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Michael Newby
gardener
Posts: 697
Location: Mount Shasta, CA Zone 8a Mediterranean climate
134
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Inspired by Ludi and everyone else who's started a personal projects thread, Here's the beginnings of my page. Keep in mind that I am in a rental that I don't plan on being at for more than 5 years max, so my willingness to take on infrastructure projects or high dollar projects is pretty limited, not to mention that I'm a broke small business owner.

According to the Sunset Western Garden book I'm in zone 8a - Mediterranean climate with cold wet winters and dry hot summers. Average Precip is ~50" and the soil I am working with is almost exclusively broken down andesite (volcanic mineral).
 
Michael Newby
gardener
Posts: 697
Location: Mount Shasta, CA Zone 8a Mediterranean climate
134
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A couple of pictures of my first intentional Hugelbed mid construction. Since it can be pretty arid around here in the summer I dug down around 18" before piling the wood. I used a mix of Black Oak, Doug Fir, White Fir, some Apple and some spruce for the limbs/logs. While building I incorporated 2 layers of 1 yr old wood chips from my tree service and 2-4 mo old chicken coop hay. Didn't really have any topsoil or sod, but I did put down a layer of green material pulled from wildflowers in the area - mostly Yarrow, Mullien and grasses.

This was built in Feb of '12
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Hugelbed Almost Finished
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Different Angle
 
Michael Newby
gardener
Posts: 697
Location: Mount Shasta, CA Zone 8a Mediterranean climate
134
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Finished the new chicken tractor! The only thing I had to pay for was screws and the power for the drill and saw, the rest was all collected scrap. This was my first one so there's definitely some things that I would have done differently, but overall I'm pretty happy.

I did have to add some 16" bicycle wheels to make it something that could be moved without draft horses, though.
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Side view
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Looking into the nesting box
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9742
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Hooray!
 
Michael Newby
gardener
Posts: 697
Location: Mount Shasta, CA Zone 8a Mediterranean climate
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A few recent shots of the hugelbed
2012-07-06_11-41-32_813.jpg
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North Facing Side (away from sun)
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South Facing Side (facing sun)
 
Rion Mather
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I am the exact same position, Michael. I thought my life was made when I moved out of the city. That was until I discovered permaculture. Now my world has been turned upside down. There are so many projects that I can't do. This is so frustrating. Good for you for making due with what you have.
 
Michael Newby
gardener
Posts: 697
Location: Mount Shasta, CA Zone 8a Mediterranean climate
134
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After browsing the rest of the project threads it I realize that I should list some of my goals:

- Obtain a rooster and start letting the hens raise some chicks.

- Build another hugelbed on the east line of the property. This will be a better place for the cooler weather/shade loving plants, while the bed I already have is in the direct sun 8+ hours a day.

- Install fencing around the front yard so I can let the chickens range about more.

- Build a lean-to woodshed against the garage, which will free up space for a cheap table saw in the garage.

That pretty much covers my short term goals that I'm willing to do around here, the rest of the things I want to do will have to wait until it's my own land.
 
Devon Olsen
Posts: 1066
Location: SE Wyoming -zone 4
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Rion Mather
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Same here, dude.
 
Michael Newby
gardener
Posts: 697
Location: Mount Shasta, CA Zone 8a Mediterranean climate
134
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Thanks for the support - sometimes I forget that other people out there are interested in the type of things I'm trying to do. Now I get to start it all over because we're finally purchasing 10 acres of land that I'm hoping will be in the family for generations! There will be a lot more projects in my future now, hopefully I'll be able to document a decent amount of it.

In the meantime, here's the thread showing some fun I've had with a wood-chip fed rocket stove:

http://www.permies.com/t/8664/stoves/self-feeding-wood-chip-burning#80803
 
Michael Newby
gardener
Posts: 697
Location: Mount Shasta, CA Zone 8a Mediterranean climate
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Finally starting to get settled in at our new place (it's been 3 months - most the boxes have been unpacked ) and I got access to some equipment and operator for a day thanks to good ole dad. We managed to clear about 1/2 an acre of mostly manzanita and choke-cherry and managed to make a 6' deep hugelbed lined with large rocks from the cleared area. Without getting too exact with the measurements I'd say that the bed has ~1000 sq.ft. of plantable surface area - and that's going to be the small bed of the 3 I plan on installing in this cleared area!



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South Hugelbed Area Before
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Southern Hugelbed Area Being Cleared
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1st Bed After A Few Layers of Brush and Chips
 
Devon Olsen
Posts: 1066
Location: SE Wyoming -zone 4
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awesome man, rocks look amazing and its always exciting to buold your first bed

are you saving some manzanita nad chokecherry plants? some herpophiles (think thats the right word for reptile lovers) and other pet owners will pay good money for manzanita wood because its small yet sturdy and can take a lot of wear and tear before giving out to reptile/bird claws, plus it looks cool!
 
