My dream about to be realised

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself Here' started by Linda Thompson, Nov 14, 2010.

  1. Linda Thompson

    Linda Thompson Junior Member

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    I have just secured the purchase of a hundred acre property with 40 cres of grazing land devided into 5 paddocks and the rest is very beautiful swamp land that is dry in summer. I will be building a house and shed in a 5 acre paddock and that will be my centre focus for my system...I will install wind and solar power and will have a composting toilet outside. grey water will be treated via a reed bed system and either drained into a pond and then redirected to the vege gardens and plantings or fed directly to water veges and other plants. The farm is a total blank canvas at the moment and is covered in wild rye grass with a heavy undergrowth of clover. I have 2 horses on it and also aim to include chickens ....ducks ....damara sheep ...cows ....and maybe a pig or 2... this is my life dream about to come true... :party: I would really like to hear of any suggestions of where to start with the garden. I have a approximately 6 inches of top soil on a deep clay base.
     
  2. milifestyle

    milifestyle New Member

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    Sounds great!

    The pigs might help mix the topsoil through the clay base and improve drainage, then just get tones of miracle cure... Organic Matter!
     
  3. JoH

    JoH Junior Member

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    How exciting. It would be great to hear about your progress.
     
  4. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    Start by getting to know what you have. Where you get your weather, what already grows there, what is available locally. Then plan and design on paper. Doing a PDC, or at least getting your hands on some books on permaculture design will help you work out what to put where to make it work best.
    Enjoy your dream!
     
  5. Linda Thompson

    Linda Thompson Junior Member

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    Hi eco4560... I have owned the property jointly for about 5 years but I have just secured it as my own so the weather patterns and water drainage are well known to me... I have used it for camping quite a bit but now that the kids have all left home and I am on my own I am going to build my retirement. I already have Bill Mollisons Intro to permaculture... permaculture 2 and his bible..permaculture design.. would love to do a P.D.C. but as I live on an island the expense of getting to a course does not fit in my budget... thankyou for your comments
     
  6. Linda Thompson

    Linda Thompson Junior Member

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    Hi milifestyle... thanks for the suggestion... I have heard that females are more dosile and they are easy to contain with a low hot wire.... I have a solar electric fence system already so that may be a good place to start... meanwhile I have started a decent worm farm about 2 months ago and the worms are multiplying like crazy... might have to build them a compost bin and get the organic matter brewing
     
  7. sun burn

    sun burn Junior Member

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    Congratulations on your new acquisition and the commencement of your dream and secondly on finding this forum. This forum has been exceedingly helpful to me on details. So don't be shy about asking questions or digging around in the search engine.

    In addition to the good advice already given above, i would say start on your vegie garden and get some poultry asap. the shed to live in is probably also a good idea to start on asap. Then you can take more care over your farm and house building.

    Are you alone?

    For building vegie gardens a number of us here have found Linda Woodrow's Permaculture for the home garden very good, even though we have more than a small block to live on. I don't use the chook tractor idea as i like my chooks ranging freely but others do it.

    I"d also get in other animals for manuring in early. That manure shit does wonders for the ground I believe. And next if you don't have time (and you won't), to be planting it all out carefully with your long term intended trees, put some legume seed in to cover your whole property. Some of it will be good for fodder for the animals so it will two jobs in one - feed the animals and improve your soil. (see the discussion we've been having today about nitrogen). YOu can get big bags of seed from your local farming centre.

    What are damara sheep good for? Are they the ones with their tails on? Are they for meat or wool?

    Keep a blog. I do one here on the members forum with links to pictures on photoblog and so do some others. But its good to keep a good diary of progress. (I actually keep several) . I look forward to hearing more about your dream project.
     
  8. Linda Thompson

    Linda Thompson Junior Member

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    Hi sunburn,
    I have read all of your posts and I am impressed, well done, thank you for the good advise and yes I am on my own but have been for a long time and because of that I have learnt a heap of skills that will be very usefull. Damara sheep are a breed of fat tail sheep that have been in Australia fro approx. 10 years. they are a very hardy and adaptable breed that tolerate a wide range of conditions including drought. Damara are a meat sheep that shed their wool naturally in summer so no need to shear them. the taste of their meat is A1. If you have ever tasted goat then they taste like a cross between goat and the finest lamb. Mmmm delicious. Damara also safely breed up to 3 times per year and are prone to birthing twins. I have kept damara before and during one very dry summer they were turned out into a swamp area that had also dried up but the vegetation was still quite lush from ground water and they coped very well and still mated...Mother nature would not allow this if the sheep were not healthy. they are my shoice of sheep to keep and of course the wool can be collected and used as mulch. I hope that helps.
     
