Using the Pond

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Yesterday I posted this picture of our pond’s exit pipe in the Facebook Small Farm/Sustainability group I recently mentioned, asking if anyone was using anything similar to generate electricity, and if so how.  I got lots of responses and they generally confirmed what my prior research had told me–that it wouldn’t be possible to produce much electricity from it and that what little could be obtained probably wouldn’t be worth the effort.

That’s disappointing.  Water flows steadily through that pipe 24-7 (assuming we keep the beavers away) and it’s a pity I can’t feasibly put it to work.

When we started on this journey one of my priorities was to generate our own electricity on-farm.  Believing solar power would become better and less expensive over time, I kept putting it off.  Now it’s probably not in the cards. So for now at least, we’ll continue to depend on the utility company.

But even thought it won’t be generating power for us, the pond does contribute to the homestead.

It is the source of the fish I eat.  I pull enough bass out of it to enjoy fish suppers frequently in the summer.  Usually we’ll freeze one of the fillets so I can have fish during the winter too.  They are an important, nutritious (and delicious) part of my diet.

On a few occasions my neighbor has used the pond for irrigation.  He sets up a gas powered pump and runs irrigation pipe to his fields (a job I remember really disliking in my childhood). We’re seriously considering putting in an irrigation system of our own that will enable us to irrigate most of our gardens from the pond.  If it works out, then the pond will be contributing to the farm in that way as well.

Our daughter enjoyed swimming in it.  Our son enjoyed paddling the john boat around on it.

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I spent a couple of hours there late yesterday afternoon sitting beneath a tree. I didn’t see any deer, but I did discover that the otters have returned.  The pond is a great draw for wildlife.  Ducks, geese, herons, turtles, otters, bullfrogs, and the dreaded beavers all love it there. Of course for them the pond is already plenty useful.

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25 comments on “Using the Pond

  1. DM says:

    That is too bad. Ever since that post you wrote talking about possible dreams/ goals (like this) that are still yet to be realized I have been thinking about your root cellar desire..can you tell me what that looks like in your mind? I know this post is about the pond…if nothing else, could you write another post and describe that in more detail? Thanks. DM

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    • Bill says:

      A root cellar isn’t on the wishlist anymore. We discovered that our root crops keep fine in our basement. But I had saved some articles from Hobby Farm magazine about how to build them. The best way it seems is to dig them into the side of a hill.

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  2. nebraskadave says:

    Bill, and there lies the usefulness of a pond. A wildlife haven which is a double draw being next to a garden buffet and all. Terra Nova Gardens has just a small little water hole actually but the wild life all know that it’s there. It a place where all the wild turkeys come to drink and probably all the night shade animals that I don’t see. The ground spring water comes up out of the ground and has a ten foot square that I dug out to just dip the water out and use for garden watering. My intention is to build a raised water tank for water storage and pump water from the spring into the tank for garden watering with a hose instead of lugging it in a five gallon bucket. Your pond looks amazing. Ponds here in Nebraska are mainly used to allow the farm animals easy access to water without having to haul it to tanks in the pasture. Their usefulness saves homestead owners much time and work to provide the necessary water for stock to drink.

    Have a great idea/dream homestead day.

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    • Bill says:

      A friend of mine who is a trapper says that ponds are like wildlife magnets. The best, he says, are natural beaver ponds. It would fun to get a wildlife camera, set it up down there and see what comes around.

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  3. Joanna says:

    Maybe this is the way ahead for you Bill, although you may still have to wait a little while
    https://www.wageningenur.nl/en/show/Electricity-from-the-marshes.htm

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      That would be awesome. Love the idea of growing things on the roof–even more so if they generate electricity. Reminds me of going to see my grandparents when I was a little boy. They were mountain folk. Their house was basically dug into the side of the mountain and I remember being amazed that grass grew on their roof.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. shoreacres says:

    It’s a little ironic that many, many (can we add another “many”?) people scour the internet looking for precisely what you have: a place of beauty, where wildlife and silence coexist, without the hum of human activity and purpose all around.

    Sometimes, the apparent uselessness of places, in human terms, is precisely what makes them valuable. Shoot. Build a tiny one room cabin down there somewhere, rent it to wilderness-hungry city folk, and pay your electrical bills with the profits. You could call it Walden South.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      Interesting that you would suggest that. The trapper friend that I mentioned in my response to Dave made the same suggestion. He says he knows someone who did that on a less attractive spot than ours and it stays rented all the time.

      Cherie wants to buy a little travel trailer and set it up down there. She says we should rent out our house and live in the travel trailer. People already think we’re a little crazy. If we start living in a travel trailer down by the pond they’ll be sure of it. Which is not to say it’s a bad idea. To the contrary, I like it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Dani says:

    What about a solar powered pump? They’re pretty inexpensive here and it will definitely help you with irrigation.

