Please do the research necessary before closing on a property. Perhaps Kevin and others on the ground can be more specific; but the soil maps for Terlingua are not promising. Here is a link to the UC Davis interactive map: http://casoilresource.lawr.ucdavis.edu/gmap/
Most of the land I have found around that area is either Caliche (cemented/calcified rock) or Bedrock. Hard to grow anything with that soil profile. Not trying to discourage you; but share some information I have gained researching the same area.
Does anyone have any experience with planting Black Locust or other 'exotic invasives' in Kittitas County? I have heard they have a 'department of making you sad' that regulates invasive plants. Anyone have any experience with them or first hand experience with locust trees in the area? Trees/Wood are in short supply in the sage brush prairie. These trees would do a lot for land. Wind break, nitrogen fixer, water accumulator, soil web builder, heat source, fence posts, and durable building material. I would like to plant some; but wondering how under the radar I will have to be?
I don't have first hand experience with pigs and ducks together. But I do know that your pigs will eventually (probably very quickly) eat the eggs if they are not very secure off the ground. Where do the ducks lay?
You won't have any problem with Oaks. The wood is a good hardwood white wood. It does not carry any toxins. It breaks down just fine in nature. What part of South TX? What are you planning to grow in your beds?
I have always liked the Tiny House design, Bodega. It is not a 'mobile' that stays within the 8.5 foot limit; but is small and compact. It is also expandable with a room out back; and with a little carpentry work (especially in advance) can have a room added to either side as time goes on.
Yes it will work. Raised beds with nothing but composted grass clippings does work. I have seen it done very successfully on top of Gulf Coast 'gumbo' clay. If the hay is fresh you are going to have a lot of heat, though; and lose a lot of volume.
I would recommend if you have that much hay, carbonizing as much as you can and adding it to your clay. (biochar through pyrolysis, if you are not familiar with the term.) It will take some time to work into the soil; but it will start to improve the rest of your land.
Snake are like any other creature. For the most part they are in an area for food or shelter. Sometimes just passin' through. Hard to tell. Like you pointed out, it may have been rousted from its normal territory and looking for a new place; or following its displaced food source. Don't give it a reason to stay. You can also trap snakes, if you are concerned one has a foot hold on your property.
I would leave the dog off the leash if possible. It is unlikely the snake 'cornered' or trapped the dog intentionally. The dog likely upset so near the steps for security and the snake on the path that put it in front of the dog. A Cottonmouth will go after, even pin and animal or person. However, rattlesnakes are much more defensive. The best line of defense if you see another snake is to get a goose, duck, or chickens in that order. Birds are probably the biggest predator of snakes in the wild. A adult waterfowl can stand their feathers up enough to neutralize snake strikes; and will let them strike repeatedly until they can swallow its head. Then it is like a long spaghetti noodle. Of course snake venom is not toxic in the digestive tract. It is a poison only in the blood stream, or in the case of a coral snake, in the nervous system. Fowl will eat them any chance they can get with no ill effect.
Be very careful where you put your hands this summer. Does not sound like this guy is about warning signals.
What is the purpose of the cattle? Milk, Meat, pasture art? Hard to beat a Longhorn for self preservation. A breed like the Mustang, it grew out of escaped cattle from the Conquistadors. They bred and developed with nothing but natural selection guiding the breeding. Smart, tough, protective, and fearless. They have all the instincts you mentioned. They actually fair better in the long run in meat production if you factor out all the care and attention one has to provide more domesticated stock. However, they don't price well at feed lot auctions, because they lack the high marble content in the choice cuts. For a milking breed I don't know of any that have the instincts as a breed. Watusi are also a breed that can defend itself well, although I don't have a lot of data to share. I have not been around many of them.
