Critique my BoL Plans

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Critique my BoL Plans

Post by SouthernZombie » Sat Jun 11, 2016 12:03 am

Hi all,

I'm working toward a 3 year plan to purchase a BoL and a 10-15 year plan to have it livable. I can afford to acquire about 4-10 acres of land within 1-1 & 1/2 hours from my residence that's quite remote and away from any major Interstates wtihin the next 2-3 years. My goal is to buy this acreage with it mostly wooded, which is what I've been looking at. Then ASAP or as part of my purchase have a well dug. I'd like to just use the land for "camping" and start caching some supplies on the property and growing a pretty aggressive garden as well.

My goal is that the land is just far enough away, about 50 miles, that I can bug out to it on foot with a rucksack < 50 lbs. Once at the site, even if it only has a hand powered water well and a cinder-block "storage unit" that has heat and a few solar panels plus supplies and seeds I'll be better off than 95% of the population. The areas I've been looking into are heavily forested and have decent wildlife, mostly deer and small game, maybe the occasional turkey or hog.

Within 15 years I think I can save enough to have a 3-4 bedroom one floor very simple house built that runs off grid. My own well, septic, and solar for electric. I plan to push pretty aggressively for being sustainable off grid with no electric (I hope to have 1-2 acres of crops, some chickens (maybe), and a few bee hives for wax and honey. I've been fortunate enough to have a decent supply of firearms that will allow me to hunt any time of game you'd find on the East coast of the U.S. and for self-defense along with a few like-minded friends.

I'm open to critiques and suggestions. Like I said, this is a decently long-term but modular goal. I feel well provisioned at home but I live down-wind from a nuclear reactor so if things really go south bugging out is my only solution.
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Re: Critique my BoL Plans

Post by Stercutus » Sat Jun 11, 2016 12:28 am

You don't really state what your needs are so I assume that size and type dwelling will fit them.

Probably a dumb question but the land you are looking at isn't also down wind? I would look at the site so far as what threats you might face there. A thorough evaluation would be a good idea.

10 acres isn't much to hunt on. Unless it were adjacent to much larger holding and had a draw or a transit point I'd be skeptical about doing much subsistence hunting. Conversely ten acres is plenty for intensely concentrated agricultural projects to sustain even a very large family.
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Re: Critique my BoL Plans

Post by The Twizzler » Sat Jun 11, 2016 12:31 am

It would help if you can give us the part of a state or part of the world you plan to do this in. I mean south Louisiana and east Tennessee might call for different needs :)
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Re: Critique my BoL Plans

Post by bigred362 » Sat Jun 11, 2016 6:57 am

Sounds like you have a good plan for a second property. I think depending on the location 5-10 acres could yield you a couple deer a year with out depleting the herd. Intense agriculture requires intense work. Preparing, planting and harvesting is not an operation that can be done part time. I would experiment a bit, but I would have an appropriate seed cache on hand in case you need it. I would get the soil tested in the area you wish to plant. Depending on the type of woods you have there can be wild swings in PH and nutrient profiles. Here in PA we can get test kits cheap, you just get a handful from 10 random locations in the area you want to plant. Place the dirt in a bucket, shake it up, let it sit overnite, fill the sample bag and send it to the Penn state lab. If you properly specify the plants you desire to cultivate, they can give you really good info on what to use to amend the soil for your desired plants.
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Re: Critique my BoL Plans

Post by RonnyRonin » Sat Jun 11, 2016 12:59 pm

At a glance it sounds pretty ideal, major questions would be what adjoins the property? Public land? unused private property? high-use private property?

50 miles sounds like a good distance, I think most people could make that in three days with a light load. With a very definite destination like that you could all but do away with a BOB with a judicious application of caches.

agreed that most homesteading activities can't be done part time, and I know for me 50 miles is far enough away that I wouldn't make the trip every weekend. You could probably knock out a big chunk of the prep work though, which would probably put you in a good way.
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Re: Critique my BoL Plans

Post by SouthernZombie » Sat Jun 11, 2016 1:28 pm

The land is in North Carolina, a safe distance from any interstate and is surrounded by large tracts of private undeveloped wooded land with no major towns nearby. So fingers crossed, there's a good chance it would remain undeveloped in the next 10-20 years.

I'd try to cache enough long-term food buried on site to get me through one full year and if TEOTWAWKI happened live off that one year cache while I start growing. Clearing off a few acres and concentrating on high yield, high calorie foods like potatoes, lentils, beans. Some bee hives to produce honey and wax to allow for candle making. Hopefully the adjacent properties remain wooded enough and for a small fee I can gain some hunting rights to their properties. I'd also purchase a dozen or so pear, apple, and cherry trees that are a few years mature to start gaining a little fruit in a few years. As I can devote more time to the endeavor maybe long term a few chickens for eggs.

