Jennifer McMann

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since Feb 28, 2013
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Recent posts by Jennifer McMann

Hey All, I got a quick question for you.

TLDR: What is the realistic cost of moving a used single or doublewide trailer onto raw land, including the cost of utility connections? Have you done this before? Tell me how you did it!

My family is getting together some money to buy some land. We plan on having a small subsistance farm where farm products go to the family first, then maybe we'll sell some surplus. My spouse and I are planning on moving onto this land ASAP after buying it. We've found that raw land is fairly cheap while land with any kind of a house on it is very expensive. So we'd rather buy some raw land on the low side of our budget range and move a mobile home onto it.

Tiny houses are NOT an option. We have pets, we need our space, we entertain a lot... I'd say 700 square feet is a minimum.

So I want to know how much this costs. I've done some google-fu and it seems like used mobile homes run from $15,000 to $50,000, and we'd be looking at more of a $25,000 place. Something decent to live in but it doesn't have to be amazing. I see the cost of moving a singlewide trailer as being about $3000-$6000 depending on distance and other factors. So right away it seems like $30,000 is about what I'll spend. Am I off base on the cost of the house or moving? What websites/places should I go to find deals on homes or moving?

Now utilities... Let's assume this land has no public connections and no well or sewer. I figure I can get around the septic install costs by setting up a greywater system. Nothing fancy, mind you, just what I can scrape together using scrap materials and a shovel. Black water is a different problem. Flushing toilets are pretty important for us. I might be able to convince my SO to use a composting toilet temporarily, but I give that 10 months max. We live in southern North Carolina so our soil is hard red clay. We could potentially dig out a ghetto septic system using 55 gallon drums, gravel, and PVC pipe, but I've never done that before and don't know how well that would work with drainage.

I've heard that electric companies will hook electrical connections to a post in the ground if you ask them to. So I'm thinking electrical hookups might be free? Internet idea how that works.

Water... Digging a well is expensive, so is connecting to city water and city water is gross. I live in an area with a lot of rain. Could I potentially catch rain water, store it, and then send it through a pressurized filter to the rest of the house? How expensive is that?

So, what else am I missing here? I've never done anything like this at all. What should I expect and what aren't I considering?

I want as many opinions as possible so I've posted this in a few different places. My appologies if you see it twice!
9 years ago
Hey, Paul. I'm sorry that I've upset you. It wasn't my intention at all. I'd like to clarify my point but, before I do I want to express some other opinions that might clear up where I'm coming from.

I think Paul Wheaton is great! I think the work Paul does to futher Permaculture is not only fantastic but absolutely necessary if we're going to make it out of this era of pollution and destruction intact. I think Paul Wheaton is a great teacher. His lectures are awesome and definitely worth attending or watching on YouTube. I live in North Carolina so I haven't been able to attend one in person but if he ever comes down my way I'll be one of the first to sign up. Geoff was right to name Paul the Duke of Permaculture. It's a title well earned. I was introduced to Paul Wheaton by listening to Jack Spirko's podcasts. The podcasts where Jack and Paul get to talk are hands down the best. Hands down. Even without the Permaculture info they shoot back and forth, it's worth it for entertainment value! Paul is a seriously funny guy, and listening to him joke with Jack is like listening to an awesome Permaculture stand-up routine.

I also desperately want Paul's farm to succeed. I'd be there to help myself, but again, North Carolina... I was a $100 supporter on the thermal mass heater DVD's and a $30 2-pack supporter on the playing cards. I know Paul's using the extra funds from these endeavors for the farm and I'm so happy I could help in that small way. I want this to work for many reasons. First, Paul deserves it. He's dedicated his life to this and he's definitely earned some reward. I want this to work because I would like to start something similar, abiet smaller, in my area for my friends, family, and like-minded folks. And more than anything else I want this to work because Permaculture is the only thing that will allow us to make it through this environmental crisis. Nothing else is more important than this.

Now to clarify some of the misunderstanding about my previous post. First I was not ranting, and I'm sorry that it was interpreted that way. I was trying to be honest with my opinions, and they are just that, the opinions of one person in a world of 7 billion who has never had the good fortune to even meet Mr. Wheaton. I think this misunderstanding was caused because I had a misunderstanding about Paul's post. Reading this thread Paul's posts have gone back and forth about how many podcasts potential new recruits should have listened to. He states:

They have listened to at least half the podcasts so they know what is going on and why.

I assumed that this mean the purpose of making the new recruit listen to the podcasts was to inform them of what's going on on the farm and educate them about Permaculture in general. But then Paul replied and said:

On the off chance that you want to make the point that this is on topic for this thread because if the podcasts were "better" then we would attract more people to the property, then I have to say that the podcasts are doing their job. They are turning away the people that would not like me. My life is better.

The latter comment makes it seem that the purpose of the podcasts are to make sure that the potential recruit knows Paul's personality. Now if that's the case, my previous suggestion is invalidated. The podcasts are a terrific way to learn more about Paul himself.

