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creating a creek in a dry gully  RSS feed

 
paul wheaton
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This might be more of a permaculture thing, but it was the thread about water rights that got me to thinking that this would be an excellent thread.

I was shown a piece of property, about 400 acres, that is technically inside the city limits of missoula.  It is trust land.  For agriculture (although the land is pretty much 99% unused).  400 acres of dry grass.  Some trees were planted in a couple of gullies. 

Apparently they had experts come out and test for spots to put in a well - no wells of any reasonable depth can apparently be put in.

I tried to tell them how it could become a rich jungle of food forest without a well.  But I think it was too much of a leap for them.

So, it wouldn't be so crazy for you all ....

It would take a collection of a lot of techniques. 

1)  put in lots and lots of ponds to collect the rain in winter/spring.  And then these ponds will slowly dry out and/or leak though july and august adding a little moisture to the land.

1.1)  Ponds that have a deep dam, but not much in the way of a bowl - water is held behind the dam, but more like you have made a pond and filled it with a lot of big rocks.  Another way to look at it is that you've made a spot with an artificial high water table.

2)  How about allowing arborists to bring logs to the area.  Hugelkultur can be done, or they could just be nurse logs.

3)  Building organic matter in the soil all over the property in all sort of ways.  This would, in effect, create a deep sponge that holds more water which can slowly be released over time. 

4)  Trees!  Lots and lots of trees!

5)  Keyline plowing

6) terraces

7)  swales

What else?



 
                                
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You can't hold water that's not there tho. What's the annual rainfall?
 
Bill Kearns
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Sounds like fun Paul!  Much of what you're putting together parallels what I'm doing here.  One of the underlying changes in morphing grasslands to forest is altering the ratio of bacterial/fungal components, increasing the fungii, by building the organic matter (as you stated) with compost, mulch, and ultimately shrub/tree litter.  Shrubs and trees provide shade to keep this growing organic layer cooler and moist and help break drying winds.  So the goal would be to enable these conditions to encourage increased fungal growth in the soil. 

There is a natural process of progression summarized at this site http://permaculture-and-sanity.tinyorb.net/pcarticles/how-land-recovers-from-fire.php excerpted below:

'Ephemerals'—Nature's Speed Demons
The first plants to move into the new bare ground are a relatively-small number of species of fast-germinating, leafy herbaceous plants known as forbs (wildflowers and "weeds". These fast-growing plants quickly germinate, grow and produce a new crop of seeds (in the desert, these same plants would be called 'ephemerals,' due to their habit of germinating, growing, making seeds and then disappearing from sight, all after a single hard rain). Grasses follow, often within the same season.

Grasses—Soil Conditioning Workhorses
Although slower to start initially, grasses soon replace most of the forbs since grasses outcompete forbs during summer dry spells. Grasses have phenomenal root systems, and merely go dormant during extended drought, whereas forbs survive drought as seeds and must resprout when rains return. Each time the drought cycle repeats, grasses have covered more ground and soon begin to prevent the forbs from re-establishing themselves. Grasslands, however, do not themselves form a stable, climax state (without the periodic intervention of fire) and reign only a few years. Soon, "pioneer" shrubs and trees begin to move into the grassland.

'Pioneer Trees'—The Forest Begins!
Pioneer trees are hardy species—relatively small, slow-growing, unpalatable to livestock and able to mature at greatly reduced sizes when lack of moisture or nutrients (i.e., lack of soil) is a problem. These characteristics of unpalatability, slow growth and small size (though larger than the grasses) are important traits for dealing with harsh climates, poor soils and the over-grazing that seems invariably to plague arid lands. While grasses must compete with cattle, the trees are able to grow relatively unmolested (which is why burning was important to Plains-dwelling Native Americans and early settlers—both were pastoral, and burning was needed to keep the land from progressing past the grassland phase).

Once pioneer trees begin to germinate and establish themselves among the fields, the existing grassland is on its inexorable way toward becoming a scrub forest. Individual trees manage to sprout, growing and spreading out above the grasses to shade them out. Grazing pressures, shading and poor soil conditions (which grasses can tolerate but will not thrive in) continue to favor the trees and soon they are rampant.

