Lollyland

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Lollyland

Postby Lollykoko » Sat Jan 28, 2012 11:21 pm

I first bought my/our place nearly seven years ago. This will be home for me, one of my sisters and her husband, my oldest granddaughter and her husband. Well, so far, at least. We are wanting to set up a system that can provide for the extended family.

There are 40 acres, mixed woods, pasture and wetlands. The walnut/pine forest was planted about 25 years ago and is maturing nicely. Some of the acreage was in the Conservation Reserve Program when the purchase was made, restricting my ability to alter the access from the road. That section was freed up in 2010, so we were able to start a sketchy drive last year.

A high water table means the pasture area is too small and damp to be useful to large farmers for mono-cropping. The "bottom ground" hasn't been tilled for 25 years. Fantastically rich, fertile loam, teeming with life. Given the amount of garden space we will need and the animals that have been discussed, it should be just right for our needs. It runs off to wetlands at the south end, which seems to be the spot to start the big pond. This shot of pasture greenery was taken in late Oct.
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This is the year that we will be doing some major infrastructure work. There are several issues to address and I'm hoping that there will be enough willing hands to allow more than one project to go on at a time. Let me see if I can explain some, with photos.

We have enjoyed camping over the past few years. But clearing under growth means that the campsite is more visible from the road. That means some screen is needed. I'm thinking hugelbeets, which will also give a spot for growing my lunch and supper, just a few steps from where I'll lay my head at night, once the rainy spring weather comes to a close. (looking east northeast)
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I even have some fungus-y deadwood already in the right spots to meet my needs. Just a little chainsaw work and shifting a foot or two will give a good start.
Image(looking due east)
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Several years ago, the county sent a contractor to "brush" around the drainage ditch that runs through my SW corner. They took down everything but a few old cottonwoods. I don't know what happened to all the walnut trees that used to be there, but plenty of willow and scrub oak was left behind, as you can see in the pile of dead wood on the right side of this photo. More material for those hugel beds, near to the point of use, and we can clean up the scenery! (looking south, with ditch on right side)
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Last night I was out with friends and ran into a former co-worker. I asked about another fellow who had offered me all the horse manure I wanted. Now I'm hoping for a phone call within a month or so to get things started. :D

If plans go well, by fall this spot will have been cleared, dug down about 20 feet, and an earthbag home built on the site. I should have plenty of good, organically rich soil for covering a hugelbeet or two. (looking west northwest)
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This is my heart home and I can/will probably be very long winded on the subject.
Last edited by Lollykoko on Sun Jan 29, 2012 8:01 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Lollyland

Postby matt walker » Sun Jan 29, 2012 12:05 am

Beautiful Lolly. I'm sure hoping you are long winded. I'll look forward to getting to know the property through your posts.

I see that stinging nettle there, around my place they are a great indicator of rich soil, although probably a bit acidic. Makes sense with all the hardwood leaf duff you must have there. I put my garden right in a big patch of 'em, and it is fantastic. Well, aside from the time I was sitting in a lawn chair enjoying a cold beer in shorts while I watered with the hose, and went over backwards into the whole mess of 'em. Don't do that!

Would you mind giving us the aspect in some of those shots? Particularly the building site, which direction does that slope face?
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Re: Lollyland

Postby Lollykoko » Sun Jan 29, 2012 12:33 am

The slope is south facing. The photo was taken between 3 and 4 in the afternoon in mid January of this year. Normally it would be covered with snow at this time of year.

That spot is just below the crest of the hill with the flat land "bottom ground" about 30 feet lower in elevation, to the south. The hillside gets lower as it travels east, further into the property.

I guess I need to load some more pictures to Photobucket! Back soon.
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Re: Lollyland

Postby Lollykoko » Sun Jan 29, 2012 2:48 am

Okay! Another 55 pictures later, I'm ready to add a little bit to this story.

This picture was taken from the south end of the property, looking at the older mixed wood forest north of the bottom ground. The date was mid November this year. The darkish spot left of center at the tree line is the path we have been using to start moving old dead wood from the house site. The house will be near the top of the hill on the extreme left of the photo.
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We are hoping that clearing the area for construction doesn't leave us naked from the road, more than 1200 feet to the west. The stack of wood on the right side of the photo will be shared with some neighbors for firewood and will help create a hugelbeet or two for gardening purposes. In fact, here's another shot of that woodpile, with my smiling face sitting on some 60 foot cottonwood trunks!
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The drainage ditch that travels through our place cuts off a small field near the road (right side of photo). That spot will be Zone 4 or so, since we hope to utilize the area to grow items for crafting. There is a section on both sides that will remain in CRP until 2014, designated as "filter strip". I'm sure some holly, bittersweet, and teasel will work out well there, and maybe the deer won't eat too much. You are looking south.
Image
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Re: Lollyland

Postby matt walker » Sun Jan 29, 2012 8:01 pm

Nice to see you Lolly! Now I kinda "get" the bigger picture. That seems like an ideal building site, and I'll admit I'm a bit jealous of your southern exposure. So, if you are that close to construction, you must have the house fairly well planned. Care to share? I'd love to see what you have in mind.
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Re: Lollyland

Postby Lollykoko » Sun Jan 29, 2012 8:38 pm

I just played with my contour map in Paint, to try and make better sense of how the place is set up. North is at the top, and I left the elevation figures nearby.

