@Judith-- Can you tell us what muscadine you have growing near you? I'm in zone 6b like the OP and I've avoided muscadine because all the varieties I've found so far are for zones 7-10. I don't want to experiment with microclimates yet.
@Case--I moved to the Ozarks in 2012 and I did nothing the first year but observe. It seems you are already on the correct path. Water is #1 and that was your first mention. Try to store that water as high as you can so gravity can water your new plantings. I have found the best value locally (for me) was 110 gallon rubber stock tanks for $57 at the local farm store. I found some 55 gallon barrels for $20 near Springfield but that's quite a drive and the barrels had a chemical smell. Also, swales are the other part of the water equation. I even have a small one that I did myself with a shovel over my first winter here. Despite it's small size (4' wide and 1' deep) it was a noticeable positive effect.
Second, I would get some small livestock to help improve the rocky soil here in the Ozarks. I prefer geese since they require no feed when the grass is growing. Also get chickens; they are mandatory for me. Set them up in a chicken tractor around the property to improve soils, eat bugs (especially ticks), and get delicious eggs.
Third, get those support species planted this spring--goumi, black locust, autumn olive, honeylocust, comfrey, seaberry etc.
Those are very basic starting points. Hope they help--let me know if they're too rudimentary.