July 11, 2011

Homestead Master Plan: 2011 Revision

One thing we try to do every year, is take time to re-evaluate our homestead master plan. We think it's key to helping us toward our primary goal of the most self-sufficient lifestyle we can achieve. At least once a year, we like to re-evaluate what needs to be done and how we want to do it. We make changes in our plan, and adapt our goals as we research and learn more about the things we'd like to do. We also believe it's important to stop and focus on the big picture from time to time, because it's too easy to get stuck on individual projects and problems, and forget why we're doing this in the first place. It's a time to take a fresh look at what we're trying to accomplish and to analyze how we can best get there. It's a time to adjust our thinking and take a deep breath before taking the next step.

Our plan has evolved a bit in the two years we've been here. Our first two master plans (2009 original plan here, and the 2010 revision here), focused only on the cleared part of our acreage. Our property is triangular in shape, like a slice of pizza. The shortest side of that triangle is at the front of the property, bordering the road, and is where the house and cleared areas are. The back is wooded. Now that our focus is shifting more toward breeding Kinder goats, we want to incorporate the back portion of the property into the master plan as well. Being wooded, it will make wonderful browse areas for goats, who really prefer shrubs, plants, and trees to grass and pasture.

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

Firstly I need to mention that this is a rough sketch, not to scale and not entirely accurate. I tried to make it as accurate as possible, by comparing our survey, aerial photo, and an old topographical map to get the layout correct. I discovered that even these cannot be superimposed on one another accurately; the location of the buildings and even shape of the property vary somewhat on each one. (You can see an aerial photo here, and the topo map here.) In addition, trying to figure out exactly where the fields and fences are was a challenge, but they're approximate enough that at least you get an idea.

At first glance, the fence lines do seem oddly placed, until you understand they follow the treelines and natural contours of the land. The color coded text on the plan gives a gist of the past, present, and future of the place.

Purple: is how it was when we got here. The place had been badly neglected and was terribly overgrown. The blueberry bush and fig trees were a very pleasant discovery, and there are actually more pecan trees than I've indicated. The outbuildings, though rundown, were serviceable, and from that we made our start.

Blue: is what we've accomplished in the past 2 years & 2 months since we bought the place. Besides repairs and remodeling on the house, we've done a lot of planting and all the fencing (dotted lines are completed fences). Fruit and nut trees will take awhile to produce and so were particularly a priority. So was establishing a garden. I've also done quite a bit of transplanting.

Red is planned, future projects. Besides finishing the kitchen (our indoor project), our current outdoor project is fencing the back part of the property, starting with the area labeled "buck browse". This is a huge job, expensive and labor intensive. On the other hand, it's a project we can do pay-as-we-go. The woods will be perfect for goat browse, and give us the ability to rotate the goats off of the grazing areas. The pastures are another concern. They aren't what I would call proper pastures, but fields. We plan to start on pasture improvement soon, and hope to be able to have good quality grazing as well as the ability to make some of our own hay. Also in our future (we hope): a real barn, bees, pigs, and a greenhouse, for which we're planning to use the old swimming pool as a foundation.

Green is a few random features which we have to live with.

What this plan doesn't show, is our water conservation plan, which I talked about here. Repairs and upgrades on our old house are ongoing, but not included in the master plan.

Most of the time we only see what is yet to be done. It seems like that's a lot and it gets discouraging at times. But between the master plan and our annual homestead goals, we are gradually making progress. When I look at our updated plan, I can see exactly how much. And that's encouraging.  Step by step we're getting there.

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What about you? Do you have a master plan or a list of goals?


Woody said...

Ya'll have come a long way. I like the your plans.

Jane @ Hard Work Homestead said...

You really are very organized. I try to not make lists anymore because it just becomes a reminder of what we didnt get done yet:)

Sherri B. said...

You are sooo organized, I love the map. I bet it feels good to see it on paper, how much you have accomplished! Right now we are putting in fruit trees every year and are thinking of having more chickens in our flock.

Tami said...

Love seeing and hearing about your plans, Leigh. Do you visit Throwback at Trapper Creek? She posts a lot about how to get/maintain good quality pasture.

Renee Nefe said...

I love watching your plan evolve. It is so inspiring to see your dreams come true.

Here we have a plan and plug along at getting things done. Things we have already done are Paint the house, install AC, install humidifier, plant some trees, replace the water heater, replace the windows.

