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Major earthworks starting -- central texas

 
pollinator
Posts: 11827
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
1123
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Looks gorgeous, wayne!  I saw a Monarch today checking out the pollinator habitat I'm planting in my dad's front yard.

 
gardener
Posts: 3072
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Thanks Tyler. I did some pull and drop around brassicas. Also some pics of grape and kiwi. Some took frost damage but releafed. I may be at 100% success so far on the vines.
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wayne fajkus
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Tomato doing good. And the best of the grapes
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pollinator
Posts: 131
Location: Gaines County, Texas South of Seminole, Tx zone 7b/8a
21
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Love the works and making me ready to get started on mine.  Just pulled one big chunk of my debt out of the way so now I can afford to spend a little more to get things started.  Just need to get more into a good design on a few ponds for my land here too and a stream both up out of the draw here and in the draw itself to help hydrate more of the land rather then being relatively flat as from one end of land to the other is a 10 ft elevation difference except for the draw itself where it drops 40 ft or so.
 
wayne fajkus
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I ordered 10 pounds of rice seed to throw into the ponds. May try crawdads again if i can get the rice to grow. Last attempt was last minute, crazy,  gotta hurry kind of thing.

Pond is full and slowly overflowing.

Iris I planted around pond is starting to bloom. Tyler, does the flower color look right for yours? I had 2 different batches that were planted. I think these are yours.

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steward
Posts: 2690
Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
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Any recent updates Wayne?
 
wayne fajkus
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Rice sprouted in the pond but most of the roots didnt dig down so the plants are pretty much floating on the surface. That's probably why most memories of rice fields involve seedlings being transplanted. I would say  90% floated, 10% rooted down. I did do 12 cells of seeds in transplant pots just so i knew when they sprouted. I ended up planting those.

Most of the edge plantings i did last year came back when the rains came. I am very happy about that. The ones ludens had sent me.

The terrace is "amber waves of grain " and looks awesome when the wind blows.  The wheat and oats are  full of seeds and dry. The perrenials and trees are all doing well.

I added a beehive into the terrace.

One cow had twins. Not good. Second one didnt know how to suck so we had to force feed it for a week. Literally pushing a tube down his throat and letting 1 to 2 quarts drain into his stomach.

Father in law passed and ive been very busy at his ranch. Hauling trash out, sorting auction items, mowing it, getting  tractors, generators, welders running so they get top dollar......lots to do.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Wayne, I'm sorry about your father in law.

I'm glad the plants came back.
 
Posts: 107
Location: California Zone 10b / Wyoming Zone 3b
9
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Hi Wayne.  Any updates from this summer?
 
wayne fajkus
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I'll post some pics. I created floating wetlands in 2 ponds. These put roots in the water to suck up extra nutrients. I put Lilly pads in the sediment pond. What started as 3 pads this past spring now has 100+ pads. I made a log check dam and a brush dam. Another swale about 300ft x 8ft wide.  Some other misc stuff I'll think of.

Vetiver is the most exciting thing. An amazing plant. For those in mild climates, you should take a look at it. I've been reproducing quantity of it. Roots go 12ft down so it's drought resistance. In rows it can catch sediment and stop erosion, resprouting at the new elevation and keep going. The top is thatching, horse/cattle feed, weaving material. Roots are used to purify water, make a tea, used for weaving, its the basis for men's cologne. I've seen Roots compressed and used as building bricks.
 
wayne fajkus
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Here's a check dam I made from a log about 18" in diameter. I cut a trench across the ravine, dropped in the log, and placed rocks on each end to lock it in. I cut some v's in the log for water flow. I hope to gradually heal the ravine erosion over time. When sediment gets up to the log height,  I can add another log on top.
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wayne fajkus
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Here is a brush dam. I set some cedar posts to keep it in place, then started adding brush. Mostly cedar (ashe juniper). You can see the material it is filtering(floating in water). It should start clogging up and slowing the water.
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wayne fajkus
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Sediment pond. This is the first pond so it gets all the dirty surface run off water. It's level is stable enough for Lilly pads. When I got the pads,  it had 3 pads and no flowers. This was probably in May. It has really taken off. It also shows my floating wetland. This is an experiment for the other ponds. Not sure Lilly pads will survive with the elevation changes throughout the year.  The float removes that problem. This one is rice and if you zoom in you can see the seed heads. My goal is vetiver, which is more perrenial. I'll show my little vetiver set up next. Roots in the water take up nutrients from cow manure, etc that wash in. It provides shade to lessen algae, and the roots should provide food for fish.
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wayne fajkus
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I was able to get some vetiver slips here in Texas. One slip planted in a 5 gallon bucket or wicking bucket netted me 20 to 30 plants in a season. Here I am taking the plant, dismantling it to separate them, then trimming them down. I am putting them in net pots to go in the floating wetland. But I need a couple weeks for the roots to grow through so they are stable in the pots. So I put them in the blue bucket.

These plants get 6ft tall, 6ft across, and 12ft roots. The roots go straight down. If planted in soil about 9" apart the roots can create an underground dam to slow seepage. If planted on contour, it will filter the surface runoff and collect sediment. As the plant gets covered with the sediment, it will reroot from the next node up and keep growing.

