Episode-1451- Rapid Fire Q&A on Homesteading From Facebook — 24 Comments

  1. Really like the discussion on the many ways to make a swale. Geoff Lawton talks about tilt-bucket excavators and for the huge stuff some of his videos show that probably makes a lot of sense. But there are a whole lot more people who have ready and cheap access to a tractor and plow or a loader than an excavator and most of us don’t need or want a swale the size of a small canal. I think it was Mark Sheppard, in your interview with him, who mentioned using a plow to create swales. Ever since hearing about that (where ever I heard about it) I’ve been thinking that for a homestead scale approach that really makes a LOT of sense, and if the swale created by your plow is too small for a large rainfall event, just make more of them… as quickly as they could be done in this fashion it’s not a big deal if you create 3000′ of swale a 3 elevations instead of 1000′ of a single larger swale. I think in most cases the smaller, more numerous, swales would actually be superior.

    I now have 3 possible approaches for catching and holding water on my newly acquired 5 acres (which is quite flat and gets lots of rain and so may not even need it).

    1) Subsoil on contour, doesn’t really create a swale but does catch rainwall and soak it into the soil.

    2) plow on contour to create small swales.

    3) use a front loader to “push” larger swales ~5 feet at a time as shown in the linked video.

    The best part is I can probably get access to the necessary equipment at little to no cost (probably just the cost to return it with a full tank), and can create as much, if not more, swales as a skilled operator running an excavator, without needing a skilled operator (which I am emphatically not).

    • “swale created by your plow is too small for a large rainfall event, just make more of them…”
      I’m not sure what you’re saying here. Normally when you say “too” anything for a large rain event its in relation to the amount that it can shed water, which has more to do with the spillways than the swale length. Making it larger makes the problem significantly worse. In fact, I might say depending on topography it could make it a million times worse (you wrap around the side of an area into a new water shed and get a ton more catchment than you would normally get, which is actually the awesome part about swale design).

      But perhaps you mean that you’re not capturing allllllll that goodness? I’m not really sure.

      • You got it, I was thinking along the lines of “is the swale large enough to retain a good portion of the rainfall on the property?” And for doing that 3 small swales will work every bit as well as one swale with 3x the volume. Probably better. Plus you’ll have 3x the edge for planting or whatever you want to do with it.

      • I think where people struggle to get this is they don’t really understand what a swale does. It isn’t supposed to hold water, it is supposed to infiltrate water. One can do as much or more in the right location just with key line plowing with no berms, no swales, etc. In fact in some areas you can simply run a sub soiler on keyline and do exactly the same thing.

        I think people only think a swale is doing its job if you see it fill up or mostly fill up, that also isn’t true. So long as enough water falls relative to the grade for water to flow at all, if any gets into the swale, no matter how briefly you see it in there, the swale did its job.

  2. There is some more current rain fall data than technical paper number 40 for states East of the Mississippi in NOAA Atlas 14 Volume 2 which covers the Ohio River basin and
    surrounding states.

  3. I really enjoyed the housing part. I don’t THINK you’ve done a show on the topic just that you’ve mentioned it a few times. Perhaps a show on it? Some things that I think might be interesting is, how to “un-F___” a house. What about something like “You have started some unorthodox things at the house, particularly outside (permaculture, or otherwise)…. what do you do?”

    • Adding to what I was saying, if it didn’t come clear, to what extent do you need to “turn the house back into some bland common ‘suburb’ house”, or do you fix the obvious issues (some massive brown spot in a yard, hole in a wall, etc) and try to harp on the “uniqueness”? Obviously kind of a specific thing, but it’s just one of those things I think people might consider if they “permaculture” or food forest up their house what the consequences may or may not be.

