Planning to cross the line

Discussion in 'Designing, building, making and powering your life' started by Spidermonkey, Aug 21, 2012.

  1. Spidermonkey

    Spidermonkey Junior Member

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    Hi Guys,

    In the next two years my son finishes school and my wife and I are considering crossing the line (as Geoff would say) and leaving the rat race for a better quality way of life. I did my PDC in April and learned just how much I still don't know. I would like to sit down with my family and plan the transition so I have put together a few points for us to discuss and think about. I was wondering if you could add aditional points for consideration based on your experiences?

    1. Describe an ideal average day - Identify our initial thoughts on how we would like to live as a starting point / goal.
    2. How long per day do we want to work? - How much time each day (excluding the initial construction / installation) do we want (or need) to work?
      Will the design allow transition to a less active lifestyle in later life or ill health?
    3. How much money do we need? - Over time tools and equipment need to be replaced and there are will always be expenses from taxes to toilet rolls, vehicle expenses and medical cover plus insurance and wages if employees are needed.
    4. How dependant on us can the property be i.e High maintenance - high return or Low maintenance that can be left unattended for several weeks? - Do we want to go on holiday, visit family or take trips that may require absence from the property? If so, will we be able to make alternative arrangements or will we need to design low maintenance into the design? Alternatively will our design allow for the income identified in Q3?
    5. What will we produce? - Based on local demand and the questions above, and the suitability of the property what products can we produce? Alternatively based on what we would like to produce, where should we buy land? What will be the climatic constraints of the location such as annual rainfall, hottest and coldest extreme temperature, severe weather history?
    6. What will be the balance of products for family consumption, profit and return to the land (stability and continuity)? Have we taken into account questions of security such as a failed crop, fall or change in local demand, unpredictable weather events such as drought? How can we use Permaculture principals to allow for this? How much do we need to produce to sustain the family and provide minimum required income? What are the local markets for our products?
    7. How much land will we need? - Given the ideas so far how much land will we require? Can we manage this amount of land or will we need to employ others? Given the products what tools, equipment and structures will be required?
    8. What skills do we need to acquire? - Given the options identified what skills do we need? Where will we learn those skills, and how long to gain the minimum required competency? These skills may not just be Permaculture based, some skills may be subject to government regulated training and licensing such as electrical repairs and plumbing (if in remote location) and / or site inspection and approval for butchering animals for public consumption.
    9. How will our plan benefit the community and/or the environment? Given the plan so far will we be an asset or a problem? Can we use the property to benefit the community by providing food to those in need, provision of education, community gardens and or social activities or bringing money into the community ie ecco tourism? Does our plan benefit (or at least not adversely impact) the natural eco system?
    10. What will be the start-up costs including construction and initial procurement of property, goods, services and consultants? - Identify contacts who can provide sound advice.
    11. What are the sources of support? Where can we obtain advice and support, are there streams of government support initiatives that can assist?
     
  2. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    G'day SM

    Excellent foundational list!

    PDCs are great, hey? Really get the cogs spinning in the old brain...

    12. Where do we want to do all of the above?

    Hopefully, the following document (please feel free to amend it to suit your own circumstances/requirements) will help you to answer the above:

    Acquiring Land 'the permaculture way' - Part 1: Site Selection

    Site selection is critical to an integrated planning and designing process. Depending on the answers that you come up with to your own questions (listed above), perhaps the ones I have offered, as well as the ones that I'm sure others will provide, the location (site) of where you actually 'cross the line' will basically be determined for you.

    Cheerio, Markos
     
  3. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    What are our current resources (skill, money, equipment)?
     
  4. Grasshopper

    Grasshopper Senior Member

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    Good luck and enjoy the journey its well worth it.
     
  5. Tildesam

    Tildesam Junior Member

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    Nice list, In fact considering I'm planning to make the same jump in the next 12-24 months it's very helpful. :)

    You've covered a lot of what I've considered too... the only thing I'd add is considering unexpected costs (illness, repairing machines, natural disasters (think fire or flood), helping family in need, etc)

    Are you planning to maintain a "day job" (in the traditional sense) until you're getting consistent income from the property or are you relying on savings for a while?
     
  6. Spidermonkey

    Spidermonkey Junior Member

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    Thanks Everyone,

    SammyJo, you make a good point. When we have looked at these questions and targeted suitable locations, transition planning will need to be done. If we end up in a remote rural area we may also need to allow enough funds and resources to support ourselves until the site becomes productive.
     
  7. deee

    deee Junior Member

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    Great list! Nice to see you looking at your impact on the community.

    Can I add - how long can we physically do this? A spin off from your question 4. And how can we close as many loops as possible? Open loops means energy loss (yours or the systems), waste and pollution.

    A couple of books might add to your thinking:
    Living the Good Life and its sequel by the Nearings: lots of info about why they did what they did and how they planned for different stages (they were pretty hardcore, though).
    Your Money of Your Life: every permie should read this book.