The location is more toward the first half of Western NC. Around Charlotte there are two nuclear power plants and I currently live down-wind of them :shock: :ohdear: So one of my biggest priorities with this land is to be on the other side of the powerplants so that if they melt down I don't have wind blowing fallout onto me in perpetuity. I figure if it all goes south I'd have at least a few days until the reactors evaporate all of the water which would give me those days to start the 50 mile trek.

I wouldn't need anything fancy on site. I'd probably start with just camping on the property once a month, eventually as money allows upgrading to a travel trailer and slowly start building a small 500-600 square foot cinderblock building with solar, septic, and a well. My family is small so I don't have many mouths to feed. At the most I have one like-minded friend and his family so worst case this BoL would be supporting six people.
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Re: Critique my BoL Plans

Post by KYZHunters » Sat Jun 11, 2016 5:28 pm

As a homesteader, I recommend three books that will help you scale your project.

Ten acres enough (1864) and Five acres and independence are great. The best though is I called the "The independent life and how to live it" and the diagrams provided for one, five and ten acre homesteads are what passes for porn in our house.

I think I could feed our crew on two acres here in Kentucky. The rest is for grazing, firewood and insulation.
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Re: Critique my BoL Plans

Post by ineffableone » Sat Jun 11, 2016 6:15 pm

Here are some tips from someone who just bought land to homestead.

Water. If you don't have access to water your land is going to be a head ache not worth having. #1 thing to look for in land is water access because water is so very vital to life. This point is made by pretty much everyone ever making recommendations and tips for would be land buyers, and it is for good reason. A well, spring, stream, pond, lake, river it doesn't mater as long as your allowed to take water from it. Sure you can do rain water harvesting, but that can be a pain and is only can collect as much as you size the system. The roof size and cistern will dictate how much water you really can collect. Plus make sure you remember to check for legalities in your area, as too many places have laws against rain catchment. I would personally say view catchment as a back up to another water source and not a primary source.

Timber. You want enough land and timber on it to be able to sustainable harvest wood to heat and cook with in a SHTF situation. While people often think about how loss of game and edibles was why nomadic people moved on to new places, it was also the using up of dead wood. An area can be picked clean fast, especially if you don't ration it and know how to use minimal wood for fires. Too much timber is never a bad thing, but too little can be troublesome. Along with fire wood, you also have the opportunity for building materials. From milling your own lumber, to rough hewn logs, to round pole construction. Having timber you can use to build with can be a huge benefit to making building a structure more affordable. Many properties can be under valued by others due to not having precut clearing and house pads ready to build on. Take advantage of this if you can and cut your own clearings that will give you construction materials and fire wood by doing so.

Neighbors. A bad neighbor can make a wonderful property into a nightmare. Make sure to investigate and learn about your neighbors and the near by community. Good advice is look at what the near by community might do for events. Festivals etc, and attend one or more. This is a great way to meet people and learn what they are about without giving away you are thinking of moving to the area. Also you can see what the area likes by what type of festivals they do. It takes a lot of effort for a small community to put on an event, so they tend to only do it when there is plenty of interest in the area for that.

Livable is a subjective term. What might be considered livable is not always agreed upon by everyone. Make sure you discuss what is livable with anyone else in your family/group. A couple travel trailers could be considered livable to some (and tends to be the cheapest way to get set up fast on property). Heck a log cabin with no running water or electric might be considered livable to some folks. But others want all the amenities of grid living electric, sewer, hot and cold water at the tap, etc..Be sure your idea of livable matches others.

Access road. Getting a road/driveway cut into a property and graveled plus maintaining it isn't cheap but it can be worth biting the bullet and paying the cost to get it done right rather than having a mess for a road. The wear and tear on a vehicle can end up costing a lot more in the end if you don't have a good road.

Security. Since your talking about a property that would not be lived at. You would want to make sure to install security measures. Gates, cameras, things chained and locked, etc. It is sad, but the reality of remote rural property that too often you can't trust to leave stuff unattended. With cameras, have easily visible ones that let would be no good doers see they are being filmed. Then have well hidden ones that would be hard to spot to back up the visible ones.

