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Need help in west Texas  RSS feed

 
Posts: 64
Location: Callisburg Texas
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I have a friend who lives out in west Texas. It is somewhere near pecos. I cant remeber the actual town name. Any way his land is a very steep incline. To put it in perspective the floor of his barn is about even with the roof of his 2 story house. And it is only 150 yards away. He has to haul in water by truck because his well only produces 8-10 gallons an hour. They have 5 kids. I am going to help him out with wicking beds and terracing.  I am a bit concerned with erosion. All of his land and the land surrounding it is covered in moon dust. It is a very fluffy sand like dirt that I think is limestone. He lives on the south side of a mountain. If there is any advice you can share it would be greatly appreciated. I am thinking of maybe making a terrace/retaining wall out of IBC totes. My main concern there is he only gets 9 inches of rainfall a year and if he used the water inside them then they would loose their stability  
 
steward
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Location: USDA Zone 8a
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I have seen some properties in West Texas that have the appearance of the moon.  I have seen others that look like the land is loaded with meteorites.

What will grow where he lives?  I mean on his actual property?  

Does he get a lot of runoff during a storm?
 
Posts: 111
Location: Golden Valley, AZ 86413
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I would recommend using Hugelkulture techniques to form your terraces. Using your Permaculture process, first observe what you have going on on your property:

Check for signs of slumping on your slopes. Rainwater can cause landslides in unstable soils. Check for "j" shaped "pistol-grip" growth patterns at the base of established shrubs and trees on your slopes, indicating gradual creeping of soil masses. also, more rapid mass slumping can form steep drop-offs where the stability of masses of soil have failed and slid down the hill in a large mass.

Depending on the stability and steepness of your slopes, you may want to get a qualified soils engineer or geologist involved to make sure any terraces you make will not create more problems than they solve. The soil type you describe is susceptible to sudden and catastrophic slippage if it becomes saturated with water. Terracing can intensify the amount of water absorbed by the hillside. The orientation of your buried logs could help to stabilize your terraces. Think in terms of interlocking branches. You can use all sorts of scrap materials from brush to huge logs.

It is important to establish vegetation on your terraces that have deep and web-like root structures as quickly as possible. Many prairie grass species have root systems that extend up to 15 feet deep, while others have a more mat-like mass of roots that retains water and holds your loose soil together. Consult your local agriculture agency for recommendations of the best native species to use. If you go the Hugelckulture route, be careful to select non-toxic tree species for your buried organic materials. Here is a permies.com discussion to check out:

https://permies.com/t/12206/Hugelkultur-Good-wood-Bad-wood

Here are some other online resources:

https://www.amazon.com/hugelkultur-Books/s?ie=UTF8&page=1&rh=n%3A283155%2Ck%3Ahugelkultur
http://www.sustainableamerica.org/blog/what-is-hugelkultur/
https://www.permaculture.co.uk/articles/many-benefits-hugelkultur
https://permaculturenews.org/2012/01/04/hugelkultur-composting-whole-trees-with-ease/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H%C3%BCgelkultur
https://www.pinterest.com/outsidethebox2/hugelkultur/


 
Tommie Hockett
Posts: 64
Location: Callisburg Texas
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Thank you both very much. I had considered hugelkulture but there are very few trees on his property. So I am not sure how to accomplish this. As far as what grows there...  he has a few pinon trees a few small oaks and some mesquite scrub yucca and some native grass clumps
 
Tommie Hockett
Posts: 64
Location: Callisburg Texas
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Also he collects about 200 gallons off his house during a big storm but that only happens once maybe twice a year.
 
master pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Mark Kissinger wrote:I would recommend using Hugelkulture techniques to form your terraces. Using your Permaculture process, first observe what you have going on on your property:



Be aware that putting hugelkulture on contour can be extremely dangerous:  https://permaculturenews.org/2015/11/06/dont-try-building-hugel-swales-this-is-a-very-and-i-mean-very-bad-idea/
 
Mark Kissinger
Posts: 111
Location: Golden Valley, AZ 86413
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Hugelkulture can be scaled to use whatever materials are available. When you install your swales or terraces, you can calculate the potential for collecting water by measuring the area of potential runoff that any installation will intercept and multiply that area by the potential "largest rain event".