  9. JoH

    JoH Junior Member

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    keeping a diary of what is going on in your garden each week/month is really interesting. knowing when things flower, when certain animals are around etc. What I wish I had done sooner is to plant every "edge" with useful plants - as I dont use pesticides - there are areas along fence lines etc that are difficult to mow - saves an edge of 4 ft high grass or hours on the wipper snipper.
     
  10. Linda Thompson

    Linda Thompson Junior Member

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    Settlement day tommorow...Friday...I think I will start planning by marking out on the ground what I have put on paper where I want things and then I will sit back with sketch paper in hand and take some notes...I might even dig a hole just for the hell of it... house and shed are ordered...
     
  11. Linda Thompson

    Linda Thompson Junior Member

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    Went out to the farm today with all good intentions. Was out there 2 weeks ago for a walk around the property and it was very pleasant indeed, get out there today and after a little rain the rye grass has shot up. 4ft tall and very thick, I only have thoughts of the tiger snakes lurking amongst the tall grass. I was not dissapointed but instead I am pleased in the knowledge that once cut and baled there will be plenty of back up feed for my horses and any other animals I may introduce to the property. I am also having thoughts of using the bales for hedging or borders to different areas of what will become my living supermarket. Another thought that comes to mind is the construction of a no dig garden to start my veges. Must be patient, first I must seek the services of a tractor , a hay rake and a bailer. Until next time the drawings will continue , planning will be ongoing and supplies will be sought.
     
  12. sun burn

    sun burn Junior Member

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    Wow you ordered a house and shed. How soon can you move in? Is it a kit home and shed?

    I Just wanted to note re when i suggested a vegie mandala, ultimately i want to do the food forest thing as per permaculture but i found the quickest way to get vegies going was to do a mandala first. And I will probably always have mandala vegie gardens also but i will enjoy keeping food growing through the gardens in as thick a way as possible. Having a vegie garden going makes you feel you can sort of relax a bit about the rest of the plans, though i have to admit i am working pretty hard at the moment but that's because I am trying to get things in for the wet season to maximise growth not because I feel pressured to get this place finished as such.

    Its great you are intimate with the property already. Will you have a go at cheese making and that sort of thing?

    I lived on a sheep station in tasmania for a few years. The merinos often had twins too but they were artificially inseminated. I think most survived though there were losses due to the cold mainly i'd say as they were often born in august. The lambs and mums lived in the paddock next to my house so i could see a lot of what went on. I like the fat tailed lambs. In Turkey the poeple love to eat the fat tail in a sandwich but i don't like eating fat so despite the delicious smell i couldn't eat my sandwich.
     
  13. sweetpea

    sweetpea Junior Member

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    Linda, how exciting to have such a project ahead! I live off the grid, have solar, composting toilets and passive solar heat in the house (plus a wood stove), gravity flow water and water tanks. Getting back to nature is not the easiest thing to do, but if you love it, it's definitely worth it. Have you thought about passive solar heat for the house? Just siting the location so the longest wall will be in the sun all day as it travels across the sky brings in wonderful heat, especially if you use dark composite shingles on the roof and dark, flat paint on the house. My house is completely insulated and it still gets in, probably through a lot of big windows. I can sit by the window in the morning and feel heat on a sunny day. I have had to hunt for plain double pane windows, because now the new ones, at least in the US, are called Low E, and keep out more heat. Single pane would probably let too much out at night.

    And for what it's worth, Frank Lloyd Wright said never to build on the top of a hill, but down below the top so that the roof is about as high as the top. I did that with mine and the protection from the wind has been amazing. the large pine trees on the hill behind the house sound like a freight train when the wind goes through them, but it's very calm down below that. And it's close enough to the top so that the heavy rain that will cause erosion at the bottom of the slope hasn't gained enough momentum to cause problems just down from the top.

    Well, I hope you keep reporting on your progress. I am a home improvement junkie, but I can't keep tearing apart my place and redoing it, so living vicariously through others is a lot safer! :)
     
  14. sweetpea

    sweetpea Junior Member

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    Oh, and not sure of how big a solar setup you are going to have, but you probably know to take care in buying appliances. You may not necessarily be able to use the same wattage appliances we are all sold in the stores. We have to start counting and keeping track. I got a small water heater that doesn't have to be on all day, has the smaller voltage that my system can handle, and although i have to wait for it to heat up, it doesn't suck the system down too far. I've downsized my refrigerator to where it only uses about 30 AMP hours a day, I have a 700 watt microwave (instead of an 1100 watt) and I use manual kitchen tools when I can, can opener, hand mixers, a solar oven, etc. Not sure of the voltages there, but the larger appliances like heaters, washers, electric stoves, etc, need huge voltages and usually solar systems don't have those.
     
