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Dam Work

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Well I’m sorry to report that the pond guy we were excited to find and work with never showed up and hasn’t yet responded to any text or e-mail that we wrote trying to get some help. Since we’re not the rest on your laurels types, we did some more research and did some reading on dams.

Long story short, trees are awesome in the woods, in the yard, for swings and hawks and other birds. And trees are BAD – very BAD for dams. If you want to get into the details of what we read, in the abridged 150 page government document, knock yourself out here by reading the Technical Manual for Dam Owners.

Dam Panorama – look at all those trees!

Turns out that a healthy mature tree can suck up 200-300 gallons of water a day (a DAY!). Further, you might think that trees on the dam itself would help the structure of the dam by making it more stable. That would also be wrong. Roots, as they grow, penetrate the dam structure, loosening the soil and eroding the dam from within.

I wish I could tell you that our dam didn’t have any trees. But, the entire dam and the backside is covered with them, from small one inch saplings to ten inch hardwoods. And now we know how damaging trees are to the structure and integrity of the dam, so they had to come down.

There’s 277′ feet (I just love the measure feature on Google Maps). It’s far more than we can do in one sitting, because the slope of the sides with no water and the amount of trees and underbrush means it’s slow going. We started cutting from the top of the dam but noticed that some of the trees had begun to slide so they were halfway down the bank.

Cleared after

Figure it will take us at least four or five more sessions clearing because as we get to the center of the dam, the trees get a lot bigger. And then the burn pile will get a lot bigger, and then we’ll call Bryce with his fancy forestry cutter and he’ll take down another pile for us like he did with the first one.

The leftovers (with the baby burn pile across the way in the back right)

We ended up doing just over about 70 feet of clearing, and as such started a new burn pile just up from the pond where we can haul all the trees and underbrush. One of the willows had a giant big black ant colony that was all over the tree when we hauled it so both Brett and I got the heebie-jeebies with them swarming on us and the tree, so we decided that was a good stopping point.

And even better news, we found a farm engineering company that will help us not only with the pond, but with land layout, building placement, and keep us from making mistakes on where we build stuff. They’ll be out on the 27th so I’ll be writing a lot about what we learn.

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