I like the Yak suggestion. There is/was actually a herd of Yak out Hwy 12 going toward Aberdeen at one time. They had a specialty clientele. One of them was a grill in Aberdeen that sold Yak burgers. Another thought is Bison/Buffalo. However, the fencing to keep them at home can get mighty pricey. Seems they will walk through a 5 strand barbed wire fence like a bulldozer through blackberries. There is a Buffalo Ranch on Hwy 20 outside of Marblemount that might be able to give you some information on keeping them. I don't think the market is so saturated with Buffalo that they would not being willing to answer your questions. There might even be some grant money out there somewhere to support the return on the bison to the Okanagon Valley.
June 27–28 Natural Building “Living Roofs”
Have you ever wanted to know the best reasons, use and way to create a living roof? Now’s your chance. As a part of OUR’s ongoing natural building program you will learn how best to create a living roof.
Consider this. Sometimes the way to win a fight is to use your opponents energies against it. If you are going to have any type of running water in your structures, then, as a permie, you will almost certainly want a grey water recovery system, especially if you live in the West. No one says you have to buy into the madness of contaminating the system with human waste. Have your composting toilet and use it...after the inspector leaves. After you are all squared away, pull the porcelain thrown and cap the pipe. Now you have a perfect grey water collection system in place that is clean, and uncontaminated.
Also by putting in a permitted septic system, if you situation changes (and over the next 20 years it well may) your resale of the property is not compromised, and is in fact, enhanced by having a legal permitted approved (brand new!) system to hand over to the new owner. Meanwhile you can water your garden, etc, with your house waste water neatly captured in a spiffy new plastic tank. Since it is pulled out, treated, and used before the tank fills, the drain field is never needed and that land can be garden or orchard without any worries of roots getting into the lines.
My point being that one should not let a small hurdle like a septic permit eliminate good options or dictate decisions on good opportunities. If you find the right piece of property and it requires a septic permit, there are reasonable work arounds. You don't have to pass up other good options in order to seek that mythical perfect place without regulation.
There is a woman in the Ashland OR area that wrote for a homestead magazine. She managed to take 10 acres of dry foothill pasture and turn it into a lush homestead. She attributes a lot of her success to 'poor man's irrigation' where she ran 3/4 inch poly water line punched with an ice pick where ever she planted a tree or shrub. Work well for her and cost very lithe, since she was raising 2 kids on a waitress' salary on her own.
Well, you have your solution. Boxelder syrup is reported to be even more delectable than Maple syrup. Plant lots of Boxelder, get rid of the buckthorn problem, and as a bonus you have a syrup factory. Problem solved.
There is a joke about a 'poop deck' in here somewhere....
Before this goes off in the wrong direction, are you asking about a self contained unit, like the Chemical/RV toilets; or are you speaking of a biodynamic composter? If the latter, are you going to garden on the barge? Where will the compost be used in your floating paradise?
Drain tile is what is being described. It is plastic pipe normally 4 or 6 inches in diameter, most often perferated to allow water to seep in from the soil and be channeled off below ground through the pipe.
I love the idea, but don't think this is the way to achieve the action. This encourages Fed.gov to further over reach their authority; and erode the sanctity of States Rights that this country was founded. As good as the idea is, it needs to be addressed at the individual State's level and not an Executive Order or Congressional Bill.
Steve Farmer wrote:I'm assuming I should be aiming for no bare soil in order to cut evaporation. But a cover crop and/or trees can potentially lose soil moisture faster than bare soil due to transpiration from leaves. So what cover plants can guarantee soil water retention, should I be going for succulents or particular types of shrub/tree?
I think that you need to worry about both; but one you can control (evaporation) much better than the other (transportaiton), unless you don't want vegatation to grow. I look at this way. Evaporation is a 100% loss of benefit. Transpiration at least it makes it through the plant that fights evaporation for one cycle. If you can recapture some of that transpiration you have some recovery as well. By recovery, if the canopy is multistory, you may get some of that back through humidity or vapor back into the soil. Lawton claims "up to 80% recovery" is possible. I don't know how he came to that figure, though. Whatever the loss/recovery rate, you have benefited from the use of the moisture by growing a plant that slows further evaporation by shading and protecting the soil. It is a war of attrition...
