My wife and I would like to move out of the DC area at some point. We have dreams of leaving the hustle and bustle of the city and homesteading. I’ve been on the lookout for properties that will meet our needs.
Well a few weeks ago I found one that seemed perfect and we made an offer! We are still waiting for the closing date, since our contract is contingent on the land passing a percolation test (meaning we can build a house there with a septic system). That hasn’t stopped me from dreaming and thinking of everything I would like to do with the property. I want to build a home, have an enormous garden, build hiking trails through the woods, erect a barn and setup infrastructure to raise animals such as goats, sheep or chickens.
I have been spending the last month researching everything I can about building a home on the property. We wouldn’t do it for a few years when we are financially independent and can move our family down there. In my dreams, I would love to build the house myself, with help from a family friend who has built houses for years. While a regular floor plan would be the most economical, because I want to integrate some eco-friendly designs and our plan over the very long term is to stay in the house, we may try to customize the home somewhat.
I would like to integrate grey-water catchment to use our shower and sink drainage to water our plants outside. Additionally, I’m thinking to use radiant floor heating for the winter but would need to use ductless air conditioning units to cool the house. I’ve researched masonry heaters which more efficiently burn wood to heat the house for long stretches of time. Roofing would be standing-seam metal to facilitate rainwater catchment for drinking or irrigation purposes. These roofs would also make adding solar cells or solar water heating much more feasible.
With a custom built from scratch home, integrating these ideas from the start should be much easier than trying to retrofit a home. Plus, I’ll feel more like I own the place since I’ve framed every wall and laid every brick. The downside there is time.
Aside from the house, we should have about three acres of cleared land to do with what we wish. I plan to use this as a large garden area along with fruit trees, pastures and a patch of lawn to play on. All in all, there are a couple of parcels sold together which add up to almost 27 acres!
For now, since we don’t plan to move or build any time soon, I am thinking of how to repair the land after years of conventional farming use. Tilling, disking, and applying pesticides and herbicides harms the land, but not irreparably. I have been reading up on permaculture and the ways to add nutrients back to the soil naturally over time. I plan to plant cover crops over the next few years so that the property is rejuvenated and the soil structure is rebuilt. My only problem now is to figure out how to plan four acres of field without any equipment. I don’t think I will be able to figure it out by this planting season so I may allow the farmer to farm it one more year while I get my ducks in a row for handling the planting and soil amendment myself.
I have been looking at building a pole barn on the property as the first order of business. It would be cheap, allow me to store items on the property when I am away, and offer a place for me to spend the night if necessary. Since it will be about an hour from any family, visiting to do work is a little bit hard given the location. I have read articles saying a pole barn can be built for about $10,000 in supplies.
Before I build the pole barn however, I will need to plan out the rest of the property so the location of the barn is correct. Therefore, the barn will probably be a few years in the future.
In the woods, we probably won’t do very much at all. There is a stream that meanders through the property, but we aren’t sure yet whether this stream has water year round. We found one spot which would make a perfect spot for a picnic table since it is close to the field and right next to the stream where you can hear the gurgle of the water as it passes over some rocks. I can’t wait to have a quiet lunch there and enjoy the sounds of nature!
Aside from a path to this spot, we will probably establish some other walking paths around the woods. I don’t want to impact the land too much, but I’d like to be able to take my daughter out for a walk and not have to fight through briers or wonder which way we should turn to get back home.
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