Barbara Martin wrote:Hi Kelly
Native Virginian here-- whereabouts will you be settling? This state has differing growth zones, so keep that in mind as you plan projects. As far as pines go, find out whether or not there is a pine bark beetle problem on your property. They are decimating whole stands of pines. Don't be too eager to do away with the hay fields, especially if you hope to raise any livestock requiring pasture/hay. When you visit, be certain to utilize insect repellent to minimize the risk of tick-borne diseases--there are 5 or 6 in this state. Protect your domestic water source with tenacity; it frequently turns off dry in the summer. If I can be of any assistance, please let me know. Safe travels this summer!
Dave de Basque wrote:If Barbara's helpful comment about the ticks holds true on your property, you might want to integrate guinea fowl into your plans. They can really help reduce the tick pressure if you pasture them where the ticks are.
First things to plan would be any earthworks you want to do, to remediate erosion, increase water storage, etc. And also access roads etc. and any new structures including your tree nursery, taking into account how you're going to get water to each structure, sun orientation, etc. Rainwater harvesting for drinking water is nice, especially if as Barbara said water is not always abundant. (Assuming it's legal in Virginia!) Include that in your new structures and see if you can add it to your existing ones.
And of course, as soon as your plans are clear get planting your trees, possibly with the help of swales and water storage systems. You know the saying, right? The best time to plant a tree is 10 years ago, and the second best time is today.
I suppose you know that willows like a lot of water? So be looking for the boggy parts of your property.
What kind of housing are you considering? Everyone has their degree of "hippiness" they're comfortable with!
Do animals figure in your plans at all? Didn't ask that before making the guinea hen comment.
Also, what's the landscape/terrain like?
Tj Jefferson wrote:Kelley,
We moved here 3 years ago and LOVE it! The soil tends to be very degraded. Pine plantation especially. Low calcium, high aluminum. Step one was to do soil samples for tilth and mineral content. We are amending with lots of rock dust, concentrating on areas it will leach to lower areas and not be lost. Moisture retention is (like almost everywhere) the limiting factor for growth, and we are working on earthworks and silvopasture to optimally use the tremendous growing season. This is a great place for kids, only one poisonous snake (not very), the only major pain is the ticks, which means plan on guineas or turkeys or both. My kids are practically feral at this point.
We have friends who just moved to NC from the Bay Area, and it has been a bit of shock for them. They spent a while trying to figure out how to get some sort of permit and thought it was a runaround. Then they found out nobody cares, just do stuff and don't piss off your neighbors. Most of the time your neighbors are super cool (always a few bad apples). Totally different way of life, just watch for a while and try not to pass judgement, and people will tend to adopt you and help you out.
Artie Scott wrote:Central VA here. I think TJ and Barb have it about right. Coming from CA, July in Virginia will be a bit of a shock to the system given the heat and humidity, so that will take some getting used to, but that will pass by the end of September, and the rest of the year is pretty mild. Haven’t had any water issues to date, but i have a lot of watershed and slow peeking clay soils. The springs and creek have never run dry, nor has the well. That said, I certainly don’t want to jinx myself!
Am guessing you will be in a very rural area with a property that large - the people tend to be poor but resilient, and will do anything for you - very friendly and helpful in my experience. A very different way of life than in the big coastal cities! I love it, and am sure you will too.
Tj Jefferson wrote:Kelley,
This is so fun!!! I wish we had someone to pass on this stuff, maybe you can learn from my missteps. We are further southeast, flatter, not as interesting, hotter. Generally not as nice. Much cheaper fortunately!
Housing- I have been researching construction types around here. I would be concerned about straw bale, it is really really damp some years here- 62" rain last year up there I expect. It just worries me. you are still in a seismic zone, and there are quakes. So that is a factor. If you get serious about it, just understand it is likely a labor of love. Getting an occupancy permit is - sketchy. I haven't found anyone here who has cracked the nut. If you contact the Albemarle county building code people, there are enough hippies up there they may be able to guide you. I'm in a redneck county. they have no idea what I am talking about. If you can get an idea what might be approveable, I would be very interested in helping you out. We have an insulated concrete form house, which is freaking great, but not sustainable at all. I would love to help.