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Old 08-01-2012, 06:19 PM
 
Location: 125 Years Too Late...
10,851 posts, read 10,521,459 times
Reputation: 9513

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I've found and I'm considering buying a 10 acre plot of cleared farm ground (that is currently being farmed) about 15 or 20 miles south of Houghton (it's near Otter Lake). I have a bunch of questions that I'm hoping can be answered here or perhaps someone could point me in the right direction for the answers. My (possible) plan is to have a small "hobby farm" (if you want to call it that) and build a very small home/cabin. The whole thing would be rather primitive, but I would live there permanently. Here are a few questions:

1) What is zoning like in Portage Township, Houghton County? I'm interested in building my own home (I'm talking with my own labor). It would be timberframe construction (yes, I know how to build timberframes) on dry-laid stone foundation (presumably). The structure would be right around 400 sq ft in size. Heating would be via wood-burning masonry heater. I'm not even sure that I want the structure wired for electricity (what little I "need" could be PV for small electronics). Would such a structure be allowed in that area?

2) I'm assuming most crops do not need irrigation in the area. But how about drinking water? Are wells common? If so, how deep are they usually drilled? Or are they "surface wells"?

3) How is the area in general for over-regulation of animals, and just generally trying to run your life?

4) How is the growing season for gardens and crops? Fruit? Wheat? Potatoes? Corn? etc...

5) Are there many varieties of wild berries (and in general, wild foods) in the area?

6) Do many people heat with wood stoves in the area? Are folks permitted to gather fallen trees on state/federal land? (in my area, a permit can be bought for a nominal fee to cut timber)

7) Is that particular area over-run with tourists during the summer (fishing, hiking, etc) and/or winter (snowmobiles, ski, etc)?

8) There are very few homes in the immediate area right now (a couple of homes and a trailer house or two). Is this a high growth potential area in the future?

9) Perhaps an odd question, but I'm serious: are outhouses legal in Houghton County?

10) The land is on a gravel/dirt road that is said to be county-maintained. In the winter, does that boil down to snowmobile/cross country skis, or is it still drivable?

11) There is a creek running through the property. Around where I am right now, water is a touchy subject. Water rights are like trying to buy gold. How is it there? I know you have a whole lot more water than out here in the dry deserts. Is it legal there to use water from streams to water gardens or irrigate fields (if needed)? Does anyone filter water like that on their property and use it for culinary/drinking? Anyone harvest rainwater?

I'll post more as I think of them and if anyone living in the area can think of other things that is good/bad about the area, please feel free!

Oh... yes, I know there aren't a lot of jobs in the area, but if things work out the way I've planned them (and I do decide on this area), I would be able to live for quite a while with no outside income, and after that with part-time income even at the minimum wage. I'd assume there are at least those sorts of things around either working for someone or providing services (I've done quite a bit of building related work over the years) in the area, or perhaps even at the college (I have a couple of college degrees and 20 years teaching experience).

Anyway, thanks in advance!
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Old 08-02-2012, 07:07 PM
 
Location: Fly over country U.S.A.
119 posts, read 252,372 times
Reputation: 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisC View Post
I've found and I'm considering buying a 10 acre plot of cleared farm ground (that is currently being farmed) about 15 or 20 miles south of Houghton (it's near Otter Lake). I have a bunch of questions that I'm hoping can be answered here or perhaps someone could point me in the right direction for the answers. My (possible) plan is to have a small "hobby farm" (if you want to call it that) and build a very small home/cabin. The whole thing would be rather primitive, but I would live there permanently. Here are a few questions:

1) What is zoning like in Portage Township, Houghton County? I'm interested in building my own home (I'm talking with my own labor). It would be timberframe construction (yes, I know how to build timberframes) on dry-laid stone foundation (presumably). The structure would be right around 400 sq ft in size. Heating would be via wood-burning masonry heater. I'm not even sure that I want the structure wired for electricity (what little I "need" could be PV for small electronics). Would such a structure be allowed in that area?

2) I'm assuming most crops do not need irrigation in the area. But how about drinking water? Are wells common? If so, how deep are they usually drilled? Or are they "surface wells"?

3) How is the area in general for over-regulation of animals, and just generally trying to run your life?

4) How is the growing season for gardens and crops? Fruit? Wheat? Potatoes? Corn? etc...

5) Are there many varieties of wild berries (and in general, wild foods) in the area?

