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Today, in this third installment of the Ultimate Homestead Designing Guild Blog series, you and I are going to talk about Permaculture Principle 1-4 and how they can help you design your homestead! Let’s first talk about your land!

Get to Know Your Land

The land is your friend when it comes to homesteading. Your land can be an asset or a hindrance to your plans if you do not take its values and disadvantages into account. The point of permaculture is to work with nature and it all starts with your land. What does your land have that you can connect to? What does it need to bring all of it into harmony with you and your homestead dreams?

To begin with you need to understand how your land works in the large scheme of things. Where does the water flow after a huge rainstorm? Can the land be changed to harness that asset or does that flow work for you in your design. One thing we have done here on our farm, because it is basically a hill, is to channel our runoff to our advantage. For example, we have several fence lines that move downhill and using the ideas of edge in permaculture we have and plan to place our food forests along these fences and directed the run off to run right into these rows of trees so that they get extra water in the spring and fall without much work on our side.

Another thing to look at is sun orientation. Where on your property do you get the most sun all year round? Where do you find natural shade for your animals? The sun is what feeds a homestead. It feeds the grass that feeds your animals. It feeds your garden and so on. So knowing how the sun affects your land can help you place things that need the sun in the right place. And don’t just think about where the sun is during the winter but also in the winter. Having a sunny place on a cold winter day where your animals can get out of the wind and warm themselves is priceless even on a -20 degree day. Also what about the idea of a solar greenhouse. This is a greenhouse that is warmed year round from only the warmth of the sun. If you want to learn more then read this blog post. But placing a solar greenhouse in the proper spot on your homestead is essential to its functionality. I personally have watched our property for the past two years. To find the perfect spot that gets lots of low sunlight in the winter but can be easily shaded in the summer when the sun can be too much.

The last thing to look for on your property is mini micro climates. These places are where a combination of factors can come into play. You may be able to find a south facing slope that blocks the north wind perfectly and creates a microclimate great for growing more cold temperature trees and perennials. For example, grapes need lots of sun but also shelter from the wind and we used one of our south facing slopes to place our grape vines in a terris like in Italy, even here in Wyoming.

Design in Layers of Frequency

Your home is the nucleus of your homestead and everything on your homestead should radiate out from it in layers of frequency. What does that mean, layers of frequency? Layers are the distance from your home and frequency is how often that part of your homestead needs to be cared for. Picture a bullseye target with your home in the center. The first ring should have the animals or areas of your homestead that need daily care or energy. Then the second ring should have things that only need to be cared for or energy given to every few days. Then next ring every week and the last ring with the things that only need cared for or energy given to once a month. Often when we think of principle 2, Conserving Energy, we do not think of ourselves as givers of energy. When we place things that need cared for daily close to our home we are saving energy that can be utilized toward other projects or ideas.

Also here on our homestead we have learned the addedge, out of sight out of mind, to be so true. We have placed many things far from our home in hopes of caring for it every day and let me tell you it will become a chore that will be too much work for you and you will make excuses. Our chicken house for the past 12 years has been close to our home but when I put our chicken coop only ten feet out our back door, things changed. For one thing, having the coop so close we have to focus more on keeping it clean because it is in our view everyday. And gathering eggs can be done in our socks if we want to.

I think one more thing I should add here is water. You need water everywhere and in every layer. Because water is heavy and having it spread across your homestead will make every part of your homestead functionable to whatever you put in each layer. An orchard is something that can be put in the last layer of your homestead but it needs water and hauling water (uses lots of energy) to those trees is not going to be a solution. Let me tell you from experience. In fact placing water on your homestead should be your first design decision before you decide to add anything to your homestead. That is again why it is so important to understand your land and how you can get water anywhere first.

Find the Reward

Homesteading is a journey of creating a yield. Yes, a yield, something as a reward for your hard work. You want to produce food that will give you energy and an income. Many can focus on how much is grown, how much was preserved, or how much was sold. But many also forget the reward of the journey. A day spent in the garden pulling weeds can be seen as a day wasted on weeds or a day doing the thing you love, growing your own food. Don’t forget to enjoy the reward of the day, the walk, or essentially this journey that you and your family are on as a yield or a reward.

Audit Your Journey

The last principle is about holding yourself and your actions accountable. One of the best ways you can do this is with an audit. Yes, you can audit a garden and a homestead. Audits are not just for businesses or accounting firms. Audit your design! Audit your first three months. Audit your first year!

If you would like to learn more about how a garden or homestead audit is conducted then check out this blog post/podcast episode where I walk you through the definition of an audit and how you could conduct an audit to hold you accountable for both your failures and your success. ( Don’t forget an audit helps you both sides of the coin)

Thank you for joining me in today's post on Permaculture Principle 1-4. In the next installment of the Ultimate Homesteading Designing Guide blog series, we are going to talk about how you use principles 5-8 in your homestead design!

Have a blessed day,


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