Scrub Cycle
Scrub trees eventually become the dominant vegetation, completely filling in the area with their crowns (often a single aggressive, extremely hardy species of tree—for instance mesquite or juniper—will predominate for years). The thick canopy of scrub shades the grasses underneath mostly out of existence, and lays down a thick layer of needles or leaves to produce mulch and, eventually, soil. By the time they have matured (commonly 40 or more years), mesquite, juniper or other scrub trees will have created and be protecting a new layer of relatively rich, friable topsoil under a continuous mulch of forest litter.

Trees Increase Humidity, Soil
With their crowns offering continuous cover, the forest soil will now be shaded and cool, and humidity in the trees will be much higher than in surrounging open areas. Compare this moist, rich topsoil with the dusty-surfaced, water-repellent, compacted exposed soil which exists in the overgrazed grasslands which now predominate in the Southwest (this set of degraded conditions—invariably accompanied by 'pedestalling' of grass plants which indicates rapid surface erosion—will be seen in almost any grazed arid land).

Diversity Blooms After Scrub Builds Soil
As a scrub forest reaches maturity and evolves with it a rich forest soil, taller trees and vines begin to move in, taking advantage of the now more-hospitable conditions. Though these taller trees or vines could not have survived under the conditions the scrub trees started in, they are able to prosper in the enhanced soil and air created by the scrub forest and soon grow above and start to shade out the older, shorter, slower-growing trees.

'Climax' Forest
Eventually climax forests are formed with tall trees and some large vines almost completely shading out understory growth (except at edges such as where forest meets grassland or large rivers—here understory prospers in the light and makes edges the richest part of the forest both in terms of number of species and total productivity). It is to prevent trees and shrubs from replacing pasturage with a forest that grasslands were periodically burned in the past.

Old Growth Forests Discourage New Growth
Eventually, a mature forest will begin to decline in health (nothing in Nature lasts forever). For one thing, too great a proportion of the trees are old—old trees spend a lot of energy just maintaining their huge bodies, leaving little energy left over for growth. Furthermore, in a climax forest most organic matter and nutrients become unavailable since they are tied up in the trees. This is why rainforests do not support farming for long after the trees are burned—burning destroys organic matter, and converts the nutrients that were held by the trees into ash which is quickly leached out of the soil. New trees—which would sprout and grow to rejuvenate the older trees—cannot obtain light to become established under the high, dense forest canopy.

After Death—Rebirth
The old forests thus slowly decline until they begin to leave open areas in their canopies due to tree death, fire, wind, humans, or other event. Then the cycle of natural succession begins again, whether in a whole forest newly-burned, or in a clearing created by the death of a single large tree.

No Beginning, No End
Almost anywhere, each of these successional states (forbs, grassland, scrub or thicket, pioneer forest, mature forest) can be seen in different parts of the same area. Even the initial, short-lived post-fire state dominated by forbs, now uncommon since burning is no longer practiced, can still be seen in any newly cleared garden bed.

Each successional state, if left undisturbed, will move toward the same "climax" state depending on the local ecosystem—and each climax state in turn leads eventually and inexorably to a fresh start. Even deserts follow this pattern of recovery, though at a very slow pace and with a climax vegetation that we might not recognize as 'trees.'

Natural succession is the reason that gardeners and ranchers must both work so hard to maintain the conditions they prefer. Gardeners must constantly pull forbs, grasses, and tree seedlings from their gardens, and ranchers must burn (or—more commonly in these times—resort to bulldozing and the use of toxins) every few years to kill tree and shrub seedlings and maintain their land as grassland.


So as I see it, the goal is to accelerate these processes by encouraging the progression of plant types beginning with hardy shrubs and fast-growing "pioneer" tree species ... service berry comes quickly to mind, and I'm sure there are many local hardy shrubs in the Missoula area.  All of this in complement to your well thought out list of actions.

So I've gotta ask, is this property going to be a project of yours? 

Bill

 
                    
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What's the soil like?  Will it hold water for ponds?  What's the grass look like at the end of summer? 

I've heard that piles of rocks placed under the outer drip line of trees can capture little droplets and encourage condensation moisture to move into the ground. 

Is this a rhetorical question or are you considering actually buying it?  Would you live there also?
 
paul wheaton
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rockguy wrote:
You can't hold water that's not there tho. What's the annual rainfall?


I think it is good to come up with stuff for any dry area. 

But the particular site I'm talking about gets about 14 inches of rain per year.
 
paul wheaton
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So I've gotta ask, is this property going to be a project of yours?


Nope! 