6) Do many people heat with wood stoves in the area? Are folks permitted to gather fallen trees on state/federal land? (in my area, a permit can be bought for a nominal fee to cut timber)

7) Is that particular area over-run with tourists during the summer (fishing, hiking, etc) and/or winter (snowmobiles, ski, etc)?

8) There are very few homes in the immediate area right now (a couple of homes and a trailer house or two). Is this a high growth potential area in the future?

9) Perhaps an odd question, but I'm serious: are outhouses legal in Houghton County?

10) The land is on a gravel/dirt road that is said to be county-maintained. In the winter, does that boil down to snowmobile/cross country skis, or is it still drivable?

11) There is a creek running through the property. Around where I am right now, water is a touchy subject. Water rights are like trying to buy gold. How is it there? I know you have a whole lot more water than out here in the dry deserts. Is it legal there to use water from streams to water gardens or irrigate fields (if needed)? Does anyone filter water like that on their property and use it for culinary/drinking? Anyone harvest rainwater?

I'll post more as I think of them and if anyone living in the area can think of other things that is good/bad about the area, please feel free!

Oh... yes, I know there aren't a lot of jobs in the area, but if things work out the way I've planned them (and I do decide on this area), I would be able to live for quite a while with no outside income, and after that with part-time income even at the minimum wage. I'd assume there are at least those sorts of things around either working for someone or providing services (I've done quite a bit of building related work over the years) in the area, or perhaps even at the college (I have a couple of college degrees and 20 years teaching experience).

Anyway, thanks in advance!
That is just a few miles up the road from me so I will take a shot here.
1. I would contact the township an d county directly, but it it not real tight.
2. Wells are very common but can be costly. Check to see how deep the neighbors wells are. They charge by the foot.
3. No regulation of animals. You can do pretty much what you want.
4. Growing season is short. Fruit trees mostly limited to apples.
5. Lots of wild berries in the area. Free for the picking.
6. Most people including me heat with wood. Best way if you don't mind work is to buy a logging truck full then cut and split it yourself. Check with DNR about gathering.
7. Not a lot of tourists in the area.
8. Not much growth. The economy in the area is pretty stagnant. Not a lot of up or down.
9. Most every deer camp in the bush has an outhouse. Check with county health dept.
10. Unless it is called "seasonal" it will be plowed. But keep in mind it will be a lower priority.
11. There are two things we have a lot of in the U.P. Water and wood. Using creek water should be fine as long as you don't dam it up and cut off anyone downstream.

You might be O.K. in the job dept. Not many decent paying jobs, but I know the local schools need sub. teachers a lot.
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Old 08-02-2012, 11:19 PM
 
24,843 posts, read 32,291,581 times
Reputation: 11447
https://secure1.state.mi.us/WELLOGIC...2fDefault.aspx

You can look-up information on water wells any place in the state.

The older records are scanned.....note the information on the left side.
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Old 08-15-2012, 12:34 AM
 
Location: 125 Years Too Late...
10,851 posts, read 10,521,459 times
Reputation: 9513
Thank you both for the info. All good stuff. That well map tool was great--it showed not too many wells in the area, but they varied from around 90 ft to 180 ft. That's good to know (and so much more shallow than wells in my area!).

The actual acreage is very near the intersection of Tapiola rd and Donken. It has a small creek (Ebers Creek, so I'm told) running through it and looks to be planted in wheat or hay in the real estate photos. Maybe you've seen or know the area? It looks very pretty there. The more I research it, the more excited I get...
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Old 08-20-2012, 06:05 PM
 
Location: Fly over country U.S.A.
119 posts, read 252,372 times
Reputation: 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisC View Post
Thank you both for the info. All good stuff. That well map tool was great--it showed not too many wells in the area, but they varied from around 90 ft to 180 ft. That's good to know (and so much more shallow than wells in my area!).

The actual acreage is very near the intersection of Tapiola rd and Donken. It has a small creek (Ebers Creek, so I'm told) running through it and looks to be planted in wheat or hay in the real estate photos. Maybe you've seen or know the area? It looks very pretty there. The more I research it, the more excited I get...
Yes I know exactly where that is. About 5 miles from my house. There are a couple of little stores very near it. In case you run short on beer. There is plenty of other property for sale in the area. Don't limit yourself to just that one. I would STRONGLY recommend looking at it in person before you buy. You may find something you like better. Good luck.
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