The well-thought-out homestead layout.

Esopus(6)January 2, 2005

If there isn't a book with this title, someone ought to write it!

I'm in the process of designing the layout of a homestead I'm planning on building from scratch on a large parcel of wooded land. This is rough, and slighly pitched mountain terrain with a large pond, no pre-existing buildings and a healthy population of bear, dear and coyotes; so installing a good fence it's perhaps the first thing worth looking into: what type to use, how much land to enclose, etc. In making this decision, I'm also trying to learn of any principles that may apply to the location of each building in the homestead in relation to its individual function and frequency of use during different seasons.

While discussing the "fence" topic on another thread, I received a very insightful reply from Lynda in OH who describes the layout of the tensile fence she's installed on her land as having a doughnut shape I see as being very smart and practical. (Check Lynda's 2nd post on the "Tricky homestead-dog question" thread).

I think it could be very useful to many of us if we could discuss the benefits of Linda's and other homestead layouts that includes the most commonly found buildings and landscape features:



Chicken coop

Vegetable garden


Fish pond,


_________, etc, etc.

If some of you have sketches or aerial photos of your homestead, it might be a great idea to post them!

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Locate the house near the well

    Bookmark   January 3, 2005 at 5:32AM
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lgslgs(z6 SE ohio)

We've got the house on the edge of the land by the road instead of tucked up in the woods. There were several advantages to that for us.

1. Short, flat (gravel) driveway wide enough that you can turn around a truck, ambulance, or fire engine without dificulty. I don't mind being able to see the road as long as I know an ambulance will have access in all weather. If I don't need it now, I'll be glad I have it when I'm 70. Less driveway to wash out and maintain as well.

2. House was build on the site of a 100 + year old Appalachian house. Odds are preety good that there's no mine shaft under my house.

Other major land design features for us would be established paths that reach to the main areas of the land where we might be working. A few of them had bulldozer help to get established. Once that ambulance gets in the drive we know we can get them close enough to any chain saw accident site that we can get medical care. This was also a big plus a couple of years ago when there was a 20 acre brush fire on the land behind us, and 5 local fire departments needed a way to get to it.

Learn your land's drainage patterns, and understand which parts will flash flood - and how. Keep the house out of that part. :)

The only negative about our house position is that it is on the cold part of the land. We'd have about 2 more weeks of growing season on the other side of the ridge. But we'd also be higher up on a hill and watching the driveway wash out every couple of weeks. We just compensate for the shortened fresh veg season by growing plenty of sprouts.

For goats - giving them access to tough terrain builds muscle and agility. It's a good mix if their foraging builds the skils, stamina, and evasive skills they might need if predators arrive. Ours know where and how they can drop a dog off their trail quickly - and will do that for funn occasionally just to tease the Rottweilers. Good practice for if they ever need to rely on those skills.

One other goat thing - If you put a good deal of bonding/herd time in for the first month with a pair of young goats, in a secure pen area, you can get them so that they bond on you as the herd. And by being really tight with the corn, you can train them come on command for a couple of kernals. Before we had the big fence, my husband used to work the land with two goat helpers who stayed close and would run up next to him if they were startled. The first few weeks, we kept a little rattling cup of corn in a pocket just in case, but didn't need that for long. Once you have them following you well, you can do a lot of land work and goat foraging without needing a fence. I wouldn't trust doing this with new adults, though - best to let them and you develop your own herd rules than to try to figure out what herd rules they already have in their heads.


    Bookmark   January 3, 2005 at 6:50AM
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You and your husband seem to really be attuned to your animals and the energy of your land. I hope I can get to meet people like you in this neck of the woods.

Thanks again for your thoughts.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2005 at 8:13PM
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overrocked(SW USA)

sounds like you have a pretty close to ideal start-up. I would advise you to read introduction to permaculture or some other permaculture books. Even the one I have although it is an introduction is extensive in great ideas. Vertical design never occured to me until I saw that several plants can be at different heights under a canopy of trees. I have changed my mind several times about the design of my homestead. I would advise you leave room for an untouched wild place for that future idea that might not fit in until 5 years later :) Also check out the property over a period of at least a year, maybe living in a small trailer or temporary shelter until you see the changes over the seasons. Record the wind direction and first and last frost etc. Great way to know what you are stewarding! Good Luck!

    Bookmark   January 4, 2005 at 1:48PM
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