What do you intend to use your terraced areas for? Are there any plans to run livestock of any kind on the property? How do you extract the water from your well? 8 gallons X 24 hrs gives you a potential of 192 gallons per day of water. Since you have a hillside to work with, you have the potential to store water in a tank at the top of the property, and use a gravity feed drip irrigation to help establish grasses that can help to restore your groundwater storage potential by protecting the soil from evaporation and by storing the water in the root systems instead of allowing any of the water to runoff during intense rainstorms. Bottom line: your terraces could actually help to restore a grassland ecology in the areas where you make your installations. You can also plant specific trees and shrubs with the idea of growing your own materials for future hugelkulture installations. being able to store and redirect your existing water supply is crucial to transforming your property.

I recommend doing a Permaculture Design Plan for the entire property and identifying all of the vectors for energy and water and lifeforms that can be utilized. It's much easier to make changes on paper if a planning process is used before you start making changes.

Here are some websites with information on restorative pasture livestock management systems:

Links for pasturing livestock management:

USING ANIMALS TO HEAL THE LAND: Greg Judy VABF 2011

https://www.youtube.com/watchtime_continue=4522&v=W6HGKSvjk5Q


Raincrow Film LLC Occam's Grazer: An In-depth Introduction to Holistic Management

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtQBoMoqc9U


Ian Mitchell-Innes Interview on Holistic Management Planned Grazing

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3r2cqNfkKs


Richard Perkins S4 ● E5 Is Regenerative Ag Profitable? Looking at Return on Investments ROI

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-A0uNUN9UG0


The topic title is "David Bamberger 50 yrs wasteland to lush oasis”

You can use the following URL to read it, but you may need to register on the permies.com web site (it's free)

https://permies.com/t/76886/David-Bamberger-yrs-wastland-lush#634894


Allan Savory | How to green the world's deserts and reverse climate change
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpTHi7O66pI

 
Mark Kissinger
Posts: 111
Location: Golden Valley, AZ 86413
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Regarding Tyler Ludens' post:

I looked at the article he posted, and it is absolutely true. The math is very important, and it is important to understand the functions of swales and hugelkulture can interact unfavorably, especially on steep slopes.

This is why a complete plan is necessary, and why it is important to have your plan checked by a competent engineer who understands the purpose of the hugelkulture mounds in the total design.

Kudos to Troy for pointing out my blind spot!
 
Anne Miller
steward
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Location: USDA Zone 8a
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Tommie, it is good that his property has some nice vegetation.  Your description of moon dust reminded me of those bleak barren properties I saw many years ago that supported no vegetation.  I often wonder about them today.  Our west Tx property is mostly creosote bush and Spanish dagger.  The Trans-Pecos region of west Texas is very diverse.


Mark,   thank you for the link to  "David Bamberger 50 yrs wasteland to lush oasis” .  Where we currently live is further west and probably much more prone to drought.

"The major spring produces an average of 3 gallons per minute (4,320 gallons/day) and furnishes all the water used by the ranch "  With water you can do a lot to restore the land.

"Most importantly, prior to habitat restoration, there was no surface water or live creeks on the ranch when Mr. Bamberger purchased the property. He even tried to start his own water well drilling business — drilling 7 wells around the ranch 500 feet deep and did not get a drop of water.

After restoration, there are now 27 stock tanks (or ponds and lakes) and countless springs. Eleven artesian springs are “cased” to utilize for domestic purposes or livestock. "

"It took J. David Bamberger over 25 years of toil and trial to achieve his vision of what Selah could be. He struggled with invasive plants, an abused and neglected landscape and mistaken conventional wisdom. He persisted. Today he generously shares the lessons he learned along the way. The reality is that it takes resources, commitment, and patience to restore a natural space to its closest-possible original health and abundance. In the last 20+ years, commitment and resources are still required. In J. David’s words: “Do not initiate an action you are not willing, or capable of sustaining.”


This is very inspiring.  I am fortunate to have lots of native grasses and my rain run off is directed to go into my pond and into existing dry creek beds.


Tommie, for grasses, here are some to consider:

Galleta (excellent for erosion control), Curly Mesquite (native grass that can grow on as little as 5 in. of rainfall a year), Blue Grama (7 in rain), Black Grama (7 in rain), Side Oat Grama (State Grass of Texas), Texas Grama (food source for birds).

The Reeves Co. Extension Agent is probably familar with these.
 
