Thursday, March 14, 2013

Our Land (and a cane toad pic)

This is a cane toad. We find a number of them on our property. Although they are good insect eaters, they can also be toxic, capable of killing our dogs. Therefore I remove these toads and relocate them to the community garden, which welcomes them.
We currently have two locations. #1 is 20 acres and located in an area that gets a decent amount of rain (60-80 inches a year). #2 is an acre located about five miles away where it is warmer and drier. Both locations have their advantages and disadvantages. And it turns out that they complement each other well, making homesteading easier.

The 20 acres is the main farm. This is where we live, have our livestock, grow most of our food, produce our mulch and compost, gather our catchment water, and derive most of our fuel for the woodstoves. The one acre produces food that needs a warmer, drier location, plus most importantly, produces are seed stock and houses our bees.

The main farm has fairly good growing weather year round. It's best asset is that it has REAL soil! Soil is a hard commodity to find in this area. Of course you need to understand that the soil is between the rocks. No plows or rototillers here unless you put the effort into de-rocking. But gathered up rocks make fine rock walls!

About three acres were already cleared when we bought the place. The rest is treed, though I wouldn't call it a forest. The land had been used for grazing for decades then abandoned for around ten years. Lots of weedy trees grew up between the large shade trees, killing much of  the grass. Dense stands of ferns replaced the pasture grass. A mess that needed reclaiming if it were to become a farm again.

The previous owners had started building a small house, but after a year lost interest. Too wet, too rainy, they said. They preferred desert. So we bought this basic structure, happy to have rainproof walls and roof even though there wasn't much more. A very, very minimal solar sytem. A small water catchment system. No heat. A Paloma for hot water. Very basic and unfinished, but liveable. Yeah, it had a indoor bathroom, though rough.

The previous owners had also erected a large water catchment down in the open three acres. It proved to be very, very handy for the garden project.

The one acre parcel has very little soil....very little. Not enough to be productive except or growing grass. The previous owner had bulldozed the brush off in anticipation of building a house, but never filfuled their dream. But not having soil meant the we had to create growing beds. A challenge, but not all that difficult. The lack of water is the main drawback to the land. We currently truck our own water there and are working on a better solution.

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