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Building a Farm Pond: Day 1

1/26/2009 11:32:00 AM

Tags: ponds, dams, water, farms

Read part 2 here.

Moving dirt to build a new pond.

Since we had the heavy equipment on the farm to renovate our largest pond's dam, we decided to have the contractor stake out a new pond on some of our highest elevation land. It turned out the area just above the draw that feeds the large pond was shaped perfectly for an arc-shaped dam and the soil was of sufficient quantity and texture to make dozing it into place relatively easy.

Gus likes to supervise pond building.

After staking the ends of the dam the grading commenced. Since that part of our ground is terraced, the dam was positioned to receive the runoff from three terraces. Thus, the pond will be fed by about 20 acres of watershed, which will be more than enough to keep the water at a depth of about 9 feet. Rather than using an overflow pipe, we decided to control the pond level with grass spillways that open onto a very mildly sloped patch of prairie … just as the terraces did before.

When the running is good, you can build a big pond  in 2 days.

Day one was spent stripping grass and topsoil, cutting a core trench in the clay subsoil and building up the dam … creating a bowl in the earth at the same time. Since I wanted a gravity-flow stock watering pipe, the contractor left the center portion of the dam sufficiently low to facilitate installing the pipe on the second day of pushing dirt.

We haven’t shot photos of the finished pond yet, so I can’t promise that installment tomorrow. Stay tuned though, I will report on the finishing touches soon.


Hank Will raises hair sheep, heritage cattle and many varieties of open-pollinated corn with his wife, Karen, on their rural Osage County, Kansas farm. His home life is a perfect complement to his professional life as editor in chief at GRIT and Capper's Farmer magazines. Connect with him on .



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