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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Ok so I am building Mid-Michigan SURVIVAL homestead, what is a SURVIVAL homestead? I think of it as a BOL with benefits, essentially a homestead designed around survival and self sustainability. Growing crops & livestock to feed my family completely or near completely from the property.

The house is nearly finished, just doing trim work now so I have to start planning the rest of the grounds and get ready for the next projects.

Currently we are there every weekend but during the week we are not able to stay there, however we can hire a hand to spend a couple hours a day there tending livestock or veggies during the week...the area is a bit depressed and it would not be difficult to find reliable help.


Here is the current inventory:
  • Land 5 acres 2/3 is wooded 1.5 acres is tillable
  • House 3 bedroom
  • 2 wells, one shallow , one deep
  • 24 x 32 pole barn
  • 12x16 shed
  • 8 x 10 xhed
  • Kubota 4240 tractor, with 6ft tiller, plows, backhoe & loader
  • 20,000 gallon pond with bluegill & perch in it
  • 10ft wide x 1ft deep creek
  • Solar power and diesel backup generator


For sake of argument I am still working as is my wife and we do ok, so while money is dear to me it is not in short supply and I do not have to do everything on the cheap.

I have been investigating aquaponics, but it seems you cannot grow high calorie vegetables using hydroponics. However I could grow salad and feed it to rabbits....not sure if that is a viable efficient process?

Chicken and rabbits are kind of a given, I am really interested in growing food, but I want to grow calorie dense foods and partner crops correctly, I've got a lot of books some going back to the 20's on small farming, but I thought here might be some folks actually doing it and could share the love :)

I am thinking my next projects are going to be:
  • a greenhouse (how big, what style?)
  • Root cellar (anyone have good plans?)
  • Irrigation system
  • Chicken Coup
  • Rabbit Shed

Current major crops I am thinking about are:
  • Potatoes (already grown here and the grow awesome)
  • Dent Corn
  • Winter Squash
  • Various Dry Beans
These would be supplemented by a some greenhouse tomatoes, peppers, cukes, melons and squashes and sweet corn. (tell me where I am failing with this plan please)
 

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Ok so I am building Mid-Michigan SURVIVAL homestead, what is a SURVIVAL homestead? I think of it as a BOL with benefits, essentially a homestead desgined around survival and self sustainability. Growing crops & livestock to feed my family completely or near completely from the property.

The house is nearly finished, just doing trim work now so I have to start planning the rest of the grounds and get ready for the next projects.

Currently we are there every weekend but during the week we are not able to stay there, however we can hire a hand to spend a couple hours a day there tending livestock or veggies during the week...the area is a bit depressed and it would not be difficult to find reliable help.


Here is the current inventory:
  • Land 5 acres 2/3 is wooded 1.5 acres is tillable
  • House 3 bedroom
  • 2 wells, one shallow , one deep
  • 24 x 32 pole barn
  • 12x16 shed
  • 8 x 10 xhed
  • Kubota 4240 tractor, with 6ft tiller, plows, backhoe & loader
  • 20,000 gallon pond with bluegill & perch in it
  • 10ft wide x 1ft deep creek
  • Solar power and diesel backup generator


For sake of argument I am still working as is my wife and we do ok, so while money is dear to me it is not in short supply and I do not have to do everything on the cheap.

I have been investigating aquaponics, but it seems you cannot grow high calorie vegetables using hydroponics. However I could grow salad and feed it to rabbits....not sure if that is a viable efficient process?

Chicken and rabbits are kind of a given, I am really interested in growing food, but I want to grow calorie dense foods and partner crops correctly, I've got a lot of books some going back to the 20's on small farming, but I thought here might be some folks actually doing it and could share the love :)

I am thinking my next projects are going to be:
  • a greenhouse (how big, what style?)
  • Root cellar (anyone have good plans?)
  • Irrigation system
  • Chicken Coup
  • Rabbit Shed

Current major crops I am thinking about are:
  • Potatoes (already grown here and the grow awesome)
  • Dent Corn
  • Winter Squash
  • Various Dry Beans
These would be supplemented by a some greenhouse tomatoes, peppers, cukes, melons and squashes and sweet corn. (tell me where I am failing with this plan please)
https://www.dropbox.com/s/g3obou1czlgjtpr/Screenshot%202015-11-01%2006.17.45.png?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/g3obou1czlgjtpr/Screenshot%202015-11-01%2006.17.45.png?dl=0
Goats...eat most anything and produce dairy products...to save space look into the tower system for your potatoes...with the protein plan you have, I don't see the need to go with aquaponics unless you want redundancy
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
So wintering goats in Michigan? Do I need an enclosed shed for them, do I just need a run-in shed?
On my little acreage, I would think goats would be through the foliage pretty quickly, what does it cost to feed goats to butcher weight?
 

