August 15, 2009

A Master Plan

Recently, blogger Molly at CrossRoads shared the plan for their place with her readers. Since we've been working on a master plan for our own place, I was very interested in hers. Even though we've only been here three months, we realize that if we don't have a vision and goals for our little homestead, then the end result will be haphazard, random, and ultimately inconvenient. We also realize that we haven't lived here long enough to have fully observed the sun and weather patterns throughout the seasons. Still, we've lived in the area a number of years and can put that experience to good use.

If you are new to this blog, then I'll start by telling you that our five acres is pie shaped. You can get the gist of it from this old areal photograph -

The part we're working on is the front portion of the triangle where the land has already been cleared. At the moment, our master plan looks roughly like this (click to biggify):

Copies of our master plan plus revisions are available in  my
book, 5 Acres & A Dream The Book: The Challenges of
Establishing a Self-Sufficient Homestead
.  For information,
click here.

Some of it is either already in place or in progress. Some of it is yet to be. Some of it we haven't figured out yet, like where to put a greenhouse and some bee hives. It's a rough sketch at any rate and not to scale. Still, it gives you an idea of what we are thinking about for now.

~ The house will be an ongoing project for quite awhile. Considering that it's 80 years old, it needs some repair and quite a few updates.

~ The barn is yet to be and will replace the two small sheds that we currently have.

Dan wants to put the root cellar under it, as there is an excellent slope to the back of the property there. It will be home to goats, possibly sheep, and chickens. That is also where the workshop will be.

~ A chicken yard will be attached to the barn, though they will get to free range some too.

~ Vegetable garden is underway. Update on that soon.

There is a hedge of Beauty Bush separating it visually from the house.

A hedge of old fashioned Beauty Bush.Bees love these. They are ornamental, but also act as a privacy hedge from traffic coming from that direction.

~ We'll put in some fruit trees between the road and the garden, two apple and two peach I think.

~ The front yard will become an herb garden and will include culinary, medicinal, and dye plants. I plan to start on that this spring, gradually adding a section at a time until eventually there is no more lawn.

One other thing I need to plant in front is something to shade the western windows of my studio. On sunny summer afternoons it gets quite warm in there. At the moment I'm thinking about a dwarf or semi-dwarf honeysweet pear tree.

~ The meditation garden is something we'd like to do eventually. It's a quite, shady, private spot that would be perfect for a bench to sit on.

~ The shade garden will be where this year's garden is.

Again, I need a deciduous tree to shade the front porch and bedroom from the hot summer sun in the late afternoon. For this, I would like a Ginkgo, "Autumn Gold". I plan to plant the two shade trees this fall. As the ginko grows, I will plant more shade lovers.

~ The hedgerow already has it's start with the Leyland Cypresses. I was thinking today though, about other things to plant with them, to add color and interest. I have loads of hardy hibiscus around the place and am thinking about transplanting some this fall to the hedgerow. They wouldn't get sun until the afternoon, but most of them are already growing in the shade so they couldn't do any worse.

~ We have two areas we plan to fence in, field #1 and #2. #1 is badly overgrown.

This is the one we're talking about fencing first and putting goats in. We'll fence in #2 later, so that we can rotate grazing. I'm not sure if we can alternate growing hay in them, but that would be something to look in to.

~ Field #2 is where my rabbiteye blueberry currently lives. There is also a circular sort of berm in the middle of it, perhaps a good place for a pond(?) Someday(?)

~ The pecan and fig trees are already well established, and I've already shown you my old oaks.

~ The back portion of the property is wooded. We've wandered around back there and discovered it is a mix of hardwoods and pine. It has some pretty spots, and I'd like to clear a walking trail. Maybe this winter when we can see the lay of the land. We've also talked about eventually fencing this in too, but that's a ways down the road.

~ Greenhouse and beehive locations to be determined, as I mentioned.

And of course the rest of it may change somewhat as well. But at least we have a plan, which gives us direction and helps us set our priorities. Dan is anxious for it all to be done, but I'm just happy to be working on it. This blog is all about that journey.


Sharon said...

Three months?! I am absolutely exhausted at what you have accomplished. You left out the chimney.

Life Looms Large said...

It's good to have a plan - and an ambitious one at that!!

I'll be cheering you on!


Woolly Bits said...

having a plan is more than we had when we started! better than just jumping in and making lots of mistakes this way... though I wonder why you're planning to put fruit trees along the road? what about the exhaust fumes on your pickings? or is there very little traffic from cars?

Anonymous said...

WTG! Love the plan, youre going to have a gorgeous, productive food forest when you have finished. I'm with woolly though, fruit near highways is susceptible to all those fumes.

Renee Nefe said...

your plan sounds wonderful - ambitious but doable. I think that bees will be very happy anywhere that you put them on your property but like you can't figure out where a greenhouse might be. Perhaps once you get some of the other things done it will become more obvious where it should go.

I'm so excited for you. I see the cats have taken to this life very well.

Theresa said...

What a wonderful idea! I could have used a master plan about 6 years ago. Just remember, goats browse, sheep graze, grass is great for sheep but the goats like browse more like grazers, nipping the heads off, choice leaves etc.

Mim said...

If possible one thing I wish I had done was put fruit trees where our sheep can be fed leftovers by letting out in the orchard to clean the fruit on the ground. Chickens and turkeys like that job also.

bspinner said...

You've already accomplished more in three months than most people do in a year.

Always a good idea to have a plan especially when you have so much you want to accomplish.

Good luck.

Julie said...

I just can't believe all that you have done in such a short time. We have been working on ours for the same amount of time and haven't gotten that much done. Will I guess we did paint!

Leigh said...

Actually, I don't like planting anything near the road. My problem is that this is the sunniest place to plant things that need good sun. The back of the property is very shady.

We don't have heavy traffic, mostly before & after work & school. For us, it's primarily a privacy issue.

I will continue to think about where to plant those fruit trees. I would like to get them in this fall or spring, so I need to make a decision. Mim, thanks for the info about the sheep. That current spot is a strip about 30 feet wide, running parallel to the road, and was originally intended as tractor/trailer parking. One idea was for DH to become an owner/operator for the purpose of trying to get the place paid off as soon as possible. That fell through however, so the 2nd idea was to plant the fruit trees there. One thing that will go there for sure is either another privacy hedge or a privacy fence.

Sharon, as I was thinking ahead and drawing this out, I thought about the chimney. And the roof. And dining room floor. And kitchen. And fixing the front porch. And painting the house. Rather than wear myself out, I just lumped it all under "house!"

Renee, I think you're right. I think the location for the greenhouse will just become obvious one of these days. And yes, the cats love it! Especially now that they can go outside.

Theresa, I got the idea of Shetland sheep from Mim and Michelle both of whom raise Shetlands. They mentioned that Shetlands are also browsers, unlike most other breeds. Of course, the browse won't last forever.

Julie, most of it's done only in our heads :) but we're in route.

Benita said...

I love reading about what your plans are and what you are doing with your place. You and your DH are an inspiration!