It was just one of those things where I was talking to some folks and they got this look like I'm crazy.  So I just felt the need to visit about it with folks that would not think it was crazy.

 
paul wheaton
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marina phillips wrote:
What's the soil like?  Will it hold water for ponds?  What's the grass look like at the end of summer? 

I've heard that piles of rocks placed under the outer drip line of trees can capture little droplets and encourage condensation moisture to move into the ground. 

Is this a rhetorical question or are you considering actually buying it?  Would you live there also?


I'm pretty sure I can get ponds to hold water there.  But the important thing is that it is totally okay if the ponds leak.  That leak would lead to water moving through the area. 

The grass is dry and brown through the summer.

 
                    
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Wonder if you could replace the grass with alfafa or something drought tolerant (ideal nitrogen fixer) that would stay green, then there's the possibility of foraging animals on it, and their manure would greatly add to the organic matter in the soil (and therefore water holding capacity).  The vetch we have here stays green through a 4-6 month dry season, but we get a bunch of water in the winter. 

Ok, my next thought is where the animals would get their drinking water at the end of summer.  Some kind of catchment/holding system would need to be implemented, seems to me. 
 
Neal McSpadden
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Since it's in unoptimized grass production now, it seems like Yeoman's keyline ponds and keyline plowing technique would be perfect.

When the grasses start to go to seed bring in the goats or cattle or whatever.  After 2 or 3 years you'll have enough humus to hold all the scanty rainfall and then move into higher order succession.
 
                          
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Tamo's thought was similar to mine. I'm just a student, so please let me know if this sounds like I'm thinking right:

Since it's in dry grass now, I'd start by ranging livestock on it, maybe in two groups--a herd of bovines (bison would be ideal, but expensive to start) and a herd of goats or sheep. Get a little of that poop n stomp action going, and seed the local perennial prairie plants behind them. Might be worth free-ranging some guinea fowl to keep ticks down and turn fly larva into more soil. Mob and move the animals across the acreage for a few years, no hurry, meanwhile doing some earthworks to spread and sink water into the soil. Combine the two right and you could be doing cowline plowing at the same time. (I've been noticing a lot of lines on hillsides that look almost like keyline plowing, but then I observed that, nope--they're cow trails. Cows don't like to graze up and down hillsides, only across, and once they start grazing a line, they'll follow it over and over and wear a track. So if you keep moving the herd right, do you think you might be able to get your keylines plowed with cow power--cowline plowing?) When you've got enough humus and the soil is holding water again, then you can start that food forest, planting your pioneer species right behind the herd as you move them. Sell/eat most of the herd animals if you've got less room for them now, and transition much of the land into drought-tolerant support species with a few hardy fruit and nut trees here and there, probably in a net and pan arrangement to capture and hold water around the most thirsty trees.

14 inches of rain is not a lot--what's the terrain? Flat, rolling, on a ridge? Is there enough moisture in the air on a cool morning to make it worth trying some fog catchment sails?
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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If you can't accomplish keyline plowing, sow pelletized seeds (millet plus black medic?) along the lines you might otherwise plow. They'll live fast, die young, and leave a lot of residue along those lines, which can be pushed over to sheet compost, allowing longer-lived, deeper-rooted plants to become established over the following rainy season.
 
paul wheaton
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The terrain is fairly gentle slopes.

The soils around here tend to be a little alkaline, so I think alfalfa could do well.  I would wanna do a few test plots.

Animals and drinking water:  hence the big ponds.      Just run some of that pond water through a sand filter first .... maybe set up some artificial high water table (see 1.1 above)

Paddock shift systems would be a HUGE help!  Good one!



 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Joel Hollingsworth wrote:
If you can't accomplish keyline plowing, sow pelletized seeds (millet plus black medic?) along the lines you might otherwise plow. They'll live fast, die young, and leave a lot of residue along those lines, which can be pushed over to sheet compost, allowing longer-lived, deeper-rooted plants to become established over the following rainy season.


This gave me a good idea for our property here -- only one acre, but it's what I have to work with.  I had already piled up dead grass that I scythed last summer to make small mounds -- I was planning on letting it compost and then plant some shrubs and trees in them.  I could do more of that, along the contour lines (the land slopes to the north slightly), rather than having to dig out trenches.  Much less work, especially since the grass has to be kept cut anyway!

Kathleen
 
Pat Maas
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Paul, you mentioned gullies/arroyos. How big and deep are they?
 
