Yes, mowing the pond – or where it used to be. The water is gone. The little fish we saw, the snapping turtles, the ducks, egrets and herons, are all gone. Today’s heat index is over 100 degrees, there’s been little to no rain for the last six to eight weeks, and it’s just too hot for the water to stay. I thought for comparison you’d like a photo of when it was full this Spring.
I walked through the dry bed a couple of times in the last week. I found a Nike golf ball, a bleached tortoise shell and out of the corner of my eye saw what I think were either rats or muskrats running through the tall grass. Late last week, while there was still a little bit of water under the willow, it smelled like dead animals, probably because there were fish and turtles hoping to survive under the roots of the willow tree. But as of yesterday, there’s nothing but dry bed.
Ponds to me seem to be a little bit of a mystery. There are some companies that deal with big bass-stocked mini-lakes but not a whole lot that deal with small .65 acre pond. Getting advice has been a challenge. Should we have the edges clear of trees and grass? Do we need a bigger slope? Less slope? Steeper banks? It’s all a sliding scale of questions that I don’t have the answers to and although I think I’ve found a local expert to come out and help, he hasn’t been able to get by the farm yet.
He did tell us that he’d recommend a pond siphon system to drain it when there’s an overflow. We know from the former owners that the drain pipe was cut years ago and fixed, but there’s likely a small leak it the bottom that has drained the water. We believe there’s a leak because even when the water level was down below the pipe, there was overflow coming off the back of the dam to the creek behind.
The siphon system means that the current pipe is filled with concrete to stop the leaks and then PVC pipe is run up the slope and over the dam so that it properly drains. The silver lining is that without a lot of water to work through, it may be more cost effective to fix.
In trying to make the best of things, Brett and I decided that while it was dry we should at least start on some maintenance. We figured we’d start mowing so we could see what the slope to the pond looked like would be a good start. I tested the pond bed with the Mahindra to see if it was firm enough and not so squishy it would eat the tractor. In truth I was probably hoping it was still muddy underneath which meant the water was at least not all gone.
I drove around in circles, down the side of the pond, in the pond bed, then back on the other side so that he could follow me on the tractor on the same slope and angle. When the grass is that tall it’s almost impossible to see in the tractor how much slope there is and how to best attack it with the tractor and the bush hog. At least following me he can see how the slope works and I leave tire tracks for him to follow.
When it was all done, we had what looked like an extension of the pasture. Instead of having to go up and around to get to the West pasture, for the first time we could drive through where the pond was to get there.
I hope the rains start again soon and our little pond gets fixed so that we can keep a habitat for the animals I love so much.