Those are some good tips! I'm not too worried about large mudslides, but I'd like to prevent any minor ones from damaging future plantings, so this question is more about preventing any possible erosion. I'm going to create an overflow from each swale to the next lower swale, and eventually down to a pond at the bottom of the slope.
As for tests, neither I nor the landowner have the money for any experts. He knows I'm new and we are both willing to do trial and error. He's a builder by trade, so he has the machines and tools necessary to repair any damage.
So basically I either want to swale or terrace this hilly land, catch as much water as possible at the top, and let it slowly flow down to the crops/pond at the bottom. I am probably going to be moving on to his land and gaining self-sufficiency too. He's never heard of permaculture and once I started piling ideas on top of him he wanted to put it into action. We are in the pre-planning stages and I'm just looking for any tips from people who have done it, before I just find the contour and take his bulldozer up there... lol
He has many existing "tracks" on his land which he made for his daughter's BMX course. I don't see the roads giving out too much just by observasion, but all remaining vegetation still exists. A previous owner planted 1000 oak trees on the property and they are about 10 feet tall. Definitely overcrowded, but also helping stabilize the slope.
So leaving remaining vegetation in the hill and starting my plants in Spring so they have a growing season to stabilize seems to be the best option, rather than doing the swales right now to catch this winter's moisture. This guy got a major paycut at work and is gung-ho about becoming self-sufficient, so he's willing to try anything.