I spent most of Friday looking at real estate. There are some gorgeous properties around Smith Lake and the whole of Winston County. At first, the properties in my price and size range seemed less than ideal. Most are limestone with a sandstone cap, with very little topsoil. They tend to be planted in young pine with little hardwood. On the plus side, most have some sort of water.
So, I was looking at the property pictured below. It seemed perfect at first, with direct access to Smith Lake via a deep creek that crosses a corner of the property. The area to North and East is National Forest land and the area is VERY isolated but no more than 30 minute drive to Jasper or Double Springs.
Then I started getting worried. Not much Southern exposure, the land roles with 25-30 year old pine on the ridge tops ready to be selectively cut and older hardwoods in the hollows. I then started thinking, ok, for pasture and fields I could terrace, just below the pine line and connect the terraces with swales. But how to put in swales in rock? Why, build them up with hugelkulture and stone of course! Chop and drop organic matter into them and let them build up their own soil while slowing the water down, making it course back and forth across the face of the ridge rather than zipping down into the lake.
There is a nice corner on the SE side for a house it seems and Im sure I can fit in paddocks for the larger animals on the ridge tops while keeping smaller, more vulnerable to predators, livestock closer to the house. The biggest obstacle in my mind right now is where to put orchards/vineyards and how to supply as much of my own hay/feed as possible.