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Pigs are good just make sure they are high and dry and down wind,minimizes stink two people just one at a time family get two butcher the first a little light and let the second go till your ready for it (first ones all gone). If you pay attention to them they can be almost like a dog one we raised barked like a dog if you were in sight she was almost a pet i had to keep reminding the family she was bacon.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
My area, while zoned as agricultural requires a special permit for pigs, neighbors downwind have the opportunity to shoot it down. My truly downwind neighbor would not be a problem, he is 20 acres of forest downwind and he would not care. The neighbor across the road who is actually not downwind would have a fit and refuse the permit just because he is a jerk...so no pigs for us...but chickens, rabbits, goats even a steer or two would be ok....
 

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They really dont stink if they dont have water to mix with their poo but you could probly not convince any one who was down wind of a wet pig farm.
 

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Ok so I am building Mid-Michigan SURVIVAL homestead, what is a SURVIVAL homestead? I think of it as a BOL with benefits, essentially a homestead designed around survival and self sustainability. Growing crops & livestock to feed my family completely or near completely from the property.
Hello from South of Flint.

Since you called it a BOL, I would evaluate each project for sustainability if you get get supplies from TSC.

Fish: you have a pond, so do we. Acquaponics is on my list to try, but very low. Roughly, for each pound of fish meat, you're going to need pounds (I think fish is in the 2.5 to 3 range) of fish food per pound of fish harvested. On my land, I don't have a way to produce fish food. Supplemental feed of worms & maggots, yes, as a treat, but not the 100's of pounds to make it work in my mind. The time spent managing worms might be better spent in raising crops that yield greater value nutritionally per work required, and even though worms might be easy to raise as food for fish, it would be more energy efficient to just eat them directly; in China we've eaten the "ground eels" but we haven't yet here though we are always interested in recipes... Alternatively, we discovered that the Genesee Conservation District (county near your BOL) hosted pick-up days for fish fry from a Michigan fish farm for stocking our pond; it was too late for this year but it is something we are considering for next. Overall, my thinking is that it would be better to put some summer fish into the deep freezer (which is the 2nd largest chest freezer that Home Depot sold) as it is easily carried in my base solar 24x7 loads, instead of all the power it would take to run a fish tank system.

Here is the current inventory:
  • Land 5 acres 2/3 is wooded 1.5 acres is tillable
  • House 3 bedroom
  • 2 wells, one shallow , one deep
  • 24 x 32 pole barn
  • 12x16 shed
  • 8 x 10 xhed
  • Kubota 4240 tractor, with 6ft tiller, plows, backhoe & loader
  • 20,000 gallon pond with bluegill & perch in it
  • 10ft wide x 1ft deep creek
  • Solar power and diesel backup generator
How many kw of panels? You have an older post from when you started that listed 300W. What kind of 'no grid' loads are you sizing to support in your strategy?

I have been investigating aquaponics, but it seems you cannot grow high calorie vegetables using hydroponics. However I could grow salad and feed it to rabbits....not sure if that is a viable efficient process?
This is our opinion as well. We'll know more once we build a greenhouse, measure our actual winter solar power production, and get a sense of how much energy it takes the greenhouse from 'freezing' solid during those 2 or 3 months of < 32F and the week or so of 0F (with wind).

Chicken and rabbits are kind of a given, I am really interested in growing food, but I want to grow calorie dense foods and partner crops correctly, I've got a lot of books some going back to the 20's on small farming, but I thought here might be some folks actually doing it and could share the love :)
We raise all our own poultry (chickens, turkeys, geese and ducks). We buy the bulk of their food. They are let out to free range every single day. Any food scraps, they get it. They are kept out of the gardens most of the season because they scratch and destroy the plants while looking for bugs. We buy TONS of food for our birds, which is sustainable only if the farm store is open. Animal food is a weakness of ours.

If you don't have somebody there in the morning to open the doors and close them at night, your poultry will have be protected from the coyotes at night.

