Sunday, December 5, 2010

Making a Pond

In 2004 I moved from my cabin in the woods into a house I bought in town. I lived in that house for two years without furniture while my cabin looked 'homey' for the few people interested in a home off-grid. It was hard, but when the cabin sold, I immediately set out to get my home remodeled. I'd purchased the place purely for the 4-lot yard and the lovely location; the house was a mess, but...that is another story.

This is about the pond I've dreamed of since I looked out the kitchen windows (there were several, miss-matched windows across the back wall of the house. Unfortunately, about the only thing to look at was the old root-cellar just ten-feet away.

The only photo I could find of the old cellar included a very embarrassing shot of my poor dog. We'd just moved down from 9000' to two-thousand feet lower and he was going to be very hot. Yes, there is snow in the picture, but it was already spring...and he was miserable. I'm quite sure he was more-so after his shave! I'd asked for a trim...and this is what he got; poor guy was as pink as a new-born hamster. But, back to the story at can also see the lovely view out the old windows; mostly roof and one bears had fallen through, to boot. It was ugly.

As I said, as soon as I could I remodeled the kitchen and ended up with beautiful, new windows that still spanned the entire kitchen. As soon as I could, I removed that old roof.

I can't understand why someone would live with such a lovely view possible, and leave that ugly ol' roof in the way. It's not like we don't have refrigeration in La Veta; we're rural...but on the grid.

Here you can see just how close the pit, as I called it for a couple years, was to the house. It's about 9 x 11' and 3' deep. Not as large, nor as deep as the pond I built in Denver...but plenty big enough. I believe a girl should work with what she's got!

When the house was remodeled, I had the guys pile all the organic stuff on the far side of the pit. A pond needs a water-fall and I remember buying some 20-tons of dirt and having to move it last time. Thank goodness my son John was there to help...but it still took us three weekends. This 'rip-rap' as a base would mean I'd have to buy less dirt. Gotta use the ol' noggin', huh?

Just above are a couple more shots showing the pit in relation to the house and the rest of the yard. In the one on the left, you can also see where the steps led down into the thing. The stairs had to be walled off in line with the side and made a perfect place for the skimmer I wanted.

This one was taken from the top of the rip-rap just before the dirt arrived...and then one of the dirt; another 20 tons or so. They did a good job, not much actually fell into the pit, and they missed burying the volunteer currant bush that had sprung up. Well...pretty much.

You can see how close that old cloths line was; it was going to have to be moved. I choose to live without a dryer, so the line is important...and for more than just holding up more bird feeders! Oh, and you can see the beginning of the place for the skimmer, which would also house the pump. That hose was to give me an idea of where to put the biofilter up on the berm.

Here is my neighbor Rob, working on the hole for the tank that would become the bio-filter. The skimmer pulls water in, the pump pumps it up to the bottom of the tank. Inside the rubber tank is a grate holding a net bag of bio-medium. It looks like a bag o' rocks, but I believe they are a man-made medium on which bacteria will grow and flourish. It is that bacteria which helps to keep the pond clear. On top of the bag go several rounds of additional medium that will assist in keeping the water clean and clear all the time.

Poor Rob...I was absolutely no help with the heavy liner. First a felt-like underlayment went down, with the thick rubber over top. The liner helps protect the rubber, which is a special, untreated rubber that's safe for fish and animals that might drink the water. We used rock to try to hold the liner in place...and discovered the thing was too small. Sigh

You can just see the top of the bio-filter in the above well as the shoot that would become the waterfall. Rob included a small pond at the top, too; it's really pretty...or will be when it's finished, rocks and plants are placed and everything grows in.

Another friend, Allen moved that gawd-awful cloths-line pole. Rob had dug up the other one, but couldn't move it and just having moved here, didn't yet have tools to break up the concrete. Allen discovered the pole he worked on was at least two-feet below ground and had about 300' pounds of cement around the thing. He used a chain, a board and a huge jack...and very carefully managed to lift the block up and out. Unfortunately, he's not yet moved the broken cement. I'm also thinking I might need more dirt...or perhaps more rocks. The idea is NOT to see the tub up top...which temporarily has a lid while we worked on things.

That's the flower-spike from the Red Yucca I bought for it's architectural, thin, spiky leaves. The other is a sunflower blossom that popped up under a feeder...and a couple friends. I call those bees 'Red-butt Bees' and later discovered there really IS such a creature!

The cloths line was finally out of the way and I couldn't wait to fill the pond. I even went out and got some plants and fish...and had quite a celebration releasing and naming the first three fish I got; Casper is the white one, that Tegan (Rob's daughter) calls Marshmellow; Saffron is the pretty solid-orange one and Spot is what Tegan named the white and orange and black speckled one. They're all Shubunkins...with longer fins. Pretty!

As all ponds do, this one turned green immediately. Before long, things settled down and it's already clear. I can sit at the kitchen table and watch the fish swim. I love it. I couldn't stand it and got more fish at the pet-shop. Feeder-fish that were pennies a piece. That's Jolsen with the black-face, Pretty-boy in the middle...and One, the orange fish with the black line down his back. Doesn't it look like somebody 'numbered' him? They're only about three inches long, but they'll grow. Some say I'm nuts to name them...since I happen to consider the pond a bird-feeder. We have Kingfishers around, ya know!

After one false start were we got rocks that were too big way down at the end of the fall, this is what we ended up with...though things are still unfinished

Yes, the water flows, but it really needs to flow over the lip and not so much under it. I've got a few plants in, up on the berm...which may have died already. I discovered that when I water the berm, mud gets into the pond. Sigh My plan is to cement three layers of rock leaning back into the berm. I think it'll work...but it's just too cold to be working in the water now. Heck, most mornings it's frozen over! It'll get there. What should have been a weekend project has taken me about five years...I can wait till spring. As it is, the birds love it, I can hear it inside the house and I love my new view. It'll get better...

This is the pond I built when I lived in Denver. It's 12 x 10' and 5' deep. I loved it. No Koi this time though; I live with bears and lions not to mention raccoons and skunks. Shubunkins are cheap and pretty...even if I should name them names like Lunch or Sushi.


Bosque Bill said...

Wow! What a project! Congratulations on your progress.

Beverly said...

You're such a pal. Thanks so much, Bill. I think next summer it'll look pretty good. Then I just have to get the electrical part moved outside. Good thing the heavy-duty extension cord fits under my back door! Thanks goodness for thick weather stripping...

Amy said...

Now that is beautiful. I am immediately jealous and will set out to get my hot tub. You did a great job. PS I miss you at the office.

Beverly said...

Well, I miss you to...sister. Yeah, you feel like a sister to me. Odd huh, how different we are. But we have so much in common, too...and I miss you too.

Thanks for the kind words about the pond. It looks stunning in the snow (which covers the fact that it is not yet finished), I'll have to get out there and get a couple pictures. It is so fun to watch birds drink and bath around the waterfall. I'm so happy with it, but it has a way to go, yet.