*edit, oh and BTW don't forget to have fun. While there may be serious reasons to get land. Don't forget to also enjoy it as well as the search for it. Take the time to just absorb the nature around you and appreciate the wilderness.
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Re: Critique my BoL Plans

Post by Maeklos » Sat Jun 11, 2016 7:21 pm

SouthernZombie wrote:I'd also purchase a dozen or so pear, apple, and cherry trees that are a few years mature to start gaining a little fruit in a few years.
You might look into trying to get some raspberry or blackberry bushes started. I grew up with wild blackberries in Oklahoma, and here in Vermont, the entire hill behind the house is covered with wild raspberry bushes. Like mint, they don't require much in the way of active cultivation and they spread quickly - which can be a bad thing as left unchecked they can overgrown a lot of other plants. But for being a potential source of seasonal nutrition with little to no invested time and effort, they're not a bad idea. Plus, deer love nibbling on the berry clusters.
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Re: Critique my BoL Plans

Post by RonnyRonin » Sat Jun 11, 2016 7:43 pm

Maeklos wrote:
SouthernZombie wrote:I'd also purchase a dozen or so pear, apple, and cherry trees that are a few years mature to start gaining a little fruit in a few years.
You might look into trying to get some raspberry or blackberry bushes started. I grew up with wild blackberries in Oklahoma, and here in Vermont, the entire hill behind the house is covered with wild raspberry bushes. Like mint, they don't require much in the way of active cultivation and they spread quickly - which can be a bad thing as left unchecked they can overgrown a lot of other plants. But for being a potential source of seasonal nutrition with little to no invested time and effort, they're not a bad idea. Plus, deer love nibbling on the berry clusters.
Good advice, black berries where a weed were I grew up (a tasty, tasty weed) and any patch of ground left unattended too long seemed to grow them. Could be a very productive security measure as well, fighting through a 10ft wall of black berry vines is no joke.
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Re: Critique my BoL Plans

Post by SouthernZombie » Sun Jun 12, 2016 10:24 am

Awesome suggestions guys, thanks! I love the blackberry briar idea. Serves two excellent purposes. Luckily water isn't really an issue, I've only been looking at land that has perked for a well and that's the worst case scenario. Trying to get a well and creek on the property.
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Re: Critique my BoL Plans

Post by Evan the Diplomat » Sun Jun 12, 2016 1:48 pm

I posted elsewhere in ZS about hedgerows. Rather than just plant a blackberry thicket and let it run wild, string some 50 pound fishing line to guide the vines between trees.

I recommend that you search the threads here about housing. You and two buddies can raise a shipping pallet house in a weekend. Similarly, you post on the right websites you can easily get twenty granola heads to raise the walls on a straw bale house, just call it a permaculture workshop and they will come a running.

I would find some heirloom squash, bean and corn seeds and try some three sisters planting in various spots around the property.

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Re: Critique my BoL Plans

Post by Kelvar » Mon Jun 13, 2016 2:37 pm

I want to second the idea of having some type of water catchment system. With a tin roof and some filters, you've got a built in renewable source of potable water. It may have a couple of benefits over a well--1) you don't have to worry about the groundwater becoming contaminated and 2)(if it is set up right) you don't need any sort of pump to access it. I have seen some folks get really large, food-grade, plastic containers that can hold hundreds of gallons of water. I would just do the math and figure out how many gallons you think you would need over several months time and try to have more capacity than you need. The good news about North Carolina is that it rains enough that keeping them replenished shouldn't be difficult. Anyway, I think I'd prefer a water-catchment system over a well, but I'm open to being proven wrong.

You mention chickens, but you might want them to be more than just a nice add on. Compared to a lot of other animals, chickens are fairly easy to take care of and they can produce a lot of eggs. I don't know of an easier way to have a fairly perpetual, replenishing source of protein than chicken eggs. Hunting is nice, but it isn't something you can always count on, no matter where you live. With a relatively small number of chickens, you should be able to have enough eggs every day for your whole family. Also, on special occasions, you could always eat a chicken.

You mentioned solar power--depending on your needs and the sort of lifestyle you envision yourself leading, you might want to supplement with a wind turbine or two. They're getting cheaper and it wouldn't hurt to have a back-up means of generating power. Again, having more capacity than you need is probably a good thing, and you know, 2 is 1 and so forth.

Finally--with regard to candle-making, I love the idea in general, but have you made them before? I've seen it done, but I've never done it and I would be skeptical about my ability to replicate what I've seen. Also, what do you plan to make the wicks out of?
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Re: Critique my BoL Plans

Post by Sun Yeti » Mon Jun 13, 2016 3:33 pm

My main critique is that raising chickens and bees, and to a lesser extent gardening and so on requires a pretty constant human presence. Are you willing to drive there three or four times a week to check up on your animals and crops?

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Re: Critique my BoL Plans

Post by SouthernZombie » Mon Jun 13, 2016 6:03 pm

The chickens wouldn't be until I was on the property more often than not, as they do require a lot of maintenance. Everything I've read about Bees seems they are pretty low-key and don't require much upkeep but still yield you honey and wax.

As for the candle making, I actually do have experience making my own candles and I'm fairly confident with it overall. As for the wicks I was picturing trying to grow a small bit of cotton and melting some wax onto the strands and then braiding them together.