Our rabbit experiment didn't end so well.. We'll try again. Since it's easy to cut and dry hay (I do this by hand), it seems easier to store for the winter. However, corn for the poultry would store more densely than hay in the loft. It's a matter of human calories to power how much work in a day. To be sustainable, you have to be able to create and store more calories than you expend doing it... if not, it's just a slow train wreck.

I am thinking my next projects are going to be:
  • a greenhouse (how big, what style?)
  • Root cellar (anyone have good plans?)
  • Irrigation system
  • Chicken Coup
  • Rabbit Shed
Although we have a "Michigan" stone walled basement with dirt floor that does pretty good with potatoes, we'd also like to have an outside 'real' root cellar too. I've seen some nice plans on this forum. I put a link within our thread so I can find it when the times come. Our experiment with a beet clamp this past winter did well enough we will do it again this year.

We've been burying irrigation tubing and now have a network that makes watering go a lot faster. It does have to be drained for winter...


Current major crops I am thinking about are:
  • Potatoes (already grown here and the grow awesome)
  • Dent Corn
  • Winter Squash
  • Various Dry Beans
These would be supplemented by a some greenhouse tomatoes, peppers, cukes, melons and squashes and sweet corn. (tell me where I am failing with this plan please)
We also grow all our own potatoes and winter squash. We can keep squash thru until early summer. For two years, I've been trying various heirloom field corn varieties to get a sense of the troubles. I want to be able to scale up to grow enough for the poultry to make it through the winter. So far, my biggest challenge has been small furry animals making off with kernel by kernel... so, we now have 3 barn cats, perhaps next year will be better. 2014 had 500+ pounds of winter squash, we still have 3 squash from that harvest. This year, the new plot did not do nearly as well. We may run out of 'fresh' and have to use some that were pressure canned. Oh, I assume you have an appropriately sized pressure canner?

This is the year of dried beans. Past years' experiments showed we could harvest about 1 lb of dried bean per ~10 ft of row. The pile of dried beans to be shelled this winter has me pondering what did people use if you had a few hundred pounds to do... perhaps some hand cranked device... or maybe that's what kids did. Seems like our goal this year was 50 lbs of dried beans. To be sustainable, we'll need more.

As for sweet corn - this year we attempted more sweet corn since DW ran her CSA; her verdict is that it took entirely too much space for what she harvested given it's short availability window (unless you process it for storage, which also takes time and energy which may be better spent elsewhere) and nutritional "value" compared with other crops (the root crops, winter squash and dry beans), she isn't planning on growing it again. She also tried various melons, and while an enjoyable treat, she is rethinking their place in our efforts toward sustainable gardening. Peppers and cukes pickle and lacto-ferment well without much effort on our part once the process is started. Don't forget cabbage or the root crops, again valuable for their ease of production, storage and nutritional offerings.

You have woods... do you have a nice woodstove? Nectarnook has a thread where they built a homestead in WI and she has a beautiful woodstove (http://vermontwoodstove.com/). It's on our list too.

Do you have appropriate anti-deer and anti-groundhog fencing around your garden? I don't see shadows of it in the photo.

inMichigan
 

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If I had a voice I'd sing
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Survival Homestead is darn right!

I agree with your "potatoes, corn, beans, and squash" planting. That's what Carol Deppe came up with in http://www.amazon.com/dp/160358031X and I think its a great idea.

You need to work on fencing for the livestock and around the garden, and getting water to those areas! Lots of infrastructure to set up before the fun stuff begins.

So wintering goats in Michigan? Do I need an enclosed shed for them, do I just need a run-in shed?
On my little acreage, I would think goats would be through the foliage pretty quickly, what does it cost to feed goats to butcher weight?
My goats have a little shelter with a dirt/straw floor. You just have to make it so they can get out of the wind and rain or snow.

They eat a lot of tree bark, leaves and conifer needles. Not so much grass.

Mountain in Idaho has wintered goats without much supplemental feed. See this thread: http://www.survivalistboards.com/showthread.php?t=408611 second page.

InMichigan's thread in his signature is outstanding for inspiration.
 

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Bugged out already
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You have a nice homestead there! I think you have a great plan and much of the fundamentals in place. I have a 10 acre homestead in Alaska and am just over a year into it.

