Homestead Design from a Practical, Tactical, Agricultural Survival Perspective
Homestead Design from a Practical, Tactical, Agricultural Survival Perspective by C.F – Survival Blog
Assessing the Land
First of all, we are likely to be constrained by property boundaries. Therefore, in selecting property, what are our priorities?
Not everyone has the same priorities, and priorities change as the world around us changes. For example, a property that is perfectly usable today may become untenable if grid power is cut off. This occurs because the ample well water is too deep to access effectively by primitive means. Or, it may be too public, or too inaccessible.
Agriculture being our focus, the first priority is soil. Meadow silt, especially when found on a bench partway up a mountainside, is nice. However, less hospitable ground can be utilized if it offers other advantages.
Bottom land is generally less desirable, especially in cold environments, because of the fact that cold air and frost settles into the low lands. Other considerations are air quality (mephitic, stagnant air), likelihood of flooding, undesirable vegetation, and tactical vulnerability.
Ridge-tops and mountain peaks, likewise, have some opposite issues. While tactically strong, they are subject to high winds, lack privacy, and frequently lack good backstops and backdrops. More important, they are generally lacking in water.
Sun exposure is critical, especially for horticulture. Southern, eastern, and western exposures each have definite advantages. But I tend to favor eastern and southern exposures, since they warm quickly in the early morning and are not as prone to overheating as western exposures. Northern exposures have the advantage of more moisture and shade but generally are less productive and more prone to molds, mildew, and similar pathological elements. Yet, in a dry climate, they may offer valuable resources. One of the most prominent of which is timber and crops such as berries that function in an understory environment. They are also more likely to offer water sources.
This is often the difference between life and death, for agriculture. Some climates receive enough rain for year-around growing without artificial irrigation, but many do not.
Mountains are God’s water reservoirs. The upper elevations generally receive more precipitation than the lowlands. Often, this comes in the form of deep snow as well as rain. The snow releases its treasure slowly, soaking the ground, and filling these massive reservoirs. Then, the water is released through springs, seeps, and wells, watering the earth and creating streams and rivers. Living in the mountains means that water will be more available and more dependable than in the flat land. Also, since there is less human presence in the high mountains, this water is generally the purest. There is hardly a purer source of water than freshly melting snow, as it releases its load of hydrogen peroxide, and then filters through the soil.
How much water do we need? A typical household may use a hundred gallons a day. With diligence, this can be reduced. However, 100 square feet of garden needs about nine gallons of water per day. An acre needs about 3800 gallons a day. If we plan on using sprinklers and the humidity is low, it may require twice that much, because so much water evaporates.
A water source that gives one gallon per minute of water, in the driest weather, supplies 1,440 gallons per day.
By consulting weather records for the area, it may be possible to determine how much of the needed water is likely to be supplied by rain each month. If it is possible to create large enough cisterns, water may be saved from the wetter months to use during the dry time.
If there is water in a well or at the bottom of the property, can we get it up to where it is needed? In time of peace, we can pump water very efficiently using electric pumps or gasoline pumps. However, in times of distress, even independent alternative energy systems are likely to break down all too quickly.
The advantages of a gravity-flow water system are obvious. Once the system is in place, there is no energy requirement except for gravity, and plumbing is relatively durable and repairable. So, in selecting land for survival in times of national distress, having gravity flow water could be the difference between the land sustaining life or not.
Does the land have growing potential without irrigation? If it is growing trees or grazeable vegetation, yes! Are there wild fruit trees? Wild strawberries often grow in surprisingly arid environments. Give special notice to what routinely grows under the natural conditions, and work from that point. These plants are obviously able to survive and reproduce. Is there any preferable crop that would work in the same conditions?