I like the idea of a water catching system. My only concern is potential algae and nastys from having such large quantity's of water stored for decent periods of time but I seriously like the idea for a second backup system.

I've also toyed with the ideas of wind but it's very hit or miss depending on where you are in North Carolina but once I lock down my property I'll have a better sense. Honestly, I'd love to set up my cabin to have the ability to run without the need for any power but retain it for some luxuries (lights, a freezer, water that's not hand pumped, charging a laptop).
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Re: Critique my BoL Plans

Post by eugene » Mon Jun 13, 2016 6:20 pm

You also need to check out the soil quality. Work with your local department of AG to get samples of any land you are interested in. You might find out the low priced land you wanted won't grow enough to support you.
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Re: Critique my BoL Plans

Post by Maeklos » Mon Jun 13, 2016 7:26 pm

Two other viable sources of easy-to-raise protein once you're on-site for longer periods of time: crickets and field mice. We Americans tend to pooh-pooh these things, but field mice can grow pretty darn big (almost as big as squirrels), are cleaner than city mice and rats, and can subsist on just about anything you feed them. Also, crickets are an excellent source of protein and also make great bait for fishing.

Raising field mice would never have occurred to me, personally, until this past winter. We had a family move into our garage from the nearby forest over winter, and by spring I was able to run two heavy-duty rat traps and catch 2-3 mice a day without an appreciable dwindling of numbers. I've been able to use the mice for fishing bait and skunk traps on my property, and you could use it to bait just about any kind of trap that's legal to run in your AO. Also, mouse tastes along the same lines as squirrel or raccoon.

Anyway, just spitballing with off-the-wall ideas. Maybe they'll stick as something to think about, maybe not. YMMV.
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Re: Critique my BoL Plans

Post by Evan the Diplomat » Tue Jun 14, 2016 7:51 pm

The Chippendale house in Sydney has a metal roof and rain water catchment system. It has two clever features, a divert system that allows rain to rinse the roof before going to the cistern and a UV flash filtration system that kills any bacteria as you turn on the tap.

Best tasting water I ever drank.

I'm a big fan of self sustaining systems. The Chinese would plant mulberry bushes around the edges of the carp pond, the silk worms would eat the leaves, the worms' droppings (and the occasional worm) would feed the carp and the Chinese would harvest the silk to make cloth.
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Re: Critique my BoL Plans

Post by boskone » Tue Jun 14, 2016 9:17 pm

If you have clay and sand, maybe a wood-fired oven? They seem useful and efficient (for some types of cooking), and the build doesn't seem overly difficult. There's a lot of different instructions online, many of which use simple cheap materials (clay, sand, a bit of newspaper and wood).

I'd like to build one if my BOL plans go through.

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Re: Critique my BoL Plans

Post by Boom40mm » Tue Jun 14, 2016 11:02 pm

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever aside(NC has a high incidence rate), rabbits offer many of the same benefits Maeklos mentioned. Their droppings can be used as fertilizer without extensive composting and they breed like...well...you know.

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Re: Critique my BoL Plans

Post by ineffableone » Wed Jun 15, 2016 12:51 am

boskone wrote:If you have clay and sand, maybe a wood-fired oven? They seem useful and efficient (for some types of cooking), and the build doesn't seem overly difficult. There's a lot of different instructions online, many of which use simple cheap materials (clay, sand, a bit of newspaper and wood).

I'd like to build one if my BOL plans go through.
If you go the route of wood fired oven, I highly suggest the double chamber wood oven http://www.ernieanderica.info/ovens While not perfect they have a second burn of the wood gas, making them a lot more effective, less polluting, and important to the prepper less smoke signature to give away your position.

I am planning to eventually build one of these double chambered ovens on my property.
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Re: Critique my BoL Plans

Post by Stercutus » Wed Jun 15, 2016 4:17 am

ineffableone wrote:
boskone wrote:If you have clay and sand, maybe a wood-fired oven? They seem useful and efficient (for some types of cooking), and the build doesn't seem overly difficult. There's a lot of different instructions online, many of which use simple cheap materials (clay, sand, a bit of newspaper and wood).

I'd like to build one if my BOL plans go through.
If you go the route of wood fired oven, I highly suggest the double chamber wood oven http://www.ernieanderica.info/ovens While not perfect they have a second burn of the wood gas, making them a lot more effective, less polluting, and important to the prepper less smoke signature to give away your position.

I am planning to eventually build one of these double chambered ovens on my property.
I'll second that. A single chamber oven is horribly inefficient in comparison. If you get into cutting, splitting, hauling wood every single ounce of wood saved is going to make a difference.
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