Your logic about extra water retention only works if there is not already runoff. Where I live, we get about 8" of precip each year, but the silty-loam soil means that there is no runoff, except on the steepest slopes, or where vegetation has been eliminated (crop fields). Increasing organic matter is not going to get me any more water through reduced runoff. It will however aid in reducing evaporation. Just keeping the soil covered is extremely effective as well.
I don't agree. There is some run off, it is arroyo country after all. The soil is pourous and deep. I need to observe a few rainstorms, but the topography and soil tell me the majority of the water soaks deep into the water table (greater than 80 inches) and is not plant available, especially for new young root systems. I need the capulary action of the soil (currently mostly gravel and sand) to bring the water back up and keep it in they soil structure in the top 18 inches to make it available to most plants.
However, I would rather loose the water to deep soakage than have it run off and take my soil with it. I can bring it back up with a well and drip lines; but would prefer the soil to have what it needs to do its job properly. I just need something to help the humus factor in keeping the top 12 inches moist. Of course it will need mulch to KEEP it in the top 12" and not evaporating, so much is just as important to organic matter.
The way my warped mind works, I would make it a greenhouse/root cellar.
The wall is a little high to just be a green house. So I would cap the wall with a beam I could attach floor joist. That would make a low roofed 'basement' Depending on your bond beam height, one could raise that up to a more comfortable ceiling height. Then I would come on top of the floor and put a geodesic dome. Glazed with polycarbonate it would make a good winter garden area, something you may need in the mountains of New Mexico.
Like most wood, Oak will check if not dried properly. And as you mention green wood in construction is a recipe for disaster. Here is my suggestion if you must hurry the process. When the posts are cut, take wood good or shellac and coat the ends and all the cuts. Seal them up from drying to fast. The loss of moisture at different rates is what causes checking. The cut ends that expose capillaries obviously are going to dry the fastest. Don't let that happen.
Now take the sealed logs and build a box around them. Use scrap plywood or MDF, whatever can be had inexpensively. Enclose the wood and put in a light bulb (remember incandescent light bulbs?) Have one every 4 feet. a 60watt is all that is needed. Let this create a 'hot box' or wood dryer. It will significantly cut the dry time from years to months. Keep the wood over 100 degrees F, which if the box is sealed off, should not be difficult. If outdoors perhaps insulate the box.
To get an idea, here is an article on a "Solar Kiln" for force drying fresh cut dimensional lumber. One need not be so elaborate with glazing and fans, but it will speed the process.
I use both. Work issued cell is an iPhone. Personal phone is an android. Androids will do everything and more that an iPhone will do. They are less expensive up front. Last longer in service. Have better battery life. And if desired can be upgraded both in software and hardware.
I have been an Apple advocate for over a decade. Now, I will never again own one of their products. I am done. If the IT guys at work could support any other platform for phone I would pay for it myself.
Here is the problem you will find with Apple. Now everything you on the phone REQUIRES an Apple Store account. This requires a credit card, an email account, and way too much personal information. Apple has already proven to be very deeply involved in all the evil of data collection, linking you (via your financial records) to everything you do and now, say on your phone. Yes, there are other tech companies that are doing this with any digital device. However, Apple takes it a step further by not allowing you to even operate your phone without being a registered user on their data collection system.
Other issues are the non replaceable battery. Apple phones are charge gobblers. They have lousy battery life to start (when purchased.) Your performance will drop off quickly and steadily throughout the life of the phone. When you get to the point of frustration that your phone only last 4 hours of your day before running out of gas, your only option is to replace the entire unit. That is money well spent for Apple. Not so much for the customer. These and other bad practices have turned many dedicated Mac/Apple users away from the company and its products. Way to kill your core business, folks.
There is my 2 cents. Take it for what it is worth.
