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Gaines County Texas-Greening my part of the Seminole Draw.  RSS feed

 
James Everett
Posts: 95
Location: Gaines County, Texas South of Seminole, Tx zone 7b
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Hello allitte about me first. I recently got out of the army and came back to my Hometown area of Seminole Texas, I come from a 13 yr combined skills in computer networking before they Army. Then while in the army 6 years skills in phone networks and satellite networks. Well back home as a Jailer now but due to my dad passing in 2007 he had 30 Acres of land that he was purchasing south of town on the Seminole draw with most of the land up above it as you can see in this picture below. Anyway I am looking into methods of water harvesting and creating a decent eco-system that can be sustains with little work over time. Right now I just don't have the equipment on my own to do this and little in knowlege of farming in the first place. I am willing to let people come in and help design the place and even benefit with the produce that comes later in time. Over all I just want to help harvest some of the free flowing water and make a flowing stream in the long term.
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10205556616688238&l=8298083259
 
Miles Flansburg
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Howdy James, welcome to permies!. Some of us don't do facebook so I was wondering if you could post some of those pictures here at permies? It might help get some more responses.

Also take some time to look around. We have a lot of great information here.
 
Jennifer Richardson
Posts: 176
Location: Columbus, Texas, USA (Colorado County). Zone 8b, verging on Zone 9. Humid subtropical, drought prone
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Welcome to Permies, James! Always glad to see like-minded people in Texas. I'm on the opposite side of the state from you in Columbus, TX, but I'm also interested in watershed management and hoping to get one of our creeks flowing year-round at some point--I'm a little to the south of the Colorado River (of Texas, not the big famous Colorado River).

An interesting book I came across not too long ago is called Let the Water Do the Work - Induced Meandering, an Evolving Method for Restoring Incised Channels by Bill Zeedyk and Van Clothier. Brad Lancaster also has a series of books called Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond that are really good, although less focused specifically on streams and creeks and more on household level stuff and landscaping. Still good stuff, though. And anything done to help rehydrate the landscape will be of benefit.

I second the recommendation to include pics on your post here--if you click on "Attachments" at the bottom, you can upload them that way.

Please keep us updated on your projects and enjoy looking around and asking questions--people are super helpful here!
 
James Everett
Posts: 95
Location: Gaines County, Texas South of Seminole, Tx zone 7b
3
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Here is link to Picture album on photobucket
My Land

but some general images
Google earh image my land is the 30 acrage that has the darker colors in the center.


random pictures around the property:






I put a link to my album up first for more pictures in which I will update regular.

Also looking at my watershed it does flow into the upper Colorado watershed. Infact tracing the draws I have two of the first contributing arteries of what that collects water to send down that way and down stream another point collects in which in time I was hoping to get owners to help slow the waters to form more pools to soak up the aquifer here so the springs would start flowing again up here after the oilfield and sucked down the aquifer down and agriculture is continuing to keep it down. Most of the year it is quit barren but when the rains come in I see water flow through it regularly our city has a park that is run through it and instead of letting the water collect there they pump the water out and flows on down. but I hope to help the southern part of the county to flow again. I know four other people up stream from me that are starting to put in some fishing ponds down in the draw so maybe this is a start of something.
 
James Everett
Posts: 95
Location: Gaines County, Texas South of Seminole, Tx zone 7b
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For got to add the reason why in the long term this might help due to every time it rains my land looks like this till it gets soaked down into the ground after a few days.
 
James Everett
Posts: 95
Location: Gaines County, Texas South of Seminole, Tx zone 7b
3
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well now I figured out the contours of my land that found on my county appraisal site which shows how relatively flat my land is to work with. also talked with water shed district and usda in county if any restrictions and they really said there wasn't really any about collecting water so now just to get plans worked up. And get some help bringing in some of the stuff I don't already have. But as you can see I have to deal with deep layers of caliche.

 photo My land Contour_zpskvrqb5h3.png/></a> photo IMAG0204_zpst7tav2ad.jpg/></a>
 
James Everett
Posts: 95
Location: Gaines County, Texas South of Seminole, Tx zone 7b
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Observing my neighbors quarry for caliche going on down nearly 40' deep for the land that is under mine and seeing how relatively the slope on most of my land is gentle is. I see some areas from google map that looks like water does settle and pool up before going off my property other then the rains that constantly give more flow down in the draw or water way part of my land. would it be feasible to digging down in the caliche to build up a sizable hill to deepen the water collection and with the hill design in the swale formations and then seed and mulch heavily and let nature take over from there with initial irrigation and pumps to pump water up top get vegetation started and rooted in many trees, covers, pollinators and such.

