I was recently listening to an old recording of Bill Mollison teaching & he told the story of Joseph Timothy Page & his desert ranch that he brought back to life in his old age using only hand tools...
Here's an article I found online about him with some pictures:
"Mr. Page proceeded to use a sharpened shovel to remove unwanted scrub and channel rain water down rat holes. His goal was to promote the growth of dryland grasses. The drainage of water down rat holes drove the vermin from his land, and promoted the sprouting of grass seeds that had lodged in the holes. The grasses would grow thickly around and from the holes, then spread to the surrounding areas.
Page Ranch (AKA Page-Trowbridge Ranch) was reported on extensively by the local newspapers and bulletins around Oracle and Tucson, Arizona. It was referred to as an 'oasis' and a 'miracle' by the press."
An oasis that is until the subsequent "caretakers" turned it into a toxic-waste landfill!
-Page Ranch Lessons by terrancd, HomesteadOrBust.com