Planning the farm layout
The farm land we purchased is not only a piece of land. There are also a few older and newer structures that the previous users of the land had constructured. In the below picture those structures can be seen in the lower left corner.
We have a lot of ideas and visions about what to do on the land. Most of that would be called impossible if we were talking to the locals. However, there are a few good sources of information that provide guidance and inspiration. It should be noted that none of these sources talks about the mediterranean climate we are in but instead talk about farming in temperate climate with quite a different situation with regards to water. In our climate there is no rain for most of the year while in temperate climate it does rain during summer.
Sources of inspiration
What probably applies most is what is shown in the book The Lean Farm. As software developer who uses agile priniciples nothing in this book is alien to me - just the contrary! It is a wonderful presentation about how lean - and thus agile - principles can be applied to farming and small scale farming especially.
Another take on the same topic is The Market Gardener which shows how a small farm can turn a pretty decent profit while still allowing the owners to enjoy quite a bit of leisure time off the farm. It is important not to build oneself a prison which you cannot leave.
To improve the soil through grazing animals and other insights we refer to Holistic Management which is also a book about restoring the environment. The farm and the land around is clearly depleded and we hope to make a difference through our work.
Ridgedale Permaculture in Sweden is another good example how a small farming business looks like and works.
The initial plan
Everything to the North and East of the existing structures is enclosed by stone walls that have a wire fence added to it. Those stone walls are very common in this region. It must be that in the past a lot of people have picked up those rocks by hand and over time wall fences were build. Very impressive work!
As can be seen in the picture at the beginning of this article we want to take advantage of the existing stone walls as much as possible and use the whole enclosed area for - let’s call it this way for now - more delicate farming than keeping cattle, sheep or pigs.
We also want to keep a few horses for pleasure and for getting around. We don’t like to keep horses in solitary confinement like there were prisoners. There is a very nice concept called Paddock Paradise. It simulates the natural environment of horses without taking up too much space and still allows to catch them easily when one wants to go for a ride. So the plan is to build trails around the area by using the stone walls on one side and a fence on the other. We are thinking about using a flexible electric fence initially until the final layout has emerged.
Inside the area enclosed by the trail we want to use mobile chicken coops with electric poultry netting so that the chickens will help us to improve the soil between the trees.
The very first step is to make parts of the structure useful again. For example, we do have a nice enclosed patio with an old wood oven build out of bricks. We started to clean it up:
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