Call Steve, the owner of Bodine Construction. He lives in Maltby, and his office is in Lynnwood. Bodine Construction
Steve is a very solid guy. He was my neighbor for years. He built his business doing construction involving ground work. He has many highly trained equipment operators. One could not ask for a contractor with more integrity. He is not a permaculture guy; but tell him what you need and he will make it happen.
I would like to see a good American made drawknife, both right angle handle and a low angle handle. Currently to get a good drawknife one has to go with Veritas, a German company. Good wood working files are gone from the market from my understanding. I will have to check out the links given above. I don't think there is anyone making riffle files anymore. I have only been able to find them at antique shops or flea markets. However, to be honest, I am not sure how many people actually know what to do with a riffle file any more, since woodworking is strictly a power tool business now.
I think from a permiculture stand point a line of timber/rough wood shaping tools would be great. The only company that is making a froe that I know of is Gransfors Bruks. If you check out their catalog you will see a lot unique tools that are all made in Northern Europe and are ghastly expensive. Yet, none of them are high tech. A good blacksmith could make them domestically far cheaper. I will say they have high quality in their products and they are made to last a life time.
As far as being able to only store what falls, that is true. My thinking is this. On acre of ground, a half inch rain event drops 13,577 gallons of water. My job is to keep as much of that as possible. 1% increase in the organic matter of the top 12 inches of soil is said to increase retention by 16,500 gallons. First problem solved. Of course the next challenge is how to keep it from evaporating from the effects of sun and wind. That can be combated with cover crops and living mulch. The plants further retain water and then create the organic matter to chop and drop to improve soil. Rinse and repeat.
10 inches of annual rainfall puts 271,500 gallons of water on the soil per acre. That is a lot of water to work with. If as you say, you can only grow what water is given to you; then I think the imperative is to retain all you can. It sounds like the way to do that is amend the soil with organic matter and put life on it to hold it in the soil, rather than back into the atmosphere. The only question in my mind is how long it will take to grow the material necessary for this system to take hold.
Wow! Maybe I am missing something. That is a $900 pump that give you roughly 5,000 gallons a hour and you run the fuel through your tractor to power it. Why would you not do something like this: Water pump That sells for about half the price, delivers 10,000 gallons a hour and probably uses less fuel? Perhaps you already own the pump so the cost is moot?
Otherwise the head height is good and the lateral distance should not be a problem. I would do hard pipe for 300 ft rather than a hose. Pump to a storage tank or cistern above the garden and let gravity do the rest.
All the soil maps and surveys reference Organic matter by percent. Does anyone know exactly how that is calculated? Is is by weight or volume?
If I had an acre of land; and it had 1% organic matter. How much organic matter would one have to add to raise it to 2% for example? If I took a cubic foot of soil, weigh it; and multiplies by .01 that would be the weight of organic matter (roughly) that needed to be added, correct? Anyone with experience in this?
Beware the fish bowl effect. Going down into a profile of clay soil with good soil may result in water with no way to drain. The roots may drown. They like moisture but need air, and will drown if submerged. Make sure the hole's side walls are permeable or stay at ground level.
Dig a few test holes and fill with water. How long does it take to drain? hours or days?
I have a question that I am hoping those whom deal with this sort of soil can answer, hopefully from first hand experience; but open to all whom would like to respond.
How long would it take to develop a desert soil to say 2% organic matter (which I think could be fairly productive soil) from say .5% using green manures in a chop and drop or cell grazing system. Let's take a subject property as follows
West Texas desert country. 10 inches of rainfall spread over the calendar year, but weighted heavier in the months of June through September. Seldom freezes, but winter average lows in the low 30's. Hot summers; but mean annual temp of around 75 degrees F. Soil is a gravelly loam. Deep with no restrictive layers. Ph is on the high side but not too bad. Mostly in the 8 with a little in the 8.5 range. Organic matter in the upper 12 inches about .7% and the layers below around .5% down to 8 feet.