Miles Flansburg
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Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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Oh my god, that is a fantastic place ! I think we have another sepp holzer in the making !
 
Michael Newby
gardener
Posts: 697
Location: Mount Shasta, CA Zone 8a Mediterranean climate
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Thanks Wyomiles! I don't know if I'll ever be able to do anything as impressive as what Holzer's done in Austria, but I'll be doing my best with the 10 acres I've got here!

Devon - no need to save the manzanita, there's plenty more if I ever need it. I can't say that I've really tried to sell it yet, I have plenty of my own uses for it.

 
Michael Newby
gardener
Posts: 697
Location: Mount Shasta, CA Zone 8a Mediterranean climate
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I even managed to put together a quick video of the whole process:



I just hope that I'm doing the hugelculture chant propertly there at the end - I've heard that that is one of the most important parts of the entire process.
 
Miles Flansburg
steward
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Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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Nice, Looking forward to seeing how your plantings do.
 
Michael Newby
gardener
Posts: 697
Location: Mount Shasta, CA Zone 8a Mediterranean climate
134
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Okay, needless to say I'm not the best at regular updates but that doesn't mean things haven't been going on around the property. Here's a link to a thread I started about trying to gley a pond with pigs, along with a teaser photo - believe it or not that gravel pit is holding water, no clay or fill dirt added!
Early-Pig-Pond.jpg
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Michael Newby
gardener
Posts: 697
Location: Mount Shasta, CA Zone 8a Mediterranean climate
134
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So I finally took a moment to get a few pictures of the forest area of the property (~9 acres). The first is a shot of my neighbor's woods which is a very good example of what mine looked like before I got started last year.

The next shot is of my property directly opposite where the shot of my neighbors woods was taken. In this area I've done the preliminary thinning and canopy raising but haven't piled any of the brush.

The final shot is of an area where I've gotten all the brush piled in windrows created on contour. Initially they won't do much as far as water capture goes, maybe slow down a little surface run-off and soak up a little bit, too. As time goes on though I figure that the woody material should be colonized pretty well with different fungi, as well as collecting falling forest litter, abandoned rodent/bird nests and dead plant matter created from the few things that manage to grow through the pile then die. Eventually I should have a pretty good sponge running along contour made from the waste created during forest clearing/fire-safing.
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Neighbor's property
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Initial clearing
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After piling
 
Michael Newby
gardener
Posts: 697
Location: Mount Shasta, CA Zone 8a Mediterranean climate
134
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Once I have a little better infrastructure in place I'll also be running a dairy cow/calf pair that will add manure input to the piles and I might end up biting the bullet and buying a tote bag of bentonite clay that I'll broadcast around the entire forest to aid in moisture and nutrient retention.
 
Michael Newby
gardener
Posts: 697
Location: Mount Shasta, CA Zone 8a Mediterranean climate
134
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Here's a good shot of a road cut between my neighbor's property and mine. Being at the base of a cinder cone the soil is pretty new and the O, A and B horizons extend only a little more than a foot down cumulatively. Lot's of mineral content, I just need to focus on fast carbon pathways and some nitrogen inputs.
Roadcut-view.jpg
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Soil Horizons
 
Michael Newby
gardener
Posts: 697
Location: Mount Shasta, CA Zone 8a Mediterranean climate
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There's new pictures in my post over in the pond forum and I just wanted to share my picture of a happy pig with a chicken.
Chicken-on-a-pig.jpg
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Michael Newby
gardener
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Location: Mount Shasta, CA Zone 8a Mediterranean climate
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Just a beautiful rainy day - we haven't had a real one in almost 4 months.
Rainy-Day.jpg
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Michael Newby
gardener
Posts: 697
Location: Mount Shasta, CA Zone 8a Mediterranean climate
134
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I went ahead and made a shaving horse, seems like the kind of tool I'll use quite a bit and I actually had the resources on hand to build it. Just a picture of the finished product here, halfway decent documentation of the build in my thread in the Woodworking Forum.

The other pictures are just views from the property that I really like.
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Shaving Horse
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Mt. Shasta view
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Mt. Eddy view
 
Michael Newby
gardener
Posts: 697
Location: Mount Shasta, CA Zone 8a Mediterranean climate
134
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Seeing as I've been lucky enough to get some attention on Cassie's Project of the Week I figured that I better get some updates on here. My tree service has really been picking up which is a good thing but does lead to a little less time to work the property than I'd like. It also leads to lot's of woodchips. I have the chips in one large area where I try to let them age for around a year before using them. I don't give my chickens store bought feed very often, really only when it's too cold or too dry for them to have much to forage but I do give them our kitchen scraps. I've gotten into the habit of giving the scraps as well as the occasional treat of scratch to the chickens on top of the woodchips. The dredges from making compost tea are also dumped on the woodchips. With all these varied inputs (scraps, chicken manure, compost tea) there has been an explosion of worms in my woodchip pile. Sometimes I'll see a hen dug so deep into the chips that all you can see is her tail and woodchips flying out of the hole.