Tyler Ludens
master pollinator
Posts: 10440
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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The resource I use for most restoration seed purchases:  http://www.seedsource.com/
 
Posts: 22
Location: Amador County
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Some of ya’ll need to get out more. If a man says West Texas don’t give him advice that relies on trees!

 
Jeff Campbell
Posts: 22
Location: Amador County
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You have to have gutters to catch the morning dew. I have friends around Pecos and Sierra Blanco, that’s how they get their drinking water. Start planting what you can in the shade of the house. You have to set up a grey water system to water what else you can. Goats do well there and you could start using them to build soil and at the same time they could make all your erosion issues much worse. Tough place to homestead. My dads great uncle moved from East Texas out to Andrews in the 50’s, he got out of the car and the wind blew his hat off. He chased it about a quarter mile, came back to everyone laughing, told his wife to get back in the car and they drove back to Dallas.
 
Mark Kissinger
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Location: Golden Valley, AZ 86413
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Tommie Hockett wrote:...Anyway, his land is a very steep incline. To put it in perspective the floor of his barn is about even with the roof of his 2 story house. And it is only 150 yards away. He has to haul in water by truck because his well only produces 8-10 gallons an hour. They have 5 kids. I am going to help him out with wicking beds and terracing.  I am a bit concerned with erosion. All of his land and the land surrounding it is covered in moon dust. It is a very fluffy sand like dirt that I think is limestone. He lives on the south side of a mountain. If there is any advice you can share it would be greatly appreciated. I am thinking of maybe making a terrace/retaining wall out of IBC totes. My main concern there is he only gets 9 inches of rainfall a year and if he used the water inside them then they would lose their stability  



As a matter of logistics, putting some thought into your permaculture plan would be a good start. Where will your zones be? The work you expend should be concentrated in your zone 1 and zone 2 areas, where your family presumably will be more active. For instance, what is going on in the 150 yards between the house and the barn? In an area with only 9 - 10 inches of rainfall per year, you want to make sure any water that falls on the property is encouraged to soak in, and not be allowed to run off the property.

Consider the existing drainage of the whole property, and look for crucial areas in which to intercept run-offs, perhaps by diverting that runoff with intercepting swales and/or gabion check dams in the dry stream beds. This is where establishing native drought-tolerant grasses is so valuable. The mesquite trees could be considered as anchor plants for food forest plant guilds since they are native food plants which nurture other plants in their area. As I recall, they are nutrient accumulators. You might save a lot of effort to center your swales and wicking beds and terracing efforts around your existing mesquite trees and work outwards from there. Again, working out a Permaculture Design Plan before you start moving dirt around will save you a lot of wasted effort.

Think in terms of how the existing situation can be used to make a web of interdependencies and diversity which will work to increase your desired yields. Many times, what is originally perceived as a problem can be turned into an asset. For instance, your slopes are potential sources of kinetic energy with the addition of solar or wind power pumps and the strategic placement of your IBC water tanks, and micro-hydro power generation. If the output of your well is stored in the IBC tanks located at the top of the property, you can then direct that water as needed to irrigate strategically chosen plants in your food-forest plant guilds. Since your domestic water needs are already being provided by trucked-in water, it is possible to dedicate the well water to the task of re-establishing the property's dried-up groundwater aquifers, using "mobbed" livestock management and by establishing a system of irrigated paddocks. (See the videos from my other posts).

Your wicking beds can utilize the grey water resources from the house. and the use of rain gutters on the house and barn can also collect considerable amounts of "free water", which can be directed to your terraced garden beds (or to your native-grass seeded paddocks).

 
Posts: 110
Location: Gaines County, Texas South of Seminole, Tx zone 7b
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Jeff Campbell wrote:You have to have gutters to catch the morning dew. I have friends around Pecos and Sierra Blanco, that’s how they get their drinking water. Start planting what you can in the shade of the house. You have to set up a grey water system to water what else you can. Goats do well there and you could start using them to build soil and at the same time they could make all your erosion issues much worse. Tough place to homestead. My dads great uncle moved from East Texas out to Andrews in the 50’s, he got out of the car and the wind blew his hat off. He chased it about a quarter mile, came back to everyone laughing, told his wife to get back in the car and they drove back to Dallas.



i know how you great uncle felt.  I live up here in Seminole north of Andrews and that is one of our worst aspects is the wind and heat around here.  I need many windbreaks to keep stuff from being blown apart.
 
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