The reason I'm asking is when been out with Quivira Coalition have seen situations like yours changed dramatically by using what is on site to improve the water sponge and restore desert riparian locations where none "seemed" to exist before.

Right now I'm working to do that very thing and reduce well dependence with water caching  to support livestock and crops.

Looking at this in a practical manner so if power goes down over a long time (possibly years) or the well pump bites the dust my livestock and crops have what they need.
 
paul wheaton
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Pat Maas
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Hi Paul,
  I'll do some drawings a bit later after the rain starts. Building terraces right now-just came in for a short break.

Can also post pictures on a project am volunteering for this coming Saturday near Tijeras NM. What was a gully when I first came out here is now a seasonal creek. It takes time, but the difference in seeing is huge.
 
Pat Maas
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Hi Paul,
   I didn't forget you, worked outside as long as I could before it started snowing. It's coming down heavy now and is supposed to keep coming until late tomorrow. Gives me time to do more drawings! )
    The first project I worked on this past summer the gully began as a result of wagon wheels going up the side of a mountain, so that gully had time to develop to its deepest depth of over 20'  and 50' wide as an incised channel 10+ years ago. It is now a much gentler slope with only a few deep pools left, which is something we should be doing more work on this summer.
     The ones I have here began as a result of electric company going up a slope when it was wet and getting stuck. It is something I'll be working on this summer as time allows. They are about 10 years old now.
    The jpg shows Rosgen Channels. It doesn't matter if its a dry gully now or a straight creek, the philosophy is the same.
     Will do more work on this tomorrow as it has been a long day for me.

The Quivira Coalition
www.quiviracoalition.org

Earth Works Institute
www.earthworksinstitute.org
Rosgen Channels.JPG
[Thumbnail for Rosgen Channels.JPG]
 
                          
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I may be wrong but it looks like to me your in a low enough annual rain or water fall that unless there is a clay base your going to have a hard time getting enough water to even hold  and once you do get it held  that evaporation will not take it,
IMO unless you have water erosion areas, terraces and some of the other water retaining measures will not help one much, as you do not have a run off problem, if it all going in to begin with  and not running off there will be little to fill any ponds or low spots,

(I would guess at least some time you do have some run off or at least run off that pass the land, as you apparently have a "dry gully" yes if one could dam the gully and seal the base, one may be able to catch some on occasion, but if one is wanting to irrigate it, from the pond it is going to take a lot of water on any given amount of land,

I am sure one could build up the soil some, (but in my opinion, may times nature has done the best with the land that can be),  much of our area was tore up at the turn of the century from the grass land that was here, much of it has since been returned as commercial framing has not been kind to the land,  if it is grass I think I would consider animals unless there is some good soils for the sake of farming or hay needs,  some depending on what the natural soils is tho, but once you tear up the natural prairies they will never be the same even if replanted,

also your growing season is short that makes some diversity difficulty
 
Pat Maas
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Birdman,
    I'm not Paul, but am doing the very thing you suggest is not doable. The gullies were  created because of injury to the land and periodic heavy rains sped up the gully making.
  In desert country you may not see but a few inches a year like Paul's and mine 12" in our respective places, but some of that may come 3 or more inches at a time. At other times the annual precipitation can be double or even triple the norm. And it can all come in just one day.
    With that said, not all arid places have just clay bases. Mine is mixed with sand/gravel/volcanic rock and then the clay-which here is just very fine sand that compacts into a red hardpan, or at least used to. It's changing now into something earth worms can be seen frequently.
      The change is due to the huge amounts of organic matter I apply annually and that which is captured by my various earth works and rock structures.  The other aspect is caring for the land in general.
      One can never stop learning on how to better care for the land, but it all starts somewhere and there are many ahead of us who have already greened their desert homes and land. They leave for us the how to's and when to's.
      If you look at Bill Mollison's "Introduction to "Permaculture and "Permaculture Designer's Handbook"; Brad Lancaster's Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond series; BIll Zeedyk's many booklets on correcting damaged/erroded areas; the Quivira Coalition and the Earthworks Institute you'll find many examples of people doing what you suggest isn't likely. These listed are just a tiny fraction of those already helping heal dry places. There are many more.
 
