This is my first post. My wife and i are about to purchase 35 acres from her grandparents. (my sons will be 6th generation owners). The sellers have a 40 acre square. They are keeping the house and 5 acres for a while, so we will have a square property with a square inside of it that we do not control...yet. This is important because I plan to put in a small pond/ wetland in that spot in the future. no rush.
The 40 acres is about 50/50 OLD growth forest and clay farmland.
The forest portion is amazing. Whitetail deer, wild turkeys, squirrels, etc. The trees are huge. Some of them are a few hundred years old. (8-10 foot diameter)
The rest of the property is made up of two fields. The back field is almost 4 acres. Front field is about 15 acres. Soil test showed that I should add lime and potash if I want to plant hay. ph is 6.4 - 6.5. By the way, the front field was disced about a month ago. back field has weeds 4 feet tall. lots of ticks.
I intend to plant a mix of timothy, white and red clover in the front (15 acre) field. This should fix nitrogen in the soil and provide food for the wildlife. It also should be helpful if I add honeybees in the future. The field is like a base layer. I plan to add various tree guilds.
I plan to split the hay with whomever cuts and bales it. Probably 5 acres at a time throughout the year. This will be used with logs and sticks from the 20 acres of forest to build hugelculture beds in the back field with swales and ponds added too. With a good fence I should have a 2-3 acre area(in the back field) that can be built into a perfect permaculture zone. Basically, 20 acres the build carbon (forest) and 15 acres to provide the balance(clover hay).
Plan to add chickens and guinea fowl at some point for tick control among other reasons. The list of plants that I plan to plant is too long to post.
Suggestions please. I've been reading your comments for months. I am impressed by your positive nature, amazing intellect, and your unselfish willingness to share wisdom. thank you all in advance.
One more thing. The fields are the high ground and they are flat. Forest has ravines and creeks. Fields range from 568-580 feet above sea level. lowest ravine 547 feet as creek exits property.
Miles Flansburg wrote:Howdy Scott, sounds like you have a solid plan to start with and a wonderful piece of land. Pictures would be great !
What types of wild foods/herbs have you identified so far?
Thanks for the comment. I will try to post pictures when I get a chance to take a few.
I do not live on the property. So, I have not been able to identify much. I know there was a ton of wild onion that came up this spring. There are a few persimmon trees. I'm told that morel mushrooms are decent. (I'm colorblind). I have not located any elm or ash trees yet. ( I think elm and ash trees have a symbiotic relationship with morels). Lots of oak and hickory trees.
There is a research orchard about 1 mile away. They specialize in persimmons and pawpaws.
Do you consider whitetail deer and turkeys "wild foods"? The deer are overpopulated. No deer hunting for the last 10 years.
I have harvested a few squirrels the last couple of years. My kids liked it, but my wife wanted no part of it!
Squirrels are just a tree rat, and they taste awful. Fast food for the dogs. I don't blame your wife.
The deer and turkey are definately human food, though. If you aren't into hunting, then don't bother with doing it yourself. (I never have) You could easily put word out to the hunting crowd that you'd be willing to let a handful of archers come hunt your back lot upon opening season day, with the condition that your family gets to partake in the yield. Many hunters will give the first win of the year to "Hunters for the Hungry" or something similar, as a kind of tithe. After the first one, you could require that your family gets half of the deer after 'meatsmithing', but you'd have to be willing to pay half the costs of the professional work. Alternatively, you could have a deal with the entire hunting party of four or five guys that they can hunt your property several Saturdays in a row until they get their bag limit (usually two per year), but that your family gets a full freezer from the first round of deer, and the professional work is paid for by the guys doing the hunting. You could have any restrictions that you want, so long as they are noted up front. Also, don't expect much if you don't require the hunters to provide their part prior to heading back out for the rest of their bag limit.
Just thought I would give you an update. No pictures yet...sorry.
My wife and I purchased the property about 2 months ago. (All 40 acres, not 35).
With a little help from my kids, I planted cover crops on the 15 acre field (last week of August, first week of September). I sat on the tailgate of my truck with a hand spreader while my 9 year old son drove the truck! It was a little scary at first, but he did okay.
The main seed mix was timothy, red clover, white clover, and alfalfa. (225 pounds)
50 pounds of orchard grass was added to the main mix at random (1 red solo cup at a time).
In "clumps" or "patches" I planted...
