Many moons ago when we first started looking at property, Ken had a lot of opinions about what he was looking for. He’s normally a pretty easy-going fella, but when it came to land, he was quite picky. His dream property needed to be ten or more acres, off the beaten path, out of Jefferson County, with oodles of potential.
Me, on the other hand? I only had one criteria when it came to land. I wanted water. That makes sense, right?
We first started looking at lake front property, but it didn’t take long to find out that lake front is not what you would call “budget friendly”. Ken tried his hardest to find some acreage near the water that was within our budget. We even put a contract on a piece of land that was moderately priced and right on the river, only to find out that the entire parcel was in a flood zone which meant we’d never have been able to get a permit to put a house on it. Talk about dodging a bullet! Thank goodness my husband has mad researching skills, and we found out before any money changed hands and were able to back out of the contract. It would have been a huge mess.
Once it became obvious that lake front property was not going to be an option, we started looking for some land with a pond. However this too proved to be fruitless. Since we had other limiting factors like location to the office and trying to become debt free in the process, finding land with a pond was proving to be just as difficult as finding lake front property. That didn’t stop us from searching though. Lord knows we tromped through many acres looking for a parcel that fit all of our needs, but eventually, Ken came to me dejected, claiming it just wasn’t meant to be.
So we moved on to Plan C! Our next option was to find land with the potential for a pond, meaning we would just have to build it ourselves. For two years we looked for property, and finally after much searching, we found our little 16-acre gem which included two wet-weather creeks. It wasn’t on the lake, and there wasn’t a pond. But there was definitely potential.
For the past month our lives have been consumed with finally building this pond. My dream. My one criteria when Ken asked me what I wanted in a piece of land. My own personal body of water.
It was slow going at first. The research part always is. First we had to have a pond expert come out to the house and access our pond placement. If there’s one thing I’ve learned through this whole process, it’s that ponds don’t just happen willy nilly. There are a whole host of issues to consider like water catchment, cherty soil, clay content, overflows, and then of course, the million dollar question, “Will it actually hold water once it’s built?”
Our neighbor down the street built a pond several years back. Well, it was supposed to be a pond. He actually just calls it his mud hole because his pond has never held water properly. There is no telling how many thousands of dollars he’s spent trying to get that pond to hold water, and for whatever reason, it just doesn’t work. That was the very situation we were trying to avoid. So we took this researching step very seriously.
It was quite an education for us, but our pond expert said we had about a 65% chance of having a working pond on our land. In the pond world, that’s about as high of a percentage as you can get them to commit to. So we decided to roll the dice and take our chances.
They started clearing around mid-May. While my daring husband knows his way around an excavator and is normally a talented do-it-yourselfer, we decided it was best to hire some professionals for this job. At first I had a hard time watching so many of my beloved trees come down. I love a shady yard. It kills me to see all these new neighborhoods being built with nary a tree in site. I hung on to as many trees as I could, asking with each one if that tree had to come down, but I tried to remember the bigger picture. I was trading wood for water.Those specs in the dirt are Edie and Roark building mud villages. Every night after the workers would go home, my kids would rush out to play in the fresh dirt before nightfall. They would finally come in for bed with dirt on their faces and covered in bug bites, signs of summer in the country.
Once the clearing was done, it was time to start on the dam.Go ahead…ask me how to build a dam. I can tell you what all is involved. In a nutshell, you take a lot of clay and pound the crap out of it, and then you add some more clay on top of that and start pounding again. Our house actually shook at times from them pounding the ground, compacting the clay.
Finally after two weeks of clearing and digging, pounding and pushing, this is what we were left with. Our very own mud hole. Actually this picture was taken after the first rainfall while standing on our back porch. The pond is a quarter of an acre.
I know the wide angle lens kind of changes the perspective, but the pond is only 30-40 feet from our back deck. In my wildest dreams, I never imagined my water would be so close to the house, and I absolutely love that it is.
We didn’t plan it that way. Two years ago when we cleared the driveway for the house I said I would just be happy if I could see the pond even if it was from a distance. I just wanted to see it from somewhere. I had no idea that it would actually end up right outside our back door.
We then began the waiting game. Ken and I were prepared to wait four or five months before we actually saw our mud hole fill with water. Since we dug it right at the beginning of summer, I expected any rain we received would just evaporate before it could rain again, but I underestimated the power of water catchment.
Boy oh boy! All it took was one good downpour, and it was like turning on the faucet and filling up a bathtub. I could actually see the water rising before my eyes. I wanted to dance a jig. My water! It was finally here!
I know it still looks like a muddy mess, and it probably will be a while longer until the grass seed can grow. It’s going to take some time for the mud to sink to the bottom and the water to darken, but so far, the water seems to be holding!