In a pasture set up,  this can be the "trees" in a swale set up. Providing food to horses,  cows, sheep etc. The growth is fast.  The roots are deep so should be drought tolerant. This is my game changer plant.
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wayne fajkus
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Thus is another quick project I did. This is on my diagonal water flow. I dug a hole with the skidsteer and lined the water entry with rocks. The taller grass is rice. This is one of my candy lands. An assortment of small paddocks that can rest for a long time so roots go deep and grass gets tall.  I'm hoping to get natural water into each of these.
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wayne fajkus
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This is a new swale. I hope to line this with vetiver at some point. It's probably 300 ft long and 6 to 8 ft wide.  I moved the soil rather than creating a berm.
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master steward
Posts: 6464
Location: USDA Zone 8a
1913
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Wayne, thanks for sharing as it looks like you have been very busy this last year.

I like your dam.
 
Posts: 64
Location: Central Texas
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Looking good. I’m curious the reasoning for the check dam vs brush dam. Are these trying to accomplish different goals or this based on land conditions that make one better than the other for certain situations??

Again this is a great read. You’ve done such a great job. Being close to me location wise for some reason makes it more encouraging.
 
wayne fajkus
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Joe, the biggest obstacle is 100 days of 100 degree weather. Any newly planted trees/perrenials will need attention to survive the first couple of years. I have lots of fails for sure.

As far as the dams, I wanted to do both, and more. The downed log/tree was on the property. When I first saw a 1 or 2 log check dam on youtube I was like "I can do that!". It was pretty cool. I want to plant vetiver across the ravine also. It will filter sediment and build grade on the uphill side. Vetiver will reroot at that higher level and restart again. The problem is the short time it takes for them to root deep . If a cow attempts to take a bite, it will pull out the whole plant. So I have to work around the cow rotation as well as moisture in the ground.

 
wayne fajkus
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This is a line of vetiver on my original swale. Just planted it. It's within range of water access. This is a horse pasture. I'll have to keep them out for a while.
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gardener & hugelmaster
Posts: 2836
Location: Gulf of Mexico cajun zone 8
1226
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Howdy Wayne. How is your crawfish project doing? We had so much rain this year they were in my garden:)
 
wayne fajkus
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I know the main pond has them. I got a couple in a minnow trap I had set out. I'm not actively trying to get them.
 
Alex Arn
Posts: 107
Location: California Zone 10b / Wyoming Zone 3b
9
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Awesome.  Your project has been a major inspiration for us on our property.  Hoping we can get the first pond started next year.
 
pollinator
Posts: 266
Location: Central TX, Zone 8b, multi-generational suburban homestead
103
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Wow! Love your stuff. It's definitely giving me inspiration for my place :)

Haven't done much since we don't live there yet, but perhaps once my health is back I can get out there and put up some brush dams like I have been intending to do to help our ravines! They're much more washed out than yours as our land is literally near the top of a hill. Harnessing all that water before it becomes an erosive deluge is a bit of an overwhelming project for me being new to this land owner-ship and permie thing.

But what a fun adventure it will be!
 
wayne fajkus
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Started on another unsealed pond. I basically dug out a swale, then filled with water (using water as a surveyors level)to make sure water entry and exit was correct. Everything looks good so far. Next I will dig out about the size of the red line. I'm using the soil in another area. Will post that one soon.
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wayne fajkus
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The dam is pretty much done. Will hay/seed it soon. I'm about half way done digging out the pond.
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wayne fajkus
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Basically done. After filling with water, I can see the berm  is not level. I have a mound of dirt I extracted. I'll add to berm to level it off. The overflow area was cut into the lowest elevation, so the water is basically at or below the pre-existing ground level before I started the project. The berm/dam is not holding the water.  My big concern is getting roots established.

To wrap up, this project took one solid day, but spread over a few days-1 or 2 hours at a time. A skidsteer and a small tractor was used. The tractor had a little more reach to smooth out the slopes with the front bucket.

I also need to direct the outgoing water to the area I'll be posting up soon

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wayne fajkus
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Here is an update on vetiver. I planted the swale line with two plantings over 2 weeks. This shows how it turns brown and looks dead, then sends up new leaves. I've kept animals off this pasture to let it establish, but at this point I can tug on the first plantings and they stay in the ground.
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wayne fajkus
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This is what I used some of the soil for. I guess I would call it a washout area. It looks like an old dried out river bed. It does not make sense to take an eroded, low elevation area, and make a swale (make it even lower). So I made just a berm with the excess soil.  Its pretty risky but I can fix it if it blows out. There is a lot of Bermuda in there and if I can get it growing, it should hold it together.  I also mulched it with hay and seeded it with a food plot mix. Oats, wheat, peas,  brassicas.

If you look at the top left you should see a culvert. That road was added by previous owner probably 20 to 30 years ago. The diagonal flow on my property goes through that culvert. This includes overflow of the last pond I built.. This berm is uphill from the culvert so won't be effected by that flow.

It should catch water from a small area. I'll look after a rain but I suspect it will hold 6" of water in an area ruffly 30 yards x 30 yards. It'll take about 200 ft of hose to get a sprinkler to it. Considering the small size of the berm it might be worth doing it to get Bermuda and other roots holding it together sooner.
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wayne fajkus
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Thought this was cool. The oak tree is dead. The leaves are all mustang grape. Normally the vines would go to the ground and create a room. The other one I had, which finally toppled over, often had a deer inside when I walked by

The cows love the leaves so I doubt they will let the leaves vine down to the ground.
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It's in the permaculture playing cards. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/cards
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