    I think you've come up with a really useful tool for people making the leap. Thanks for adding to the big pool of knowledge. I'd love to hear more about the process.
    D
     
  8. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    G'day SM

    May I also add to the above, excellent suggestions:

    Lillington (2007) The Holistic Life (an easy introduction to the topic of getting started, moving beyond the initial barriers, and establishing the homesite)

    Holmgren (2005) Melliodora (a 20-year case study of David, Su and Oliver's homesite)

    Holmgren (2002) Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability (this one is not for the faint-hearted - a scholarly tome that is, in my opinion, set to become a 21st century classic)

    Cheerio, Markos
     
  9. Spidermonkey

    Spidermonkey Junior Member

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    Hi Guys, this weekend my family and I sat down and discussed question 1. This was a brain storm with no holes barred so we could get a feel for the level of commitment and energy that we want to put into the plan. My partner would like a slower transition, working part time and transitioning into the change as she feels comfortable. We would like to keep a family cow and/or goat for cheese making and fresh raw milk. We would like to keep some bees for honey and wax and may like to try candlemaking. We would like a small orchard and we would like to keep chickens and ducks for meat, eggs and live bird sales. We may consider pigs but this is the most likely element to be dropped as I felt the suggestion was recieved reluctantly. Something that was recieved very strongly was rabbits for meat. We would like to grow our own veg and would also like to establish a forrest for food and fuel. we would like to have enough excess for sale at the market and eventually when we have enough experience we would like to teach those skills we become good at.

    This tells us that we will be looking for a property that can accomodate zones 0-4. The list will no doubt change as we adress the other questions and items will be dropped or added according to the suitability of the property and as the plan evolves.
    Refering to the PDM we have decided that the wet tropics are not for us so we will not be looking for properties above 25deg which rules out anything north of Gympie. On the other side of the coin the desire to keep meat rabbits makes a move to northern NSW more likely than before.
     
  10. Spidermonkey

    Spidermonkey Junior Member

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    Hi everyone,





    Question 2 - how days per week do we want to work? The differencemay not reflect reality we know but we are thinking of the short and long termlabour that we would be prepared to put in alone. If we get help or end up in ateaching position we are prepared to change but for our quick and dirty plan tohelp us decide our direction:





    My partner wants to work part time and transition to thechange. I would like to give full time attention to the property so this is howwe see the initial and longer term workload on the property:





    Initial: me - 14 to 18 hrs per day 7 days per week.



    Initial: partner 6 hrs per day 5 days per week.





    Longer term:





    Me 6 hrs per day 5 days per week.



    Partner 3 hrs per day 5 days per week.
    What are your thoughts?
     
  11. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    What is work? I spend a full day in the garden on a Sunday but don't consider it work. I think the secret to work life balance is to not consider work work. It is just part of life.
     
  12. Spidermonkey

    Spidermonkey Junior Member

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    Hi Sammy, Our plan is for my partner to continue working initially and for me to start working on the land full time which is why I am so keen to learn all I can and to try to make as few mistakes as possible first time. However I am also determined to document as much as possible to help those who come after me to avoid the mistakes I'm sure I will make and to provide resources I find useful.

    Eventualy we will both work on the land but my partner has a few dreams and ambitions to persue before she is ready to commit to full time land management. I don't see this as an issue however as it will take a few years to learn and "read" the land and to discover all its energies and outputs.
     
  13. Spidermonkey

    Spidermonkey Junior Member

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    HI Eco,

    A fair point but I think work in this context is the labor required each day to achieve a situation whereby you can live in a situation in which your average labors are not onerous, you have time to train and to teach, and you have ample food, drink and basic luxuries including clothing, bedding, toiletries and access to reading material.

    But perhaps I am unrealistic.

    I do feel disheartened when the richest (and greediest woman in the world) lectures the Australian population on appropriate minimum wage.
     
  14. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

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    g'day spidermonkey,

    you need to start with a budget, but i would think the criteria should start with what land might be best, can you afford it? and a sustainable home to live in etc.,. might all come before what to do with the land, buying the right aspect will make things easier, we have a criteria suggestion on our land baron dreams page. the rich and landed gentry only want to dictate wages so they can get labor cheaper, a living minimum wage is mostly dictated by the cost of living, simple and basic.

    https://www.lensgarden.com.au/your_land_baron_dreams.html

    len
     
  15. Tildesam

    Tildesam Junior Member

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    I think the question of work really comes down to what you can afford, balanced with how much time you're willing to pour into establishing a setup.

    Eco brings up a good point - if you love your work then it's more a win-win by you having an income and developing an additional passion on the side.

    Furthermore, one may also opt to integrate their work with their establishment of their system (for example, using produce from your first-stage gardens to sell in markets, or crafting things out of waste from earthworks, etc) - but again this may not be possible if your setup costs will overshadow your savings and your planned income.

    If you're comfortable with the gradient you've devised and you think your current financial situation will happily lend itself to you doing it this way then I don't see why it would be an issue for you.

    Personally, I'm a good position where my partner has enough that he can support both of us and afford the start-up (at least for a period of several months). However we may opt instead to pour money into investment property that once paid off will provide us a small (but hopefully consistent) income to support us while we invest effort into establishing the system.
    Then again, while doing so I might discover a line of work that I'd like to carry on indefinitely and that could either support the income from property, or replace it entirely. This would all depend on the economic climate at the time, whether Peak Oil begins to accelerate (and start to have a heavy impact), and how either of us feel about the work at the time.