The hugelbeds have been a mixed bag. There are definite signs of increased water infiltration above and below the beds with some pretty lush growth already. On the other hand the beds themselves still need some time to really mature. Even using chainsaws to cut the brush and equipment to crush the brush, as well as putting many loads of woodchips on top, the beds are pretty "fluffy" and dry out in our hot winds here. I think that part of the problem is that most of the material that I used was pretty fresh so it's going to take longer to be decayed to the point of moisture retention. The beds are also ground squirrel magnets, with a new hole being burrowed on what seems to be a weekly basis. To address these things I've been collecting the mushrooms I find in our woods and making a slurry that I dump over the bed. I've only been doing that this spring but I'm optimistic that doing so will increase the colonization rate and subsequent decay of the woody materials. Now that I have a little bit better soil between the beds due to the increased water infiltration coupled with my ground cover mix, I should be able to plant a few wind resistant shrubs/small trees between the beds to help act as a wind break/provide a little shade. I haven't really made up my mind but right now I'm leaning towards a chestnut with a mulberry tree to each side.
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Lot's of woodchips!
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Decent growth w/no watering
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Groundcover closeup
 
Michael Newby
gardener
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Location: Mount Shasta, CA Zone 8a Mediterranean climate
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Here's a closeup picture of what the unimproved ground looks like about 20 feet away from the hugelbed. It does look like I've got enough of my pasture mix groundcover established that it's providing the bulk of the new growth pioneering these bare areas.
UnimprovedLand.jpg
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Unworked land....for now.
 
Michael Newby
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The pond has been doing great! I loose a small amount of water to a combination of evaporation and seepage, but considering the dirt (I'm using that term very loosely) that I started with it's still pretty amazing. We currently have three Rouen ducks living on the pond permanently as well as 6 more unknown breed ducklings that will be moving to the pond in a few weeks. The ducks have already drastically reduced the mosquitos in the area and my wife loves cooking with the eggs. With a little encouragement from Seth Peterson I went ahead and collected willow sticks from a local pond and "planted" them all along the uphill side of the pond to act as bank stabilization as well as catch any sediment that might try to wash down. I can't believe the success I'm having with the willow sticks taking. Most of the resources I researched mentions something around a 50% success rate when establishing willows this way. This ground was so hard/rocky that I had to hammer in a steel bar to make a pilot hole that I could hammer the willow stick into. Even with this rough environment I've only got 2 sticks that aren't showing vigorous growth. Since the pond is the only area that we've had animals penned relatively tightly in the soil is pretty compacted and doesn't make for good seed germination. What does germinate gets eaten pretty quickly by the ducks or chickens going to the pond for a drink. I'm not too discouraged, though, because once all the ducks are established in the pond area I should have my perimeter fencing in place so I can remove the fence directly around the pond. Once that's gone the area will get less direct pressure from the animals as well as allow me to put up temporary fencing to exclude the animals from parts while I let plants establish themselves better.
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Ducks and willow sprouts
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Vigorous shoots from the willows
 
Hans Quistorff
pollinator
Posts: 784
Location: Longbranch, WA
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We did the same thing with fig branches down between Orland and Willows. Used a hydrospade to make holes about 3 feet deep and stuck the branhces in in the fall and the next spring they leafed out and grew fine. Made a wind and sun shade on the south side and also produced food.
 
Sarah Joubert
Posts: 78
Location: Eastern Cape,South Africa Zone Cfb, Annual rainfall 570mm,
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WOW Michael, you give hope to us all! It's fantastic what you have accomplished. I will be following your project with interest. Congratulations on your winning thread!
 
Michael Newby
gardener
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Location: Mount Shasta, CA Zone 8a Mediterranean climate
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Hans Quistorff wrote:We did the same thing with fig branches down between Orland and Willows. Used a hydrospade to make holes about 3 feet deep and stuck the branhces in in the fall and the next spring they leafed out and grew fine. Made a wind and sun shade on the south side and also produced food.


It gets cold enough up here that I have to really identify my warm microclimate zones if I don't want to put too much effort into protecting the figs. I am thinking of doing a couple figs to the south of a constructed rocky "dish" just north of a pond - that's one of my plans for getting a few warmer climate trees to make it up here. We'll see, "the best laid plans..." and all.
 