Cover crops might included Comfrey (bocking 14) Alfalpha with limited irrigation. Multi seed cover crop mixes. Other suggestons welcome. What are some high tonnage per acre cover crop plants to consider?
I live in a place that has endless tons of free organic matter for the taking (grass clippings, leaf litter, rice hulls, shreded wood chips, etc...) but the fuel to haul them to the subject property in sufficient quantities is prohibitively expensive. I think the only practical solution is to grow the compost in place. Am I talking a few years for the soil to improve enough to hold enough water to grow food? Are we talking 10 years, a lifetime? I know I can grow edibles that like low rainfall areas and drought resistant varieties; but I am more concerned the soil to be able to retain the moisture between limited rainfall events, so I am not irrigating too much. I have access to ground water. I don't know what restrictions I will have on irrigation rights. Does anyone know Texas' policy on how much water one can draw for ag purposes? I am sure it varies from County to County, but would be interested in anyone's experience whom has faced this permitting process in Texas in the past few years.
The soil is mostly alluvial deposits of gravel and sand. I have not done a perc test, but imagine the water runs through it like poop through a duck. I need to improve the soil structure or it will be like filling a glass with no bottom. How much mulch will be enough to raise organic matter 1.5% or so? Does anyone have any thoughts on the often quoted study that says 1% increase in Organic matter equates to 16,500 gallons of water retention in the upper foot of soil? Do you find that too be true or only under limited test conditions?
From one dog person to another, I am truly sorry for the sorrow you must feel in losing such a companion. That is never easy.
I have a few thoughts:
The wet area makes it tough for edibles. Most edible trees, fruts and nuts, like a well drained soil. Crab apple is one exception.
This is a link to King County's native plant site. I know you are in Piece but they should be similar enough. King County Natives One tree that comes back is the Pacific Crabapple: crabapple It has flowers in the spring, height for shade in the summer, and foliage color in the fall, plus some fruit. (not sure how tasty.)
Another suggestion is to plant some natives trees that love water in a grove and then plant your bearing tree on the sunny southern side of the grove to enjoy. Also there are some native edibles that like water, so they could be grown under a canopy to get the best of both, shade and treats. The website listed will allow you to search by all parameters seperately or filtered.
The memorial is a nice thing for your friend. I don't think that you have to go too deeply to worry about too much amendment. 3 feet should be enough for a small tree. The biologics will be well decomposed by the time the roots need to be that deep. I would think even a few inches below the root ball of whatever stock you plant should be enough. The tree/bush will have some time to acclimate before it starts reaching out in a serious way. By then nature and the microbes will have had time to do most of their work.
Peace be with you until you see your friend again.
From all I have read here that you have written, I do see that you are doing it right; and y'all are very fiscally responsible. No debt is the only way to go. Yes, there is some risk. And there is no real income. If you pass that risk on to the underwriter, keep in mind that the policy must be custom suited to what you need. I don't think an off the shelf arrangement is going to benefit you. That moves you into the realm of high cost. But you will know what is and is not covered. Ask about the business interruption policy. They should be custom tailored to the individual business by nature; and the policy writers will have a better idea of what needs done.
I hear what you are saying about the dollars only going so far. I won't beat a dead horse. But I consider that sort of risk mitigation part of the start up capital equation. Much like choosing to not go into debt, insurance premiums are like cost of capital, interest payments. It is a losing proposition. A necessary one, if you chose to shift the risk; but an expensive choice in the long run, just as is the choice to borrow money.
I have been reading your post and pulling for you guys. You have a big hill to climb. I am hoping for your success.