The thin black line is driveway, kinda sorta. Part of it is hardpack, after many years of usage. The section coming off the road and most of the way to the campsite has been graveled, but another 600 tons wouldn't hurt. :lol: The purple splotches are the three campers that are in use right now, with two (the vertical slashes) of them being mobile and one being a cab-over type that is mounted to a platform on piers. The blue splotch is the future house site. Vari colored green spray indicates trees. The outhouse isn't listed on the map, but it is located in the open ended space east of the looped drives.
Image
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Re: Lollyland

Postby Lollykoko » Sun Jan 29, 2012 9:23 pm

Speaking of the outhouse ... Not having toilet facilities really bother some of my occasional guests. Labor Day weekend of 2009, some of my male relatives made a special trip to the farm to build an outhouse for us. It was a learning experience, in case anyone ever needs some advice. :D We had rented a backhoe that weekend, which gave us an 8' digging arm that worked much quicker than my aged 50 something to over 70, brother (and in law), cousins and uncle could have done. The location is almost due east of the cab-over, which was the only camper I had at the time. Image
This is the completed structure a year later, looking west-ish, with the camper hidden behind the building. The mosquito net over the top was salvaged from a destroyed screen house.
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The view when you leave the outhouse. This was early September, you are looking at the bottom ground beyond the fringe of walnut trees. The outhouse is skewed a bit in directions, so the view is SSE.
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Just a few weeks later I bought a pop-up. This is sis and I, hiding from mosquitoes the size of hummingbirds on a day in mid September. The hats were something I whipped up (using that mosquito net) after that Labor Day weekend work party where we all got eaten alive, even with a propane fogger in use. The view is west (where the road is located). The proposed hugelbeets will be in the woods you see here.
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Brother in law got a cap too. Looking east at a stand of old cottonwood.
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Looking ENE, sometime this spring. The barely seen drive path that slopes up is a firelane that loops around the top of the hill, going west across the north edge of the property line. The down-slope drive behind the tractor is shown as the loose ended line on the contour map.
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I hope that gives you a good tour of what we have going on so far!
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Re: Lollyland

Postby matt walker » Sun Jan 29, 2012 9:51 pm

Wonderful Lolly! It's SO GREEN! That last shot is so pretty with all the flowers and the deep green. What are those flowers, anyway? It's really beautiful land, and your family look to be a great crowd. I'm really enjoying this, thank you for sharing.
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Re: Lollyland

Postby Lollykoko » Mon Jan 30, 2012 7:43 am

Matt, We sprinkled several boxes of wild flower seeds a couple of years ago. I'm not sure what the flowers are, but we enjoy them in the spring and early summer. By fall they have been replaced with "dog burrs", which is possibly the seed. They grow thoughout the wooded area, but don't creep out into the sunny pasture.
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Re: Lollyland

Postby Lollykoko » Mon Jan 30, 2012 8:33 am

About the house ... We are planning an elevational earth sheltered home using earthbag construction. I haven't been getting the right kind of feedback from other family members to really design from scratch (though I have definite ideas). Recently I gave sis two websites to check out where engineers have earthbag home designs available for a fee. Hopefully I will hear from them soon to let me know what sketches and floor plans appeal to them the most. Since the construction type is so rare around here, I think buying a plan might make things easier with the planning commission than walking in with a sketch on a napkin or even five pages of prints designed on Sketch-Up.

My personal desire is for a cross between Falling Waters (for making use of the slope of the hill)
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and a Hobbit House.
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For me, one of the considerations is being able to do much of the construction myself. I think a few months of filling and toting 50 pound earthbags will do wonders for my waistline. :D For a while at least, I will be able to work on the walls whether anyone else is staying on site or not.

We have been talking about other considerations and planning ahead a little. My brother used to do construction. One day he managed to save a half dozen 8' sliding glass doors and those are available to me. I have had a reproduction cast iron slipper tub sitting in the garage for years, waiting for "the new house". I'm hoping to luck into some waterbed headboards to use as a display wall in the family area. Of course we will fill the bags from the site and will use some of the trees we must remove as building material. There is a lot of wild cherry (too small to be salable) and some magnificent white oaks that have been struck by lightening. Woodwork, flooring, cabinetry ... if we can't build it ourselves, we hope to find some to reuse.
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