Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Planning Our New Zealand Property - The Journey So Far Part 2

In planning our New Zealand property we had some specific ideas about what we wanted long term both in terms of the life we want to live and how we want to use our land.  I was also focused on how the principles of permaculture could be applied.  When we were looking for land we kept these goals in mind which helped us decide which block of land to purchase.

We previously had 3.5 acres of land here in Australia and we knew that it was not quite big enough to support a variety of livestock plus veggie garden and orchard without having to bring in a lot of inputs.  So we wanted a bit more land but our budget dictated that we would not be buying a large farm as we also wanted to be able to pay off the land in 3 years so that when got to New Zealand we would just have to budget for the house, out buildings and infrastructure which is the most costly part.
Some of our priorities when choosing land (other than location and price) were:
  • Vacant land (no house).  We have lived in poorly designed homes before and renovated dealing with other peoples poor workmanship and are not wanting to be trying to undo other peoples mistakes. Plus we are planning on this being our home for an extended period of time of 20+ years so we want to make it suit us from the start.
  • Fertile land that is not is need of significant remediation.
  • Flat or gently sloping land that would not require significant earth works.
  • To be able to provide as much food for ourselves as possible straight from the farm.
  • Limit the amount of inputs to the farm and garden.
  • Land able to support an orchard, house yard, large veggie garden and a variety of livestock including a house cow, beef cow, chickens, pigs with the option to try rabbits, ducks and goats.  (Note that I did not say lamb, this is because my parents currently run a small flock of sheep and a few beef cattle and we will trade them pork for lamb)
  • Generally weed free land with no pine trees (pine trees are often used for wind breaks in New Zealand but they have a significant impact on the soil and even if you remove them you have to actively manage the soil back to good health.
  • How many other properties did we share boundaries with and how would this impact on us wanting to farm organically.  We have only 2 as we have a road that goes down our western boundary and around the corner across our southern boundary.
When we were back in New Zealand last year we started planning out where our house and out buildings would be positioned.  In some ways it was a bit of a challenge.  Often you have trees and other landscape features to work around but our land is pretty much flat and completely treeless so we really could have put the house anywhere.  Our main considerations were the aspect, council requirements for the distance from our neighbors home and the distance from the power supply at our boundary.
Hubby and Dad taking some measurements off the tree planting fence

Thankfully because of the New Zealand climate and soil type in the area we were looking the land has a greater carrying capacity compared to Australia.  This means that your land can support more livestock.  On our 3.5 acres here in Australia the land could support a small orchard, house yard, veggie garden, a dozen chickens and 3/4 of a beef cow.  I say 1/2 a cow because we had to buy in supplementary feed and this is something we want to limit in New Zealand.  Our 5.5 acres in NZ should be able to support all the animals that hope to have.

We could easily site our home exactly due north but that will leave us with a view of the road, the power lines that run down the street and the corner of our property with our farm gate.  This will also leave us slightly more exposed to wind.  Instead we (think at this stage) will be aligning the house to our side boundary which will mean we rotate the house by approximately 20 degrees to the east.  This will mean the outlook from the house will be better with too much of a sacrifice of light.

When deciding where to place our house and out buildings one of the things we considered was the potential activities of our neighbors to our north.  
They are a couple a little older than us with 2 young children and theirs is a block of land about the same size as ours and again it is flat and treeless. They only built their house the year after we purchased our land so they are very much in the development stage too.  So far they have built a home and out buildings and planted an orchard.  They are currently using a shade cloth like material all around their orchard and they have told us they will be planting shelterbelts down the track.
As there is the chance that they could decide to plant a line of trees along their southern and our northern boundary we decided to set our house back far enough that any trees they might plant would not be shading out our front yard.  Instead we will have a paddock between our house yard and our boundary.  Of course there is always the chance they will never plant there but once we build our house there is no moving it so why take the risk.

Below is a diagram of the north west corner of our land showing where we are looking to site our home and shed in relation to our boundaries and each other.  The house shape and size is based on our first set of basic plans and is to scale/ in proportion to the shed and marked distances.  There have been a number of changes to the house since then but the location and size of the shed is set and the shed is now in place and complete but more about that in my next post.


I'd love to hear your thoughts...
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