Turtle puts a speed bump in the pond project…

pond frog

froggy

As soon as the weather permitted we began gathering everything for the pond. Last year we put the second pipe in and buried it four times. The pond flooded over and washed truck loads of dirt away. Finally we dug an outlet on the far end of the pond so the pond could simply overflow. Who would have guessed it was going to overflow six or seven more times and start washing the other end of the pond out? Seriously.

In March my brother and I took two pipes too small for the big pond on the other side of the farm. The dam is busted completely out and will take an immense amount of work to fix.  The idea is these undersized pipes will become the overflow pipes for the frog pond.

There is already a metal pipe at the frog pond. The previous owner thought it was a great idea to take the larger pipe first and put a smaller pipe in it. Complete wipe-out.

This all sounds complicated. It was even worse getting it done. The first pipe was on the opposite side of the frog pond. The path was too slick, muddy or steep so using a lot of chain and some boards we finally got the pipe in place. The tractor had to pull from the road above. The pipe landed too far into the pond. The plan was to dig a little and then wiggle it into place.

The weather had other plans.  The pipe was in the overflow ditch when the rain came down in buckets. The water lifted the pipe and overflowed the pond completely. Another truck load of dirt was swept downstream. The pipe floated eight feet backwards until the water could gush through it. More erosion. Sigh.

After digging more dirt off the banks to make a ramp so I could get on the dike, I dug the trench for the pipe. My brother helped lay it in place and bury it over.  Now we had to get the next set of pipes in place.

Okay, to make a long story short, we dragged an eighteen foot pipe  weighing over seven-hundred pounds through the cow pasture in low-gear, four-wheel drive and backwards.  We backed a flat trailer under it after we lifted the pipe on one end with the tractor bucket. Using five heavy ratchet straps we tied the metal sausage in place. The end of the pipe hung six feet off the end- touching the ground.

“Hey, Bro,” I  said,  “how about jumping in the back of the truck to see if we can at least get it off the ground?” The idea gave us half an inch and away we went. It was a quarter of a mile to the pond. I waited to hear the pipe scrape the road surface; a cop come down the highway or the pipe slide off going up the hill, then slither down into Route 218 and take out a vehicle, probably loaded with a million dollar cargo.  None of that happened. When you have our luck you go for the worst case scenario and skip the small stuff.

While my brother undid the ratchets I walked back to get the tractor. The idea was to attach a chain to the end of the pipe, lift, then drive the trailer out from under it. “Ta-Da!” It worked. Giving the pipe a push it was down over the bank and we were out of daylight. The next day we repeated the scenario with the much lighter plastic pipe.

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After lining up the pipes we filled the gap between the two with concrete. Between the initial overflow pipe and these two pipes is an angle that is going to require a homemade concrete box. The argument is how to build the mold. While this dilemma is argued I decided to get started on burying the pipes. Four weeks later it still has not been decided, so, you know this country bumpkin is going to dump some cement in the hole and call it a box, right? Just saying.

pipe bottom

On Wednesday, June 13, I tapped the first pile of dirt in place on top of the dike where it had overflowed a month ago; taking another truckload of dirt down stream. Considering I have a small bucket on the John Deere we named, JD; it was a lot of work washed down the creek. I am a bit eager to get this area built up; now that I can reach it safely.

dam with arrows

The family took a short vacation and most of us were away from the farm for four days. The sad running joke is, whenever I leave the farm something dies. It has happened every trip for three years. This time we made sure the farm  had a babysitter. The renters took precautions to keep an extra eye on their animals and the farm. Came back and not so much as a chicken was missing. Yes.

Monday morning found me taking pictures of the pond progress. I stood on top of the dike where my last pile of dirt was. My eye caught what looked like several white mushrooms. I thought to myself, “How did mushrooms grow that fast in my dirt?” A moment later I am thinking…”Nah, can’t be.”

