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Creating a pond with ducks  RSS feed

 
Posts: 16
Location: Florence, AZ at 2,000 ft elevation
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I finally finished digging a pond for our little homestead (after 1 year of digging with a shovel), now I just have to seal it. I've heard of sealing a pond with pigs and ducks, but have yet to see examples of sealing a pond with ducks. Pigs are just a little harder for me to keep right now though, so I'm going to use ducks instead.

Recently, it's just barely starting to hold the old water I dump out for my ducks, but considering that it's only been 2 weeks since I got them I'd say that's not too bad. Also, we have mostly clay soil, so it shouldn't be too hard to seal it, but my main concern is keeping it wet through our summers where it can get up to 115 degrees. Though, my solution for the heat is to plant a mulberry and some willows around the banks, so I'll be getting some bare root trees for that come January or February.
 
William Gray Iv
Posts: 16
Location: Florence, AZ at 2,000 ft elevation
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Here is a picture of the pond last December when I was getting into it a bit more. I started digging it in the summer of 2013, but have really only worked on digging it out on the occasional weekend and school break when I wasn't busy studying.
Pond-December-2015.jpg
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William Gray Iv
Posts: 16
Location: Florence, AZ at 2,000 ft elevation
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This is the pond this summer after the monsoons. Still not entirely dug out, but it collected a lot of water from a spillway in the swales after our freakishly large monsoon.
Filled-Pond-2.jpg
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William Gray Iv
Posts: 16
Location: Florence, AZ at 2,000 ft elevation
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Almost there! Fiddling with some ideas for the peninsula here and needing to make it deeper.
Pond-4.jpg
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William Gray Iv
Posts: 16
Location: Florence, AZ at 2,000 ft elevation
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Finished digging! The pond is finished being dug and the ducks and their house are in place. By the way, I found that the berms reduce the noise from the ducks tremendously, not that I mind their nose and all the laughing.
Pond-5.jpg
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steward
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Location: Sunshine Coast, BC
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Very exciting! I can't wait to have a pond. Can't believe you dug that by hand!

I think that the idea with using animals - as shown in the thread about using pigs https://permies.com/t/38201/ponds/Progress-Gleying-Pond-Pigs - is to keep some water at the bottom of the pond. As the ducks (or pigs) waddle through it and around the edges, they seal it. As more is sealed the water level rises, and the next part gets sealed, and on it goes until they reach the top. I think that you'll have to supply the water until you have enough shade to protect the water from evaporation. So instead of keeping the water in a tub, you might need to keep it in the pond so that the ducks will hang out there. If their water is kept in a tub, they won't do their sealing work on the pond. Feeding them lots of greens where you want them to work will probably help as well.

Good luck, and keep us posted.

Cheers
Tracy
 
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Tracy Wandling wrote: If their water is kept in a tub, they won't do their sealing work on the pond.



You are absolutely right. The water goes on the bottom of the pond, the ducks go in the water.
No matter where you feed them, it's in their nature to "filter" the mud on the edge of the water mith their beaks.

And those banks you've created without reinforcement? they will be gone. The ducks will level them out..
I read in a book that more than 6 ducks per acre of water will destroy the perimeter because of this.

I do have a small pond that my ducks sealed in a year, and they did a great job, but if I want that pond to be more than a mudbath, I have to restrict their access.. I will post some pictures and info of that pond
.
 
steward
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William, that looks great ! I really enjoyed the pig sealing thread so I am really looking forward to seeing how well ducks will perform. Please keep us informed !
 
William Gray Iv
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Location: Florence, AZ at 2,000 ft elevation
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So instead of keeping the water in a tub, you might need to keep it in the pond so that the ducks will hang out there. If their water is kept in a tub, they won't do their sealing work on the pond. Feeding them lots of greens where you want them to work will probably help as well.



My only concern there is that they like to clean themselves in the tub, so I'm afraid that they won't be able to stay as clean if all the water was at the bottom. Though, they still "filter" feed at the bottom where all the dirty water is after I dump out the tub each morning.

You are absolutely right. The water goes on the bottom of the pond, the ducks go in the water.
No matter where you feed them, it's in their nature to "filter" the mud on the edge of the water with their beaks.

And those banks you've created without reinforcement? they will be gone.  The ducks will level them out..
I read in a book that more than 6 ducks per acre of water will destroy the perimeter because of this.



Do you think that reinforcing the walls with stone would be a viable option? I didn't realize what they'd do once the water level got higher.

Also, this is a picture from today; the little puddle at the bottom has been staying full each day, so it looks promising thus far.
Pond-7.jpg
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William Gray Iv
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Location: Florence, AZ at 2,000 ft elevation
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I though I'd add some pictures of the ducks seeing as I haven't posted any. The second picture shows them filter feeding at the bottom of the pond after I dumped out their water tub this morning.
Pond-8.jpg
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Pond-9.jpg
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Tracy Wandling
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Looking good, William! I guess I should have said to also keep plenty of water at the bottom of the pond so the ducks will hang out there, as well as giving them clean water. Keep the pictures coming! I like to see the progression of things like this. And it's a great way to show 'proof' of the process, so others can do it, too!
 
Elemer Lado
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Do you think that reinforcing the walls with stone would be a viable option? I didn't realize what they'd do once the water level got higher.

Also, this is a picture from today; the little puddle at the bottom has been staying full each day, so it looks promising thus far.



