Sunday, August 15, 2010

Wrensong East....

Some of you already know of our latest purchase, and wanted to see pics. Some don't know yet that we have plans to move (hopefully in the near future).

Guerdon and I bought 10 FLAT acres approx 7 miles East of where we live right now. It is bare land so it will be a definite work in progress. This is the gate going into the "estates" where our property is:

It is fenced, with post and pole but other than that it is nothing but 10 acres of Scotch Broom, an invasive weed. There is a beautiful view of the mountains going into Stevens Pass, but unfortunately when I was taking these pics it was cloudy at the peaks. We hope to face our living room and back deck towards that view.....

First step will be to eradicate the Scotch Broom. I had a Snohomish Conservation District certified Farm Planner, Bobbi Lindemulder, come out to discuss the property. She is going to help me with a farm plan. After the Scotch Broom is taken care of they will fly over and take a pic to get a good idea of the "lay of the land".

I'll try and include each step we do on the property, maybe it will be helpful to others developing acreage. I want it to be a sustainable farm and we are hoping to get mostly if not completely off the grid. We're looking into solar, and geothermal for heating and power etc. Also, hope to put in a russian type fireplace. We will probably be living in the barn for awhile as that will be the first thing that goes up.
More shots of the property:
Looking north, there is an enormous barn and riding arena on the property north of ours, beyond that is a home and then the river.

This next shot is our only close neighbor, they are across the street from our place and have lots of nice horses. :) There is a great trailhead just down the street, you can ride forever (well, almost) I hear you can ride all the way over to E. WA and I'm sure you can pick up the Pacific Coast Trail along the way somewhere.

Here is a sustainable farming course that Bobbi told me about that I hope to get signed up for:

Sustainable Small Farming and Ranching
For more information please visit
or call/email Sarita Schaffer 206-914-7948
Course Dates/Times for Fall 2010 Wednesday Evenings, 6-9 pm, Sept 8 – Nov 24
Cost $250 per person or farm couple/family
Location Classes will be held at the WSU NW Research and Extension Center on Memorial Hwy (SR 536) in Mount Vernon. Field trips may include farms in Snohomish, Skagit and/or Whatcom County.
Course Format
Classes consist of presentations and activities led by local farmers, WSU graduate student Researchers and local agricultural professionals. Participants will meet as a class once a week on Wednesday evenings. Two farm field trip days are included, scheduled on weekends. Instruction is bilingual (English with simultaneous Spanish translation & occasionally Spanish with simultaneous English translation)
Course Objectives
1) to gain knowledge of the practical aspects of sustainable small acreage production systems for a wide variety of enterprises
2) practice assessing the feasibility of developing a small acreage farming enterprise, including how to: evaluate personal and family goals, evaluate land and personal resources, develop a farm plan, and research marketing, regulations, and community resources.
3) experience the challenges and opportunities faced by small acreage farmers, preparing them for farming and/or technical, advisory, and agricultural educational positions.
Sample Course Modules*
*Weekly course modules vary slightly from year to year, depending on participant interest and guest speaker/farmer availability. The following overview from last year is intended to provide a general idea of the topics covered. Modules are not necessarily presented in the order below.
Module 1: Starting with Whole Farm Sustainability in Mind
· Understanding “sustainability” and “whole farm” concepts
· Applications of sustainability and whole farm concepts on the farm
Module 2: Successful Whole Farm Planning
· Applying the “Whole Farm” concepts to develop a farm plan
· Whole farm planning tools
· Assessing personal (and family) interests, skills, and values
· Developing your whole farm goals
Module 3: Evaluating Your Whole Farm Resources
· Introduction to the whole farm plan layout
· Resource inventory and assessment
· Mapping the farm property
Module 4: Direct Marketing Strategies
· Exploring methods to market direct to consumers
Module 5: Enterprise Assessment
· Enterprise ideas for small acreage farms/ranches
· Production requirements and feasibility of enterprise
Module 6: Evaluating your Market
· Consumer and market trends
· Researching the market and customer base
Module 7: Sustainable Crop Production
· Implementing farming practices that promote sustainability
· Growing organic
Module 8: Ecological Soil Management
· Soil characteristics important to plant growth
· Building healthy Soils
· Soil testing
Module 9: Integrated Pest and Weed Management
· Basics of Integrated Pest Mangement
· Ecological weed management
Module 10: Sustainable Livestock/Poultry Systems*
· Sustainable animal production
· Grazing management on small acreages
Module 11: Facilities and Equipment
· Selecting Appropriate Equipment
· Irrigation Systems for small acreage farming
· Meeting the building and fencing requirements
· Renewable Energy Resources on the Farm
Module 12: Assessing the Potential for Profit
· The basics of farm economics
· Enterprise budgets as decision making tools
Module 13: Enhancing Success of Your Whole Farm Plan
· Tools for tracking success
· Assessing Sustainability
· Proactively addressing legal liability issues

As we go along I welcome any suggestions and helpful hints people can offer! This will be where we retire to and live out our lives so I would like to make it as smoothly functioning as possible.