I like what you look to both grow and raise. Chickens and rabbits should do well. I also agree that pigs would be ideal. A neighbor homesteader raises pigs. He made a deal with me that if I give him my slop he will give me meat. We don't waste much food, but this is great trade. I don't have to worry about disposing my slop and he gets food for the pigs. I help him butcher as well and I got some nice meat. Maybe your neighbor might be receptive to such a deal. What type of preditors do you have in your area? You will need to solve for that. Between the eagles, wolverines, wolves, lynx, and bears up here, I have my hands full trying to figure this out. You probably have deer, so a fence around your crops is likely needed. I've put up a solar powered electic fence that keeps the bears and the moose away pretty effectively. We had a great year with potatoes. Next year I am going to increase my potatoe crop 3 fold for trade.

If your stream flows good, you may want to consider some type of mill or power generation. Being able to mill might be a great barter item If SHTF.

Wildfires will be a major problem SHTF. From the picture of your property this would be a concern. Please think through fire protection. You have adequate resources on your property however to build good defenses.

Thanks for sharing your plans!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thank you for the detailed reply, I will certainly read through your thread!
Hopefully I can answer your questions too.


Hello from South of Flint.

Since you called it a BOL, I would evaluate each project for sustainability if you get get supplies from TSC.

Fish: you have a pond, so do we. Acquaponics is on my list to try, but very low. Roughly, for each pound of fish meat, you're going to need pounds (I think fish is in the 2.5 to 3 range) of fish food per pound of fish harvested. On my land, I don't have a way to produce fish food. Supplemental feed of worms & maggots, yes, as a treat, but not the 100's of pounds to make it work in my mind. The time spent managing worms might be better spent in raising crops that yield greater value nutritionally per work required, and even though worms might be easy to raise as food for fish, it would be more energy efficient to just eat them directly; in China we've eaten the "ground eels" but we haven't yet here though we are always interested in recipes... Alternatively, we discovered that the Genesee Conservation District (county near your BOL) hosted pick-up days for fish fry from a Michigan fish farm for stocking our pond; it was too late for this year but it is something we are considering for next. Overall, my thinking is that it would be better to put some summer fish into the deep freezer (which is the 2nd largest chest freezer that Home Depot sold) as it is easily carried in my base solar 24x7 loads, instead of all the power it would take to run a fish tank system.


How many kw of panels? You have an older post from when you started that listed 300W. What kind of 'no grid' loads are you sizing to support in your strategy?
So on the solar, I still have the same 300watts with the scrubber batteries, I actually use that system to power the surveillance system and wireless broadband (read cellular) internet that the surveillance system is using to post recordings and send alerts through. My plan is to build a new 3 car garage (one slot for the backhoe and the other two for our car and truck) and put 5kw of panels up there and an entirely new power system, hopefully the new Tesla batteries will be all they are advertised to be and I will purchase them. Plans for that is next spring.

This is our opinion as well. We'll know more once we build a greenhouse, measure our actual winter solar power production, and get a sense of how much energy it takes the greenhouse from 'freezing' solid during those 2 or 3 months of < 32F and the week or so of 0F (with wind).



We raise all our own poultry (chickens, turkeys, geese and ducks). We buy the bulk of their food. They are let out to free range every single day. Any food scraps, they get it. They are kept out of the gardens most of the season because they scratch and destroy the plants while looking for bugs. We buy TONS of food for our birds, which is sustainable only if the farm store is open. Animal food is a weakness of ours.
This is somewhat dismaying but not completely unexpected, I had hopes that poultry could be raised without purchasing feed...but it appears that is not easy to do...
If you don't have somebody there in the morning to open the doors and close them at night, your poultry will have be protected from the coyotes at night.

Our rabbit experiment didn't end so well.. We'll try again. Since it's easy to cut and dry hay (I do this by hand), it seems easier to store for the winter. However, corn for the poultry would store more densely than hay in the loft. It's a matter of human calories to power how much work in a day. To be sustainable, you have to be able to create and store more calories than you expend doing it... if not, it's just a slow train wreck.
I am thinking about starting rabbits at my during the week house, starting small and working up to a few dozen, again I am concerned about being able to grow enough food for them and actually be sustainable...it seems like a big hurdle.
Although we have a "Michigan" stone walled basement with dirt floor that does pretty good with potatoes, we'd also like to have an outside 'real' root cellar too. I've seen some nice plans on this forum. I put a link within our thread so I can find it when the times come. Our experiment with a beet clamp this past winter did well enough we will do it again this year.
With a clamp, can you just dig it up and remove a few and then re-bury it ? I think I would much rather spend the time and effort to put in a root cellar, of course having a backhoe makes that job much easier. Now I need to learn how to lay block...but I did see a post somewhere on here where a guy used a septic tank as a shelter, same thing could be used as a root cellar I would think...
We've been burying irrigation tubing and now have a network that makes watering go a lot faster. It does have to be drained for winter...
Are you aware of Ball Check Drains? I use these on my sprinkler system, when there is no water pressure the ball rolls out of the hole and lets the pipe drain...that way you don't have to drain or blow out lines for winter.