Michael Newby
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Location: Mount Shasta, CA Zone 8a Mediterranean climate
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So not really a project at home but I've been at wheaton labs for the past 3 weeks taking a PDC! It's been an amazing experience that I would recommend to anyone interested in permaculture. I was camped out on the lab for the whole time which was an experience.
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Path to camp
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Home sweet home
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Solar shower
 
Michael Newby
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Location: Mount Shasta, CA Zone 8a Mediterranean climate
134
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Instead of re-posting a bunch of pictures here's the link to the PDC thread that I posted a bunch of pictures to.

For those who are curious here's a couple shots of the interior of my tent. Yeah, I had a couch...
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Bunk cots make a couch
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Kinda organized
 
Michael Newby
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Location: Mount Shasta, CA Zone 8a Mediterranean climate
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It's good to be home! The chicory is really going strong and the willows by the pond are almost 6' tall.
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Blue fields
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There's a dragonfly in there
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Getting bushy
 
Miles Flansburg
steward
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Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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Michael, that pond is awesome !
 
Michael Newby
gardener
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Location: Mount Shasta, CA Zone 8a Mediterranean climate
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Woo Hoo! Less than two weeks out of the PDC at Paul's place and I've got my first real design project: Basic earthworks and plantings on about 90 acres of a 150 acre horse rescue property. Talk about excited, I've got a new transit level on order just for the job. I've been hired to survey and design the site as well as supervise the earthworks and the planting phases. If they see results then they have multiple other properties that they would like me to look at as well as friends who need their broad acre projects designed. Once I get permission from the owners I'll be posting pictures of the property and try to keep good photographic evidence of the whole process so I can share it here.
 
Michael Newby
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Miles Flansburg wrote:Michael, that pond is awesome !


Thanks Miles!

So here's a shot of the property that's getting designed, more to come!

HFH-Before-Map.jpg
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The Property
 
Michael Newby
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Here's a shot with 5' contour lines superimposed. Pretty flat and pretty dry but there is a bit of slope from the southeast to the northwest.
HFH-Contour-Line-Map.jpg
[Thumbnail for HFH-Contour-Line-Map.jpg]
5
 
Michael Newby
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Right now I'm focusing on designing the open half of the property to the southeast.

The gridwork of animal pens that's currently in the northwest part definitely isn't what I would have recommended but it's what is in place. The clients would like ideas for this area but it's a complicated one that's going to require some serious thought. So for now I focus on the easy open land and hope that maybe the results will be so drastic that they'll be willing to listen to me and re-work the animal housing system that they currently have in place.
 
Miles Flansburg
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Michael, What is/are the clients goal/s for the property?
 
Lorenzo Costa
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very interesting, I would look at the runoff from the tracks on the left of the photo, can it be redirected via swales to a swale that crosses the property and maybe where you can think of a dam?
nice possiblity to build up a savanna type system, with tree strips that can be used as pens for the horses, and the trees could give a yield. many possiblities nice to hear you've got this opportunity.
yes the division that is in place now for the horses isn't great but probably now is to soon to tell them to change it you'll arrive there eventually. You could think of a way to sort of use the creation of a system with swales and trees to divide the land so they can see what opportunities they have for future design on the existing used portion of the land.
all the best

P.s. I read your story about the pond on this thread and the other one in the pond forum, great work out with the pigs! awesome
 
Michael Newby
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Miles Flansburg wrote:Michael, What is/are the clients goal/s for the property?


All they talk about is water catchment and rehydration for the wells. I'm trying to slowly get them to think about using all that acreage for a nice paddock shift system but they seem reluctant right now. If what I'm leaning towards doing on the property gets implemented, though, I think that they won't be able to resist putting the horses on the beautiful pasture, at least maybe for the spring and fall months.

Lorenzo Costa wrote: I would look at the runoff from the tracks on the left of the photo, can it be redirected via swales to a swale that crosses the property and maybe where you can think of a dam?
nice possiblity to build up a savanna type system, with tree strips that can be used as pens for the horses, and the trees could give a yield. many possiblities nice to hear you've got this opportunity.


Yep! That's pretty much exactly what I'm leaning towards minus the dams, this sit's too dry and windy. It's looking like 3 or 4 swales on contour with just the slightest slope to zig-zag the water across the property is what I'm going to shoot for. In between those main swales I'm going to recommend Yeoman style keyline ripping as well as access roads running on contour between sets of swales. Those access roads which will actually create another set of swales.

There is pretty regular wind to deal with here so I'm looking at planting for height/density on the main swales to act as wind breaks. I'm going to recommend that the areas that are being keylined be planted just for soil building purposes the first couple of years and then transition it over to a more horse-specific pasture.

One of the hardest parts of this whole job is going to be sourcing the large number of non-mainstream plants to put in the swales. Anybody have 8000 black locust saplings they need to get rid of?
 
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