We’ve started a YouTube Channel

James and I thought it would be good to share what we’ve been doing via the video platforms that are available to us. We have had somethings hosted on Odysee but YouTube tends to be where more folks are accustomed to going and is more reliable with framerates.

Here is the link to the channel. I hope you enjoy!

Autumn Dawn Endeavors – YouTube

Getting ready for Phase Two

Loading has begun

Prepping for Phase Two is hitting a fevered pace.

The water totes have been power washed, sanitized, and loaded. The grill has been sandwiched between totes for stability. The RV has had some much-needed maintenance and repairs, as well as some spit and polish. Tools have been sorted and boxed. Books have been sorted and boxed. Water, toilet, and power have been accounted for.

I have left my job here in Ohio for the final push on packing and loading, as well as some home maintenance on the Ohio property. We’re also prepping the kids for their duties in taking care of things while we’re gone. I have faith in their ability to do what needs done, but I’d like to make it as painless as possible.

The adventure is imminent. I am both excited and worried about forgetting things. Oh well. Sally forth!

Community: Are you ready for it?

Do you behave better than children?

You may have noticed while perusing homesteading groups, prepping groups, and even self-reliance groups, a lot of people are “looking for community”. We all eventually realize that no man is an island and we can’t do everything. There’s not enough time, money, space, or bandwidth to do all the things. We need others to learn from, others to trade with, and introvert or not, others to talk to about family, interests, and projects.

Some of us are looking to move out of our current home and move someplace else with more community (guilty). Some of us are looking to find an undiscovered community in our current geographical area. Others are really only looking online because we feel we’re too busy or uncomfortable to “go out and people”. All of that is okay, good even. But have you thought about what that community even looks like and if you’re ready for it?

“Of course I’m ready for it; I wouldn’t be looking for it otherwise.” Umm… no. Yes, you know something is missing from your life and you want to fill that lack, but you’re not ready on that basis alone. It’s like wanting a puppy, or a sweetheart, or a spouse. You can want all you like; that doesn’t make you ready.

That puppy sure is cute… until it cries all night in its crate… Until you have to get up three times in the middle of the night to let it go potty… Until it chews up your work shoes or your expensive electronics. Having a sweetheart is amazing… Until they stop answering your texts… Until they start rolling their eyes at you… Until they start flirting with other people. Having a spouse is awesome… Until you start fighting about bills… Until they complain about quality time… Until no one does the chores they’re supposed to.

See what I mean?

“Okay… so what do I need to do to be ‘ready’?”

Well, there’s more than one aspect of “being ready”. Physical, financial, social, emotional, and time.

Physically: Can you physically get to where to you need to be to be in the company of your community? Or, if you are building community from scratch, do you physically have a place to host a meetup? Is it physically child and/or pet safe or must they be excluded? Do you have to accommodate for allergens, yours or others? Are there enough bathrooms? Is there electricity, refrigeration, or cooking facilities? Does it require an overnight stay?

Financially: Can you afford the gas to get there? The food and drink to feed people? The motel room? Rental fees for the venue? Membership dues?

Social: Will your family support you pursuing this interest? Will they be put out if you host an event? Are your friends going to have a nose out of joint if you’re taking up new interests and spending time with new people?

Emotional: Are you emotionally mature enough to handle a difference of opinion without cutting off the world? Do you view every constructive criticism as a personal attack on you as a person? Can you deal with people talking excitedly talking over each other and it being difficult to get a word in edge-wise? Can you still be friends with people with different worldviews on religion, politics, child-rearing, etc.? Can you be polite in the face of someone whose manner of speaking gets on your nerves?

Time: Do you have time to invest in new relationships? Will your work schedule allow for you to take the time to attend meetups? Do you have someone to look after your responsibilities at home while you’re away or do you not have time to be away from the feeding/milking schedule?

Are you ready? Where are you lacking? What can you work on?

None of this is meant to ever discourage you from seeking community. I just want to urge you to become the best community member you can be before you stick your foot in your mouth, die of embarrassment, and crawl under a rock for the rest of your existence cursing the word, “Community”.