                          
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I lost the post I had typed out, so the short version is,

I live in just as arid of an area, and I have sand soils, the low spots hardly hold water for any length of time, just a few weeks, and those are the old buffalo wallows that have had the manure and compaction of thousands of years,
so with out a clay or Bendite base one will not be able to store the water one catches if a pond or holding area is desired, (is what I am saying with the clay)

IF the gully is passing through the land and the run off is from land up above  then the possible of damming it some what feasible, but if the soils do not have a clay or Benoite bottom then most likely it will hold water, very long,
which is how I envisioned the land lay when I read the post,
if the gully originates on the land and then exits then you have run off, and yes some terracing and other measures will help, keep the water on the land,

what I was saying was, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missoula,_Montana
Precip (in) 1.06 0.77 0.96 1.09 1.95 1.73 1.09 1.15 1.08 0.83 0.96 1.15
when the average rain fall is less than 2" in the greatest month there most likely little run off to catch, unless you have a extreme storm,
and unless the ground is severely compacted and the grass in poor condition, most likely there is little run off to catch under normal conditions,

proper tillage and cover crops and barrier strips may be all one needs,
 
paul wheaton
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I think this is one of those things where "if you are sure it will not happen, then you are right."  If you are convinced that it cannot be done, then you certainly are not going to experience it. 

And ....  sepp holzer was in spain where there was something like three inches of rain a year and yet .... he has ponds/lakes year round now.  It was just sand, sand and more sand ... 

The solutions don't fit into one thread.  Or even a book.  So there is nothing I can say in one post that will persuade you.  Instead, there are dozens/hundreds of things that all add up to improving this. 

So .... for this spot in missoula ....  400 acres and it gets more than a foot of rain per year.  43560 square feet per acre, means 17.4 million cubic feet of water is 130.5 million gallons.  So, over 100 million gallons of water. 

So .... at the very least - suppose I wanna do something very simple like make the lowest 10 acres thrive.  Is that easy to see how that is done? 

So then I just add design on design on design until I have the lowest 90% thriving.

And the shorter season means that I can build the soils faster (covered in another thread). 

Have you seen geoff lawton's videos about greening the desert? 

So I don't think this thread is about "can it be done or not", as permies, we know it can be done.  I think this thread is more about, what are all of the bits and bobs for getting it done.


 
                          
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with out seeing the land lay and the slopes and so on, it is hard to say, what one can do, you know the land the area, and soils types and what is there,

I am not saying it will not work, but on the entire 400 acres I do not know how much benefit one would achieve,  if your looking at working with 10 of the low and bottom acres who knows you many have an oases in the desert,

a lot of what I am relating is my ground has less than 10 feet of drop in a half a mile, over all, yes there are a few locations that are more do to localized hills (slightly rolling),  and yes the lower ground is better, but when it comes to actual run off, I will need (what is referred to a gully washer), a rain that drops more than 2" an hr,  then the soils are over whelmed with water and it runs off,  but as far as erosion do to water, I had a little on a few steep hills on one location, where the soils were very poor, and where the run off of the road way created some, but very small and localized,  but the area where that water ran off of never sat for more than a few days at most and hours would have been a better statement (it never sat long enough to kill any vegetation),  in the situation like that  I would doubt if one would  gain much for the effort and expense of the changes,

I do have a dry creek that passes through one corner of my land as well, and the thought has crossed my mind about seeing if there would be any benefit of damming that dry creek, (the problem is when we have "gully washers",  and it does run,  (it crosses under a improved county road with 2 culverts  and about ever third time the road way is washed away or at least part of it,  so the Dam structure would have to very substantial and hardened for the over flow that could/would occurs,

yes I could possibly catch a few acer feet of water,
with some large expense,  I most likely could not hold the water for a very long period of time, and then to move it to a location on the land to really benefit the area,  would not be very doable with out major expense,  but it would not last the growing season most likely. 

very little of the water comes from my ground it self, it comes from up the creek,

if you feel it is worth the expense and the efforts and is legal to work with the creek, (I not sure of the hoops I would have to jump through to do it here),
only trying will tell if it is a success story or not,
not saying it is not do able and not saying you will not or can not obtain success, but is the effort and expense worth the cost,  that is all I was tying to say,
 
paul wheaton
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I am not looking to work with just 10 acres.  If I have 400 acres to work with, I am probably going to get it to all sing for me.

For this piece of land I saw, I am not going to do anything with it.  But I thinking about it reminds me that I would like to write down a collection of ideas on how to get such a piece of land to sing for me.

