Michael Bush wrote:You follow the contour lines for elevation. In your case, you have none so you can "draw" them anyway you like. Since you can't see the underlying topography, I would suggest looking at a google earth map to see where the "greener" areas are on your property, places where things are less sparse and assume from that that some subteranian topography traps water and work at concentrating water there using circles.
When it rains does all the rain soak into the ground? if so, then adding swales and the like will not catch more water but I am sure water still flows over your land during a hard rain.
In addition, being flat, erosion is less an issue and you could then channel water from one place to another in ways that would be problematic on a hillside.
Michael Bush wrote:Is the rest of the flat land above or below the incline your road is on? How much rain do you get and when?
Can you post some pictures?
What would you like to happen?
Ben Stallings wrote:If an above-ground catchment tank would be useful, you can suspend a tarpaulin above it on 4 flagpoles when rain is expected, allowing water to flow into the tank from a hole in the center of the tarp (ideally secured to the tank opening so it doesn't blow around). The only elevation you need to irrigate your property without pumps goes under the tank. When it's sunny, tie the same tarp down over the tank to dicourage algae growth.
Bill Bradbury wrote:Danielle,
I can't tell if your driveway is flat or if it has a slight slope to the downhill side where there is a small swale as it should. The puddles may just be from the recent excavator work, hard to tell.
It looks as though your water harvesting is quite good, but the land has issues. I think I see a lot of cheat grass with some yellow clover here and there. This is common where the land is degraded. Cheat grass is the only plant that I will burn. Catch it in the spring when the grass is just starting to set seed and burn it with a propane weed burning setup. Broadcast grain, alfalfa, clovers, bird seed mix and other "tough guys" into the burnt area. Let that mature and you will have attracted much wildlife who will fertilize the dead ground and bring your place back to life. Then you can start planting nativish kinds of fruit and nut trees and bushes into the budding polyculture that has erupted.
I buy seed for this restoration from Intermountain Farmer's Association, who should have a store near you.
Best of luck to you!
Bill Bradbury wrote:That's a good way to start, 5 acres now and piece by piece. Cheat grass is a fast growing grass that sets seed before other grasses really even come up. That's why I burn it, it's brown and burnable when the other grasses are young enough to not be damaged. This renders the seeds sterile as well.
This sounds crazy to a lot of people, but I believe in attracting wild critters by feeding them a large portion of what I grow. The fertility increases due to their hard work eating and pooping all over your place. It looks like you have hardpan clay soil, the best way to deal with it is the Yeoman's plow on contour. Rip the soil and plant the deep rooted stuff there.
BTW I grew up on a place like this. We dry-farmed alfalfa for our critters back in the 80's, but my parents moved and the place looks like yours did before you started working on it. Every dry-farm around ours is now defunct. There are a few guys trying to graze it, but they don't know what they are doing and it is all getting worse. I wish you all the best in your struggle, but know that it will not be easy.