Homesteading, Organic Gardening, How to Farm, Preparedness, Self-Reliance
This is a guest post and entry in Round 1 of the Farm Dreams writing contest. The prizes for this round include:
First Prize: A $300 gift certificate toward any purchase of Featherman Poultry Processing Equipment, including pluckers, knives and more!
Second Prize: A 164' roll of electric poultry netting from Kencove valued at $140!
Third Prize: A large heirloom pack of assorted seeds from Baker Creek (northern or southern region) plus a copy of Jere and Emilee Gettle's recently published book The Heirloom Life Gardener.Valued at $125!
Fourth Prize: A $55 gift certificate good toward any purchase at Lehman's!
Round 1 ends began January 15 and ends March 15 so GET BUSY WRITING and email your entry to us today!
Almost by definition “stock pond” is for the stock (for them to get water from and our Highlands love to stand in the water on hot days too). They not only reduce your own well water (or “city” water), but greatly reduce your work. You don’t have to make sure there is water for your animals. They also are a good source for watering your new plantings. (The water is better for them than well water too, and don’t have the chemicals that are found in “city water”). They also need to be cleaned every several years and the silt harvested for your garden or plantings. The silt can also be sold as prime top soil. It goes without saying therefore you aren’t losing any of your own topsoil (or the natural compost found under your trees) either. And lastly, it’s not only the Highlands that enjoy the ponds on a hot day! It’s nice to take a dip too.
Around here probably half of the “stock ponds” are covered with algae most of the year. The half that aren’t have been stocked with fish. (You can’t depend on wild birds bringing in fish eggs on their feet to provide fish.)
We began stocking our ponds early in the spring with Fat Head Minnows. Fathead minnows are small forage fish not growing larger than 3 inches making them ideal forage for bluegill, hybrid bream, crappie and small largemouth bass. Their intended use in stocking new ponds is to jump start the forage base. Breeding early in the spring, baby minnows are eaten by bluegill fattening them before the summer spawing season.
We also added Coppernose bluegill. They are the largest strain of bluegill reaching large sizes with the year round growing season and mild winters of their native climate. Bluegill are the multi-purpose fish for pond stocking. They are abundant, fun to catch, great to eat and excellent forage for largemouth bass and crappie. Bluegill have a long spawning season resulting in a reliable supply of small and intermediate sized forage
And lastly (for the first stocking) Redear sunfish. They are a positive addition to any fishing pond. Redear generally reach larger sizes than bluegill, do not overpopulate and will prevent grubs by eating the snails that are a host to the grubs.
We threw in several large branches (with all their little branches still attached)in all 3 ponds to provide both a spawing area and a place for the babies to hide later.
Two months later (giving the first fish time to grow bigger) we added Channel catfish. They are suited to almost any pond, big or small. Catfish require very little management, eat a wide variety of foods, are easy to catch and good to eat. They can also tolerate a wide range of water quality and can grow to large sizes even in small ponds and Grass Carp, also called white amur, are a biological control for aquatic vegetation. Unlike common carp, Grass carp will not spawn in ponds or muddy the water. Native to the Amur river in China, grass carp are strict herbivores using specialized teeth in the back of their throat to graze submerged plants from the top down. Grass carp require flowing water of large rivers to spawn and therefore cannot reproduce in ponds. Grass carp also grow to large sizes, are fun to catch and good to eat We threw in two 8 inch PVC pipes (about a foot long) in each of the ponds for a place for the Channel Cat’s to spawn.
In late fall we added Largemouth bass are the most popular fish for pond stocking. Not only are bass fun to catch but bass are required to maintain a balanced fish populations in ponds. If we had added the bass in the spring, we wouldn’t have had the population of other fish. They would have eaten them before they were big enough to spawn.
The key words here are found in the preceding paragrath, “maintain a blanced fish population”. This way you have a healthy clean pond with fish to harvest, and good water for your stock.
We also have ducks and geese to help stir the pond waters, and harvest it’s banks. Also, geese are one of our “watch dogs”. Nothing happens (including a leaf that wasn’t supposed to fall then) that we don’t’ hear. As you know your geese, you’ll know when it’s a leaf and when you need to go see what’s going on though. They will also chase off dogs and people from around the pond.
To reduce the maintenance (cleaning out the silt), we had our 2nd pond built just down stream from the one that was here when we moved here. The smaller pond catches the silt (and will be cleaned when it gets too shallow) keeping the bigger (it’s almost 3 times the size of the 1st) cleaner and have a much longer time between needing maintenance. Our 3rd pond (recently built also) is located completely apart (on a different watershed) than the first 2. I built a berm across the main source of water, and harvest silt from it yearly (3 to 4 yards of fantastic soil for raised bed gardens. Having your own source a top soil to ammend the soil in your garden, add to your compost pile (to help it work better) and the many other uses you’ll find when you have it is a blessing.
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