I already want to dig the areas down to collect the area and since most of the rock is caliche i would need to sell or just have huge piles of it to grow on anyhow. I would like some thoughts on this Idea.
 
James Everett
Posts: 95
Location: Gaines County, Texas South of Seminole, Tx zone 7b
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James Everett wrote:For got to add the reason why in the long term this might help due to every time it rains my land looks like this till it gets soaked down into the ground after a few days.


opps lost the picture
 
James Everett
Posts: 95
Location: Gaines County, Texas South of Seminole, Tx zone 7b
3
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Since I have no equipment I have been working on moving way some of the dirt over the year that have blown up and up on the house I am in by shovel, rake and wheel barrel. Here are some pictures from start to where I am currently.







As you can see the dirt was up around the house pretty good. I am also routing water off to an area just south west of the house to have a basin to catch water that soaks down to the water table since my well is out that direction.
 
James Everett
Posts: 95
Location: Gaines County, Texas South of Seminole, Tx zone 7b
3
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Jennifer Richardson wrote:Welcome to Permies, James! Always glad to see like-minded people in Texas. I'm on the opposite side of the state from you in Columbus, TX, but I'm also interested in watershed management and hoping to get one of our creeks flowing year-round at some point--I'm a little to the south of the Colorado River (of Texas, not the big famous Colorado River).

An interesting book I came across not too long ago is called Let the Water Do the Work - Induced Meandering, an Evolving Method for Restoring Incised Channels by Bill Zeedyk and Van Clothier. Brad Lancaster also has a series of books called Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond that are really good, although less focused specifically on streams and creeks and more on household level stuff and landscaping. Still good stuff, though. And anything done to help rehydrate the landscape will be of benefit.

I second the recommendation to include pics on your post here--if you click on "Attachments" at the bottom, you can upload them that way.

Please keep us updated on your projects and enjoy looking around and asking questions--people are super helpful here!


After looking up the watershed for here I found that all water that runs off here flows down into the Colorado River if really heavy flooding happens.
 
James Everett
Posts: 95
Location: Gaines County, Texas South of Seminole, Tx zone 7b
3
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So I finally got a laser level and marked me a contour line out in my front yard area and used a shovel and dug out the down hill edge of where I am going to dig out up to a garden bed area I am working on too.



Well come to realize after two hours that this project by hand is going to take me awhile this is how far I got in that two hours working. You can see all the rocks that I have piled out of it.



Over all seeing the green coming up just from the two areas that I have worked up to reroute the water from my washing machine and sand trap tank i do see the water that soaks into my ground near by is greening up nicely with out me watering so far. Doing as much as i can between time i have off and money i can spare to do some of the stuff i want.
 
Casie Becker
gardener
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Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
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Those rocks immediately make me think of


Potentially you could double the impact of digging your swales by laying a contour line with those unearthed rocks.
 
James Everett
Posts: 95
Location: Gaines County, Texas South of Seminole, Tx zone 7b
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yeah some of the bigger rocks are am going to be using for rock lines just doing little things here and there as i can. I am not worried about some just piled in the swales as I have plenty of rocks on all my land as you can see the picture of my land up in a few post where north property and southeast properties have pits dug into them and both are around 30-50' deep and solid rock basically.
 
James Everett
Posts: 95
Location: Gaines County, Texas South of Seminole, Tx zone 7b
3
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Testing out my camera on cell phone. Here is just a windy day here in West Texas and why I need to work on some wind breaks. Video is just 20 seconds and a short glimpse of my place. Over time I thing I will be making more videos for my channel but for now most will be short and hopefully one day i can get a good HD camcorder.

 
James Everett
Posts: 95
Location: Gaines County, Texas South of Seminole, Tx zone 7b
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So finally after a month or so I finished a small hugelbed for a garden in my front yard area.

first layer cardboard



Just some cotton cloth curtains and blankets that was rotting away.


Next I placed some logs from some trees that I had people come dump on my land.


Sandy dirt from a hill that was dumped years ago before I came in.


I then placed smaller branches and pine needles from the trees.


Added more west Texas sandy dirt.


The final layer was some topsoil, compost and then wood chips to top off for now. Over time I plan to add more amendments as money permits.
 
James Everett
Posts: 95
Location: Gaines County, Texas South of Seminole, Tx zone 7b
3
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Update on overview photo of my land. I added observed water flow after a few storms. I outlined my own land in red. the black areas on the land is where water currently pools up for a few days before soaking in now. and Blue is just general water flow areas.


 
James Everett
Posts: 95
Location: Gaines County, Texas South of Seminole, Tx zone 7b
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So I used my cell phone to walk around my property to film a walk through of my land. I explain some of my ideas long the way and took 43 minutes. Warning though wind picked up as I was filming so there is al ot of noise. Other then that I hope you like what I am starting to do to my land

 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9742
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Very encouraging that you have so many areas of pooling water! Definitely places to think about planting trees.