My point was that using podcasts as a filter for new recruits, on the basis that the podcasts are informative about Permaculture should be rethought. There are tons of awesome resources that are used specifically to educate people on Permaculture. Toby Hemenway's book is probably one of my most favorite books ever. Plus the information is condensed down and outlined with accompanying graphs, charts, and pictures that make it easy to digest. People all learn differently, and visual learning is a part of that. And that's just one book. There are lots of other resources out there that are very effective, Paul's youtube videos being one of them. Geoff Lawtons videos are excellent too. It's funny how big Permaculture is, while being still too small.

It's my personal opinion that there is a world of awesome new permie-ready recruits who would love such an opportunity to work on a sustainable farm - but they currently have no idea what Permaculture is. Paul talked about wanting people of "many flavors" to join him. He also talked about how he set the bar very high and is reluctant to lower it for fear of suboptimal recruits. My suggestion was that by changing the requirements, not lowering them, more high quality recruits would become available.

To expand on that, I think hitting up highschools and colleges would yeild good results. Giving young, healthy, smart kids an option besides college is in demand right now. Colleges are getting more expensive and less educational every day. Even students who want to get a 4 year degree sometimes want to spend a year at an internship or volunteering before they start. These students, especially, understand that college, while valuable in it's own way, is not world experience. Also given the rural local of Missoula, students who plan to study agriculture and livestock might want to be given the chance to intern at an earth-friendly farm. Plenty of students spend a semester abroad learning the same things in similar classrooms...just in another country. What a wonderful opportunity it would be to spend a semester studying elsewhere and actually learning new things as well as getting awesome new life experiences. That's just one of the groups of people that I think would be a valuable addition to Paul's farm, even though they have never heard of Paul or listened to any podcasts.

I'm not saying the podcasts are bad, I'm not saying they should be altered, I'm saying that using them as part of the filter for new people might not be a good idea. I hope I've clarified my position on that now.

If you think I need to change, you need to read this.

Never change, Paul. Stay awesome.

9 years ago
These are my personal opinions, please take them for what you will.

I think this statement condtradicts itself:

A) people that will tell us that we are doing it wrong when they have not read the articles or forums; have not listened to the podcasts; have not watched the videos. These people impede the whole group.

Reading up on a topic gives you just enough confidence to think you understand it but not the required experience to actually know what you're talking about. It's the pefect storm of "you're doing it wrong" with also not being able to help at all. I don't think you need people who hve read articles and forums, you need people who have their hearts in the right place. You need excited, driven people who want to make a positive impact in this world, and I don't think they need to know what Permaculture is ahead of time. I think that if you portray it as a learning experience, almost a live-in PDC, you'll get just the people you want. "Hey, everyone! Who wants to learn about a way to live closer to nature in a sustainable way that actually heals the land too? It's called Permaculture and if you want to learn about it come to my farm!"

My second point is about the podcasts. Frankly, they're below average. They're not engaging, they're typically not organized, and the worst part is they're usually not informative. To use a specific example, the recent podcast about residual income streams was about 30% interesting and informative. That 30% is worth listening to and I did learn something. Unfortunately the rest of the podcast was so saturated with whining and complaints it was very off-putting. Jocelyn even commented that "this is therapy for him" during some complaints. If Paul wants to use podcasts to educate people then he needs to eliminate this theraputic but non productive whining and condense the information. If Paul wants to continue to use pocasts to talk about personal feelings then that's fine, it's his podcast and he can and should do whatever he wants with them. Until then the value of listening to the podcasts should be rethought.
9 years ago
Hey Everyone!

I'm currently into several projects, two of which are natural building techniques and beekeeping. I was wondering if there was a way to combine the two? Has anyone ever tried to build a beehive out of cob? Not the whole thing, mind you, I think it would be best to have a rectangle of wood where the top bars sit, then mold the cob around the sides and bottom.

One of the reasons I want to try is because I live in a place that gets 100 degree days in the summer, but frosts every day in the winter. I'd like to provide my bees with a somewhat climate controlled comfortable home that's still human friendly.

I tried googling to see if anyone else had tried this, but all I got were 5 pages of beehive shaped cob ovens...
9 years ago

Mark Livett wrote:The only problem I have with this, other than harbouring cockroaches, rats or snakes, is that I read something somewhere that if you don't change out the hollow bamboo bits every year then mites and parasites build up and can ultimately kill off the bugs you are trying to encourage.

I've read that too. Is there any evidence to back it up? If it's true then how often and what time of year do you change the bamboo?
10 years ago
Oh, wow, the take soil from parent plant idea is so obvious and yet it never occurred to me! Okay, I'm going with that. Thanks for the excellent advice everyone!
10 years ago
Aww, no answers?

The reason I ask is because I've read books that say when you plant N-fixing trees "Make sure you use X-BRAND inoculum!"

And I've read books that don't specify anything about planting N-fixing tree seeds besides just generic planting depth or soil type, etc.

But I've never read a book that says, "Hey, go ahead an plant this [N-fixing Tree] and don't worry about inoculum because [Scientific Nature Thing] will do it for you."
10 years ago
I'm looking to plant some nitrogen fixing tree seeds in a giant, dead, overfarmed field. There are plenty of local N-fixing trees in my area that are nice enough to provide me the seeds for it, but none of them grow near this crappy plot. Can I just plant the seeds and let them figure out the N-fixing, or do I need to go buy some inoculum?
10 years ago