  15. Linda Thompson

    Linda Thompson Junior Member

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    Hi sunburn,
    Yes I have ordered a kit home and shed.... I will be putting it all together on the ground and I have a group of friends that will help with the house raising while I bolt it all together. my realistic time frame is to be living in it or the shed while comopleting the house by this time next year.. November 2011. As for the vege patch well that has to wait till I get the paddocks mowed and bailed... The climate is very Mediteranian over here and where the farm is it is estimated at 500ml of rain per year.... with a short winter.

    Hi sweat pea,
    I have been talking to people and looking at solar systems in eco friendly houses here on Kangaroo island and I dont think that I will consider wind at all due to the many break downs that have occured and people being with out power whilst waiting for the generators to be repaired for up to 3 months.. I have been looking at appliances and 12 volt is the way I will go. 1 gentleman I spoke to has 6 panels on his roof and runs his house and accommodation for 10 people all on 12 volt and says he has never run out of power. He did admit to having a generator for backup and runs it occasionally to keep the cobwebs out of it. I will have solar hot water with gas backup and gas cooking. My house will be heated with a bakers oven that will come in very handy for the winter roast and stews.. My house will not be facing due north but very close to it and if I have to I will have the solar panels on the ground to get the best efficiency out of them but I aim to have them on the roof. the house will be assisted with cooling by having the water tanks placed on the western wall to shade from the evening sun and I will bury poly pipe in trenches under ground and fed into the house and assisted with a solar fan to circulate cooled air inside, a bit like ducted airconditioning except it will be through vents on the floor.
     
  16. hardworkinghippy

    hardworkinghippy Junior Member

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    Hi Linda,

    I just thought I'd add my good luck wishes and say you're so lucky to be launching this adventure of a lifetilme ! It sounds as though you've had the time to think carefully about what you're doing which is the very best start of all.

    Sweetpea, you sound so much like me ! Thanks for mentioning it was Frank Lloyd Wright who said about the hill, I've been composing a blog post about building our place and I just could not remember where I read that.

    Linda, remember to take loads of photos. I never did many of the "before" and I regret that now. I'd love to see some of yours in here - and I'm sure others would too.

    Irene
     
  17. sun burn

    sun burn Junior Member

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    Your poly pipe idea sounds really interesting. Luckily i don't need it up here/it wouldn't work.

    I wonder if you would be interested in a solar hot water system of the home made variety? We've got one. Its dam good though in your place it wouldn't be enough except on hot summer days to provide all your hot water needs probably. Here we get more hot water than we need in summer, even on rainy and cloudy days like we've had in teh past few we are still getting hot water but i live above the tropic of capricorn. In winter so long as the days are sunny we get good hot water but if it rains its only tepid. We don't have a back up system - except boiling the kettle but its not such an issue here.

    You start with a large old hot water system, pull it apart, check the tanks ok, paint it with tar black. Make a big box to sit it in. Insulate it well - you can use wool or synethetic insulation. leave enough room so the sun can hit all side from the top (not the bottom obviously). Line it with silver foil. Cover it with thick glass and face it towards the sun. Ours is at ground level and tilted. Its too heavy to lift it onto the roof. It doesn't need a pump because our water tank is up the hill and therefore gives it enough pressure. Then you do the plumbing. You need to put the tap at hte right end of the tank. For more info, look for instructions on line. That's where my bil got the design ideas from. It was not so hard to build and it was very cheap as my father got the glass for $20. We had the old tank lying about, also the box and insulation materials. I think they had to buy the foil and the paint. So the paint was probably the most expensive but they needed that for the house they are building anyway.

    Although i love it here and probably wouldn't want to live anywhere else permanently, i envy a mediterranean climate where you can grow all the vegies i love to eat as well as things like figs and olives.
     
  18. sweetpea

    sweetpea Junior Member

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    Hi, Linda. I see you are knee deep into it! There's a lot to consider. I agree about the wind power if you have your Mediterranean climate and more sun during the winter. Adding that additional equipment and getting it attached to the same batteries as the solar complicates things, and because you'll be there alone it's a lot easier to keep things as simple as possible, keep the maintenance to a minimum. Learning about panels and controllers and inverters and batteries is enough to start out on, If you really get into it, it won't be hard to add wind later.