There are lots of challenges.  I don't think the solution is to do just one thing, but to do a dozen things.
 
Mark Vander Meer
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Hi Paul,  I take it you are talking about the R.M. Homestead?  I've had the same thoughts for that site.  We successfully got water flowing in somewhat similar conditions near Alberton, using man-made beaver dams and some bioengineering techniques.  Since installation, the stream gains about 20 feet of wetted channel annually.  Low cost and effort, about 3 man-days of work. 

The homestead is a bit different and difficult, as the hillslopes are relatively short without alot of snow accumulation.  Still, probably worth the effort.

 
Kirk Hutchison
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    I'm thinking keyline swales with alfalfa is a good start. After a couple of years of cutting the alfalfa and ranging some livestock, you could plant honey locust in the lower, wetter half of the property and introduce chickens, etc. to eat the seeds. You could expand from there and end up with a sort of honey locust savanna. Savannas tend to be very productive systems in dry temperate climates, and it would gradually increase the moisture on the plot until you could shift maybe the bottom 10 acres to a forest garden.
 
paul wheaton
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Mark Vander Meer wrote:
Hi Paul,  I take it you are talking about the R.M. Homestead? 


I'm not sure.  I know it is called "The ____ Homestead" - but I'm not sure on what goes in the blank.

So, to more accurately answer your question:  "probably/maybe"

Mark Vander Meer wrote:
We successfully got water flowing in somewhat similar conditions near Alberton, using man-made beaver dams and some bioengineering techniques.  Since installation, the stream gains about 20 feet of wetted channel annually.  Low cost and effort, about 3 man-days of work. 



I think it would be great to hear more about your beaver dams.  Any chance on getting a tour of it?

Mark Vander Meer wrote:
I've had the same thoughts for that site.   

The homestead is a bit different and difficult, as the hillslopes are relatively short without alot of snow accumulation.  Still, probably worth the effort.


What would be the things you would try there?


 
rose macaskie
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  hello , I was trying to find the information i found before on water harvesting in India, restoring old methods of theirs for another thread but i remembered you mentioned this one and have read it before sending the information on the Indian Indian water harvester.
    the place on the web with most water harvesting technics that i know of is found by  putting the words "rain water harvesting  Thar desert" into the internet, in google. I tried it with just india and it did not bring in much information it brings in more if you use the Thar desert. They have a lot of water harvesting systems in India.
  The most interesting person i hav elooked up doing harvestign there is Jajendra Singh. . You find videos of him in you tube by putting in his name, maybe you had better put in Rajendra Singh water harvesting. YOu find him if you look in gioogle. They say his water harvesting technics got some rivers flowing again and raise the water table.
  He worked in one village for a long time to get the confidence of the people and an old man told him, the earth is good she drinks all you give her but then she gives it up again,  rivers appear she does not keep it for herself.

  Looking for this Indian sight i had found before, i came across another really exciting bit of information that has worked. It is in youtube under,  "sand dams Excellent development in Kenya". It seems Excellent is an english group who try to better things in Kenya  making  forests and dams. they have lots of videos.  The group  have an  extravert name.  agri rose macaskie.     
 
rose macaskie
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  My navigating on the web to check up some details on water harvestign turned up another bit of infromation i noted for here Brad lancaster a permaculture university teacher in arizona i think says that--:
  1 inch of rain on 1 acre is 27,000 galleons of water
27,000 multiplied by 12 is  324,000 galeons the last multiplication is mine so likely to be wrong.

      The title is, "part 1 water harvesting and biodiversity: sustainable reveg".

        I suppose if the water that falls on your desert runs off it  in part, you have no way of knowing how that rainfall would work out for plants if it did not run off the ground.
        Anyway thats how much water you coud harvest off an acre of land in those circumstances. 12 inches a year on one acre of land. I have no idea how much going that gives you with a microdrip  say. agri rose macaskie.
 
                          
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For all practical purposes your correct,


http://www.western-water.com/Acre-Foot_formula.htm#calculator
An acre-foot is a common unit to measure volumes of water, typically for use in irrigation. One acre-foot is the volume of water sufficient to cover an acre of land to a depth of 1 foot (43,560 cubic feet, approximately 325,851 U.S. gallons, or approximately 1,233.48 cubic meters). On average, 1 acre-foot of water is enough to meet the demands of 4 people for a year.


