When we first bought our place we walked the land, dreamed out loud, and discussed what we wanted to do. To keep our proposed big picture in mind, Dan wanted to map out how it would look some day. That's what our Master Plan is, a map of where we hope we're heading; of our goals fulfilled. It serves as a reminder of what we've decided and makes it easier to discuss how new ideas fit into the big picture.
We've updated it almost every year. Now that new goat quarters are finally going to become a reality, we've been reflecting back over what we've learned over the past several years and have been discussing land usage. All of this is reflected in the new Master Plan. (To see previous plans, click here).
|Click for enlarged image. Things in black are current, blue |
designates what's planned. Gates are notated with pairs of dots.
The biggest change (besides the goat barn) is more permanent designations for pasture and field crops. I've long hung on to the idea that we could rotate field crops and pasture in a four or five year rotation plan that utilized our critters in soil preparation. The reality of doing that has proved more challenging than I anticipated. This is partly because the odd shape of our land doesn't facilitate an easy moving around of critters. The animals themselves don't like change-ups, especially if it means being driven to different areas. It's so much easier to simply open one gate or another, depending on where we want them. This doesn't mean we can't use them in various areas, but having a more permanent setting is less confusing for them.
The area we've chosen for field crops in the new plan is in a good sunny spot which has fewer weeds than "doe pasture 2" and more sun than "buck pasture 2" where I've grown them in the past. We plan to prepare it next fall for winter wheat. The placement of the new goat barn with a small fenced-in "goat corral" will make it easy to rotate between the girls' two pastures.
Rotating the bucks amongst their smaller pasture areas will require a little more fencing (as in a corridor from the shelter to buck pasture 3. We may even be able to divide their pasture 1 into two for additional rotations. I also plan to make more hedgerow garden areas along fencelines between the various pasture areas.
For permanent quarters, we think the pigs should be toward the back of the property. When they were closer to the house it was impossible to carry feed or hay to the goats without being accosted by pigs. They are pigs, after all! We can still give them access to whatever area we want them rooting in, so they can still have pasture, but a permanent home farther back gives us a little more control. As long as we feed them in the same spot, they'll be happy.
Once the barn is done we can finish the house (only three more windows plus siding to go), including adding on a small greenhouse. That front corner of the house faces south and gets good sun in winter.
The other thing we plan to do is finish fencing the rest of the property. Most of the property is fenced, except for the back "wooded, not fenced" area. There is a lot of good browse back, but the property lines are very dense with shrubs and fallen trees. It will be a big job to clear it to erect a fence.
The most amazing thing with this plan is seeing how far we've come and how "little" is left to finally have the sense of being "established." Trying to get one's homestead set up is a lot of work and there is sometimes a difficult balance amongst time, money, and our goals.
Do you have a Master Plan? I'm looking for folks who do, because I'd like "How To Make a Master Plan" to be part of my The Little Series of Homestead How Tos. If you'd be willing to be interviewed for an upcoming book and see your plan in e-print, please contact me and I'll tell you what I have in mind.