We also grow all our own potatoes and winter squash. We can keep squash thru until early summer. For two years, I've been trying various heirloom field corn varieties to get a sense of the troubles. I want to be able to scale up to grow enough for the poultry to make it through the winter. So far, my biggest challenge has been small furry animals making off with kernel by kernel... so, we now have 3 barn cats, perhaps next year will be better. 2014 had 500+ pounds of winter squash, we still have 3 squash from that harvest. This year, the new plot did not do nearly as well. We may run out of 'fresh' and have to use some that were pressure canned. Oh, I assume you have an appropriately sized pressure canner?
Yes I have 2 large pressure canners and outdoor (use in the pole barn) burners for heating them.
This is the year of dried beans. Past years' experiments showed we could harvest about 1 lb of dried bean per ~10 ft of row. The pile of dried beans to be shelled this winter has me pondering what did people use if you had a few hundred pounds to do... perhaps some hand cranked device... or maybe that's what kids did. Seems like our goal this year was 50 lbs of dried beans. To be sustainable, we'll need more.
This bean information is also dismaying. 1lb per 10ft means a lot of rows to generate a fair amount of beans...ground is precious, thats a concern.
As for sweet corn - this year we attempted more sweet corn since DW ran her CSA; her verdict is that it took entirely too much space for what she harvested given it's short availability window (unless you process it for storage, which also takes time and energy which may be better spent elsewhere) and nutritional "value" compared with other crops (the root crops, winter squash and dry beans), she isn't planning on growing it again. She also tried various melons, and while an enjoyable treat, she is rethinking their place in our efforts toward sustainable gardening. Peppers and cukes pickle and lacto-ferment well without much effort on our part once the process is started. Don't forget cabbage or the root crops, again valuable for their ease of production, storage and nutritional offerings.
Yes, cabbage would a late season filler crop :) easy to grow and store
You have woods... do you have a nice woodstove? Nectarnook has a thread where they built a homestead in WI and she has a beautiful woodstove (http://vermontwoodstove.com/). It's on our list too.
I have a Regency like this one:
Do you have appropriate anti-deer and anti-groundhog fencing around your garden? I don't see shadows of it in the photo.
No I don't and they wreaked havoc on the garden two years ago (skipped a garden last year and put all effort into finishing the house). I am purchasing a post hole digger for the tractor next week and have a great deal of trees that are pole size back in the woods. My issue is determining where the fencing should be, whether its to keep deer & rodents out or keep goats in? Same fence probably for both I would guess but I need to figure out the best layout of the property before I put in fences...how long and wide is the greenhouse, do I need a goat pasture, or maybe two or three pastures...have to figure all of this out before putting the fence in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Survival Homestead is darn right!

I agree with your "potatoes, corn, beans, and squash" planting. That's what Carol Deppe came up with in http://www.amazon.com/dp/160358031X and I think its a great idea.

You need to work on fencing for the livestock and around the garden, and getting water to those areas! Lots of infrastructure to set up before the fun stuff begins.



My goats have a little shelter with a dirt/straw floor. You just have to make it so they can get out of the wind and rain or snow.

They eat a lot of tree bark, leaves and conifer needles. Not so much grass.

Mountain in Idaho has wintered goats without much supplemental feed. See this thread: http://www.survivalistboards.com/showthread.php?t=408611 second page.

InMichigan's thread in his signature is outstanding for inspiration.
Thanks for the heads up on the book, can't have too many farming / gardening / homesteading books! Thanks for the info on the goats, do you keep them for meat or milking or both?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
You have a nice homestead there! I think you have a great plan and much of the fundamentals in place. I have a 10 acre homestead in Alaska and am just over a year into it.