    This is a great site with lots of information and they are very helpful. there's also a forum for questions.

    https://www.solar-electric.com/

    Apparently you guys only have 220 volts, (We have 110 and 220 for large appliances) and if I may, I'll tell you why we did a 24V system instead of a 12V. Because you're not just dealing with volts, you're also dealing with the wattage of each thing you turn on, your total wattage use at any one time, if you are using a refrigerator, which will be going on and off, in addition to whatever basic use is happening, requires extra power beyond 1500 watts, and that requires a 2400 watt inverter, which requires a 24V system. Doing 24V is not hard, it's how the panels and batteries are hooked up, and you have to buy them in amounts that will add up to 24, (four 6-volt batteries or two 12-volt panels) instead of adding two at a time (two 6-volt batteries or one 12-volt panel)

    We have a 2400 watt inverter, and that could conceivably run a 700 watt appliance, plus a few lights/computer at the same time, plus the small refrigerator as it cycles, that add up to more than 1500 watts, but less than 2400 (because we're counting! Never stop counting!!) without blowing a circuit breaker. Or a few things, like lights, TV with DVD separate, fridge, outdoor light, water heater, sneaky things that you forget about. I have cut way back on my usage for power, but keeping it at 1500 watts on a 12 volt system is tough. If you only have a 1500 watt inverter and you turn on a printer that's 1500 wtts, you're maxed out, no computer, no lights, no fridge, nothing else can happen at the same time.

    Buy a lot of power strips with on/off switches that have a little light on them, so you can turn off appliances or computer/printer with one click of the power strip, and there's no ghost power, as they call it, being asked for by the appliance when you think it's off. 24V is not that much more expensive but it gives you room to breathe. the circuit breakers in your main house panel will control the flow in, but you can use outlets on different breakers that allow you to keep things on. You go through all the expense and effort to live on solar, you don't have to have to go from room to room with a flashlight because your appliance is maxing out your inverter.

    My panels are on the ground so I can clean them once a month, because if they get fuzzy like a windshield does, it cuts down on their ability to get the small amounts of power morning or evening or during storms. And, of course, during storms is when you need whatever little it can suck it.

    Also, the distance your panels and inverter are from the house is crucial because DC power loses voltage the farther it has to go, yet all the warning bells are on the inverter, so it can't be too far from the house. I don't think the panels look bad. In fact, I love them!! they have endeared themselves to me immeasurably. Although I don't want them in the main panoramic view, I don't mind them being outside the bathroom or spare bedroom.

    And assuming you're doing all of this with permits, then the gas company will bring your gas without any hassle, assuming it's open enough for the trucks, no trees in the way, a way to turn around and a solid, reliable driveway. If the driveway and turnaround isn't what they want, they instantly call the fire department, (because of fire safety) who calls the county (in Calif, anyway) and suddenly the County comes out and starts red tagging everything. I can't tell you how many people buy houses in our mountains here only to find out the gas truck won't come across the old fashioned bridges that homeowners span their own creeks, and start informing every agency around what's going on.

    and in case it's of interest:

    If you plan on bringing in gas or propane be prepared to have to go get it every two weeks, have multiple backup tanks. And because they are very heavy you'll need to be able to llft and move a heavy tank through rain and mud and cold wind. We lived in a motorhome while we were building the house and a heater and cooking used up 38 liters of propane every two weeks in the winter. The max I could lift was a 38-liter tank, when filled with propane is very heavy, I could only drag it along, I couldn't lift it other than to get it into the car. And when it's muddy out, trying to put it on a dolly that will sink into the mud isn't fun. And every two weeks gets old. Driving with it is illegal here, but it's dangerous in any event. I have a pickup truck and only had one other seat belt for the tank. I figured it needed an airbag just in case! Then you are stuck with any price increases. That's why I decided not to do any gas except the BBQ. It's interesting, I just saw a TV show of people who buy houses in unusual foreign countries, and one house only had an outdoor gas BBQ, and the people actually preferred cooking on it. That's always an option if the batteries get too low. And the fire department here won't go into a house that uses tanks of propane that they can't see or turn off. It's too dangerous for them, so they just have to stand back and let it burn. And in our Mediterranean climate fire is a real issue here.

    I got a different kind of oven that I really like, it cooks much more quickly than a conventional oven, a UV oven. Not the NuWave, which doesn't get good reviews. It's not very big, but I don't use the oven for really large things. And if I needed to I could do it in two smaller casseroles. I wish I could eat giant trays of freshly baked cookies, but those days are gone!

    Anyway, maybe there's some food for thought here. :)
     
  19. sweetpea

    sweetpea Junior Member

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    Oh, and the vacuum, oh, that sneaky thing uses a lot of wattage!! You think you'll make a cup of tea in the microwave with lights and fridge on, and while you're waiting you'll vacuum up that place you kept meaning to get....and bingo....it all blows! And it will be dark and/or raining out! of course!! :)

    And if you can, buy the best batteries you can get. I can't tell you how much money I wasted on cheap batteries that only lasted 3 years. The ones we have now are rated for 7 but routinely get 10. It's a much better investment. Make sure all batteries have the same AMP hours. If you buy extra batteres later on that do more AMP hours, the lowest AMP hour battery controls the whole battery bank, and your new battery won't improve it, and you've lost all that money.
     
  20. sweetpea

    sweetpea Junior Member

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    Hi, HardworkingHippy, how's it going? Glad that bit of info dovetailed there!
     

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