- A Big, Bold, Bubbling Spring
Back in the day, which to many people has a different meaning so instead I will say, way back in the day when a pioneer looked for a place to plant
their roots, they sought out a big, bold, bubbling spring. A spring is water that comes out of the ground of its own accord. A spring was highly prized over a well as you didn’t have to crank the water bucket all the down to the bottom of the well and crank the now heavy bucket of water all the way to the surface. A spring also provided a lot of natural filtering in comparison to river water or well water. As a homesteader, having a spring could also provide you with the means to an electricity-free dairy. Building a springhouse over the spring and storing your dairy and other refrigerated items could be a god-send for you and your family.
- Rolling Contours
Flat land offers very little in way of opportunities, protection or escape. Hills and valleys, cliff and plateaus however are a good thing. Consider drainage. Water can cause more damage to your home and shelters than fire. If your land is flat, water cannot escape and hence stands there,
pooling, taking over. If your land has hills and valleys, you can choose the best place for a garden and for a rice paddy, for your home and for a gravity-fed water system. Flat land ensures top soil run-off; top soil leaves your property faster than you can add to it. Iowa State University has developed a type of farming called “Contour Strip Farming” to make up for the industrialized flattening of the Midwest Grain Belt. Essentially, a farmer plant strips of crops along contours (shaping and deepening) or forming contours in the land, or small hills and valleys, which helps to irrigate and offers top soil retention. Hills and valleys also offer protection for livestock and for you and your family. Flat land offers little in way of field of view disruption. If you can see the predator, they can see you. Nestling a home or barn back against a hillside offers line of sight disruption which keeps you and your livestock safe. Rolling contours also offers opportunities for your garden, vineyard or orchard. You can plant according to what the plant requires more readily on rolling contours than on flat ground.
- Who Came Before You?
Knowing who owned the property and what it was used for before you, before the previous owner, actually when it was originally settled or even prior to settlement can be invaluable. Was it mined? How much lead is on
the property? Could there be a Native American graveyard on your property? Was it a cattle ranch? Is there barbed wire hanging about or buried just under the surface? That could mean a lot of clean up on your part and that might affect the price of the property.
See where I am going with this? Understand, to the fullest extent possible, the history of the land you are considering. Knowing the history can serve you well. Where did the original homesteaders have their home and why? Where was the garden? How many acres were treed? What type of trees and plant-life used to be there? History also isn’t boring. Knowing the history can also serve you well when, or if, it ever comes time to sell.