I bought 10.5 acres in Von Ormy, 80% of which is 100 year (Medina River) flood plain. I made my decision largely by studying Google Earth. Water and rain are hard to come by here, and this is the only stripe of green in a sea of yellow visible by satellite. The soil is alluvial sand, covered 80% by tree growth, mostly small mesquite. I was encouraged by how soft the soil is, all of my farmer friends envy it. Almost not a single rock to be found here. You can wiggle your hand into the soil up to your wrist in most places here, without any amendments. (Which at least for around here is something pretty remarkable.)
In addition to Fukuoka, I have studied some of Bill Mollison and the derived regenerative agriculture of Mark Shepard, both of which favour keyline plowing and making use of natural contour to retain moisture, as well as Gary Nabhan's Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Climate. I currently raise 18 sheep, 7 goats, and laying ducks and chickens in tractors. Tractors are of course rotational grazing, but sheep and goats are not yet. Recently bought elec. fence equip-- don't know what I'm doing yet. Now at early summer, grass is thick and high--but it will struggle in deep summer, which is invariably drout-like.
Having lived here for a year, I am very pleased to see the runoff has not occurred: percolation rate is fast enough that even heavy rain sinks without building on the surface. Seems this would negate the need for any sort of carving out? Need oceans of biodegradable material that I cannot afford, but I think the land has tremendous potential.
I must work a full time job and have three kids and limited funds, so progress is slow. Have basic hand tools, drill and saws--no tractor. Installed a well whose water is gross for humans but fine for ag--about 7 GPM. But no money for equipment to spread that water over 10 acres.
Suggestions on how to make this into something more meaningful very welcome. Definitely want to involve animals, and hoping to invest in perrennial species / fruittrees. But as many of you can appreciate, I also need it to pay some bills. If it can be made to carry any portion of its financial weight it would make this a lot easier.
I am like you in the limited funds category. I have 30 acres to deal with and a lot dried region up here in gaines county. I have just worked little by little with pick axe and shovel over the past few years starting close to the house and working out to have the land collect more water from storms and this has been helping the rocky land hold more water here. Right now with out having had much rain since last November the only part of my land it the acreage down in the draw and the land up top around my house were I have dug the small swale trenches around my house. Just focus on doing something small here and there and eventually you start seeing things change. These two pictures are just feet apart but you can tell how just having a small swale to hold water during rain. Working alone is ruff but doable just have to keep at it. Me I have a real challenge due to most since my soil is inches deep and caliche for many feet down solid. This isn't stopping me as I finding out as caliche is wet for awhile it started to fall apart and easier to work with. Just takes forever to start breaking it down as it is basically a giant sidewalk your breaking up.
Do like I did for material I see landscapers working in a yard and I am having them put trees they cut down or prune on a northern part of my land I am not working to allow for them to decay some and decompose a bit before I move it down to the areas I am working on to allow for any chemicals that may be used to break down. I am doing this until my own land provides the needed materials and know what is being recycled as well. In all it just takes time.