On the farm - Planning out the 80 acres

It has been 30 years in the making, but it is time to move forward and come up with a plan for developing the acreage.  I have been talking about planning; planning for the garden, planning for spending, planning for chores and many other things that require fore thought for some time now but now it is time to put pen to paper and do some big picture planning for my property.  After the plan is developed, the next step is to put the On the farm - planning out the 80 acres into action.

Whether you bought or are buying a property, in a community or in the country, I feel big picture planning is important.  It saves money from not having to do things over, it speaks to how things will function and it helps you to prioritize projects as part of the steps to the end plan.  I am not perfect as I have had to and am having to do over some of my infrastructure due to poor planning and mother nature.  But learn and move on! 

First, the back story. 

I bought my 80 acres of hardwood forested land interspersed with water holes (sloughs) and low land in 1992.  There was nothing on this land except for a house and a shed and it had been abandoned for a couple years prior.  Priorities for the first years was to get the house livable and then get a yard site cleared so that I could get the gardens in.  Then the chicken coop and some fencing followed. All my activities were focused on the yard site (pinned location) and close by.  The back 40 (below dashed red line) remained a place for walks only. Flooding about 5 years ago meant that pretty much all the fencing needs to be done, the chicken coop is in desperate need of repair and areas of the bush have been destroyed due to 2 separate tornado's that touched down and a plow wind that laid one whole section of mature aspen flat.  I have done small projects to deal with some of this, but nothing of substance. 

Skipping ahead to 2022.  It is time to get things functioning in a better way and make it so that it functions as it should.  Over the years since I bought, I have learned in place on the best ways to utilize what I have and to improve in some cases. Much reading, studying, designing, re designing and although it is not perfect, I need to get this going.  That is a danger with big picture planning and people like me, it can sometimes result in planning paralysis.  As you know infrastructure is expensive to do and so I have had to do a little at a time and so part of the big picture plan and this exercise  is to select what I will do first and what order it will happen in based on financial resources. 

So how am I planning out the 80 acres? 

  1. The North 40 Acres

Photo of north 40 of the plan for the 80 acres

  • The green arrows are the current fences that I put up a few years back and the yellow are fences that I need to redo.  The fences surround an area (block 2) where the bush has grown in from natural forest transition and the grass is poor due to the sandy nature of my soil and the fact that they burned copper wire in one location and took sand to build the road (all before me and I did not know about it).  I will be brushing back the brush to the mature forest and then taking my ample supply of chicken and horse manure to spread on the land.  I will also be rolling out some old bales on the land to help with moisture retention as it dries out quickly in the heat.  Establishing a good pasture being the end goal.
  • Build a barn where the yellow square is.  This is key to the functionality as is building some pens close to it.
  • Blocks 6, 7, 8 and 9 are, or will be, fenced off to ensure the animals do not enter them.  I may put gates in the fence to allow access to graze block 6 after freeze up but I will decide that at a later date.  Putting in a gate is relatively easy.
  • Access through the property is through a system of preexisting trails, but a new trail will be established that will allow access from the yard site to block 3 (South 40).  There is not much to establish this but building a bridge is the first order of business to cross the water from block 8 to block 7.  I lost babies in this crossing during the flooding so dealing with this is of utmost importance.  Since that time, I have not allowed the animals to access the back....but that needs to change and thus the bridge.
  1. The South 40 acres

Picture of south 40 of plan for 80 acres

  • The blue arrows are the new fences that I need to build to be able to use - blocks 1 and 3.  The fences will follow the property line and a cat line I had pushed through a number of years ago to make a path through the blow down.  As these area are both heavily forested, I will be using an agroforestry model coupled with a regenerative agricultural practice whilst trying to ensure environmental security.  What does that mean?  Well, for block 1 it means that I will only put the animals in when things are frozen or extremely dry as it has a chunk of overflow flooding from block 8.  The ground is soft and so I do not want to punch it up, plus, the birds use parts of this area for nesting so I want to keep the animals out of this area during nesting season.  Block 3 has an intensive agroforestry model because it is heavily overgrown with underbrush and the blow down.  So the plan is to brush out the undergrowth and clean it up a bit and then start feeding a bit in this area to help add some organic matter to what is for the most part shallow top soil.  In these parts, the normal way to deal with the bush in block 3 is to bull doze it and although I thought about that, I did not like the idea of destroying what top soil I had.  Not to mention, the cost and then what to do with the brush piles.  I may split block 3 into 2, but I am undecided at the moment.  Splitting into 2 means a whole new set of alley ways to move the animals in and out of the pastures and I am not sure I want to do that. 
  • Block 4 will be, fenced off to ensure the animals do not enter them.  I may put gates in the fence to allow access to graze this block after freeze up but I will decide that at a later date.  Putting in a gate is relatively easy. 
  • Water will be primarily up at the house but in some instances I will need to haul water to block 3.  Having them come to the house for water is good exercise for them and allows me the opportunity to check on them without having to walk back there. 

There are many moving pieces in this plan, but it highlights what has to happen so that something else can happen.  Namely, the brushing of block 2 and manure movement being first up, followed by the fencing.  I knew it would take time when I bought, and I was okay with that, I just did not realize it would take 30 years.  But its okay, I have done what I could and the knowledge I have gained during that time to add to my earlier knowledge is extremely valuable and to be honest, I am starting now and that's better than not starting at all. 

Sorry about my digital representation of the plan.  But it hopefully gives you the idea.  I know it was beneficial for me....I have a busy summer ahead!  LOL 

Although this is a somewhat detailed post and I apologize for that, I am curious.  Do others do this type of planning for their property?  Do you see some glaring gap(s) in my plan? 

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