Just like you should work on your communication skills to be a good friend and spouse so, too, should you develop your community skillset. Patience, kindness, respect, and developing a voice to speak up when you are uncomfortable are among those skills. Conflict resolution is an important skillset for all parties to develop to keep your community intact. Expectation management helps avoid conflicts to begin with, as does being realistic with your desires.

I am not going to claim to be an expert in community. I’ve read a few things an extrapolated a few nuggets though experience and I hope I have opened up a window in your mind and allowed some light to shine in on aspects you may not have thought about.

Those of you already in communities aren’t immune to this either. You may already have some base rules about being respectful, what will not be tolerated, what some of your goals are… but what do you still need to work on? What would your ultimate achievement be? What would you like to see more of or less of? What kind of community are you building?

Love and respect,

Dawn

Culvert and 911 Address

We have set things in motion with the county seat to get ready for the driveway installation. In Benton County, they have a 911 address form to be filled out and mailed in and the Transportation department installs the culvert for you once you purchase the prescribed size. We expect that these should be completed mid to late July, in time for the driveway installation.

In the meantime, we will be working on getting the RV ready to move. It has sat in the same place for a few years now and I’m sure it has issues that will need to be addressed. If anyone knows an RV tech near Cincinnati, Ohio, feel free to reach out.

Goats (Zone 1 – 4)

At the new farm, we want to get Nigerian Dwarf goats. We’ve had a pair of goats in the past and we were not at all ready with infrastructure, but they did the job we asked of them (clearing briars) and they moved on to another home.

This time, we want them for milk. We like the ND for its small size, milkfat ratio, and the fact that they’re adorable is icing on the cake. We don’t yet feel ready for a dairy cow and the sheer volume of milk they produce.

We are planning for their fresh water needs, minerals, forage, and browse. Does will need alfalfa and grain in the last month of pregnancy and while in milk, bucks or wethers will need grass hay, but not alfalfa (too rich), and kids may need some grain for the first 6 months while growing. I think the bucks may live with the rams in the ram base as their diet is similar. Bucks will need some loose copper mineral and the rams won’t be attracted to it.

I’d like to rotate the does with the ewes during the day and bring them in at night to be milked in the morning. Maybe even milk the sheep. The handling system for the sheep should also work well for the goats.

Property Progress: May/June 2022

We had a property visit from Nick Ferguson and he helped us locate the best spot for our driveway based on our desired homesite. He also helped us site some other important infrastructure on the property once other things are in place, but his visit led us to the place where we could engage someone to break ground for us.

We have scheduled a highly recommended excavation expert to start removing trees and cut out our driveway and homesite. He breaks ground for us in August. From there, we can start moving things down to the property and begin making it livable.

Now that we have at least the beginning to a timeline and concrete knowledge on the terrain, we can begin updating our Transition posts with more details.

Stay tuned!

We bought a property in Tennessee!

Map
Lots 2, 3, and 4

Oh my gosh! We are so excited and impatient to get started!

The property is hilly, forested, and has a small watershed that we can use to collect water.

We have entered into an owner-financed contract to purchase the land and avoid the banks.

Our restrictions are that we can’t remove any trees over 15″ diameter except to site a house, driveway, or barn/garage until such time as we’ve paid the property off or we pay for the trees removed. We are happy to keep as many big trees as possible so that’s not really much of a limitation for us.

We are not permitted to raise hogs, pigs, swine, or poultry commercially, but homestead use is fine. No junkyards, trash, etc. The seller retains the deed until we’ve paid off the property and does not want the land to lose value in the event that we default on the contract. I believe what they really don’t want is a CAFO on the land and we totally agree with that.

We are planning our next trip down to take soil samples, water samples, and map out the topography of the property so we can site the driveway, house, barn, and RV. I’m hoping to get the expertise of a Permaculture Expert to help us with site planning to be sure we are not making more work for ourselves than we need to.

Water

The lifeblood of a farm is water. Without water, everything will die. Luckily, Tennessee gets a lot of rain (50 to 60 inches). If water is not available on-grid (and maybe even if it is) we will want ways to capture and store rainwater.

