Duck Pondkeeping the webbed friends happy
Out of all the tasks we have on our to-do list, you may wonder what made us decide to build a duckpond. Our chickens are fairly self-sufficient- their watering and feeding systems are sorted, and we can leave them when we go on holidays without needing anyone to check up on them. The ducks and geese are another story completely. It isn’t so bad in winter with a bit of rain every couple of days, but even then we have to refill their clam shell pond every couple of days because they foul in it and splash it all out (disgusting AND stupid). For years we have planned to make a duck pond with a pump in the style of our aquaponics (where plants filter the dirty water) in the hope that we would be able to cross one daily chore of our list. So, our reasons for doing the duck pond were:
- To get rid of one of our daily jobs
- To make a trial ‘swimming pool’ which we will base our main swimming pool off
- To make the duck/geese area more self-sufficient so we can go away for holidays without needing someone to check up on them
- To make the ducks and geese happy!!
We always like a job to have more than one purpose.
We already had a hole in the orchard for a pond which was dug the last time we had an excavator driver up.
We did a quick search on Gumtree (Classifieds) and found a pond liner for a small above ground pool. Our hole was a bit big for the liner, so Peter used OUR NEW (old) BACKHOE to bring over some more soil to fill in the hole.
We were going to line the bottom with sand, but I thought carpet would be just as good if not better, and since we have some lying around, carpet it was. The pool needs to have a swimming area and a shallow planting area which is also the filtering area. We didn’t have any sandbags, and the local supplier quoted us 85c per bag. Luckily, we have HEAPS of old chook food bags lying around that we haven’t gotten around to taking to the tip, so we used them and felt very proud of ourselves. We already had some sand, already had gravel, already had soil, so we got building.
Peter used our backhoe as a giant wheelbarrow for the first time and brought down some old carpet as well as some sandbags we filled. It was quite exciting, watching him drive it and manipulate the bucket. I was also very proud of him because we had had a small backhoe issue; Peter had run it too low in fuel, and diesel engines won’t just start again when you fill up the tank; the whole fuel mechanism needs to be filled with fuel, and once it gets too low, air gets into the system and prevents the machine from starting. Peter googled and was able to fiddle around opening injectors and manually pumping fuel through, and then…it WORKED!! I was very impressed.
So, Peter brought down the carpet and sandbags, we laid the carpet, and then we spread out the bright blue pool liner. It is not the same shape as the hole, so it was a bit fiddly, but we managed (and it’s just for ducks, so who cares??). After the liner, we laid the sandbags across to separate the planting area from the swimming area. Then we half filled the planting area with gravel for the bacteria which will hopefully clean the water, put soil on top for plants, and THEN…the moment of truth- the filling of the pond.
We have a hole we dug to put our trampoline inground, and because the cut was not done properly, the hole quickly filled to the brim with water. We decided to drain the trampoline pool water to fill the pond (even though it is all murky and brown). The trampoline hole is a long way from the duckpond, however, so genius Pete taped together old pieces of roof guttering and made a water channel/track all the way to the pond, and it worked!! 60 metres from the hole to the duck pond.
We dug up a few plans which are living in wet soil to plant in the pond. They haven’t died yet, so hopefully they will work. The pond needs some nice rocks to landscape it and cover the blue liner, and we haven’t put in the pump yet, but we don’t think this is too bad for a three hour project. And the ducks don’t seem think it is too bad, either!