 
James Everett
Posts: 95
Location: Gaines County, Texas South of Seminole, Tx zone 7b
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Yes it is encouraging to see the pooling water. Also the area view on google is as well seeing that my land has a darker color in January compared to the surrounding properties.

So yesterday I started working on the swale again that I started a few weeks ago I have it about halfway done.

Close up view on deep end looking down the unfinished portion giving you an idea how shallow my dirt is till rocky layer.

This image with shovel is just to give a scale on how deep it is and with me level pole it showed around 13 inches deep at this point. the two feet dug down to that depth took nearly 2 hours due to the rock you see in the portion of the pictures. So I am debating on leaving this one alone for now and seed is all now or go ahead and dig it all about the 19 inch and smooth it out. I wouldn't mind the advice as I am still researching while doing my own thing in the mean time.
 
James Everett
Posts: 95
Location: Gaines County, Texas South of Seminole, Tx zone 7b
3
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It's been three weeks, I haven't done to much but since I did finish the mound for a garden and the swale next to it I took some pictures what it has come to be just after 3 weeks roughly.









As the grasses around grow I am just chopping and placing on the berm to get it covered also along it cucumbers on half and cantelope on the downhill side while some sunflowers are coming on the uphill side. only problem is rabbits keep eating on them so my nights off I am killing them off here and there and giving my dogs some natural food.


This is potatoes I have been planting as they sprout in our pantry. along with some wild plant that grows and I chop and drop in this area and with our 100+ days the ground is still wet from what little rain falls and water is put in as I through the hose in going to turn the water off.

Over all I am please just how this change is already going. I have another area I need to picture where I am planting a few trees I just keep forgetting the camera when I go to work on that area.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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I can identify with those shallow soils and rocks! Plants are looking good.

 
James Everett
Posts: 95
Location: Gaines County, Texas South of Seminole, Tx zone 7b
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Tyler Ludens wrote:I can identify with those shallow soils and rocks! Plants are looking good.



Thanks I was almost hesitant to plant the seeds at the end of May. But just laid several type of seeds and what took this year would mainly go to seed production for next year since this area is already dug out. I have much in idea just little time and money to get it done at a good pace. Need to find me some help up here but most think I am crazy doing it here with little watering and 100 degree days already. though showing my Mom just how the water is retaining in part just cause I let the plants grow to 3" to shade the ground and then cut and bunch up around the vegetable and fruits to decompose is changing her views already. Also she is getting her work to bring in trees they cut down in the process of them clearing for new buildings and oil pads. So I am starting to get several piles of wood to dry and decay on my land. I even bought a wood chipper to start breaking down the smaller limbs and leaves to make wood chip piles, though wish I could afford a commercial model. Either case I go day by day with what I can.
 
Tyler Ludens
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We should be able to keep planting hot weather things through next month - squash, okra, melons. Seeded areas might need to be shaded initially to prevent drying out. Right now I'm having very good luck with Red Noodle Yard Long Beans, Malabar Spinach, and Armenian Cucumbers. These all love the hot weather but also need a fair amount of water.
 
James Everett
Posts: 95
Location: Gaines County, Texas South of Seminole, Tx zone 7b
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Haven't done to much the past few months been to hot out here plus been working to much with my job this summer.  Though due to recent rains I started up again but nothing much done I finally started again


This is the 3 month progress of what I started in May.


This is an area a bit further from my house where about all I had done in June was Laser Level 4 contours about 10 feet apart and dug out shovel width paths just to mark the area to dig but with that small amount of dirt moved and the rains up till Sept I can see the difference just by the fact that the areas around this was brown and dead most of July and August while this section just kept growing.


Video of area where I plan to put in a drainage basin to catch water from my driveway to infiltrate the ground after rain and to help driveway drain faster rather then holding the water shown after rains.  I am still considering making portion of the dug area sealed to hold a good bit of water to attract more wildlife.
 
Miles Flansburg
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Looking good James !  You really collected a lot of water in that last video!
Does it get any easier to dig when it is wet?
 
Tyler Ludens
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Great progress!  I know it probably seems slow, but even the smallest rain harvesting earthworks seem to make a big difference over time.

 
James Everett
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Location: Gaines County, Texas South of Seminole, Tx zone 7b
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Yeah while the ground is wet it does help to move the rocks around.  The ground is just loaded with rocks so much that I am breaking up rocks and removing them more.  But if you look at the aerial view where my how is and just south east the pit you can see here is my truck parked in that pit showing what i am really working with.  the soils above is just the past few years of me seeding and reseeding to let grasses grow.  Once I Pay off my vehicle and get my 22K debt paid off I will have 1800 more a month to spend on land for the future.  Until then everything is by my own power.

