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Archive for January, 2015

Bucket List

Since I only have my phone to use to post right now, I figured it would be a good time to post a question.   I have a bucket list that I intend to hang on my wall and check things off of as a motivational list of my accomplishments.   When I was a little younger, my list was skydiving and whitewater rafting.   I have done these things.  I have since added to drive cross country and build my own home.   Both of which are getting closer.  I also someday would like to own my own business and publish something.  And of course to raise a family, which should prove to be the hardest and best goal of my life.  My question is, what is on your bucket list? If you don’t have one, what goals do you have in life?

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Little Break

My computer has crashed.   I think it’s a big one.  I may not be able to post for a while.   But I’ll be back.

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Stop and Small the Roses

 

 

Close your eyes and listen to the picture…DSC_0164

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#6. Efficient Energy Planning

Efficient energy planning is all about three things: zones, sectors, and slope.  Using these three categories, you can set up your homestead so that you will need to use the least energy possible.  This means energy from people and energy in other forms such as wind or water.  In order to get the most accomplished in the least amount of time, increasing efficiency, you should follow these ideas.

The idea of zones is based on the idea that the areas on your homestead that you would visit the most often should be closest to your house or the easiest to access.  The areas of the homestead that you visit the least are the furthest off the path.  The zones are set up from zone 0 to zone 5 with 0 being your house.  Zone 1 is comprised of all the things that need the most attention or need to be harvested daily.  Some examples are firewood, herbs, the kitchen garden, and small animals like chickens (you may want these almost between zone 1 and 2 due to smell).  Zone 2 is made up of things that need less attention but still need to be tended to like delicate fruit bushes, larger animals, and perennial vegetables.  Zone 3 is mostly things that still need tending, but very little.  Things like larger fruit bushes, small fruit trees, and grazing animals like cows.  Zone 4 is made up of things that don’t need hardly any attention at all, just harvesting.  A wood lot would be something you would have in zone 4.  Zone 5 is untouched nature.  You go here only to observe and learn, to enjoy nature as it is.  Maybe collect a mushroom or two (if you know what you are doing).  Really, zoning a homestead makes perfect sense.  You just have to plan it out in advance.

Sectors relates to the energies coming in from outside of your setup.  This could be the sumer and winter sun, the wind, the views you have and even the noisy neighbors.  How this relates to energy is how you use or block these different energies efficiently.  You want to know the direction the sun is coming from and at which angle because you want to set up your house to passively collect as much sun as possible for passive solar heating.  You want to know where the winds and/or winter storms are coming from so that you can grow a windbreak to block what you can.  If you have a great view, then you want to put a bench up where you can sit and take in the relaxing energy.  If you have noisy or otherwise undesirable neighbors, you might want to grow a sort of a windbreak to block this negative energy as well.  A little bit f planning can save you a lot in this area!

Slope is the final aspect of energy planning.  The main consideration with slope is water.  You want to know where you might have erosion so that you can plant things with good strong roots to prevent this erosion.  The most important thing with water and efficient energy planning is that you work with the flow of the water.  Put in swales or trenches that work with the flow of the water and not against it.  The slope of the land is the main driving force in this water flow.  Dig the paths for the water gently in to the slope and try to use as much of the natural drainage as possible.  You can redirect the water towards your garden or your pond.  Try not to have areas that are too steep that could wash out in heavy rains.  When you build your house and water storage, try to have the level of your cistern above the level of the house to aide in water pressure without an electric pump.  The slope of the land can also help greatly in home building.  For example, we plan to build our home right into a hillside, underground.  Working with the slope of the land, our underground house should be safer from leakage since the rainwater will naturally flow right over the house rather than crashing into it and setting us up for leaks.

So many people choose not t buy land that is hilly and steep because it is harder to work with.  Rather than fight the slope, work with it.  There really are a lot of advantages to a steep, hilly lot.