Humans
We will need potable water for drinking, cooking, bathing, dishes, and laundry. Water catchment entering the domiciles will go through a filtration system and then into a holding tank. For water heating, we may install a propane or electric system. A solar water heater could be installed to preheat water. There will likely be experiments with thermo-siphoning heated water to a tank on an upper level for showers.

Gardens/Greenhouse
This captured water will not require the amount of filtration that the potable water will get. Rainwater is much healthier for plants and soil life. By using a combination of hydroponics and wicking beds, water use will be minimized in the greenhouse system and nutrients can be added directly to the water supply.

Barn
We will need water for servicing livestock in or near the barn. The Drinking Post waterers from Timeless Posts are interesting and might service some of our livestock. If we’re on grid, we’ll also get a frost-free hydrant for work that requires a hose or bucket.

Acreage
For getting water out onto acreage, you’ll want multiple water sources. A stream on the property would be ideal. Ponds that catch rainwater runoff will probably be needed as well. To get that water to the pastures and livestock, Joel Salatin recommends an irrigation system called K-Line Irrigation. It’s modular, expandable, and cost effective. You can put it where you want it with no digging and no affecting your fencing or trees. In freezing weather, you just drain it, roll it up, and store it in the barn until the spring thaw.

Water Storage
Tanks and water lines will need to be protected from freezing. The frost depth for Tennessee is 12 inches according to this website which is a great improvement to our current depth of 32 inches. For water pressure, we will need to either raise the holding tank or install a pump or water pressure tank, or some combination of the two.

Pigs (Zone 2, 4)

Pigs need access to fresh water, minerals and lots of feed. Our Tamworths ate six pounds of feed daily per head. They also appreciate a shelter to get out of the rain and will build wallows to cool off in. They are strong intelligent beasts that will test the strength of your builds at every opportunity. Do not skimp on infrastructure with full-size pigs.

I am of two minds with pigs as far as zoning goes. I want my breeders close so they appreciate human interaction, are easy to care for through the winter, and can be put to work converting food waste into bacon seeds. Feeder pigs would be ideal to manage through a woodlot as they’d excel at keeping briars and other understory growth under control. Perhaps paired with goats, the woodlot would stay a pleasant place to walk. They can also forage a lot of their feed needs there, depending on the size of the woodlot and any mast drop.

We are currently considering downsizing to a smaller breed of pig. We are not raising them commercially, a smaller breed would reduce feed costs, would stretch pasture further, and would be easier to handle and fence. I would also recommend having milk and egg overproduction to help with feed costs.

Sector Analysis

Permaculture Design uses sector analysis to identify incoming energies and plan solutions to mitigate, channel, or allow those energies in easier. As we do not yet have a property to analyze, I am writing this as a placeholder and I will fill in the information later.

Energies to Consider

  • Sun
    • Summer sun angle
    • Winter sun angle
      • Shade trees
      • Awnings, roof overhang, and shade structures
      • Solar panels
      • Solar ovens and dehydrators
      • Solar water heater
  • Wind
    • Hot summer wind
    • Cold winter wind
      • Windbreaks
      • Wind turbines
  • Water
    • Springs
    • Streams
    • Flood prone areas
      • Swales and keyline to redirect water
      • water turbines
      • ram pump
      • ponds
  • Unwanted views or noise pollution
    • Can be blocked with mounds, plantings, or structures
  • Fire danger zone
    • Mitigate with firebreaks

Slope

Slope can be a battery of potential energy when used correctly or a daily fight if not considered.

  • Water
    • Storing water uphill builds water pressure and makes delivering water easier.
  • Materials
    • Siting your production area uphill from your delivery area makes delivering easier.
  • Heat
    • Trees will warm cold air moving down a hill and a pond below will release heat to areas above it.
  • Erosion control
    • Water travelling straight down will erode your land fast. Build roads, paths, and fences along contour when possible
  • Fire control
    • Keep structures off of ridges, or the lee of a hill. Instead, site the building on a plateau to break the wind channel
  • Aspect (sun facing)
    • Site your elements that need sunlight on the south-facing side of any slope. (South-east is my preferred side)