We have a few months before we move to our new farm, but we were able to take a trip there this past weekend. We are still trying to settle on names for all the structures and landforms on the property, so there will be some changes in what we call things as time moves on. The big house/main house is really ready to move in although we do want to paint some walls and do a little bit of repair work before we actually settle in there.

Just off from the big house is a large, three door garage that has never housed a vehicle. The main floor is very clean, and this will be a great storage location and possibly a spot for a classroom (we will see). There is a full bathroom on the ground floor of this building, and there is a very large, unfinished room upstairs with a kitchen. This upstairs room is not in great shape – very rough and pretty dirty. We will be fixing up this place for my parents to temporarily live. Well, as much as I would love to be working on it, the reality is that my dad will be the one doing most of the work. He is an (almost) retired carpenter, and very highly skilled. Our plan is to fix up this apartment and then put our focus on really renovating the 2 bedroom farm house/small house/cottage that was built many years ago – I want to say 1920, but I am not sure that is correct. No matter, it is in very poor condition. It will require quite a bit of work. It will be fun to see how this project develops, but I have some initial ideas involving straw bales!

I have written about it before, so it should come as no surprise that I am a huge proponent of multi-generational households. I am so excited to have my parents move with us permanently to the farm. In truth, they have been with us off and on (mostly on) for the past year. It has been a wonderful experience not just for me, but for my wife and children as well. This is due in large part to the personality of my parents and my amazing wife. But I know I am not the only one. My friend Cliff Davis, over at Spiral Ridge Permaculture, just posted a comment on Facebook about grandma coming to live at their homestead, “Intergenerational households are a major part of the agrarian lifestyle.” I couldn’t agree more!

I finally had the opportunity to go take a walk on the property. I didn’t have a landowner or real estate agent walking with me. It was just me. Me and the rain that is. Of course, our first unencumbered trip to the farm also coincided with a cold snap and three days of steady rain. But I didn’t care. I put on my rain boots and jacket and went for a stroll. I headed out to the highest ridge that meets our tree line.

Facing east

View from the tree line on the highest minor ridge. Roughly facing east. The blue roofed structure is the garage/apartment. Just right is the white, triangular gable of the big house.

Facing southeast

Same spot, turned 90 degrees, facing south. The building on the left is the hunting lodge/shack/cabin. It was used by the hunters who used to hunt coyotes on the property. Just to the right, and partially hidden by trees is the the little 2 bedroom farm house/cottage.  In the center is the large pond.

Facing southwest

Same spot, turned another 40 degrees or so, facing southwest.

If you are an astute Permaculturist/Keyliner, then you would have noticed the run off. Honestly, it was hard to miss when you were walking around out there. It sounded like there were tiny streams everywhere. In reality, that’s just about the truth. The main pastures have been pretty poorly managed, and the former owner let cattle graze wherever they chose over 45+ acres. This resulted in a lot of cattle trails that filled with water and caused erosion. Also, every valley soon filled with all the run off and became small, temporary streams.

Waterlogged02

Walking on the low spot in the small valley between ridges was like walking on a super saturated sponge – it was squishing with each step! Fortunately, the water was crystal clear.

Watterlogging

Another view of the temporary streams in the valleys. The water was moving fast – sounded like a bubbling brook. I can’t imagine how much water was lost from the farm in these few days… well, actually, I could probably calculate it, but I don’t feel like it right now!

Ponds

This shot is taken just uphill from the upper/small pond. The large pond is in the distance, in the center, just above (downhill from) the small pond. There are two major problems with this pond. On the left corner, you can see all the yellow silt streaming into the pond. On the right corner, the pond wall has been eroded from cattle. The pond is overflowing into the valley, and is bypassing (the water level is lower than) the overflow pipe. This will need to be addressed quickly!

Lower Pond

The large/lower pond. Cattails line most edges. I saw fish swimming. It is in pretty good condition.

Upper_Pond_02

The upper pond has two main feeds. One is full of silt. The other is full of clear water and black walnuts!

Upper_Pond_01

Overflow out of the pond. The overflow (drain) pipe is just off to the left, mid photo. The cattle have created this erosive spillway that was flowing pretty fast.

Middle Pond

The third pond/middle pond/east pond is in fair condition. The cattle have almost eroded one corner of the wall, but not quite. The overflow/drain pipe is working well. There is some silt being deposited, but not a lot. With a little maintenance, this pond should do very well.

After perusing the fields and ponds, I took a few walks in the woods. Walking through the woods alone in the cold drizzle was quite relaxing. I am always amazed at the life you can see when you take the time to be still and quiet in the forest. I was very encouraged at the proliferation of fungal life in these woods. There were many species besides the numerous “little brown mushrooms” that I couldn’t identify. But I did see some familiar faces (er… fungi). And while I didn’t see any edibles (yet!), there were dozens of logs covered in Turkey Tail, a highly valued medicinal.

Turkey Tail

Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor)

Turkey Tail

A beautiful colony of Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor)

Unknown fungus

Unknown fungus. These were covering many downed branches.

Unknown shelf mushroom

A few shots of a shelf mushroom. I saw a large number of this species. I’m pretty sure it is the Artist’s Conk (Ganoderma applanatum).

Unknown Jelly Fungus

A pretty jelly fungus, likely Amber Jelly Roll/Willow Brain (Exidia recisa)

In addition to the fungal life, there was plenty of evidence that the nut-producing trees were doing well. There were many Oak Trees (both in the Red Oak Group and White Oak Group), Black Walnut, and Shagbark Hickory trees. There were some Maple. There were a number of other trees that I just couldn’t identify without leaves.

Oak

Oak – not sure of the species. Possibly Northern Red Oak?

Shagbark Hickory

Shagbark Hickory (possibly a Shellbark Hickory… I need to investigate a bit more first)

Through most of the walks was our Dalmation.

Accompanying most of the walks was our Dalmation… he was like a puppy running rough the woods and fields!

 

Subscribe to TCPermaculture.com and receive updates whenever a new article is posted!

 

Photo References: All photos are mine (taken from an iPhone!). If you would like to use any of them, please let me know!