A Wedding, a New House, and a Farm

SustainableAg

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Hello All,
This is the beginning of my journaling journey. A place where I can keep track of the progress of my homestead-to-be, as well as a place to learn and ask questions. In August, my fiancé Mr. M and I got married. We spent this entire year (gasp!) :th searching for a place worthy of being called "our forever home". Or for goodness sake, at least something that had potential! After traveling for the last few years through multiple different states hoping to find this place, we ended up right back where we started! We are Pennsylvania natives and wanted a change of scenery. However, after nearly a dozen trips, we learned to appreciate all that PA had to offer. This would also mean that we were settling closer to family, which was a big relief to both sets of parents!
Now, we are in the process of purchasing our first home together in northeast PA. The property couldn't be closer to what we've been looking for! It is an open 18 acres of usable land. Our closing date is set for February 8th. The property does not have any outbuildings, with the exception of an enclosed carport. Most devastatingly to me, it also does not have a fireplace or a woodstove. The addition of a woodstove will be one of the first improvements this summer, after adding a generator. One of the best features is the walk-out basement, turned apartment, with a fully finished kitchen. I see a homestead profit in our future!
Now, a word on Homesteading. I have been making plans for the plants that will be grown, and animals that will be raised. Our first hurdle will be fencing (there isn't any :barnie), building chicken coops, and other matters of infrastructure. Then deciding what breeds of chickens, what variety of fruit trees, the list goes on and on. It is quite exciting, and I am thrilled to be able share this journey with all of you (and finally contribute to this forum)!
Thanks for reading along,
SustainableAg :)
 

frustratedearthmother

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Congrats on your marriage! May it be happy and last forever. :)

Sounds like you found a wonderful property. I look forward to following your journey!
 

SustainableAg

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Thank you for the kind words! We have a lot of work ahead of us, but we are looking forward to it! Doing some research now about fencing so we can decide what we want before summer rolls around. I have been rereading posts here on SS about fencing, as well as BYH. Rotational grazing is very important to us, so I like the idea of movable electric fences. I have my eye on some Premier1 fencing for the chickens and gardens, but it is not practical on a larger scale because of the pricetag. Still trying to find someone that will give us a quote for "Agricultural Fencing" in our area.
 

Lazy Gardener

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I have used Premier 1 Electronet poultry fencing in the past. It worked well until the birds discovered they could fly over it. Then, the hawks moved in. No bird losses until then. Of course the hawks could have attacked inside the E-net, but they didn't. Since then, I've had extremely heavy hawk predation, so had to build a covered run. In the winter, the birds have one section of the run closed off, can't use the rest due to heavy snow loads sliding off the steel roof of the coop.

I liked the Electronet, and suggest it for your use, perhaps with a deep cycle marine battery so you can move it around. Of course, every time you move the fencing, you must move your ground rod.

An other option for you would be standard tape electric fencing. I believe Howard E on BYC uses that successfully even with chickens, after he "trains them" to it. He initially puts a single low strand that the chickens step on instead of jumping or flying over. That initial jolt teaches them to respect the fencing, and they won't cross it. He then adds the extra strands.

If I had the open acreage you have, I would: build a stationary coop, then have the garden/run surround the coop. The birds would graze one section while I gardened the other section. Then, at the end of the garden season, I'd switch it up: the birds would use the garden for their run, and their old run would be next year's garden. By building extra pop doors into your coop, you can divide the surrounding ground into 2 - 4 or even more garden area/runs.

Even if you intend to exclusively free range, I recommend that you have a run available. You will need it when predators come calling, when training pullets to the nest, if you have a naughty bird who is laying her eggs out in your yard, when you have a broody hen who is ranging too far for her babies to keep up.

Other topics for you to consider: deep litter management in coop and run. (bare ground coop works best for this.

Cattle panels can be used for: fencing, trellising, building coops, high tunnels or greenhouses. Check out the spiral fence connectors that Premier 1 sells. Best invention since sliced bread.
 

SustainableAg

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@Lazy Gardener That is some very valuable information! Thank you. I know from experience that once predators know there are chickens in an area, they will come from far and wide.
We are trying to decide between having a perimeter fence put in place, and then using electric fences to rotationally graze, or to divide into different pastures either with electric or woven wire. Horses will be moving onto the property at some point, so it really comes down to how we want to lay out the property. Too many options!
 

Lazy Gardener

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Cattle panels are expensive, but they are a one time investment. They are totally indestructible, and can be moved around with ease, especially with the spiral connectors. I would not be able to build the amount of fencing you are looking at from CP, but I suggest you consider what can be done with them!
 

Mini Horses

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Welcome from VA.

If you are thinking "fence" the very FIRST issue is what you want to fence in and out. No fence will work well without forethought. Different animals have different needs and habits. This initial thought could save you a LOT of time and money.

I assume the property has a house over this basement? Not all do when we are starting out.
 

baymule

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You have a lot of work to do! We fenced our place in non climb horse wire with 2"x4" holes. It keeps our animals in and everybody else's out. Fence the parameter, then figure out the rest. You will want to locate your barn before building a lot of cross fences. Gates. Lots of gates, 16' gates. 12' gate will work in a few places, but 16' gates give swing room for trailers and tractors.
 
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