Permaculture is very clear on this matter – design the water systems / infrastructure first, measure swales, make all roads on contour, then put in structures! This is stuff we know, but of course, life intervenes and things don’t always pan out how you planned. Just look at KZN this past week! Nature will not be ignored or abused, and it’s time we listened.
When we first came here, we drove through the long grass trying to find the original big tree we saw when we first saw the farm. That first road we made became the permanent main road to our house. We couldn’t measure the farm out with swales at that stage, it is a huge job! There is only so much you can do in your first year as a self-building off-gridder. But this is why we need the planners, engineers and permaculture experts. We SHOULD be getting these types of people to map out our land before we go stomping though it.
We went out there this morning to check out the situation and dig some trenches to route the water off the road. It is at least 10 to 15m on either side of the road that’s boggy and about a 50m stretch of road that’s affected. On the plus side, we have a natural wetland area that we are very excited about and never knew existed! On the downside, our main road goes straight through the middle of it. We will need to move that part of the road at some stage, there’s no point in fighting nature like that. Onto the list it goes. We have identified 3 areas where we will put in run-off / percolation dams.
People lose a lot of water with our roads everywhere, but this can be resolved with proper swale management and percolation dams. Also look into vetiver grass to stabilize wet areas. We’ve got some in the one of the swales, but haven’t had a chance to plant the rest yet. Our priority right now is getting an indoor bathroom plumbed. Winter is coming and I am NOT going through what we endured last year.
If you are still planning on moving to a farm:
- Look into permaculture design to prevent water issues.
- Observe your land for at least a year before you do major development.
- Build your roads on contour and route the run-off into dams.
- Skip this step and end up like this.