf course to take care of the home I have now. It is effectively a zero turn with zero drivers needed :-) I just have to pull up the buried cable fencing and re-lay it on the new property. Solar power charger keeps her running strong and I don't have to mow any grass, although I might clear an area just so the kids have to maintain it to learn life lessons and such... who knows.

Kckndrgn, thanks. I look forward to the new homestead. Thanks for the info on the BX.