Things we need to get done soon. Replace the front porch, replace the roof (just the shingles).

Things we would like to do... new counter tops and sink in the kitchen, new flooring in the family room and office (the family room is the main priority as it wasn't installed correctly and is coming up by the kitchen), remodel the bathrooms.

Short term goals: get the trees out of my vegetable garden - hopefully transplanting them into the yard. Take out the strawberry plants that need to be replaced. Then figure out what will grow here and work on a schedule for getting that into the ground at the right time of year so we can actually have a working garden.

Anonymous said...

Tee hee Leigh, I'm your 300th follower/friend...woo hoo! Congrats!

I love your plan and the idea of the pool being a greenhouse.... genius!


Lynda said...

Wow! I should sit down and make a plan, too. I just kinda' throw things together. I am surprised though when I look back and see how much has been done.

I love your farm. You have made use or will make use of every square inch...I like when folks do that.

Laura said...

I notice that you have room for "pig - to be fenced." You will need enough room for 2 pigs. They will not grow well without competition, and are just as social as goats, if not more. Pigs, for me, are the hardest of the animals I've raised to butcher, but when they're gone, I'm quite glad!!

Leigh said...

Woody, it's amazing how much things can change in two years.

Jane, that's why we need the master plan! :)

Sherri, well, it only looks that way on paper. Vague plans are pretty easy actually. It's the details that we stuck on! I love that you're planting fruit trees every year. We're hoping to expand our flock of chickens too!

Tami, thank you for reminding be about TTC. I used to read her blog all the time, but nowadays, I only seem to have time to return visits to commenters (commentors?)on my blog. I will definitely have to go see what the Matron has to say about pastures!

Renee, thanks! You have a long list too. It's amazing how they can change, isn't it? Your short term goals are really right on target and will help a lot for your garden productivity.

Pam, really?!?!? Wow! I can't believe I made it to 300 followers. Congrats on being that magic number!

Lynda, its fun to create a plan and helpful too. Dan actually insists on it, being a "big picture" sort of person. The last thing we want to do, is to have to go back to fix things to accommodate a new idea or goal. He's also the one who wants to utilize every square inch that God has given us. That's how we define good stweardship. :)

Laura, yes, I should have labeled that "pigs"! We're definitely planning on two, for the reasons you mention. We're even considering choosing a heritage breed to raise. Pigs are a few years down the road though, and breeding would be even farther down than that.

Farming Mama said...

Hi! I'm new to your blog, although I feel like I must have stumbled across it before on a homestead hop since it seems vaguely familiar :) I love your garden sketch, and having things color coded is such a great idea! We have a master list and plans too, although we likely spend too much time playing with plans and not enough time actually outside putting the plans into action! Great post :)

Donna OShaughnessy said...

And when it comes to pigs...might I suggest the Red Wattle. Friendly, fast growers, fantastic meat and great lard for soap. Only 2000 in the world we need more Red Wattle Farmers!

The Urban Rabbit said...

It must be wonderful to be so organized! I always feel like I'm two steps behind everything that needs to get done. I love the idea of having pigs but mostly because I love the idea of bacon. lol. I've never had real cured bacon. Being a city girl the closest we get is the store bought stuff. Thanks for the comment on my page! have a great week!

Leigh said...

Katy, thank you and welcome! I agree that a master plan is a lot of fun to play with. It's a great way to explore ideas and possibilities. We find it takes a lot of time though, to think things through before we make our final decisions. Sketching it out on paper really, really helps. :)

Donna, thank you! We done some research on pigs, but we're just in the beginning stages of that. I went over the the American Livestock Conservancy website and it looks like Red Wattles would be perfect for us. I appreciate the recommendation!

Danielle, we only look organized on paper. And that's why we have it on paper! LOL :)

bspinner said...

You've come a long way. I'm so impressed by your plans and what you've done to your house and farm!!

Leigh said...

Barb, thanks!

Anonymous said...

I love your master plans. I was wondering if you guys have thought about raising fish. You could use the old swimming pool and put the green house next to it. It could also be combined to an aquaponic system in the green house.

Leigh said...

Anonymous, I appreciate the idea and link. We'll have to take a look at it. The key to doing that would be whether or not the old swimming pool can still hold water. It's been buried for a long, long time and we are assuming the concrete is cracked. Would absolutely love to raise fish though. It'd definitely something to consider.