Here is a picture I took at the end of July on the hole dug for the water diversion from septic tank. And front yard Aug 2, 2017 after a rain. Other then that this year in the front yard I tried growing alot but nothing grew, but at the same time I did the back yard and same stuff and things took off. Come July I started working nights stepped out around 2 am one morning and realized I had 25 rabbits feeding and then knew why the front didn't take off. So Currently working on putting a T-Post Fence around this front area. Though first Two post took my energy. Going through Rock is a pain.
Great work James. I love seeing how verdant everything appears after the desert rains & around your hand-dug ponds & swales. You really are bringing life back to your plot.
When you mentioned that you were working mostly with hand tools -as opposed to large equipment- in the desert I immediately thought back to the notes I took from Bill Mollison's 1983 Permaculture Design Course:
Observe & Interact "Page Ranch, University of Arizona: He (Page) brought barren, overgrazed dry prairie farm back to life. He went out during the rain events (about 5 times per year) making small V-shaped marks in the land with a spade (shovel) directing the water down into prairie dog & gopher holes. That resulted in a tremendous germination of gathered seed, some of which they put down in the holes. The prairie dogs had to evacuate the lower levels of their tunnels. His ranch came back into production. It was the only vegetated ranch in the area! He did hundreds of small things on foot. The farm was over a square mile or two, he used only a spade, he moved very little & he was very old. The desert is riddled with holes (eg. Scorpion holes)!
So observations may lead you to small moves which have very large effects over very large areas. I think it is the way that people who don't have a lot of energy [oil] manipulate the environment.
The desert's life is below ground. If you can turn the water down there too. These animals lift the hole slightly up above the flat desert surface, so all you have to do is take a spade and shave it off. Take off the surplus and the water will pour down those holes. Now you've got the water. It can't evaporate & it can't get away from the tree roots. It can only go down there [into the hole]." - Bill Mollison, Permaculture Design Course, 1983
I am working the best I can with the tools, right now I started working on a t post fence to get it up to keep the rabbits out of the front area where I had planted a lot last year but rabbits decided to eat the fresh sprouts before they had a chance. At first I was thinking it was a Locust problem, but as you see in the picture above in the area that has a fence to keep rabbits coming from the west side those planted in one month had grown pretty well. I actually had a bunch of cantaloupe and honey dew that grew along with the sunflowers. Even with 14 dogs the rabbits are so abundant that many still can get up to the house and feast while by dogs lay around full. Though driving the first 4 T-Post into the ground took about an hour to pound into the ground so I have my work for me on nearly a 300 foot parameter.
Location: Gaines County, Texas South of Seminole, Tx zone 7b
Here is an video I have from October last year with and update after a rain with my new swale I finished with the existing swale from two years ago. Nice to see how fast a place changes with a basin and swale system to hold back water.
One of my projects I am going to be working on this year is putting up a huge pile of wood and other vegetation brought in from local landscapers in the area on the west side to put up a wind block for this area to help out against our 50-80 mph winds we get. One more year till I have my truck paid off so maybe I can work a little faster on some other projects but with work the past 6 month taking more of my time that is another thing that keeps me slow going out here. but nice to say where I have touched things are a whole lot better then what I started with.