Saturday 4 May 2019

How I Made My Pond

    One afternoon, maybe twenty-five years ago, I was sitting at my draughting table at the Forest Service Office, working on a map.  One of the things I liked about the job was that it enabled me to listen to CBC radio as I worked.  That particular day on the radio they were interviewing a man from Saskatchewan who had built a lake on his property, and had written a book about how he had done it.  My interest was peaked.
    As he spoke I began to daydream about how nice it would be to have a lake or a pond on our property.  It  was so nice to be around bodies of water and there weren’t many lakes around McBride.  I had always wanted to do something to enhance wildlife, and a lake or pond would create a new home for a lot of different kinds of plants and animals.  My daydreaming about building a pond began to more and more convince me that it was something that I should do.
    We did have a pasture right below our house, that we no longer used for horses (photo above) and it  growing up with weeds and buttercups.  It seemed like a perfect place for a pond. 
    Okay, I decided to pursue the pond building idea.  I jotted down the name of the book, and author at the end of the interview (Unfortunately, the name of the book, and the book itself are now gone).  
    When I got the book I started reading through it.  It was full of information that I had never considered, like how important wind blowing across the pond was for getting oxygen into the water and preventing stagnation.  My pasture got lots of wind, so that wasn’t a problem.  My pasture was clay, which was perfect for holding water.  I wasn’t sure about getting water into a pond, but I figured it would eventually fill just with the rainfalls.
    I then spent a lot of time in the pasture with a clinometer (a small instrument that was held up to the eye that I used at forestry to measure the slope of the land)  My pasture did slope downward, and I discovered that I couldn’t use the whole pasture for a lake because at the far end the dam would have to be too high to hold the water.
    I marked out the area that seemed the most reasonable place for a pond and used flagging tape on the fence posts and trees for the boundary and the needed height of the dam.  I was ready to go, but I found the decision to actually start digging, terrifying.
    What if I got the big hole dug and it didn’t fill with water?  How would our property look with a big ugly hole in the middle of it? 
    In the fall, I finally took a leap of faith and called Dutch, who had a Caterpillar tractor.  We set a time and he came out with his machine and started digging the hole in the pasture.
    The story continues tomorrow.  

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