Base Map – The Easy Route
I chose to use Google Earth to do my base map because I really enjoy
technology and I am always looking for ways to do things that involves
technology. I found that the current version of Google Earth has changed
some since the example video was done, but not enough to cause me to go
measure the site by hand. My site is narrow and deep so it took me several
pieces of paper at the 1 inch equals 20 feet scale to get an image together.
Step 1. Zoom & Print
The initial print out of the Google Earth
site was larger than I had expected
when I put them together as seen here.
Step 2. Combine the Images
The print taking 4 pages to complete meant the
individual images did not line up as well as I had
hoped. I decided to trip them and then get them put
I went back to Google Earth to see why they might
have run a little crooked and it appeared that I had
shifted the images slightly while scrolling down the
Step 1 Again!
I was not happy with how the print out was looking as a starting point for the process so I
decided to try a more technological approach to get cleaner images and combine them digitally.
Step 3. The Base Map
I worked with the other couple who are
hoping to homestead with us in the future
and we used Adobe Illustrator to make the
base map. It was so long I cut it into two
parts just behind the barn. The two
pictures to the side would normally stack
end to end to make one long map.
The biggest challenge to making the base map was learning how to best
manipulate the Google Earth application. The “Easy” method may have taken
less effort in the field, but I think with the measurements or with s location
that is not too large then the “Hard” method would have taken just as much
The readings talked about knowing what is under the ground as much as what
is above so I decided to mark the water and electrical on the property as I am
aware of them, but I did not mark the sewer. I wanted to try and be as
complete as possible, but not knowing exactly where things were I did not
want to guess. In our area we have a utility service that will mark your
underground items before you do any digging. I would be interested if I did
this is in the future to call them out and have them mark everything.
Sun: The sun moves over the open area of the yard throughout the day giving areas
of ample sun light. The trees along the edge of the property cast 15’ shadows into
the yard for part of the day and these areas would be idea for plants that require
Wind: The area is sheltered on all sides by trees or other homes and wind is not an
issue. The only evidence of wind is the occasional blowing leaves in the fall.
Water: The change over from septic to city sewer gave us an opportunity to also
trench in some drainage tile while the yard was torn up. The tiles connect to the
house downspouts and a few collection boxes in the yard. Before the tile there
used to be standing water in areas of the yard during times of heavy rain.
Noise: The front of the site is set along a busy state highway. The noise from the
cars used to be very loud. There was extra dirt left from digging my brother’s
foundation next door so we used the dirt to make a hill in front of both homes that
tops out at 10 feet tall. The hill diverts 95% of the noise from the cars up over the
house and we no longer have an issue.
Thoughts & Closing
My first thought looking back at the process was I would have not done
something like this on my own. I think I tended to believe I had a good sense
of the property and how much “room” was available. I don’t believe I had a
proper appreciation of how much room we really have to try some of the
things we want.
The reading in The Permaculture Handbook described knowing about the land
and how that might effect the site. I know there used to be a farm on part of
our land with animals in it so there might be some good soil there thanks to
years of natural material being deposited.
The tree cover on three sides of the property offers a nice amount of privacy
to shield some of our activities from neighbors. The township I live in does not
have any regulations that would prohibit us from having some animals, but I
don’t want to give the neighbors any reason to complain.
I am more excited about the prospects for our lot every week and I am
looking forward to the remaining projects to help me find more opportunities
for our land.