So in 2002, while Liz and I were away on holiday, my cousin and a friend started to dig the duck pond.

They made a very good start, and were very pleased with what they saw as they surveyed their work on the Friday night. Unfortunately, when they returned on the Saturday morning - all the water had gone. They had dug close to a soakaway.

So while there is a hole in the ground, and we confidently expect Mr and Mrs Mallard back again, there is no duck pond as such. We are working on it, and it should be up and running by the end of the year.

News Flash!!!

April 17th 2003. A coot has been spotted actually living on the duck pond along with what looks like a water vole. Our duck pond has taken the first faltering steps towards becoming an eco system.

 
May 2003. The professionals have started work on the duck pond. It now looks like a large area of bare ground with two holes in, but should grass over to look finished as spring turns to summer.
 
Aug 2003. Unfortunately, the pond didn't fill up, so the professionals are back. Deep holes have been dug, large drains have been found and blocked up, and the pond is now filling. Slowly. The lack of rain means there is not much water coming in, but we are keeping our fingers crossed.

November 2003. As you can see, all that digging has had some effect. The upper pond is now full and working well. The lower pond, however still has a large hole in it, and we will try to fix that in the spring.

I just keep telling myself that Rome wasn't built in a day either!

 
19th December 2003. We have had an enormous amount of rain, and the water just flooded into the lower pond. So fast in fact that the leaks simply couldn't cope, and this is what it looks like full.
 

The next day.

Great sadness. It has all run out again. Not just run out either, but left an enormous great hole in the bottom. Well, at least the digger man can see where it is going now!

   

Early May 2004. A friend has incubated some duck eggs, and Liz now has eight ducks sitting with a chicken who will raise them to maturity.

More excitement!

Mid June. The ducks have been waiting for their preen glands to start working and make them waterproof.

At six weeks they are ready, and today is the day they hit the pond!!

Do they love this or what??

   

Late June. The digger man has been back and tried again. Alas - to no avail. We STILL have no water in the lower pond. Instead of clay like the rest of the farm, it is all rubble infill, and it is very difficult to seal it off. He will probably have one more try, and then we will have to start thinking about pond liners.

 
 

Late August 2004.

Finally I think we might just be there. Some friends and I had one last go, and, lo and behold, the lower pond has water in it.

It still leaks a bit, and we will have to see how it goes through the summer, but Liz, I, and the ducks just love it.

 

Late August 2005 - The lower pond now holds water, but after it has rained and filled up, it still runs away until it is about 4" deep. However, this is fixable. We just need to paddle some clay round the edge - when we can find two minutes!

On the plus side, we bought some more ducks at Melton market, and they have just been launched. They took to it like - well - ducks to water!

 

So we now have four ducks from a year ago, and eleven new ones.

Before we could launch them though, the pond had to partly cleared of some prolific weed growth, and one of our nieces is shown here demonstrating the technique.

We now have a water vole inhabiting the pond as well, and a Water Rail has just raised two youngsters - would they be narrow gauge Rails?

   

March 2007. Disaster! Our top pond which until now has been fine, sprang a leak. The digger man was called immediately, and after a lot of umming and ahhing, (during which not a great deal was actually decided) we thought that we would re-do all the sides of the ponds and see what happened.

Magic. BOTH ponds are now leak free. He also rebuilt the dam in the middle, and re-vamped the outlet so that it shouldn't overflow in the winter. All is well.

May 2007. First the bad news. Three of our ducks have gone. Well, two ducks and our magnificent drake, Donald. It was probably a fox, but there are also mink on the Ecclesbourne by us, and they will take ducks too. Little horrors.

Now the good news. No photos yet, but a Moorhen has hatched 5 chicks in the top pond. Tiny little balls of black fluff about the size of a golf ball swimming about like crazy. We are trying to distract the cats who would otherwise be sitting there tucking their napkins into their collars.