Michelle said...

I hope you have more success than Franna in working out the zoning or whatever so that you can live in your barn. That's what they planned to do on Whidbey Island but ran into snags....

Looks like nice neighbors to have, and a lovely piece of ground! Do goats eat scotch broom?

Wrensong Farm said...

It must work there....there are people still living in their barns because of the downturn in economy, and the folks across from us lived in their barn for a year before building their house.

Yes, goats do eat scotch broom but I would need to put no-climb all the way around the post and pole to keep them in...AND move the guardian dogs over as there are definitely coyote, bobcat and cougar there....

Pricilla said...

It looks lovely.

Expect the unexpected. That's all I can offer.
The hubby and I are trying to do our best here in Montana on only an acre and a half. We probably should have bought more land but we were seduced by a river view....

Good luck!

Tammy said... looks like a lovely place and quite an undertaking.'s almost like a blank canvas so you should be able to develop as you like w/out major changes (i.e. the land is flat etc). If goats eat this invasive weed, have you thought about looking into one of those 'goats for hire' outfits where they come in, put up temp. fencing and let them at it? I'm sure it's expensive, but maybe not any more so than other options. I hope you chronicle the steps as you go, as I think it will be fascinating. Will you be selling your current place soon, or after you begin the work on your new place?

Nancy K. said...

How EXCITING! Your new place is beautiful. Even I can't wait 'till you're sitting out on your deck, enjoying the view!

Looking forward to the progress updates...

Kay Lodahl said...

boy. too bad you weren't retired already so you can put your all into this.. what an undertaking. I wish you all the best, dear friend..

Eve said...

Wow Tammy! This is great! I look forward to the move and the build...not in that order!! Good luck, what a beautiful place. I do wish I had a view....

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

How exciting and overwhelming at the same time!
We had similar plans here when we bought this land, to become self sufficient, have a great garden, sustain our animals and our family. We only have 3 1/2 acres, though. And we discovered that grass only grows here once a year, the water is too hard and full of heavy minerals which plants dislike very much (along with dishwashers, and other appliances, too), and solar and wind powere was going to be too expensive to convert our current house.

The only thing I'd be concerned about on your new land, is, if scotch broom is the only plant that the soil can support. Will you be able to grow grass for the animals and a healthy garden for you? Or has the scotch broom leached out all the good stuff in the soil? It will be very labor intensive and expensive to build up your soil, if so. Just something to think about.

But that view may make it all worth it in the end :)


Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Ok, you piqued my interest on scotch broom and I had to research it. Wow. I sure don't envy you in removing that evil stuff.

*Scotch broom is a prodiguous seed producer. The seeds have hard coats enabling them to survive in the environment for up to 80 years.(!!!!)

*Keep an eye out for seedlings each spring and pull them up, roots and all, while they are small.

*Be sure to remove the entire plant. Broken stems re-sprout and are much harder to remove for the next person. Plants can be left where pulled.

*Dense infestations of broom and infestations in the shade remain too moist to carry fire and will require pulling and some time to dry prior to a successful burn.

*A head fire is likely to only burn the tops off of the broom, and the broom will survive.

*A slow, hot, backing fire kills most of the broom. Some plants are consumed outright, and others are scalded around the root collar, later dying from the injury. Use of a backing fire reduces the need for laborious manual removal.


Sounds like goats won't be enough to remove the scotch broom. Have you talked with your new neighbors to see if they also had scotch broom all over their land, and how their erradication process has worked out so far?


Franna said...

Congratulations, Tammy! We can share stories on building and moving. ugh. Not looking forward to the moving part. I need a transporter.

Some ways Island County is very restrictive. We have to have an "active residential building permit" to live on the property. grrrrrr.

Jennifer said...

Congrats on your new place! It really is beautiful, I would love to have that view here! Part of our land is flat but definitely not where our home and yard is and it can make planning for a barn, fencing, and other things a bit of a pain! Your new place has the best of both worlds...a great view AND a nice, flat canvas to start building on. Can't wait to see how things come along for you.

Wrensong Farm said...

Hi Lisa,
Everyone by us had the scotch broom...typically just keeping it mowed makes it "go away". There is different grasses etc. growing there as well. I had the Snohomish County Cooperative come out and look at the property. They didn't think it would be much trouble to get it under control...first step is mowing....:) Scotch broom is actually part of the pea family I was told and so is a nitrogen fixer, not bad for the soil.

Wrensong Farm said...

Franna, at least you have a good start! Tammy, we're going to try to sell before we move...Thanks everyone for the words of encouragement! :)