The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Channeling water into the sky pond

Drainage from gutter

A body of water that's kept full by rain alone, with no spring or stream flowing in, is known as a sky pond.  Our experimental pond is going to be filled by roof-overflow, so it's a sky pond, but one that needs an inlet pipe.

Since the pond is located in the area that used to be a swamp due to said roof-overflow, it was a simple matter to pipe the water downhill into the pond.  I dug a shallow trench, fitted a piece of corrugated plastic pipe around the gutter outlet, and ran the pipe down to the pond.  Mom had picked up a three-foot piece of corrugated pipe by the side of the road a couple of months ago, which combined with a ten-foot, purchased length to go right to the edge of the pond depression.  (Thanks for bringing me just what I needed, Mom!)

Rocked pond inlet

As with our greywater wetland, I didn't want the inflow of water to erode away my bank, so I lined the entrance with stones.  Then I covered up the pipe, and sat back to wait for rain.  (This seems to be the surefire way to dry up a soppy summer --- the watched rain cloud never forms.)

Insects drawn to mud

While I bided my time until the sky pond filled, I kept an eye on the gleying process.  Earth Ponds reports that it may take up to two weeks for gleying to take effect (with total sealing of an earth pond sometimes requiring two years), but I could tell something was already smell.  Yep, the pond developed a quite-distinctive fermentation odor, which attracted all kinds of winged critters.  (To be fair, some of them might have just been dropping by to drink from the open water.)  The smell wasn't terrible, but I'd hesitate to reproduce this procedure in a small city lot with nosy neighbors next door.  Good thing our closest neighbor is half a mile away.

Pond filling

And then the rain came!  It was a gentle shower, dropping no more than half an inch of water, but the sky pond filled up fast.  Eventual depth at the deepest point was 13.25 inches.

Pond nearly full

We ran out of rain before we ran out of water-holding capacity, but I can tell I'm going to have to hook up the overflow and dig the secondary pond sooner rather than later.  In the meantime, I'm curious to see whether the pond sinks down to its groundwater level quickly or whether it holds onto this rain.

An automatic chicken waterer makes it easy to go out of town for the weekend without worrying about your flock.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Isn't it amazing (and sometimes scary) how much rain comes off of a roof?
Comment by tee Thu Aug 1 11:13:03 2013

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