I like what you look to both grow and raise. Chickens and rabbits should do well. I also agree that pigs would be ideal. A neighbor homesteader raises pigs. He made a deal with me that if I give him my slop he will give me meat. We don't waste much food, but this is great trade. I don't have to worry about disposing my slop and he gets food for the pigs. I help him butcher as well and I got some nice meat. Maybe your neighbor might be receptive to such a deal. What type of preditors do you have in your area? You will need to solve for that. Between the eagles, wolverines, wolves, lynx, and bears up here, I have my hands full trying to figure this out. You probably have deer, so a fence around your crops is likely needed. I've put up a solar powered electic fence that keeps the bears and the moose away pretty effectively. We had a great year with potatoes. Next year I am going to increase my potatoe crop 3 fold for trade.

If your stream flows good, you may want to consider some type of mill or power generation. Being able to mill might be a great barter item If SHTF.

Wildfires will be a major problem SHTF. From the picture of your property this would be a concern. Please think through fire protection. You have adequate resources on your property however to build good defenses.

Thanks for sharing your plans!
Good for you on the pork trading, although the slop could be used for compost, getting pork for it seems like a much better deal!

As for predators we do have eagles, coyotes and foxes. The big issue here is keeping the deer away from the garden, basically a hot wire topped 6ft fence is the minimum. But not being there during the week, neither is my big Rottweiler so predators have no inhibitors during the week, only on weekends and that could be a problem when a predator has hours and hours to get into a cage or coup....

As for using the creek, well its really a county drain, and because its a county drain they do not permit any structures, damming etc...and worse, while it looks like I am surrounded by forest, just a couple miles away is several thousand acres of farmland, those farms all use chemicals and that chemical run-off is in the creek, so really I can't even use it for watering my crops.

Lastly you bring up fire, interestingly this area burned roughly 100yrs ago so its entirely possible for it to happen again. Of course I have the pond and the creek as water sources, but no where near adequate fire breaks, nor do I have a good enough water pump, something to consider....especially since the dwelling is a log cabin
 

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Thanks for the heads up on the book, can't have too many farming / gardening / homesteading books! Thanks for the info on the goats, do you keep them for meat or milking or both?
I got them for milking, but never got around to it. They are pets now.

The One-Star Bandit has struck again! It wasn't me, BTW!
 

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Wildfires will be a major problem SHTF. From the picture of your property this would be a concern. Please think through fire protection. You have adequate resources on your property however to build good defenses.
Very good point. It's something we could improve as well.
inMichigan
 

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Are you aware of Ball Check Drains? I use these on my sprinkler system, when there is no water pressure the ball rolls out of the hole and lets the pipe drain...that way you don't have to drain or blow out lines for winter.


Hmm, I'll have to set that up to work in the early Spring and late Fall when things start to get iffy... The entire 'summer' system must be 600 ft of tubing and a dozen spigots.

The small beet clamp we made last year was left sealed until the early Spring. I think to break thru the frozen soil and straw, it may take a pick-axe. I suppose I could have used more straw and covered it with plastic. Worth trying sometime. My goal was to get some roots into the very early Spring.

To learn how to lay stone, have you considered the class here:
http://tillersinternational.org/event/the-art-of-stone-masonry/ They are located East of Kalamazoo on I-94, easy for you too.
My son & I have both taken two blacksmith classes and my wife took the ox class. We've very pleased with all 3 of our experiences.

This bean information is also dismaying. 1lb per 10ft means a lot of rows to generate a fair amount of beans...ground is precious, thats a concern

We did use some of the beans when they were green for pickling and eating fresh. This was very good soil as well, and plenty of water. We have 1/3 of acre under cultivation in our various gardens. Plenty of threads along the lines of 'how many acres does it take...."... You could improve your bean yield with climbing types on trellises. But of course, that's more infrastructure and makes tilling more difficult.

To really know, well, you got to try it in your soil. In post 262 of our thread, I had estimated 3000 sq ft of bean per Person, that's a square 55 ft on a side... not so bad.

inMichigan
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Are you aware of Ball Check Drains? I use these on my sprinkler system, when there is no water pressure the ball rolls out of the hole and lets the pipe drain...that way you don't have to drain or blow out lines for winter.


Hmm, I'll have to set that up to work in the early Spring and late Fall when things start to get iffy... The entire 'summer' system must be 600 ft of tubing and a dozen spigots.

The small beet clamp we made last year was left sealed until the early Spring. I think to break thru the frozen soil and straw, it may take a pick-axe. I suppose I could have used more straw and covered it with plastic. Worth trying sometime. My goal was to get some roots into the very early Spring.

