The Walden Effect: Homesteading Year 5. Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

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Cardinal eating seeds

So how did the thicker, whitish plastic do for solarization? The layer did a good job killing off mature oats and some weeds, but the ornerier ground ivy didn't get hot enough to die. Looks like the thin, clear plastic that deteriorates in a single season is still the best option for solarization...unless you want to pay top dollar for UV-resistant greenhouse film.

Posted Sat Jul 22 07:38:25 2017 Tags:
Kubota X900 dump bed walls.
Adding some plywood walls helped to double our Kubota load limit.
Posted Fri Jul 21 16:05:20 2017 Tags:
Athens Ohio airbnb

Last time I bought land, I was just out of college and dirt poor. I saved every penny, hoping to achieve $10,000 within the next decade and buy a 10-acre farm with cash. But when I was $2,000 in, a very kind friend jumped into the breach and offered me an interest-free loan on a larger amount. I bought the largest ugly-duckling property I could comfortably afford, paid the friend back several years later when that property allowed us to live off our microbusiness, and was endlessly grateful for the jumpstart.

This time around, Mark and I are being more conventional. We've calculated the likely selling price for this place based on recent sales in the region, and we're looking for properties in that same range. Rather than selling before buying, though, and being entirely debt-free, we decided to get pre-approved for a mortgage so we could spend a little more money up front but do things in the easy order --- move before we put this place up for sale.

Tear-down real estate

In the process, I've learned a lot about land buying that I thought the conventional among you (probably everyone except younger me!) might benefit from. First of all, by using a site like Lending Tree to compare rates, you're asking to join masses of email and phone lists --- beware! None of those potential lenders will answer a simple question --- they all want every ounce of your personal and financial data so they can take you all the way to preapproval. Meanwhile, if you're self-employed, the data those intaker officers need dives all the way down to your tax returns from the previous three years. Wow, that's a lot of information to share with looky-loos.

And yet, after extensive research, I learned that rates aren't even set at the preapproval stage and that most lenders will give you approximately the same rate as all the others, with that amount depending on your financial portfolio and credit history. So you might as well instead select a lender based on reviews and other factors, such as those I discuss below.

Footbridge

The next hurdle to bridge is the difference between buying a house and buying an acreage. 10 acres seems to be the dividing line between the two, but it also matters whether the dwelling passes muster (many owner-built homes and old farm houses won't) and whether your home-to-be is on wheels (a higher interest rate) or on a permanent foundation. Keep in mind, also, that if you buy a home instead of land, you'll need to pay home owner's insurance as a mandatory part of your mortgage agreement.

The trick if you want to buy a farm rather than a house with a few acres appears to be going with a local bank rather than with a big company. By contacting a bank in the community we plan to move to, we were given the option of choosing a non-federally-approved loan that will cover unimproved land or a federally-approved loan that won't. The former has a lower interest rate...but one that will change over time (a problem for us only if we don't manage to sell this property within the first fixed term of three to five years). Improvement level also makes a difference on properties that lack domiciles, so pay attention to the presence or absence of developed water, electric, and septic on potential properties. Finally, the percent you're expected to pay yourself will vary depending on which type of property and type of loan you choose to pursue.

Old camper

Phew! Learning what I just put into this post took about a week and a half of phone calls, web searching, and emails to ferret out. On the plus side...youthful me's anti-debt ways means our credit is excellent so we just got preapproved. Now we're ready to really get serious about this move.

Posted Fri Jul 21 07:01:50 2017 Tags:
Kubota loading.

After some trial and error I've discovered the Super Winch can ride all the way to the side and still allow for a passenger if she gets in from the driver's side.

Posted Thu Jul 20 15:08:38 2017 Tags:
Rubber ducky
"What will happen if I water my garden with bath water that has a little soap in it?" --- Heather


Watering a garden with soapy water probably won't be a problem, but it depends on the individual plants being hydrated (and whether you do it once or keep doing it, thus letting problematic compounds build up in the soil).

The main problem from a plant point of view would likely be salt/sodium and/or boron building up. But bleach can also kill soil critters, causing long-term damage to ecosystem health. Bar soap might increase the pH of your water, which would only be a problem if you're watering acid-lovers like blueberries or rhododendrons.

