After listening to Joel Salatin speak at the Acres conference in 2012, Tim returned fired up about capturing rainwater for use on the farm. Joel inspired us to hang on to every drop that hit our soil for as long as we could… by building a pond.
He says, “It is all about leveraging whatever you have:
The #1 lesson is to keep the water where it lands on your farm as long as you can . Keep every raindrop as close to its place of dropping for as long as possible.
We just don’t think enough about water. Imagine you are a raindrop and you come down and hit the ground. Gravity wants to move you down hill as quickly as possible. It’s physics!
So, as farmers, we want to hold that raindrop as high on the land for as long as possible. Because the longer we hold it and the higher we can hold it, the more that raindrop can be used productively before it heads out to sea.
P. A. Yeomen- Australian water guru- wrote Water for Every Farm. His view was that the weak link on every farm was water.
Building a pond is one of the smartest things you can do, so that you can eliminate flooding during winter snow and storms and prevent the devastating effects of drought in summer.
Digging a pond is building forgiveness into the landscape. I believe it is part of our stewardship responsibility as caretakers of creation. I would say 80% of farms don’t’ have enough water.
P.A. Yeomen says every farm should be 8% water! It is great to go back to those ravines and streams that use to run with winter melt-off and see it running into a pond instead of off the land.” ~ Joel Salatiin
Our pond is 1/3 of an acre and holds about 800,000 gallons of water. It is fed by a wet-weather spring uphill and any overflow spills downhill into the stream.
Building a pond is not as easy as just digging a hole. We wrestled (literally!) with a persistent slow leak at the spillway and finally, with the help of our talented welder friend Dain Taylor and sodium benonite, we sealed the leak and we’re happy to report the water level is holding steady- crisis averted!
The plan, in addition to irrigation, is to grow fish. Since one of our 5-year goals is to produce or barter for 75% of our family’s food, fresh fish will be a healthy addition to the mix.
Tim learned about growing fish in a cage (we’ll explain in a future blog) and is very excited. We’ll raise two seasonal crops of fish. In the summer, we’ll grow Channel Catfish (March – October) and in the winter, we’ll grow Rainbow Trout (Oct. – March). Channel Catfish are more heat tolerant and Trout require cooler temps. Both are delicious and will be for sale once they reach 1-2 lbs.
To kick-start the new ecosystem, first we’ll introduce Fathead and Rosie Red Minnows feeder fish for the aquatic food chain.
We’ll purchase these “fingerling” fish at Zett’s Hatchery in Inwood, WV .
Last but not least, the pond will provide wildlife habitat and a wonderful place for recreation- fishing, swimming and boating.
It didn’t take long for us to spot mature frogs, tadpoles and Hooded Merganser Ducks.
It’s true what they say- “Build it and they will come!”