    At the moment my current (solitary desk) job feels a waste of my effort (when I could be employing skills into the land or crafting) - so my intention is to round it up at the end of this year and either look for something that lends more time back to me (so I can dedicate more to PC), or (preferable but depends on whether it's possible) find a profession that starts to merge some of these skills with an income.

    I must confess - I am more than a little nervous about giving up the stability of such a job early on (I'm not planning to jump for another 18 months at the earliest)
     
  16. Spidermonkey

    Spidermonkey Junior Member

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    Hi Everyone,

    Some good points from everyone there. I agree that the land will dictate what we are able to do, and what we can afford will dictate the land we will be able to buy. The first run through the questions is more about discovering what we want and to give us something to shoot towards. As we move through the plan towards execution we may need to revisit each question several times and tune the plan as circumstances dictate. As per Eco's comments we would like to put ourselves in a place where we look forward to each days tasks.
     
  17. Brewer

    Brewer Junior Member

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    Have you identified a particularly lucrative market for a special type of meat rabbit that must be farmed? If not, there are plenty of parts of Australia where there are as many wild free-range rabbits as you could possibly want just begging to be taken, with an eco-positive outcome.

    Another item you might want to consider adding to your list is, "who do we want to live among?" I think a lot of people view going into a sustainable lifestyle as a completely isolated, solo project. Certainly it can be done that way, but it seems pretty miserable! It can be hard to get your neighbours to lend a hand if they are plugged into a 'mainstream' lifestyle and view yours as a bit weird. If you can find an area where your neighbours and townsfolk are of a similar bent, you are likely to have a much more enjoyable time of it. I have been extremely fortunate to find a 'village' type of community, and I shudder to think how I would have achieved the things I have without the support of similar folks nearby that are now part of my family and keen to share labour, produce and other resources. Quite honestly, I think this is how humans were designed to live.

    Finally, I don't want to discourage anybody's permaculture dream, but keeping one cow, one pig, a couple of chickens, a beehive etc all by yourself can be done, but it is a desperately inefficient way to do things. The reality is that one cow will tie you to your property and a daily routine, all for a few litres of milk a day. If you want to milk a cow every day, then milk a couple of cows, and barter their milk for your neighbours eggs or bacon, and spend at least some of your day enjoying the fruits of your labour and not just labouring!
     
  18. Spidermonkey

    Spidermonkey Junior Member

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    That's a good point, learning what resources are in the area should definitely form part of the plan. A cow would be a lot of work but my wife would like us to consider one as part of the plan. The jury is still out on wether that will happen though, and if there is someone in the area that is willing to part with some milk on a regular basis then the cow idea could be dropped. I see the main product as being poultry and eggs. I think there is a growing desire for organic products and a growing concern for the welfare of farm animals. I would like to breed chickens and sell meat, eggs, live birds. My favourite breed of hen is the Sussex which provides large eggs and is a great table bird. My first task would (for any endeavour) be to identify a market, therefore I would need to locate and contact organic butchers in the area I intend to settle and see if there is a market. Next I would need to identify the relevant regulations and ensure I can comply with the relevant codes. I would also need to understand the cost of raising the birds to ensure I don't operate at a loss. I would also consider a website for our products. Any other endeavours would start on a small hobby basis at first but would be expanded or dropped according to their viability and as we learn more about what we really enjoy doing. There are a lot of if's there I know but at this stage we are just bouncing our ideas around. There is no certainty that the chicken idea would be profitable yet, I suppose what is viable will not be known until we locate a property and research the area.
     
  19. Lesley W

    Lesley W Junior Member

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    On the market research front, here are a few suggestions of how to easily spot potential demand for a niche product, eg organic foods.

    We start of with a generalisation (aka hypothesis) about what kinds of people appreciate organic foods and buy them. So we could, with some confidence based on previous knowledge, that customers for organic foods may be either health conscious, into good food, wealthier, strong supporters of local produce (or any combination of those)

    The ways I'd look for signs of their presence in an area include:
    1. (Alternative) Health consciousness: can also be seen in the presence of naturopaths or complementary therapists in a town or area or - as you say - butchers that sell organic meats; health food shops etc.
    2. Foodies: signs of their presence would include delicatessens, farmers markets with high end produce, local cafes/restaurants that source food locally;
    3. A wealthier clientele: people who can afford more expensive food may be drawn into the area as an escape/holiday, retreats/spas and upmarket restaurants would be good signposts.

    etc. From a marketing point of view that would be about establishing potential demand only. There would be more steps involved later to find out demand for what and whether it would be profitable. In the first instance, however, this may be an easy extra filter to add to your criteria for shortlisting areas to consider. I hope that's of some use.
     
  20. Grasshopper

    Grasshopper Senior Member

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    Major tip is the lower your overheads the less work you actually have to do to survive.
    Dont get into debt if you can avoid it,allow enough in your initial purchase to allow for a bit of vital infrastructure whether its earth works trees shed house or tanks.
     

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