Saturday, June 22, 2013


The farm came with an old pond. In the neglected years of this place it had silted in and grown up to a point that with a good pair of boots you could walk straight across it.

We had long term goals of having it dug out, and a fortuitous sale of the boom lift provided the budget.

I talked with a few local companies, and didn't like any of the quotes, but I went with a guy I know who owns the local mill that has cut all our cedar and cypress for the house project.  The big difference between him and others was that we agreed on a ceiling to the project cost, something that I could not get anyone else to agree to.  These machines generally charge by the hour, and these projects have a lot of unknowns until the digging starts, but our budget was fixed.

It took an hour or two to clear all the scrub and small trees that circled the original pond.

We all though the pond would be a sludgy mess going down pretty deep, and I wanted to simply scoop out all the muck and make space for the water.

What it turned out to be was a couple feet of squishy vegetable matter, with a solid clay base.  Apparently the pond was never more than a few feet deep.  We wanted a deep pond suitable for swimming, so the machine kept going down through the white, dense, pottery-grade clay.  That stuff is hard, heavy, and makes for slow-digging.

I was busy on the house, so there aren;t many pictures of the digging.  After a couple days, the dam was built up, the pond was scooped out as deep as the machine could reach, and a small nub was left in the middle as an island where the excavator's arms couldn't reach from any direction.

At that point the budget was blown, and I was left with lots of grading work to smooth out the perimeter.  I've been keeping at this over the past few weeks, but with the heavy rains we keep getting the soil hasn't really dried enough to let me do the final smoothing.

It took about a week for the pond to fill in.  There are three springs that come out of the hillside right above her, and I am guessing quite a few that come out of the ground under her.  We hop in every now and again, and the top five inches are bathtub warm, below that it's 50 degrees.  

There is work to do, the edges need to be smoothed and planted, and once the surrounding soil is stabilized with roots we can deal with the clay particulates that make the water so cloudy.  Then will come fish, and a dock, and long term a cooling system for the house that uses that cold spring water, and a windmill to pull the water up the hill to our swimming pool and for irrigation in the back fields.  Looooong term.

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