This post is dedicated to an ongoing project of mine that started back in October 2015 with the first shovel of dirt that would become our 1,600+ GAL pond.
See we have a love/hate relationship here with water… We chose this area because it has a strong supply of that which is seemingly going into shorter and shorter supply in the world. Here there is no shortage of H2O! So we needed mechanisms with which to control this resource. My idea was solid but it has changed, adapted, and grown exponentially over the past 6 months. It started with our pond.
A modest 500 GAL pond created with little digging on a spring that travelled through our front yard turned into a future duck pond of 1,600 GAL or so. It took a lot of digging, several tons of rock from around the farm, and 5 months (through Winter even) to get to here. I really like building ponds if you couldn’t tell…
Once Spring arrived the idea of creating a large-scale irrigation and watering system connected to this was heavily on my mind. See we can’t use the creek water for our animals because it is polluted from straight-pipes from homes on up with you know what. We want healthy animals because eventually they will be eaten by us! Plus, Lori was having to carry many jugs of clean water everyday to the barn 200 yards away for the animals. This was not what she wanted to spend her time doing!! So I created a plan…
Above is a quick diagram of what has been installed. It looks convoluted because, well, it is. We have three tapped springs that I have dammed and fitted with 3/4″ overflow pipe. Spring one is the main and never goes dry, while springs two and three loose some flow in the Spring/Summer. The main spring runs to a 55 GAL barrel that has a spigot (located at the bottom of the barrel) that heads to our main garden for watering. It also has an overflow tube that travels to a 275 GAL tank. See below:
This is our main containment tank for irrigation. It feeds our lower garden with a constant supply of clean, fresh water and overflows into our pond. Springs two and three also lead directly to the pond to maintain constant pass-through. You can see I have not be able to successfully attach a pipe to the output on the tank and have had to improvise with a 1 gallon, gravity-fed funnel. Please don’t laugh now. The tank was gifted to us by a neighbor and was flipped 100 yards horizontally, and 40 yards vertically into position on the hill above our house. All in a good days work.
The overflow here travels another 350 feet to the lower garden’s 55 GAL barrel which again has a spigot to a watering hose for the strawberries and potatoes. Then another overflow that leads to barrel #3 for instant access at the barn. The last overflow is channeled around our barn and exits into our creek.
This entire system is completely gravity-fed along the more than 1,600 feet of tubing and hose. There is likely 100 feet of drop from top spring to exit at the barn. Much of the tubing winds through our woods and is surrounded by poplar saplings, mountain rose bushes, blackberries, and all sorts of wonderful heavy growth like this:
So back to the pond now… with all three springs feeding our pond, we have established a wonderful ecosystem that self-filters and aerates. Our tadpoles are thriving and our ducks will have a great place to play and grow. There is an added bonus to the pond as well. There are two overflows that serve two completely different purposes. The main drain actually feeds into a 14′ long, 6″ wide feeding station (salvaged from neighbors) for our laying chickens which can be expanded as more coops are built. This will serve as a frost-free watering station this Winter when normal watering stations freeze over and need constant attention. Nothing like dealing with frozen water bottles twice a day in 10 degree weather; for 3 months!
The secondary drain on the pond will lead into what will be our new, water-thirsty garden located in front of the pond. With any luck, this will give us more time to spend tending to other projects and less time watering. Weeding though is a whole different animal though. Below you can see our waterfall that aerates the pond and gives off a pleasant sound.
I love that we were able to use this great, CLEAN source of water for so many uses and I look forward to refining my work in the future. Nothing quite beats when nature and farm work so well together!