I think the above advice is correct. You need more than a bicycle wheel. However, for $6 a piece your local tool store (harbor freight, northern tool, tractor supply), you can get 10" pneumatic tires. It looks like he did the right thing and provided good sturdy frame members on the corners. Some 1/2 diameter bar stock (or whatever size the wheel hubs you choice is) drilled and pressed through the corners frames at about 4" above the ground (10" wheel divided by half height and a little for the compression weight on the wheel) will leave you about a 1/2" gap under the frame. If that is too much lower it to 4.75, but expect it to drag on the ground when the tires are a little low. All 4 corners would be best for less than $30 all in. You could just do the back corners and lift the front end when pulling. Since the center of gravity is way to the back by the nesting boxes, obviously that would be the back.
Anther idea would be to use a friction reducer and strong arm it. These are the teflon sliders you see on TV for moving your sofa and entertainment center. They should work on pasture, unless it is real muddy. For a $4 investment it is worth a shot to see if your ground is suitable. I think they would work better than you imagine.
I would take issue with the need of insurance at all. Insurance as a financial instrument is designed is to provide for unexpected catastrophic loss. It takes the cost of the loss and amortizes it across a large time frame. In effect you pay for the loss whether you incur one or not. That is the nature of the vehicle.
I would argue that if you live in an area that you might reasonably expect a loss of your orchard, then you should not carry insurance at all. You should be putting a portion of your profit in an account each year equal to the insurance premium you would pay an agent or underwriter. (if you expect a total of X $ lost in 20 years, then X/20 needs to be in a seperate account and tracked as a liability on your ledger. Accounts Payable are liablities even though they are current cash on hand. They are earmarked or encumbered already, thus a liability.) This business practice is known as being self insured. It is much cheaper, more reliable, and practical. First, the underwriter is making money. That is an upcharge that is calculated into your premium. Second, your adjuster does not HAVE to pay you a thing, if you don't have an iron clad policy...which you don't because they write it... and to their favor. Third, you get to keep the interest on the money that you pay yourself to insure yourself on that account.
If you are not comfortable with that practice, then talk to your agent about Business Interruption Insurance instead. As you have seen, Crop insurance will only cover the produce lost. MAYBE a portion of the trees. But it will not cover the intervening years that your trees need to reach full production again. In short crop insurance is only going to give you current loss on the tree and a part of the value of the replacement cost of the tree. That does you no good in the subsequent years. Oh, and your premium will certainly go up, even though you now have nothing to insure for a few more years.
Disclaimer: I am not involved in the insurance industry. I have never researched Orchard specific insurance. And most importantly, I do not believe the brainwashing that I need financial vehicles or the idea that second or third parties have my best interest at heart in the business arena. Your mileage may vary. Caveat Emptor, etc...
Forgot to point out the most important point, as obvious as it may be. If self insured and no loss occurs in that time frame, guess where that money goes? YES! in your pocket. Not in the insurance companies coffers. You can roll it, and save the premium; or spend it. (beware capital gains implications.) Beats the hell out of being a serf to a financial institution for the life of your business.
Bird netting. You state the space is not large. Some produce is lost to birds anyway. If you have chickens it is likely worth the investment to drape some netting over tomato stakes. If you do it right around the perimiter it could even keep out rabbits and other pests. A roll of deer/bird netting at your local tractor supply is ~$20 for a 50' roll of 4' cloth.
Before you can ask the question of basement yes or no; one needs to look at your soil profile. What are you building on? What is the water table? Clay? Does that clay expand significantly? What is your frostline? How are you going to waterproof is done? CMU or poured frame? (I hope we are not talking timber below grade. )
The simple answer is yes... If you have the right conditions. Good economic use of space. Makes a solid reliable foundation. Etc, etc... However, the devil is in the details. Too many questions, yet, to determine if one is a good idea or not. Free advice. Take it for what it is worth.
Once you guys, both of you, get set; put some dates out there for work parties. If you give people some notice, I bet you will have some folks willing to show up with tools and a cooler of beverages to lend a hand. I am down in the Houston area, and normally have weekends free (with some notice.) You may not get journeyman level help, but good hands well organized by you, can do a lot for moving a process along. Consider me your first volunteer.