 
James Everett
Posts: 95
Location: Gaines County, Texas South of Seminole, Tx zone 7b
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Well not to much after digging the drainage for my driveway I got to see how well it worked in a good rain event.  Though not finished digging the area for drainage out I did see that for the most part the berm to hold back was at the min height to hold the water back and control it over to my other berm that is in the video.  I am pleased on how things are coming along and how well it did drain my drive way after the rain did stop.  Just wondering how much rain we ended up with the draw in the far back grown filling up like that as well.



 
Tyler Ludens
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Couldn't really hear you, but isn't it rewarding to see all that water being captured!

 
James Everett
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Location: Gaines County, Texas South of Seminole, Tx zone 7b
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Yeah pretty much the explanation was that water runs down my road up to behind my vehicles and what I did was made the drainage to help clear it off the road faster.  And I was liking how well it was draining faster even during the rain rather then filling up my drive.  I then walked down to where I was building a catch area to allow water to soak in before rolling down in to the draw and like how well it is so far filling up then overflowing into the swale that captures water from my roof and then floods off to the west of my house and continues down into the draw.  I am also liking the fact that now I really don't have to water much in this part of the yard anymore since the water that is capture just from May when I finished most of this and now the rain I stopped draining my driveway this way.  Granted this is shallow right now I want to soak as much in this area as I can.  I am now
 
Tyler Ludens
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It looks beautifully green!

 
James Everett
Posts: 95
Location: Gaines County, Texas South of Seminole, Tx zone 7b
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Well not much major implementation on my land recently, I just ran in to a blessing that is allowing me to pay of my 27K in credit card debt to be paid off.  So this next year I will be able to do more in my plans in working my land.  Just wish I had someone up around here to help develop or give Ideas on what to do.  Would be nice to help give the Draw I am on a nice source of water to be flowing year round.
 
Tyler Ludens
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How wonderful that you will be able to pay off your debt!  I think what you've been doing, working around the house area to hold water and grow food, is an excellent start.  Other than that, I'd just recommend studying the work of Brad Lancaster, Daren Doherty, Peter Andrews, and John Liu.  These are the major dryland restoration guys.  Brad Lancaster especially gives detailed advice in his second Rainwater Harvesting book.  These guys are my gurus.  The work is going slowly but already results seem dramatic.

 
James Everett
Posts: 95
Location: Gaines County, Texas South of Seminole, Tx zone 7b
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Current Project working for my Dogs and Cats.  Still need to to finish covering in dirt to and filling in front to make it more of a cave style.  though already being utilized by some of the animals I have as it is.  Plus figure what to plant on it to help detour part of the pest from making home as well.



 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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If you can grow Lavender it is supposed to repel Kissing Bugs which can be a problem in animal housing.  We spray diluted Lavender oil around the bedroom during the warm months, though this past year we had almost no Kissing Bugs, I think due to all the Mediterranean House Geckos on the exterior of the house.

 
James Everett
Posts: 95
Location: Gaines County, Texas South of Seminole, Tx zone 7b
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My plans are lavender, rosemary, clover mix and mints
 
James Everett
Posts: 95
Location: Gaines County, Texas South of Seminole, Tx zone 7b
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Here is a quick look of what a year later on the front are of my house is doing as I was draining my sand trap tank to my water well.



you can see the different in the grasses that grew in amongst the water catchments.  I am now cutting up some of the taller grasses and using it like straw to cover more areas as I create more swales to hold back water and plant some of the berms with more cover crops and annuals as I go along.
 
James Everett
Posts: 95
Location: Gaines County, Texas South of Seminole, Tx zone 7b
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Okay so it's been a while I was working on a 100-foot or so swale. That got interrupted buy me noticing a lot of water collecting over my septic tank which ended up just being a leaky hose that doesn't shut off so I use that to fill a dog pool that my dogs are always using and drinking out of anyway and decided to dig a pond away from the septic tank to take advantage of that one until I get the leaky faucet fixed.
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Path dug so far
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Path to be finished
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James Everett
Posts: 95
Location: Gaines County, Texas South of Seminole, Tx zone 7b
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So this is the progress on the pond.  At a point I need a jackhammer to break up more.
20170525_191609.jpg
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First day digging.
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Day 2.
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James Everett
Posts: 95
Location: Gaines County, Texas South of Seminole, Tx zone 7b
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Forgot the source which is the faucet by 5th wheel.  Reason for filling with water each time was checking level and making it easier to dig once the ground was softer.
FB_IMG_1495891595275.jpg
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