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    • Bill says:

      I love that suggestion and I’m going to look into it. We were planning to run electricity down there to power the pump, but if solar would work that would be even better. It would have to pull the water up a pretty steep hill and we’re hoping to use it to irrigate a lot of space but I’m going to check on that. Thanks!

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  6. Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

    Solar may seem expensive at the outset, but once you get past the initial purchase, other than keeping the collectors clean, it’s twenty-five years of free power: )
    Sure hope you like sharing your bass? The last time otters came visiting our farm pond, all of the biggest catfish disappeared; )

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    • Bill says:

      Yeah I should’ve pulled the trigger long ago. We also have a generous tax credit that would have helped a lot with the cost back when I had an income.

      We’ll have to try to get rid of the otters of course. The first time I had them in the pond I asked someone what to do about it. Don’t worry, he answered. They’ll leave on their own. Just as soon as they’ve eaten all your fish. 🙂

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  7. valbjerke says:

    As far as hydro goes – we have ultimately decided that before we can calculate how much hydro we have to make – we need to simplify and figure out how much hydro we ‘don’t ‘ need. In the end it’s more about turning things off or not using them at all. It’s where’s your comfort level sits.
    We have no electric stove, oven, microwave, dryer and so on. All of the lights we use in the barn are on timers, yard lights on single solar etc. Thats likely as far as we’ll get here anyway – a large solar system wouldn’t show us any savings until we’re long dead.
    😊

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    • Bill says:

      Excellent point. Conservation should always come first. Over the last few years we’ve been able to greatly reduce the amount of electricity we use–which of course makes solar even less economically sensible. Like you, it would take a long long time for it to pay for itself. I like the idea of generating our own power (and doing it responsibly) but don’t want to be foolish about it either. Even if we cut our electricity use to zero (which of course won’t happen) we still need power for the electric fences and automatic waterers. Those things aren’t necessary, of course, but we have them.

      Liked by 1 person

      • valbjerke says:

        In our case it’s heated waterers and heat lamps for baby chicks and such. We’re always fiddling around with ideas though – our draft horse wagon has an alternator/belt/battery set up for lights – the wagon rolls and you have lights. We’re considering something similar that might take advantage of the wind we get in the winter – the catch of course is you have to convert DC into AC for household current. I don’t expect we’ll ever be free of the need for hydro – but it’s fun to plot stuff up. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

        Speaking of cutting energy use… ‘Way back, when we looked at alternatives, we discovered that anything (like a charge cord or lamp) once plugged in – just sitting there or turned “off” – draws power. Never mind how much things with a memory like the TV & stereo, microwave, or stove use…
        The only way to defeat this passive current draw is to first plug everything into a powerbar and turn it off when you’re finished.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. avwalters says:

    First, conservation. Then, what about wind? We’re hoping to do that here, where wind is a year round option. (Solar is tough when winters mean snow and clouds.) I’m scouring the net for research. At a minimum, there’s the possibility for wind pumping water with an old aeromotor style windmill. Windmills and seeds and passive solar greenhouses–these are the dreams that keep us moving towards the minimum –getting the cabin enclosed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      I did a lot of research on wind turbines back in the day. I wasn’t convinced it would work well here and the best site for it was right where we wanted to put the house. Another significant disadvantage was the need for maintenance and the fact that specialized machinery was required to do it (that may no longer be the case).

      Like

      • avwalters says:

        It’s expensive on the way in. I like the VAWTs, (vertical axis wind turbines) because they can be lower and work in very low wind environments. It’s not an immediate plan–more a dream. Whatever we can do to be more sustainable.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. jubilare says:

    I want a pond so badly. Of course, not living on a farm, when I say “pond” it would really just be a postage-stamp of water… but I aim to have one deep and healthy enough for frogs, dragonflies, and as a water source for birds and other wildlife. We have frogs already in the area, so it’s not a far-fetched dream. I just need the time!

    Like

    • Bill says:

      I hope you get one. 🙂
      We had ours built when we were preparing to make our move. I wanted it for fishing, but it’s turned out to be good for other things as well.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

      Until you can get your full-sized version, there might be a more achievable compromise?
      This is about my friend Michaela’s alternative (and her little green tenant, Prince Pickerel…)
      http://www(dot)thegardenerseden(dot)com/?s=Prince+pickerel

      Like

      • jubilare says:

        Alas, I cannot get the link to work. I’ve considered container ponds, and the like, but dragonflies take more than a year to mature, and because they are above-ground, there is a danger of them freezing and killing the larva. I’m hoping I can start my pond this next year.

        Like

      • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

        Hi jubilaire, did you try copy and pasting, then replacing the (dot) with a .
        I usually “neutralise” links. If that still doeant work, Michaela’s blog is called The Gardener’s Eden and search for Prince Pickerel: )

        Liked by 1 person

      • jubilare says:

        I did, but it still didn’t work. However, with some searching, I found it! It’s beautiful.

        Like

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