February 7, 2014

Homestead Master Plan: Updates & Tweaks

2014 revised Master Plan. Copies of recent master
 plans can be found in  5 Acres & A Dream The Book

No profound changes with this revision. A few finished projects needed to be added:

Specific plans for the barn are the main reason for the update. Past master plans all show something different in regards to the barn. The current plan for the barn is to tear down the existing outbuilding and build a goat barn in it's footprint. This plan is pretty much set.

Before we can tear down the existing shed we have to move everything out of it. That has led to turning the carport into Dan's workshop, also building the chicken coop so we can use the old coop for storage too. More on all that soon.

The other change to the master plan is a fence for the big garden where I have deer browsing, chickens scratching, and stray dogs digging. That has gotta stop! Nothing specific yet, except we know it will need to be tall to keep the beet green and sweet potato vine eating deer out.

The puzzle is what to do about planting field corn this spring with its companion cowpeas. We've been growing it for the past three years to provide corn for cornmeal and some of our chicken feed. We have no means to plow however, so we're stumped about what to do.

I should also mention that the plan is not specifically to scale, rather it is a rough sketch. We aren't so much mapping the homestead out as we are trying to see how all the pieces might possible fit together.

I know several of you have specifically mentioned the master plans in your book reviews. Has anyone got one ready to share?


jewlz said...

Decided on the new barn eh? Very exciting! As far as plowing, any way you can let the pigs and chickens work the land for you? Or barter the work done? Maybe a sustainable option is a watch animal big enough to train to pull. At any rate, sounds like you're taking another big step forward toward materializing your master plan!

Leigh said...

JW, pigs are definitely on our list to get this spring! I'm very curious as to how good a tilling job they are able to do (not to mention Dan loves pork). The chickens do a great job of scratching the surface to leave bear spots for pasture seed.

We do have a neighbor who has a tractor with a tilling attachment. He graciously did some tilling for us in the past, but we find this really doesn't turn the soil deep enough to kill weeds. We've talked about paying someone to plow, but Dan's a do-it-himself guy so is reluctant to go that route (it's all about the "self" in "self-sufficiency.") What he'd really like is a horse! Second to that, a walk-behind tractor with a variety of attachments. Both are a little out of our budget at present, but maybe someday. :)

Farmer Barb said...

Hi! May I offer the suggestion of top rail with tent fittings on the top poked into ground sleeves? I bought a bunch of tent fittings in different styles. I run a thick cord through and then drape the whole ensemble with deer netting , bird netting and hardware cloth on the bottom. The area I did was 45' x 80'. It was inexpensive, comparatively, and effective. The deer here are like rhinos and will bull through anything that is in their normal pattern. I can't tell you how many times I saw them standing there, wondering how to get in. I currently sport a herd of FIFTEEN does/yearlings. It looks like a bunch of hoodlums out there.

As for the pigs--our Guinea hogs at the Nature Center pulled up rocks as big as turkeys and in the span of about three months left no semblance of turf. Considering how much they lay around, it is amazing what two sows and two litters can do!

badgerpendous said...

Oooh, can't wait to hear about pigs! With our big drought here in CA, we're probably going to really, really scale back the garden this year so I'll be gardening vicariously through you guys!

(btw, at the moment, the images are missing from the post...)

Leigh said...

Barb, we're collecting ideas for that fence now so you're idea is timely!

You're about the 3rd or 4th person to recommend Guinea Hogs to me. I have researched them and they sound perfect. Finding them is the challenge. The closest (so far) is several states away. Since we're not ready to try breeding and farrowing yet, we may go with something closer and less expensive to start. we may have to get on a waiting list for a pair anyway!

Garrett, thanks for the heads up about the images! I did some tweaking with photobucket.

I'm so sorry you're still in the middle of that horrific drought. Hopefully relief will come soon, for the sake of all Californian gardeners and farmers.

Anonymous said...

It is amazing to see all you have done in the few years you have been there! I hope I can make such great progress here on my little spot.


Anonymous said...

Pigs can do an amazing job of tilling, especially if confined to a smallish area. We used cattle panels (16 feet long) to make a movable pen for ours. When they'd worked an area, I moved the pen a bit.

Also to consider with deer is that it is hard to build higher than they can jump. Around here, most folks go with a fence within a fence. Even though they could clear it, it seems to confuse the deer enough to keep them out.

Leigh said...

Stephanie, I do hope you map all your ideas out into a master plan and then blog about it! I'd love to see what you hope to accomplish.

Sue, we've seen the double fence before and wondered about it. Now I know why. Do you have an idea of how far apart?

Thanks for the tip on the cattle panels too. Some folks recommend electric, but Dan's reluctant to use that. Our first year with pigs will definitely be our year for learning.

DebbieB said...

Leigh, I'm halfway through the book, loving it. Making notes as I read, for an eventual review, I promise!

So wise to tweak things as you go along and discover what works and what doesn't work. That's something that really stands out in your book - that no matter how much research and careful thought goes into a plan, experience is the best teacher, and adjustments must be made.

Kev Alviti said...

I'm in the process of drawing up plans but haven't finished them yet. Been busy fencing. Hopefully the pig pen will be ready by the spring. When I draw up the plans I'm alao going to mark on what we did eaxh year so I can look back and see how much we did. Such a good idea.

Leigh said...

Debbie, thank you! Your kind words about my book are a real treat. I have to say that I learn more from my mistakes than from my successes. :)

Kev, that's exciting news about the pig pen. We're planning for pigs this year too. I do hope you'll blog about your master plan.

Anonymous said...

If you space the fences about 3-4 feet apart,that seems to be perfect. And the fences don't need to be tall, 4 foot seems to be adequate. If they are farther apart, the deer can jump one fence then the other.

For us, the cattle panels worked great for pigs. A single t-post at each corner, and we just rotated the pen around one corner until they cleared that whole space enough to suit us. As long as they had breakfast on time, ours never escaped (even though they could have). I hope to do pigs again soon; they are a lot of fun and oh so tasty!

Jody said...

I love to see your layouts. We're still doing ours on paper. You have so many great trees! I see you've got plenty of new projects going on. I don't know how you get it all done!

Scott said...

Absolutely love your blog and your master plan posts year after year.

I've been dreaming of raising hogs for awhile but haven't gotten the support from the spouse so far. Another great blog that has documented their experience is Farm Folly and they have two great articles listed below:

Pig Roundup - Lessons Learned

Complete Cost of Raising Pigs

Hope these are of some help and I look forward to your progress this year!

Leigh said...

Sue, thanks. We'll have to figure out how much room we have to do that. Good to know about breakfast and escaping pigs, too. :)

Jody, good to hear from you! We do have a lot of projects, but I confess progress is often slow. I'm glad to hear you're mapping your place out. I hope you blog about it when you're done.

Scott, thank you! I follow Lee and Robin's blog and have really enjoyed it. Their journey has paralleled ours in many ways, on old house on 5 acres and big plans. :) Thanks for the links!