L. Jones wrote: But given finite time, start with the projects that will (gently) bring surface water into the homestead area, and work further out until you hit the edges of the high-side, then work on the lower parts as you can.
I want to mention this comment from you has been really helpful in getting me to see the project as something I can get my mind around, instead of this enormous problem beyond my abilities.
Sometimes it can be helpful to literally take 4 stakes and 40 feet of string and mark off a 10x10 foot square and say "this, this 100 square feet, I'm going to fix up this hour/today/this weekend/this week." You can't completely ignore everything else (especially family/stock) but you can really focus directed effort on a chunk that size - and when it's done, you can move the stakes. They are often not physically required, but they can help serve as a physical reminder not to get trapped in "everything that needs doing."
L. Jones wrote: If we guess right, we can even start with parts that make things more manageable long before the full-scale scheme is fully implemented (or even fully envisioned, if the most basic aspects are at least sketched out.)
I'm trying to get some help on how to improve placement or integration of the elements in my design, but I don't know how to ask the proper questions, nor how to present the plan beyond the design I posted above.
On the right side of this webpage: Permaculture institute key concepts
As for your design, it's a bit small and hard to read (at least for my eyes. black text on gray photo = painful), for one thing, and there's only a gradually developing sense of the terrain/topography (rising to right, falling to left) from adding in the pictures + description & where the new swale is supposed to be. Not that I'm anybody's permaculture designer, nor prone to paying money to become one. I'm more a gleaner of useful concepts, and I pick and choose what to believe in - ie, tomatoes in same spot all the time, no, managing water for more into the ground and less runoff, yes. This despite the fact that I also realize that typical rotation cycles are not really adequate to take out verticulum, so perhaps tomatoes in the same spot is no worse than the usual 4 year rotation, really. I simply do poorly at checking my brain at the door and accepting anyone's word as law...I'm a questioner.
While I find navigating their website maddening (too bloggish, I guess - search box seems to be the only hope to hit what you might be looking for other than random-ness) I think the development of milkwood (which I think I first came across with thier rocket-stove-shower) might be enlightening/applicable for your locale, even though it's far away - it's also a place with creek, dry a lot, lots of wet sometimes - and they have done a lot of dams/ponds (some less successful than they would have hoped) but ultimately they are getting there. Here's a starting point on their site (note that they are Aussies, so North is "towards equator")
Here's another one showing the flow of the water around the site:
Another thing (though then you can't trace as much - well, perhaps if you know someone with a projector?) is to make it BIG. Your property at the size of your kitchen table...
Ink in things that don't move, and pencil the rest.
Blue lines are seasonal water features. Small brown lines are existing berms to control runoff.
Here's a new one showing an idea for management of the upper seasonal creek to try to direct it more into the middle of the property where it might soak in a little better instead of just going downhill and taking out our driveway. We're thinking of a big brush check dam at the north end of the property to direct the water into a new infiltration basin (in purply pink):
Here we have (left) a baby squash plant from seed and (right) a baby Devil's Claw (Proboscidea louisianica) from seed, growing in the same bed:
The squash seed was planted in a thin layer of soil over mulch, thoughtlessly I had not made sure to clear the mulch down to the soil underneath but just put everything on top so it dried out over the past few dry sunny days. The squash plant had not managed to get its roots down to the soil below the mulch before the weather turned warm and dry after the last rainy spell and so is experiencing stress. The plant is almost completely eaten by sowbugs and probably won't survive:
The Devil's Claw on the other hand grew from seed already in the soil from beneath the mulch covering so it has roots well down into the moist soil. No stress on this plant and it is untouched by sowbugs:
As soon as the sowbugs start attacking the plants I know there is stress from somewhere. If I wanted to try to save the stressed plants I might be able to by providing huge amounts of soft moist green mulch for the sowbugs to eat. Sowbugs prefer to eat plant material which is dying or rotting. They do not, in my experience, eat significant amounts of healthy plants.
Ridiculous numbers of baby sowbugs in the mulch near these plants:
You'll recall that several months back, I used your thread as an example when I suggested that we all have a personal projects thread. After watching your progress and the respectful commentary of many of our members, I think that your thread proves that a safe zone which is light on criticism and heavy on proof can be a fun and informative way to present yourself. Therefore, I intend to bring that thread to the top again, with the suggestion that readers follow the link to your projects to see not only what you are doing with your homestead but also to use it as an example of what this sort of thread might look like.
Have a great day and keep on "proving it" for all to see. Thanks: Dale
All the King Ranch Bluestem (introduced grass) died during the drought so that field is pretty bald.
Tyler Ludens wrote:Got new Bluegill for the aquaponics. They only had tiny baby ones, barely larger than minnows....
Have you tried Tilapia? I heard Bluegill grows very slowly. I got Tilapia last September and they have spent all this time in my living room, growing very slowly. I'm just about ready to move them outside into the hoophouse. Now that the water temp is getting about 70° they are starting to grow much faster. Should be 1 1/2 lbs by September and I'll keep some for breeding.
I think the place I ordered from was White Brook Tilapia but the shipping was very expensive. There are a bunch of Texans on the Backyard AP site who raise tilapia that you could probably purchase from.
Set the jar on a stable spot for the next 24 hours then come back and check it. if you could, post a picture of your jar after it is settled.
This will tell you what type of earth house would best be suited for your area. An earth house is insulated well, easy to maintain, and practically free if you don't count your labor.
I would say an underground fishery would be ideal but I am pretty sure you are still over that giant hunk of limestone that makes up most of texas
Under your beds can you put ina layer of clay to hold the water in the bottom of the beds. You need moisture as much as you can get. Also I would chop up my wood for the beds. It may not matter, but I feel it would hold water better. Either way a great start.
Tyler Ludens wrote:I don't have anywhere to keep them in the house.....
A 20 gallon tank will hold plenty of breeders...
I do have a small AP set up in the house. A 20 gal FT & 40 gal FT. The plant do so so because there isn't enough light but people have overwintered in there basement with no plants and the high nitrates don't effect the fish.
They had taken posts and pounded extra long nails into it to hold the bottles..and then they had sorted the bottles by color and size and age and had created these beautiful colorful trees of bottles..some were made of curved rebar rather than wood and nails..
They had placed paths between groves of tall bottle trees, dozens of them, they had blue mason jar trees, red bottles, gold, brown, amber, green, etc..and they continue to add more and more trees to their fantasy forest..
Normally I would consider something of this design ugly, but it definately was not ugly..they say in the winter it is especially beautiful with the sun shining through the snow on the colored bottles..
I wish we could trade . I'd happily take some of your limestone for some of my crappy georgia red clay (with a pH somewhere in the negatives).
Tyler Ludens wrote:I've got clay over my limestone, the "best" of both worlds!
Well, on the plus side, clay loam holds a whole lot of water. That, and one less thing to add to your soil.
About how far down is the limestone?