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Major earthworks starting -- central texas  RSS feed

 
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I was surprised when i came back after 3 days and the pond was "fuller" with no/,little rain.  Yesterday i placed a stake at waters edge. Sure enough its filling from underground.
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wayne fajkus
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Water is clearing up. First pic is sediment pond and is still brown but clearer.

Second pic is main pond . I see no brown, but algae green is showing. There is visibility right now but i expect it to get really green. If i got the angle correct, you can see what will be a rock water fall when water flows in.
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wayne fajkus
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Water is still inching up. Plants are sprouting up through the ashe juniper woodchips. I moved about 2/3 of the leftover topsoil for another project. That was work.  About 4 hours on the skidsteer to do it. Seeds added at water edge and the dam of both ponds.

Still lots to do but having fun putting my work into the project.

Im still amazed at the water quality/clarity of the main pond. Sediment pond and my original pond are brown. This one would be perfectly clear if not for the green tint of algae. I contribute this to the underground water he is capturing with the keyed dam. In the beginning, when we could see the flow coming in, it was crystal clear. It created 2 waters as it flowed in. A clear patch maybe 2 ft in from where it was seeping and the rest was murky. I soooo want to jump in it.
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Location: North Texas, Dallas area suburbs, US zone 8
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wayne fajkus wrote:Zachs opinion was get the plantings in the pond this year and not introduce fish til next year. This wait will result in 5x healthier fish and plants.



What do you and Zach think about mosquitos during this year without fish?

BTW, thanks so much for documenting and sharing this project!
 
wayne fajkus
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I think guppies will be here within a month on their own. Im not sure how it happens (birds bring them in?). At least thats what happened in my other pond.

But i think he was talking about fish, not minnows/guppies. Minnows may be the organic material added to a garden, the fish being the corn plant.  Im just speculating though.

Yesterday i had the same thought though. I have cattle troughs with minnows. I thought about putting a dozen in  main pond, 6 in sediment pond.
 
wayne fajkus
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I have had some purple mooseages that i would like to answer here. 

How to get Zach to your place. Whats the process? 

Go to their website:  http://www.elementalecosystems.com 

And click the contact button. There are questions related to the layout of the land. Cassie gets this information and responds. Response rate is much better when cassie came on board. Like right now Zach is out of the country at Sepp Holzers place so you could wait a month for a reply. 

After the inquiry cassie set up an appt for a phone call from Zach. He wanted personal info like what goals you wanted from the land. He is not just water retention. His website covers his specialties (terracing, natural swimming pools, etc). I was impressed that he did some homework.  He had viewed Google earth and also had information of typical soil types in my region. The only snafu we had was i had bought my adjoining tract and that tract was where the earthworks took place. I emailed him a google earth pic showing the expanded acreage i owned. 

The next step was a one day consult.  The big answer that i anxiously waited to hear was " there's material here we can work with". It was like winning the lottery! The consult was reasonably priced imo. Nothing can happen til you know it CAN happen. To get instant answers requires machinery. I was fortunate to have a skidsteer on hand and the only investment i made was spending $200 for a 4ft extension so my auger could reach 8ft down. He did a local consult while my actual earthworks was happening and they rented a mini excavator for the day. Here is a thread with some pics from consult day 

https://permies.com/t/101230/Documenting-waterflows 

After that he presented a google earth pic with drawings he added showing plans with options. After that he gave a ruff estimate on cost. This was all done while he was here.


 
 
wayne fajkus
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The flow of the actual build. Costs? 

Billing is pretty simple: 

Equipment cost is x 

Zachs cost is x per hour 

Bens cost is x per hour 

Captn Als cost is x per hour 

Estimate is based on estimating the hours on the 3 people. What do each do and why do i need them? Can i save money by deleting 1? Maybe... 

Equipment- zach put upfront thought into this for this specific project. A bigger excavator is not as mobile so maybe 2 are needed, driving equipment costs up, but lowering labor costs. Maybe delivery cost is so high its worth making it a 3 week project instead of a 2 week project and that saves money. The point being he balances several things to determine the best rout. 