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Our plans seem to change every other day as to what we want to build for a tiny house.  We have looked at many different types of natural building techniques.  We have researched exhaustively and spent hours seeing what others have done and watching videos and reading books.  Not that this can’t change, but here are our potential house plans.

xxx

There is also a loft area above that will be the master bedroom.  This is an earthbag house that we can buy the actual plans for from the site in the link above.  We decided that the earthbag type of house would be the easiest and quickest house for us to build with only the two of us building it.  We may have occasional help from friends and family, but we have to plan that we will be building it mostly by ourselves.  Neither of us are skilled builders and it seems as though this technique of building takes the least technical skill.  It will just be hard work and lots of muscle.  We also plan to build a practice project or two so that when it comes time to put the house up, we at least have some practice.  The plans for the house are meant to be for a vacation cottage, but we think it will be perfect to live in for a few years.  Now all we have to do is sort out the details and find places that sell the materials we will be needing.

 

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I have been considering starting up a forum to go along with this blog.  Discussions about homesteading, permaculture, temperate climate specific issues and things like that.  Is this something that any of you would be interested in?  Or is there already enough of that out there?

By the way, permies.com is currently my favorite forum if anyone is interested in what’s out there.

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I put in my order for the new trees and bushes for the homestead today!  Now we have to wait until May to pick them up.  I ordered from Fedcoseeds.com.  We are lucky enough to have a local permaculture group, the Maine Resilience Hub, where we were able to take part in a group order and get a discount on the trees.  It really is nice to finally have some people in the area who work with permaculture.  We did not have anything like this in Connecticut.  Let me tell you a little bit about what we bought and why:

Grapes:  First of all, I love grapes, I have to have plenty of them growing n my lot to make grape juice and jelly and whatever else I come up with.  Grapes fit into permaculture nicely too though.  If you plant your grapes over the area where you keep your chickens you get extra benefits.  The chickens love to eat the japanese beetles that will try to eat your grapes.  Apparently, if you go out in the morning and shake the grape vines a bit, the beetles will still be sleeping and will fall right out of the vines for the chickens to feast on.  The vines will also provide shade for the chickens in the summer.  I look forward to having a beautiful arbor on the lot as well.  I plan to incorporate this into our living fence as well.  Here is some info on grapes.

The next thing I picked out was blackberries.  I had attempted to transplant some blackberries from our old home to here, but I’m not sure they made it.  I won’t know until spring, so I got some more.  They will also be incorporated into the living fence.  You get tons of delicious fruits and the thorns can help to keep thing away from the fence.  I did not but any more raspberries, but I believe the ones we bought last year are alive and well.  Here are some links with information about blackberries and raspberries.

We also bought some more highbush blueberries.  I liked the blueberries for the living fence because we have a lot of wet but well drained areas on the lot and this is what blueberries like.  I’m not sure how well they do for the living fence, I’m not sure how thick they grow, but from what I understand they can be pruned to be thicker.  If not, I can plant something behind the bushes to make it more of a fence.  I will plant my bushes on either side of the main water flow through the lot.  I think this will work well because this area will always be damp, but the roots will not be soaking in the water.  I will plant something that like to sit in water between the blueberries.  Growing information for highbush blueberries.

The last of the items I bought were all willows.  I really like the willows for a number of reasons.  They grow fast and grow thick so they will get us off to a good start on the living fence.  The willows I bought last year should give me a few cuttings to attempt to propagate to increase the fences size for free.  You can use the willow branches for a number of craft type projects like basket making or decorative pieces.  Many animals will eat different kinds of willow.  I will do more research on this before I feed them to my animals, but it could be an excellent source of fodder for cows.  Willows can also be used to make rooting hormone substitutes.  Apparently you grind up the willow branches and soak them in water and then use this to propagate other plants.  I hope to try this with the brambles that I planted last year.  The kinds of willows we have are: weeping willow, Japanese fantail willow, arctic blue willow, and black and pink pussy willows.  All willows like wet areas, so this may be an excellent plant to go between the blueberries in the wet area on the lot.  We have quite of few of these nice, wet areas, so there is plenty of room for all of the willows that I bought.  I’m not quite sure how wet or dry an area the willows really need, so there will be trial and error in this area.  Most of the lot really has plenty of moisture, so I think most areas will be great.

I am trying my best to match the best locations with the best plants so that I get the maximum benefit all the way around.  If you take the time to get the perfect spot for your plants to grow, they will be much healthier and happier.  By the time this living fence is done, I will expect there to be dozens of different varieties of plants incorporated into it.  This will make it much more viable and much more valuable to us and the ecosystem we are trying to create.

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