May was a busy and exciting month for us! We finished up some projects and sited where the home will be built. Neal’s brother stayed with us for a full week to lend a hand and we couldn’t of accomplished what we did without him. So, a BIG shout out and thank you to Tyler!! He cleared land, chopped down trees, operated heavy machinery, and helped out in every other way possible – including keeping us laughing the entire week. We’re so thankful he was able to visit, it was so much fun having him. : )
At the beginning of the month, we finished mapping the topography of the land with a bunyip water level. While this was a time consuming task, it was essential to have our contour lines mapped so we could plan where we would site the home and other permaculture elements. After we finished flagging the ground, Neal used a GPS app to map the individual contour lines then compiled the lines into one cohesive map. This allowed us to design where we would place the home, water harvesting systems, food forests, bio-fuel septic, gardens, ponds, driveway, and anything else that could be impacted by the home’s positioning.
Fortunately, we’ll have a year or two to change our minds and evolve the designs – for now the only absolute decision is the site of the structure. With the home now sited, Neal and Tyler were free to start clearing land and felling the big trees.
I can’t even begin to describe how relieved I was that A) Neal had an extra hand for this project and B) I didn’t have to be involved – I’m much too clumsy to be near anything potentially life threatening. Once we complete the home I’m guessing we’ll look back on this process and say that felling trees was the scariest part. From what I hear, though, it sounds like by the end of the week the guys had felling trees down to a science.
- Made a handy “cheat-sheet” for spray-painting level cuts
- Marked the wedge and back-cut
- Tied off the tree
- Positioned the excavator behind the back-cut to prevent the trunk from sliding
- After the final cuts were made, the excavator provided a little nudge in the right direction, ensuring the tree fell as intended.
On top of the huge progress that Neal and Tyler completed, Neal also reinforced our workshop and built a compost pile. The workshop (a.k.a. greenhouse tent) has held up pretty well, though pools of water would collect in some areas. Neal added support using PVC pipe, wire, and duct tape. So far it’s made it through some heavy rainstorms with no leakage.
Before we can develop our acreage into a food producing paradise, we have to build up the soil. Turning humanure compost into soil takes about a years time, so we decided to start that process now. Neal re-purposed some wooden pallets and chicken wire to build an awesome, animal-proof compost container. We have been saving food scraps, taking them up to the land every week where they are thrown into the mix. Once we have enough to start our “big” pile, everything will be added to this bin.
On top of the land progress, we also traveled to Dallas for Neal’s sister’s wedding (congrats Tennessee and Collin!). Between work on the land and traveling, this month seemed to fly by in a flash. We’re excited to continue progress towards our dream and can’t wait to show you where we are next month!