Zach- he oversees and makes the decisions. His first day was with a survey level marking the dam, the path of terraces. Proposing areas to put hugel. During construction he made decisions of keyed dam depth (can't break through the dry clay below the underground water flow or it creates problems (you're screwed? Not sure. Lol). He dug up trees that needed relocating (3 year old fruit trees) and bedded them in. He cut trees that had to go (used for hugel and mushrooms depending on species) his is the highest expense and you dont want him running the machinery. We was not here for the entire project. Theres a point where it goes ssslllooooowwww. It's that tedious task of sorting the layers of soil to get the clay. He did other stuff. Consults in other states, creating master plans after the consult, attending a seminar, etc 

Ben is the main equipment operator. He is needed. 

Captain Al is the hand work guy. We was scheduled to come in a week into the project. I think a lot of the artistry of the project comes from him with guidance from zach. The shape of the hugel, the laying of the rock paths (BIG difference between dumping rocks into the pathway and laying rocks by hand). His expense was my big worry cause its stuff "i could do...maybe...i was given the choice and opted for him". Or i could hire local help. After seeing the accomplishments on a daily basis i am glad we included him in the project. He also seems like a guy that doesn't abuse the clock. His workload was different than bens. Al took some days off when there wasnt work to do. Whereas local help "might" twiddle thumbs and/or need constant guidance (pulling ben off escavator to line him up). Al knew what to do and when to do it. The flow went great. 

To summarize, zach puts thought into equipment needed, what people to bring, when to bring them. All this is to give value to the customer. My observation of ben - using transit level kind of stuff- i personally think he is ready to take a bigger role. Like zach lay out the plan and ben takes it from there. Getting the second zach means meeting the demands and quicker turnarounds on projects. I am not sure with Al, just because i didnt see him doing those projects. He may very well be trained. It may be that ben is zach, and Al is ben and then later Al is a zach. I hope that all make sense. They all have talent and are cordial and want to heal the earth. I have blind faith on all 3.



 
wayne fajkus
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Crew accommodations. 

The Elemental Ecosystem crew were self accomodating. When i had asked about this, i was told that they pitch tents. In my case i had an 85% complete tiny house with barely adequate air conditioning and offered that too them. Zach and Ben used it. I think Captn Al slept in his vehicle. Its set up for it. 

I left the back door open for bathroom use. 

Its probably worth having a discussion on this. I will say they are all good people, they don't interfere with your normal living unless you want them to. I probably averaged feeding them one meal every other day. It was a mix of home cooked vs going out. 

Bens morning coffee method (pour over coffee pot)  changed how we make coffee, finally ditching the k cups and all the one use plastic associated with it.


 
 
wayne fajkus
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Just planted all the trees we had to relocate, as well as some others i had bought. Most went on the bottom slope of the long terrace that comes from the culvert. The poor trees got picked leafless by deer while they were bedded in a cattle trough. I remember Zach saying that Sepps handling of trees is ruff and people cringe when they see him planting them. I guess Sepps philosophy is if the tree can't handle a little abuse, it shouldn't be here. I'll see if they resprout leaves which i think will be the case.

Interesting tidbit. That slope was FULL of moisture. The trees I planted 30 or so feet back from the pond was not as moist. I now know why Zach suggested I tree that area.

Heres a pic of the slope . You cant really see the trees but should make sense of the location i described.
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wayne fajkus
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Aerial pic. Still amazed at color difference.
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wayne fajkus
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You can see 3 ponds in that pic. From bottom is sediment pond. What looks like a road to right is the terrace.

Above that pond is the main pond. Its pretty evident of the cleanliness of the water.  Continue above that and you see my original pond. Its brown slso. This is so amazing to me. The difference between a pond "system " and a pond.
 
wayne fajkus
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Dams have hay mulch. Pond edges have woodchips.
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And then we all jump out and yell "surprise! we got you this tiny ad!"
Soil Testing: Genius or Snapshot of the ever-changing?
https://permies.com/t/113090/Soil-Testing-Genius-Snapshot-changing
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