“May have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one.” Malcolm Reynolds, Captain of Serenity.
Matty and I have committed to moving next year to a 98 acre property my mother owns in Hyndford, Ontario.(45N, 77W)
In this post I am collecting the basic data I have accumulated on the property. Probably boring as heck for most people, but interesting as heck for a permaculture geek like me. Primarily, I am writing this for my own reference, but it may be helpful for locals interested in understanding how scientists categorize our climate, soils, etc.
(By the way I collated a lot of this information using an excellent article written by Duane McCartney which explores in great detail Canada’s “Country Pasture/Forage Resource Profile”.)
Hyndford rests in a cold temperate climate, part of The Canadian Shield, in the Great Lakes/St.Lawrence Lowlands region. The land thereabouts is roughly 500 metres above sea level and the land has traditionally wanted to be Boreal Forest.
We are, therefore, determined to gradually reshape 40-50 of the 98 acres to a Boreal-inspired, food forest with meadow clearings, while leaving the rest to re-wild at it’s own pace. The land seems to now include about 10 acres of natural wetland that has developed and expanded over the last few decades.
(Hopefully we will add photos and details of our observations after our next visit.)
The land is rolling, humid ;landscape but rather flat with only a 15 m drop from the highest to the lowest points on the property. That said, the small Bonnechere River tributary that runs roughly North to South through the property seems to have carved a narrow and deeper path through the southern end of the property, past the second marsh. It may need to be bridged.
Agriculture Canada recently redrew it’s plant hardiness zone maps and Hyndford was “upgraded” to Zone 4B. Details from Renfrew of recent weather patterns indicate average yearly precipitation is 32 inches/118.5mm falling as either snow or rain relatively evenly throughout the seasons. Temperature swings rather steeply each year. Average in January is -12C and in July +19.7C. The yearly average temperature is a lowish 4.9C. In the past 100 years, temperature extremes have ranged from -42.5 to +38.3C.
IMO, we therefore need to plant & prepare ourselves and our animals for temperatures ranging from -45 to +45C as well as for flooding (from the nearby river & it’s tributary that runs through the property), deluge & drought.
The IPCC expects similar regions to dry out as climate change progresses. Indeed, Ottawa Valley and especially the Bonnechere River watershed (in which Hyndford rests) were hit by drought in 2012. Shallow wells in the area dried up, and river flows were severely impacted. (It is common practice to draw from wells no more than 18 feet deep. One local driller reported he was not finding water before the 123 ft mark during this drought.)
There are at least three distinctive soil types on the property: loamy sand, sandy loam and clay loam. The clay loam is under the back 1/3-1/2 of the land. Loamy sand is directly south of it toward the road. The smallest soil patch, sandy loam, (perhaps 3 acres?) is to the front East side, in the front field, South of forest. This will have to be confirmed from the ground, but it’s possible there are two very small sand pits on the property, within the loamy sand section (makes some sense). With this mix of loamy soils we are well set up for planting and for natural building with cob and plasters. (Yeah!)
These are the basics as I have been able to lay them out prior to our first visit to the property. I haven’t walked it for at least 30 years. There are two buildings which will need to be carefully inspected. One is a post and beam barn (about 75 feet long) and the second is a classic Ottawa Valley log granary. We expect to renovate the latter as our first permanent home.