When looking this up I was amazed at the last line, I quoted there,  (81,462 gallons of water a year per person average use)
 
Seth Pogue
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So Paul - I'm with you here - with everything except the "creek" part...
That is, I understand the transformation of the landscape from dry and open, to far wetter , with multistoried canopy, moist humus and duff, lots of ponds, lots of shade-
But where does the water come for the creek?  If you have the stored water form the ponds actively running over the surface as a creek, won't the ponds empty pretty quickly in the summer?
Did you mean seasonal creek or year-round creek?
 
paul wheaton
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Consider a bucket with no bottom.  When you pour water into it, the water passes right through.  In an hour or two the bucket is stone dry.

Consider a bucket with a hole in the bottom that is an inch wide.  You might get a puddle to stick in there for a few hours.

Consider a bucket with a pinhole hole.  When the bucket is full, the water drips out quickly.  And when the bucket is nearly empty, the dripping is much slower.  It could take a week or two for all of the water to be gone. 

Now consider a million buckets like that.  Don't all of those drips add up to a creek?

Now consider a sponge.  Get it good and soaked full of water.  Put it on and incline surface.  There is water drip, drip, dripping from it.  How long does it hold that water?  Days? 

Now imagine something similar with a million sponges.

Okay, now set that all aside ...... 

Consider for a moment places where there is a creek in the summer, and there is not a spec of snow in the watershed.  Where does that water come from?

Can we not massage a piece of land into doing something similar?




 
                          
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then what is currently feeding this creek?  a seasonal spring? snow melt off? rain run off?

Just for the fun of it can you or would you post the GPS concordance so one could get a view of this via Google earth? or post a few pictures of the land it self?

as you all ready know I think one is trying to accomplish something that is not realistic possible from my earlier posts.  I would like to think it would work as I live a semi desert area as well and would like to think there is a way to increase the moisture in the soil out of thin air. (OK I know it called rain), but seeing the lay of the land maybe I could comprehend why you think you could get a flowing creek and second I really do not know why you would ant a flowing creek, and not keep the water on the land instead of letting it run off via the creek.

 
paul wheaton
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Birdman wrote:
then what is currently feeding this creek? 


Rain and snow from many months ago. 

Consider a hundred ponds each with a tiny leak.  And they each leak into the gully.  In august.  And it hasn't rained for over a month.

Birdman wrote:
Just for the fun of it can you or would you post the GPS concordance so one could get a view of this via Google earth? or post a few pictures of the land it self?


46.908606, -113.998446


Birdman wrote:
as you all ready know I think one is trying to accomplish something that is not realistic possible from my earlier posts.  I would like to think it would work as I live a semi desert area as well and would like to think there is a way to increase the moisture in the soil out of thin air. (OK I know it called rain), but seeing the lay of the land maybe I could comprehend why you think you could get a flowing creek and second I really do not know why you would ant a flowing creek, and not keep the water on the land instead of letting it run off via the creek.


Have you seen "the man who planted trees"?



 
                          
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First thank you.

looked at the land and I would say that there are some things to slow the run off water down, and you have some fair elevation differences, and I could see where terraces and swells could help a lot, to contain run off,

and I am sure trees could do good as well,

I did look up the "Man who planted trees".
found a PDF version of the story and a small illustrated video of the same story,
http://www.viddler.com/explore/Ms_Valerie/videos/240/
PDF http://www.arvindguptatoys.com/arvindgupta/plantedtrees.pdf

and I will agree if one would reforest a large area,
you would restore it possibly back to the state it once was,
but I think your situation is more to "flash" storms, and immediate run off, My Own opinion is that one would never be able to get a long term flowing stream out of that gully,

but I also did a little more looking,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Man_Who_Planted_Trees

which led me to this one.
http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Giono_letter_to_Digne_official
which says it is not true supposed to by the author him self,
Granted it is a touching story,  and In some situations if an area was reforested it could return it back to its former glory,
I am not saying it has not been done but I do think if you followed the story you would not necessary  get a garden of Eden out of prairie blow sand.
 
paul wheaton
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This is me talking at the Missoula Public Library about permaculture and dry land stuff.  We just got done watching a sepp holzer movie.

I talk a little about the Randolph Moon Homestead land just north of Missoula.  I'm saying that in five years I could turn that dry husk of a chunk of land into a jungle.