To learn how to lay stone, have you considered the class here:
http://tillersinternational.org/event/the-art-of-stone-masonry/ They are located East of Kalamazoo on I-94, easy for you too.
My son & I have both taken two blacksmith classes and my wife took the ox class. We've very pleased with all 3 of our experiences.

This bean information is also dismaying. 1lb per 10ft means a lot of rows to generate a fair amount of beans...ground is precious, thats a concern

We did use some of the beans when they were green for pickling and eating fresh. This was very good soil as well, and plenty of water. We have 1/3 of acre under cultivation in our various gardens. Plenty of threads along the lines of 'how many acres does it take...."... You could improve your bean yield with climbing types on trellises. But of course, that's more infrastructure and makes tilling more difficult.

To really know, well, you got to try it in your soil. In post 262 of our thread, I had estimated 3000 sq ft of bean per Person, that's a square 55 ft on a side... not so bad.

inMichigan
Wouldn't you know it, the last stone work class for this year was in September i'll have to get the 2016 calendar and see what they have, all of it looks very interesting !


for the beans, shoot at 55ft per side thats nearly a 3rd of my currently available space, thinking trellising is the way to go but still wondering if I can get the yield high enough....
 

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If I had a voice I'd sing
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7,137 Posts
I don't know about the ball check drains, but when I put in the sprinkler system at my previous house, I used these:

http://www.sprinklerwarehouse.com/Sprinkler-System-Drainage-s/20.htm



Cost $2-$3 and worked great!

I used both the funny pipe ones and the ones like this:



They worked great for the years that I lived there, and always drained after each use.

BTW I ordered most of my sprinkler parts from Sprinkler Warehouse (in the link) and they seem to have the best prices and service.
 

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off-grid organic farmer
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Ok so I am building Mid-Michigan SURVIVAL homestead, what is a SURVIVAL homestead? I think of it as a BOL with benefits, essentially a homestead designed around survival and self sustainability. Growing crops & livestock to feed my family completely or near completely from the property.

The house is nearly finished, just doing trim work now so I have to start planning the rest of the grounds and get ready for the next projects.
I pray that you designed a net-zero house?
 

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Wouldn't you know it, the last stone work class for this year was in September i'll have to get the 2016 calendar and see what they have, all of it looks very interesting !

for the beans, shoot at 55ft per side thats nearly a 3rd of my currently available space, thinking trellising is the way to go but still wondering if I can get the yield high enough....
About 20% of the beans came from trellising... so that's a bit baked into the calculation. I'd say we did get more per foot of trellis, but, we also had 5 ft between the 6 ft tall trellis fences instead of ~2 ft between the bean rows.. so, on a per square foot basis, well, you have a tiller... Expand! In your picture, I think 'south' is up. We're not yet growing a self sufficient amount of beans. They are cheap to purchase compared to growing your own, yet, if you really had 1 to 2 years to suddenly take that task on, if you didn't have the fencing, seed stock, fertile ground in useful rotation, knowledge, it would be quite a challenge.

We don't have all our space within a single perimeter fence, even where it could be. We did that so we could let the chickens forage zone by zone. Kind of like those artist renditions to medieval farm life... Fencing is quite an investment in money and labor.

inMichigan
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I pray that you designed a net-zero house?
First off sorry for the late response, this message came in with a flurry of other ones and somehow I missed it until this morning.

I would not call my house a net zero house, but it is in that direction. The house was an existing structure on the property but it was a late 1800 early 1900 small horse barn that had been really really poorly converted to be a house.

I had the house moved away from the road and turned to face the pond (DW wanted the view). Had a new foundation put down and set the house on it, then added a front porch and metal roof before I gutted the house to the studs on the inside and down to the 1" sheeting on the outside. I moved every window and door, increased every window size and replaced them with high efficiency windows, increased the wall thickness to 8 inches cavity and spray foamed with high density spray foam. I also had the crawl space (poured floor, more of a shallow basement) spray foamed 3 inches thick. (wish I went thicker there)

I installed an on demand water heater and high efficiency furnace (both propane) and a 75000 btu wood stove. (probably too big with the insulation I have it shouldn't take much more than a candle to heat the place)

So as you can see, its not a net zero design but it is quite efficient, however still dependent on propane for hot water (and heat / cooking but I can use the wood stove for those things as well). As I increase my solar capabilities I will most likely add in an solar pre-heat / solar electric hot water heater
 
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