Planning a Homestead

Productive Down-Time

We are on vacation for a long weekend in the South Carolina Lowcountry with my side of the family. Momma rented a house at Isle of Palms for the family, plus a few of our significant others and friends, and we are having a great time! We have eaten great seafood, enjoyed the warm sunshine, and explored on our bikes all over the island. My brothers are thirteen and twenty-five and even thought I’m the “old” sister (per the thirteen year old), I have enjoyed our first true vacation together. Since  I zipped off to college when the youngest was eight months old, there are a variety of reasons this is our first trip together. I’m sure there will be more to come. 🙂

One of us is in our early teens, one in our mid-twenties, and one (me) in our early thirties! Despite, and maybe because, of our age differences, we lead different lives and appreciate each other even more every time we spend time together.  Below is a precious picture from this trip.

The Farm Homestead Cove
My 13 year old brother (Fitzhugh), me, Momma (Lauretta), and my 25 year old brother (Matthew).


Since we normally spend our weekends on the farm, we are feeling a little guilty about being away from our HUGE project. To make up for it, we have spent a lot of time planning over the last few days. I have created a state-of-the-art notebook (ok, it’s a five-subject notebook from Staples) divided into sections: Notes, Plans, Resources, Writing (this blog and more), and Records.

Our drive down to the lowcountry from the upstate is usually 3-4 hours, and we realized on Saturday that we have never driven this direction this time of the year. Apparently we chose a weekend when just about everyone from the Carolinas and surrounding states were also headed toward the South Carolina coast for vacation. The drive ended up being about six hours, so we had a LOT of time to talk and plan.

Planning a Self-Sustainable Garden

It is important to us to figure out how to make our vegetable garden and fruit orchard as self-sustainable as possible, avoiding using city water (cost of water) or even well water (cost of electricity for pump) as much as possible. Ideally, the cost of seeds and the initial fruit tree will be the only investment made on the front end, especially since I plan to learn to seed-save for future annual plantings. While we are committed to growing our own food, it’s hard to justify not j.  Weust buying organic food in the store if it costs the same or more.

Part of this sustainability is irrigation, so we are beginning to plan our rainwater roof-catchment in addition to the natural rainfall in our region.

Here are our calculations for potential rainwater collection from our home:


Our area, Upstate South Carolina, gets about 51 inches of rain per year. We are currently thinking our roof surface area will be around 2,000 square feet, so we expect around 16,000 gallons of collectible water during the growing season.

We are designing the house very intentionally to allow the rainwater to be easily directed to the garden.  We’ve placed the home at the high point on the property, and designed the roof to maximize the catchment from the gutters.  We are grading the meadow and orchard to create permaculture swells in the land to catch, store, and distribute the water off the meadow in a natural way.  We have also considered a ram pump coming up from the creek for supplemental water, but we aren’t sure yet if we have enough of a “fall” in grade on the creek to accomplish this.

To be completely honest, we have no idea how much water we will need to water our garden and orchard. We plan on enough of a garden to feed us and our family, plus water for goats, ducks, sheep, chickens, rabbits, pigs, etc. So we are counting on capturing as much water as possible to keep everyone happy and healthy!

We did a lot of other planning including meeting with experts, renting or buying equipment, getting fencing up before hunting season, and much more. On Wednesday we head back home and jump right back in to the work!






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