Yes, stones work for keeping the walls intact and they look very nice. Some issues:
- will the pond seal with the gaps between the rocks? (if you have clay soil, I would say yes)
- will it add too much to evaporation? (stone heats up in the sun and keeps warm even after sundown)

You should always have at least one side of a pond not too steep, so your ducks or anything/anyone falling in can have an easy way out. And so animals can go there to drink.

Your puddle really looks promising, if you don't let it dry out, it will grow quickly.

P. S. You've got some lovely ducks, they seem determined to get that pond full
 
Elemer Lado
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I promised pictures about my pond with ducks. I realized that I didn't document it as much as i wanted to.

The pond is very simple, rectangular shape on a slope, the backhoe took some soil and dumped it on the downhill side. No compaction of the dam whatsoever.

I leveled the top by hand, and tried to fill it. The soil is mostly clay, so it held to the limit of the undisturbed soil level, but water went right through the dam. I did bring around a ton of clay in to help with it and spread it on the bottom and sides, but never got to at least smear it on the surface, I just threw it in. Of course it didn't help at all. and then...

... these guys came. They were my first ducks, I didn't know much about how to keep them. But I knew they loved water. They ran right into it, and only left it in the evening.

I didn't find any later pictures, but they were in the pond the whole summer and autumn. It now holds more water by 30 cm, the water surface doubled. Keep in mind that the dam was a loose pile of earth. I am entirely satisfied with the result, if I'll have the opportunity, I will use ducks for other ponds as well.
We already culled 4 of the 10 animals, I felt very sorry for them, but they are really delicious..
 
William Gray Iv
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These pictures are from the 5th. The once little puddle has expanded, it's now about 3 to 4 inches deep. It is starting to smell a bit due to the buildup of poop and a recent algae bloom, which has turned the water a deep green. Also, I noticed that the bottom has a nice even layer of fine clay and plenty of rotting organic matter, which has really helped seal it. Though, I still need to add water to account for seepage and some evaporation.
Pond-10.jpg
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Pond-11.jpg
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pollinator
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I merged your stuff with the following thread. I hope that is okay by you.
 
Posts: 25
Location: Texas
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Hello everyone!!

We are building a 7.5 acre homestead in central Texas.  I believe our soils are "low acid sand".  Does that make sense?  Here is an overview of our permaculture design...




I go over the pond around the 10min mark.  

I am realizing that I am probably getting impatient with my goals and I would love y'alls expert opinion.  Do I need a bentonite clay liner?  Or do you think I could use ducks (which I believe I want!!) to seal the pond?

Here is full tour with drone footage of my property for you to get a better look.




Thank you for any thoughts!!!  
 
pollinator
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I wonder what planting willows around the banks would do to preserve them.
 
master pollinator
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It might work to lay chicken wire over the banks and hold it down with rocks, until grass can grow in.  Chicken wire laid on the ground keeps critters from digging.  I've done this with some berms to protect them from chickens and armadillos.  I should clarify that I mean to put the wire only on the upper banks, not the part that needs to be sealed, because to seal it it needs to be puddled or trampled.

When digging the pond, making sure to set the topsoil aside to be laid back as the final layer once the pond is dug, can help things heal faster.



 
Tyler Ludens
master pollinator
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Beau Brotherton wrote: Do I need a bentonite clay liner?  



Personally I would try ducks or pigs before bentonite (so expensive!).  Geoff Lawton's place looks like he has sandy soil and he used ducks to seal a pond.  I can't find the video for this, but, as I recall, he just put a crapton of ducks in the pond and they sealed it very quickly.

 
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I saw a video where Jack Spirko talked about planting mint around the banks of a pond because ducks wont graze it and it loves water.
 
William Gray Iv
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Location: Florence, AZ at 2,000 ft elevation
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Well, it's been a little while, but we've had quite a bit happen with the pond, including the arrival of 6 geese plus 2 more soon to come. I'm really loving the geese too, they make such a beautiful loud honk and are very friendly, but I'm really looking to hatch some goslings from them to sell and eat. Also, a very welcome addition has come to the pond in the form of duck eggs and they are so delicious (much more so than chicken eggs due to their richness and flavor). However, while they are some of the best eggs I've had I will restrain myself and set some aside to hatch, so that I can hopefully get about 40 or so eggs in the incubator.

On another note, the water is currently about 6 inches deep at the deepest part and while it is coming along very nicely, it has developed a major algae bloom and turned the water a deep green. Regardless, it doesn't seem to be putrid and has no off smell, which may have to do with me adding water everyday through their water trough. Also, I will hopefully be getting some cattail, willow, and maybe mint within a week to plant around the pond to help stabilize the edge more. I've also considered gleying it with some horse manure and newspaper, but we'll see about that.

Best of all, I have some new pictures for everyone and I'll be getting a youtube video up soon to show y'all a but more of what the pond and its residents look like.
pond-12.jpg
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Both the geese and the ducks really enjoy the pond their building
pond-13.jpg
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Here's some of the new geese I've bought, don't know the breed, but some look like chinese x toulouse
pond-14.jpg
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Here's a midday pic of the pond. You can tell it's midday because the water is now dirty and low and because everyone is about to take a nap.
 
William Gray Iv
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Location: Florence, AZ at 2,000 ft elevation
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Just wanted to include one last picture of the geese. The geese in this picture are a mating pair of Chinese geese and it was their first day on the pond when I took it. Also, I found that the concrete mixing tub I use for their bathing and drinking water just about covers the evaporation and seepage I've been getting, but I still need to give a little more once a week to really cover it all.
pond-15.jpg
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Great stuff William!

How's the pond looking now? Keen to see some updates as I'm planning something similar in the not too distant future.
 
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