250 pounds of oats (about 2 acres worth if mono-cropping).
5 pounds of deer turnips
5 pounds purple tops
5 pounds of groundhog turnips
1 pound trefoil
1 pound chicory
(2) 250 square feet wildflower seed packets
I threw about half a bucket of shag-bark and pig-nut hickory nuts with a few red oak acorns (did not bury them).
I did dig holes to plant about 10 persimmon seeds and 40 pawpaw seeds. (mainly in shade)
The old timers (farmers) said I was crazy. MULTIPLE people told me that the seed would not grow unless I added lime and fertilizer.
We drove by the field tonight after dinner. It is a green carpet. There were 10 deer enjoying the poly-culture buffet.
I am in the heart of corn and soybean country. Some of the nearby fields have already been harvested. They should all be cleared in the next month. If things go according to my plan, I should have a green oasis all winter long. The deer seem to appreciate the non-GMO options. The deer really leave a LOT of poop. This is great because I am not raising any animals at this time.
The land has been in my wife's family for 150 years. My 3 sons, (ages 5, 8, & 9) love to visit the land. Specifically, they like to squeeze clumps of dirt with there bare hands and watch the dust blow in the wind. I have explained to them that they are the 6th generation on this land. It has been neglected and depleted for a LONG time. I am glad they helped me plant the field. It is nice that they can see the growth with their own eyes. Before we planted the first seed, we gave the land the most important input possible......LOVE.
In the near term, we don't plan to "harvest" anything. We are just building soil. I am going to add a few brush piles (oriental honeysuckle) to decompose and add carbon to the soil.
Unless they change their minds, each son get his own acre to grow whatever he wants. The property is on a pretty busy road. They are [planning to grow produce and flowers to sell on Saturday mornings next summer. They will grow, harvest, and sell what THEY choose. Should be real fun to watch it all. I can't wait to see them "sell" the customers....How much would you pay over "Wal-Mart" prices for healthy, organic, local food that was produced by a little kid?
Thanks for reading. suggestions are always welcome.
Hey Scott, sounds like you gave a really nice piece of ground. I was just wondering if you are gathering your persimmons? It seems that so many people concentrate on what to "bring in" to the farm before they try to collect what is already on hand. I love to make persimmon pudding. I have a recipe my grandmother gave me before she passed. For many people in my family, it is their favorite dessert. I wish I had your trees! I only have 2 batches left in the freezer lol. BTW, I'm in New Castle, whereabouts are you?
I was wondering where / how you calculated your cover crop. I ordered some seed from my favorite (Baker Creek Heirloom) and I have three swales I am putting in in next spring on my suburban lot. But the package doesn't say. I have vetch and winter pea. Did you just Google it?
I thought I read somewhere that I was supposed to use 4 times what the package recommended... but it doesn't say.
Before I purchased seed, I got prices from 3 sources. 2 of the sources were written on a piece of paper that listed total price as well as poundage and mix ratio. I assume they thought I wanted to plant hay for horses. But, the breakdown for each source was similar (pounds of seed per acre). Both lists had prices for soil amendments as well. A neighbor farmer had asked for pricing for me. So, I didn't actually talk to the sources myself.
The 3rd choice, (which I used), is a grain and feed company. I had purchase bird seed and grass seed from them in the past. They are always very helpful. After explaining my goals to them, they suggested their "wildlife mix". 15 acres = 225 pounds. Sold.
They sell all sorts of stuff. So, as I waited for my seed to be mixed, I asked questions about various seeds that were on display. The wildlife mix was already going on the entire field, so all the other seeds that I purchased just went down in patches. Each seed type has a different spread ratio/rate. Many sources recommended that I add sand to the seed before spreading because the seed is so fine. I did not.
Bottom line.... I would call the place that sold you the seed. They are really the best source for the info you desire. Remember that it is only a suggestion. Each piece of ground is different.
Scott -- that all makes a lot of sense. 225 lbs just doesn't seem like a lot of seed for 15 acres. You should have grabbed a picture of you in the truck with the solo cup. That would have been a keeper.
S Bengi -- great list!! And I even have some of these. My parent's have less than 1/4 acre for the whole lot. Even at the high side (33 lbs) I am thinking a tad over 8 lbs. Looks like I need to order 7 additional pounds. In one of my classes the teacher mentioned inoculant for the cover crop. Have you had any experience with this?