Pancho’s Pond Fills Overnight

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The drought appears to have broken, at least here on No-Name Farm, where about 7 inches of rain came down as an early birthday present for yours truly. Not that I can take credit, but I was not accepting blame for the drought in the first place.

I was at the library helping with student worker orientation that Sunday evening, when my Beautiful Mystery Companion texted me a photo of Poncho’s Pond. After just an hour or so of rain, it was already halfway filled. Before the rains came, Pancho’s Pond was a large rectangular hole in the ground containing maybe a foot of water. The fellow who built the pond assured us that it would be full by winter.

Actually, he was mistaken. It was full by Aug. 22, with the excess water running through the two culverts he installed, into the ditches he cut in the adjoining pasture and into Glade Creek, which runs through the eastern portion of our timber farm. It worked exactly as planned. I love it when that happens, especially since this was a considerable investment on our part.

That is how I regard all the money we put into this farm — as an investment in improving the land, making it more attractive to wildlife, prettier to look at, more productive. But it is a slow process. The morning after the deluge, poor Pancho the Donkey stood at the back where some grass and goatweed remains, looking forlornly at the sea of mud between him and the pond.

I borrowed a harrow disc the other day from a buddy, who has also loaned me a rake. Another friend is coming through with a seeder that hooks to the tractor’s PTO. (Cardinal rule of hobby farming: Never buy what you can borrow especially if it is something only occasionally used.) I plan to loosen up the soil, disc up the mulch from when the trees were chewed up last year, then plant ryegrass and hulled Bermuda in both pastures. When it grows up, Pancho will have plenty to eat, and the pastures will not be mainly bare dirt covered in goatweed.

For now, all I can do is wait. Pancho, who had a frightening episode getting bogged down in the mud as the pond was being built — a near-victim of his own insatiable curiosity — steered a wide berth around the pond until the mud dried. But the other day, I spied him getting a drink from the pond. That’s progress.


            I noticed Pancho had nearly devoured the round bale we put out there in March and was grazing on grass nearly level with the ground. So, I headed to town Saturday and bought two square bales of freshly cut coastal Bermuda. I tossed them in the bucket of the tractor and began puttering toward the back, where the round bale remains were in an enclosure of hog wire that my brother-in-law, Jim, and I concocted.

Pancho knew something was up and started galloping toward me as soon as I got the tractor inside the gate. I had to hop off to close the gate. Pancho immediately started nibbling on the hay in the bucket. I swear he was grinning at me as chewed away. He followed me to the pen as I tossed the bales inside and cut the strings. For the rest of the day, Pancho rarely left those two bales of hay. He was grinning the whole time.


            I have never used a harrow disc before, but I watched a few YouTube videos. It looks pretty simple. YouTube has become my go-to source for everything from tuning up a bandsaw to learning the easiest way to hook up the PTO link to the tractor. That stands for power take-off, and it is what allows one to hook implements behind your tractor — a bushhog, auger, seeder or whatever you have borrowed from a buddy. I went down to the shop the other day, planning to unhook the bushhog and attach the harrow disc. It doesn’t use the PTO, just the three points of connection standard on most tractors.

The front tire was flat. Ugh. Before any more hobby farming work could be done, I had to jack up the front axle, remove the tire and take it to the tire shop to be repaired. This required using a breaker bar attached to the socket, lots of sweat and a few muttered imprecations. This year, I have already replaced a tire on both the Tundra pickup and the zero-turn mower. I haven’t replaced a flat tire in more than 30 years but am now up to three in the past three months.

It is always something here at No-Name Farm.

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