Rainy laundry

The more worrisome problem would be the potential for fecal coliform from bathwater to land on edibles that will be harvested soon (like leaf lettuce), making you sick after you dine. That's why bathwater is often considered more blackwater than greywater (unlike the effluent from your kitchen sink or non-diaper laundry, which tends to be safer). To stay on the safe side, it's better to apply these dicey types of liquid to ornamentals, or to edibles that won't be harvested for several months.

The upshot? Read the label of your cleaning products if you plan to toss them down the drain. Then understand the difference between greywater and blackwater and you'll be all set!

Posted Thu Jul 20 06:38:08 2017 Tags:
Furniture dolly moving stove.

We don't use this furniture dolly much, but when we do it really saves energy.

Posted Wed Jul 19 15:27:53 2017 Tags:
Peach Ridge Ohio

The property Mark and I are currently considering is on top of a ridge --- high and dry. Microclimates have such a huge impact on gardening, and there are major pros and cons to ridges over our current valley location.

Sugar maple

On the minus side, ridges are more exposed to storms and wind, something we've never had to worry about in the past. In an area where rainfall is already 20% down from what I'm used to and where we'd be depending on city water, we'd have to get more clever about irrigation and rainwater catchment. Meanwhile soil also tends to be less rich on ridgetops since erosion naturally carries topsoil downhill.

Oyster mushrooms

That said, never again having to deal with waterlogged soil has something to recommend itself after over a decade in what I lovingly call a swamp. Fungal diseases should be rarer and ridgetops can (at least sometimes) be less susceptible to late spring freezes since cold air naturally flows downhill during the course of a night. And we wouldn't have to put up with the lack of winter sun that further chills our current farm either, which may make a ridgetop in zone 6A no harder for tender plants to survive than a north-facing bottom in zone 6B.

I'd be curious from those of you currently gardening on ridges. What other pros and cons would you put out there about these more exposed locations?

Posted Wed Jul 19 06:57:18 2017 Tags:
Stump cutting.

We cut down a few trees today to take advantage of a dry walking path that the Kubota can use as a detour to bypass the wet area.

Posted Tue Jul 18 16:03:29 2017 Tags:
House for sale

We made another whirlwind trip to Ohio to look at a property...that, unfortunately turned out to be another dud. Luckily, our realtor suggested a different offering that came much closer to hitting the spot.

Country road

As we arrow in on what actually feels right, though, we're having to make some tough decisions. Do we want more land and more house further off the beaten path (what I chose the last time around and was very happy with for very many years)? Or do we want to go in the opposite direction and buy unimproved land to trailerstead on closer to the location that drew our attention in the first place?

Fallen tree

I've learned over the past year that I'm willing to drive about 15 minutes to something fun...while 45 minutes or longer means I only take the plunge rarely and after extensive vaccillation. Since one of my primary goals of this move is to give myself a wider range of artistic, social, and intellectual stimulation off the farm, part of me thinks we should focus on proximity at the expense of all else. (Mark would love proximity --- he's less of an isolationist than I am.)

Driveway

Of course, the homesteading part of me twitches when I think of all the livestock doors I'd be closing by settling near neighbors who might not be thrilled to hear a cock crow (or to see a trailer move in next door). Meanwhile, the hermit part of me cringes away from being able to see the road...and of the greater likelihood the area we choose might grow up around us and squeeze my need of countryside out.

Decisions, decisions. No matter which direction we go in, I'm glad we made another trip. Images on the internet really hold no candle to feet on the ground.

Posted Tue Jul 18 06:35:01 2017 Tags:

Chicken waterer saleThe response to our Avian Aqua Miser Original closeout sale has been overwhelming. Mark's been busy building waterers ever since, and he expects to be entirely caught up by Wednesday.

I didn't want him to get bored...so I slashed prices on the rest of our inventory. We're selling out of premade EZ Misers for the last time before our move --- $40 with free shipping. Meanwhile, we'll probably keep selling kits, but we're lowering prices there too in order to reduce inventory. Avian Aqua Miser Original kits will now water your chickens for as little as 18 cents per bird while you can get a 2-pack EZ Miser kit for $25 with free shipping.

Thanks in advance for giving Mark's POOP-free waterers a try and/or for telling a friend. We appreciate your support as we gear up for our move!

Posted Mon Jul 17 16:00:50 2017 Tags:

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