      • I too enjoyed the housing segment. I live in Southern California, and I honestly thought that people were just dumber out here. To be fair to me, I get evidence to reinforce this view every day, and so when I was looking to sell my condo, and get a single family home a couple years ago, I saw everything that Jack was talking about, and assumed it was just something weird about this area. I couldn’t believe my ears listening to people talk about houses they liked or disliked at open houses. Houses that had major structural damage, but were “staged” were often in bidding wars. So the house I bought had 30 year old carpet, walls that needed to be painted, and new windows. All easily done, and now that I’ve done them, my house is worth a lot more than I’ve paid for it. In fact, as an example, I am at the top of the hill, and a house with major damage both outside and inside with the exact same floor plan on my street was being sold for $60k more, at the same time. This house is at the bottom of the hill, right next to a wash. Now, it doesn’t take much to realize that $60k is a lot of money to save, that major structural damage, especially in California, might be expensive to repair, and that if you’re at the bottom of the hill next to a wash you’re probably at a higher risk of flood damage than if you were at the top of the hill. And yet, I got my house, and there was a bidding war that increased the price of the neighbors house by an additional $30k. By the way, that was over 2 years ago, and that neighbor still has not moved in. City permits are a pain!
        I, personally, find it very discouraging to realize that the entire country is making buying decisions, that will likely be the biggest buying decision they make in their entire life in such a misinformed and unintelligent manner.
        I agree with Mike, I think a show talking about things to do to get the most value out of their home when selling. As well as what to look for, and perhaps even more importantly, what to not bother concerning yourself with when looking for a home would be a valuable show to many.

        • Good points. I will ditto your questions.

          I’m not saying I’m abandoning my house or anything but its things to think about, and probably a good resource to point to people. It’s hard finding blunt information online. I’m sure I could search “what to stay away from” and get the “top 9 things to look out for”. But they’re almost always gimmies.

  4. I’ve known whether my area is granite or laminate counter forever. I think one sheet printed on both sides could give a ton of the most basic info on your home and area. It could be taken by potential buyers too. Most importantly is to de-personalize, de-clutter, neutralize decor and an extreme cleaning. That alone would put you ahead of most people. Buyers want to visualize living at your home, so make it easy for them. A lot of common sense goes a long way too.

    • It’s kind of an interesting thing. I will say that this is why some people rent furniture to put in there. You can certainly still think about what you may do with a house with furniture in it. (It’s probably sometimes good and somtimes other). A big ol’ empty room can be kinda hard sometimes. Our house was like that, and we’ve yet to really….. fit this space.

      • The magic it depends answer. If you are selling a 900K dollar house renting 10K worth of shit to “stage it” not only works but there is a ROI to be had usually with doing so.

        People selling 10 million dollar NYC flats often spend 100-200K in staging expenses. That sounds like a lot but on a 10 million dollar property, the real estate agents make 600K! So that staging expense is only 1/6th to 1/3rd of the real estate agent commission.

        So if you sold your house for say 200K full service real estate fees would be 12K, so for the guy above it would be like you spending 2-4 thousand on staging.

  5. Jack,
    This show was awesome! I almost hit information overload on the way to work this morning. Please consider adding this in the mix of regular segments.

  6. Thanks for clarifying that Honey Badger doesn’t give a shit.

    That was really NEAT.

    I missed the opportunity, I was going ask how to identify an Aspen tree.

  7. Acorns can be sold on eBay. I did that last year when I had a heavy mast year. I figure it worked out to about $20 an hour. Or your kids could do it and earn some pocket money for themselves.

  8. Just went back and listened to this episode. Glad I did! My mind was blown about your advice on selling a home. I haven’t heard anyone else this accurate about the subject. I sell a video course just like you’re talking about in the show (my own small business thank you very much) and you hit every point spot on.

    I’m really glad you did this bit. It amazes me how many people are clueless about how to sell a home. I talk to people about it all the time and they’re almost in disbelief about everything they *should* be doing. I don’t know how many times people question me when I say they need to paint their kids rooms back to a neutral color.

    P.S. Thanks to this segment, I’m going to add your information about the buyers guide in a 3-ring binder, complete with worksheet. My course has everything else but that, and it’s a great idea, so it’s going in on my next version! After you mentioned the price point ($500) I did some pricing research and found I’m not charging nearly enough ($197). Your price point is really the sweet spot I’ll be moving to on the next version. I’ll also be doing some re-branding.

    You gave me some great ideas that I’m sure will launch me and my family into greater self-sufficiency. Thanks for everything you do Jack.