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Suspicious, I investigated. Giving the “mushrooms” a tap my suspicion was confirmed. Big Bertha, the snapping turtle, had laid her eggs in the middle of my days work! The rain had opened the ground just enough for me to see a few of the top eggs. Only on Greene Acres could this happen.

turtleeggs

Okay, yes, I could eat them. Someone told me turtle eggs are delicious. The thought crossed mind. Unfortunately, I love nature. I have lots of chicken eggs. Turtles are good for the environment. It takes many years for a turtle to grow to the size of Big Bertha. Many of the eggs would probably not hatch. If they hatch, predators could pick them off. If we decide to put fish in the pond we might be picking them out of the pond. We were years from the idea. It would be kind of unique to see them hatch. I mean, how long could it possibly take?

bigger eggs

“Eighty to a hundred-twenty days!” I yelped at the computer screen. “Good grief, Charlie Brown!” Of course, I had to show the family the turtle eggs and make a little video before officially covering them over and tucking the nest out of sight.  I mean, how many people get to see a nest of turtle eggs?

Guess we will just have to work around the babies as best we can. At least she did not lay them in the hole where we have to pour concrete.

snapper 50-50blogturtlecrop50Bertha’s tail is at least ten inches long. The flower heads on her foot are nearly three inches to give you an idea of her size. As she was pretty cranky measuring her was not something my fingers were going to do, but we figured her shell has to be near eighteen inches.

turtlefoot

Pond One Punky None

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It is June and we are still on the pond project. The far end of the pond flooded over and eroded away the front of the pond. My brother and I; through some creative maneuvering involving our grandfather’s log chains and the tractor safely on the road; managed to inch the old metal pipe into place. It is to be a spill way pipe. Before we could get the pipe set we had a nasty little storm go through, flood the pond and of course the pipe plugged the hole perfectly and was floated eight feet down hill. Another truck load of dirt was lost as the flood water spilled over the height of the pond directly above the main pipe we have been trying to keep covered.

Well, try, try again; as they say. I spent seven hours on the tractor tonight. I have been digging dirt and hauling it one little bucket load at a time to the sight. I refuse to pay by the ton for dirt. The big backhoe is down, needing nearly two grand worth of pump parts. When we need it the most it is in pieces. The pond will be done by the time the engine rolls over on “Big Moe.”

In addition to the one pipe I put two more pipes in that will be buried under the front of the pond and exit where the main pipe exits. The catch is having to build a concrete box at the angle. We will  then raise the height of the pond three feet.

snapper 50 We dubbed this big turtle, “Big Bertha.”

After examining the sight I have taken a liking to it. I do believe Mom would love to come and watch the frogs in a screened gazebo. The dam has to be fenced off to keep the horses out. This looks like a perfect spot to put berry plants, maybe a some elderberry bushes, tall herbs, and such. Hmmmm. I see more tractor time in my future.

Ewww. Maybe some solar panels on the roof to run lights and a pump for a fountain in the pond. The fountain would aerate the pond and make fish possible. Some big fat catfish. Hmm. Mom might not like them eating her frogs. She is already on the fence about turtle soup. We might end up with catfish stew.

Okay, let’s just get to the chiropractor in the morning so I can dig up some more dirt before the next storm hits and wipes out my pipe again.

Yet, remaining to be filled is the mold for the concrete box. Can we say, “Twenty bags of concrete all on a Wednesday night? Scritching and a scratching. Mixing and a sloshing. All to pour on a Wednesday night.” Chiropractor for three- Thursday morning. I’ll make the appointments ahead of time.

After all the long hours of digging I came home to this at the front door…

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and little Noah full off high-speed energy. I think he licked the suds off my brother’s Red Bull. Sometimes it is just nice to have a little pup that always fits in your lap. I love my Dane girls, but a hundred-twenty pounds of lap dog is just not happening. Sorry, Maya.

noah 5050Done to DogresiedI