 
                        
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Birdman wrote:
Granted it is a touching story,  and In some situations if an area was reforested it could return it back to its former glory,

I am not saying it has not been done but I do think if you followed the story you would not necessary  get a garden of Eden out of prairie blow sand.


Whenever I think of or read about stories like this, I think of Israel.  Compare the land that Mark Twain described during his visit in "Innocents Abroad" to what is growing in the land now.
 
Terri Matthews
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I have land in Eastern Kansas, which is not that far fromMIissoula. I WAS going to set up water, but life happens and now I think that that will not be done. I still intend to use the land, though, and I have made a decent start!

On my land, asparaus has lived and produced, though the yield is 1/3 of what my garden asparagus does.

Daffodils have done well there: they use the spring rain and when it is hot and dry they are ready to die back anyways. Farmers out here use the same strategy to grow winter wheat: It starts growing with the fall rains, continues growing in the spring, and is harvested in the summer when it stops raining anyways.

I tried buckwheat but it died during the July dry spell: I will start it earlier this spring to try to get the roots deeper this year before it dries up.

This spring I am looking forward to the delivery of native American plum trees, as well as some crystals to put around the roots to help them over any dry spell before they are established. I would like to say that I would carry water to them if it was too dry this spring, but, life happens. The roots, I think, will be deep enough in 2 years time to just let them be: the bushes on the land do pretty well.

My land was going to be a market garden, but that was before my health went bad. I decided that I could either raise food or sell it, but not both. So, my goal is to raise food and eat it, which is a very usefull thing to do! So far, asparagus has been the only edible to succeed, but I have high hopes for the plums, and there are other native or dry land edibles to research!

 
Tyler Ludens
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Terri wrote:

This spring I am looking forward to the delivery of native American plum trees, as well as some crystals to put around the roots to help them over any dry spell before they are established.


Some people have had success making "hugel trenches" or "vertical mulch pits" near baby trees.  These are trenches or pits filled with rotten wood, waste paper, and other organic material which are watered thoroughly once when the tree is planted and then supposedly the pit retains enough water for the tree to become established with no additional irrigation.

I haven't tried this yet but will next time I plant a tree.  I'm convinced of the ability of hugelkultur to retain moisture in the soil.

 
Tyler Ludens
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I like this thread and the idea of getting dry creeks to run year-round.  I think it is entirely possible because people have done it! 
 
                          
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First of all a stream  is run off, lost water,  and usaly not to be recovered again,

lest jsut say you have 100 acers, of ground,  if you sealed the ground so you could catch ever drop of rain fall,  and you put a roof on it so no evaperation can take place,

you have choosen montana for your experement,
the annal rain fall is said to a little under 12 inches a year, (11.37 inches)

a acer foot of water, is about, 325,824 one acer 12 inches deep,

a 100 acers would be, 32,584,800 gallons,

you take the 32,854,800,  and divide that 365, gallons a day, 89,273,

89,273 divie by 24 hour,  3,719


3,719 by 60.  61.995

and you take that 62 gallons of water  a min, how much of a stream is that,  over a V weir, it is about  a depth of 3.75 inches of depth,  about 3 inch pipe full, if I figured correctly,

that is 100% of all the water in one year off of 100 acres, 

not one drop for any plant growth, not a drop for evaporation, 

most of permicuture  is to figure out ways of extending the limited water supply by capturing the run off waters and storing and reapplying to the land and the plants,

in most instances one will want to amplify the water supply in a 12 inches a year, situation,  not let it run off, and that is exactly what a stream is run off,

unless some one has a magical way of increasing the rain fall  or pull ground water up to the surface to create a spring,  for the most part natural foliage will use the 12 inches of rain, if you want to concentrate  the water on for plants that require more water than native plants,

where is one going to get this surplus of water, to let it run off,

lest just say you plant trees, on a 100 acres, even 1000 acres,  and it start a micro climate, (yes one some times needs moisture in the air to attract clouds and to attract rain,  but 100 acres, NO way, 1000 acres,  it may help but to have the rain fall on that 1000 acres only, very doubtful, even 10,000 (15 square miles) or even 100,000  (156 sq. miles, and area about 12 miles by 13 miles) acres worth, is still a very small area of land to start to make a micro climate change that would start to effect rain fall amounts, 

and you have a few other obstacles to over come one would need storage, and catchment of the water,  and then how is one going to grow the plants one wants if your going to let it run off or away,

where is the water going to come from? 
 
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