That looks different.


Let’s go check it out.



J brought his infrared thermal imager to the scene and, as you would expect, there is a “warm” spot in the area that is not frozen. There is a relative difference of about 9 degrees F. in that area compared to its surrounding.

Here’s a theory. A little over two years ago, I started the groundwork for our orchard. We dug about 570 linear feet of on-contour berms and swales upslope of this little pond. Already, it looks so different with shrubs, trees, and perennial grasses, plants, and weeds growing there. It is, also, functioning differently, in that; water captured in the swales percolates into the soil much more quickly.

I’ve been observing this pond, almost daily, for four winters. I’ve never seen this “hole” in the ice before this year. I’m seeing the phenomenon every time the pond freezes this winter. We were informed that there were no springs on this property. This man-made pond captures runoff from the upper slopes. We fully expected that there was a seep here as the pond never dried up. It got low but never dry in the time that I’ve been here. Downslope from this pond is Rattlesnake Run.

I’m suspecting that this feature in the ice represents the emergence of an active spring where there had only been a low flow seep feeding the pond. That would be a nice surprise after such a dry fall season. If this is indeed a spring, if it is really “new;” Could it be related to the swales that I dug two years ago?

Swales capture water from the rainfall as well as run off from the slope above them. I have understood that when you build swales there is potential for new springs to emerge lower on the slope. The following well-written explanation comes from www.permaculturefoodforest.wordpress.com.

 The purpose of a swale is to harvest water passively. Over time, this will establish a permanent growing system, storing moisture in the soil for long-term food and water security. They also help deal with storm water run-off, and reduce erosion by slowing down the flow of water. As water flows downward, the berm interrupts and collects it in the level bottom.  Water fills up the swale, the mound passively soaks it up, and forms an underground water lens of moist soil. This hydrates the soil and sub-soils below and boosts the effectiveness of horticulture and agroforestry. As the water percolates downward, it eventually hits the bedrock and moves horizontally, accumulating at the bottom of the lower slopes. Over time, this creates new springs, recharging aquifers and creating a natural water resource. 


The website goes into more detail about building a swale. The site, also, describes many other practical applications of permaculture design. It is definitely worth a visit. I’ll, certainly, be going back.


Standing on pond ice, south of “spring” looking upslope toward orchard (top and upper left corner of pic) on 1/9/2017

As for the hole in the ice, we’ll keep watching. ..maybe some of us more closely than others!


I’m interested in alternative theories! Send me a note!

Categories: Orchard, Soil, Strategies, Water | Tags: , , | 8 Comments

Post navigation

8 thoughts on “Spring?

  1. Dave Of Course

    Could be subterranean aliens.

    Often the 1st conclusions r plausible but false positives. I hve no idea but suspect that the syemetry implies the answer. The ice whole is round in circumference. 2 it’s almost in the center of the pond.
    Can u tell me any depth variations @ the center as aposed to the edge? I suspect it’s not considerable. So what would cause this anomaly? Could it b frog flatulence. They r congregating @ the deepest part of the pond to reach the only liquid part & it’s giving them heart burn.

    • MicVee

      You made my day with an excellent response including alternative theories! Much to consider here! Yes, I need to go into depth! I do not know the depth variations and have assumed that the back (south) side of the pond at the dam was deepest. We know about assumptions, though. I plan to document more on this pond as the seasons pass and the water levels go up and down. The hole shown in the post is actually more to the front of the pond than it appears in the photo. Not quite in the middle. Here is a link to another photo from a previous freeze. The hole in the front of the pic is less frozen while the hole toward the back is more frozen. The hole in the back does not appear in the latest freeze. Interesting. Pond life, too! There are a mess of goldfish in this pond. Also, a mess of frogs. In the spring, the gold fish come to the surface in beautiful orange schools. Lots of organic material. There is an invasive lilypad like flower, yellow floating heart, I think, that takes over the pond in the summer and then dies back in the winter. Thank you!

  2. June Yeatman

    Sounds a very feasible explanation, as forecast by the writer. I am interested to watch and learn. thanks.

    • MicVee

      Hope you’re staying warm and cozy by the fire, June! We need to get together in the warmth of spring and summer sunshine to talk about frozen ponds…yes?

      • June Yeatman

        Yes MicVee, I have things for you, hay and books at minimum. I do have to go to farm for milk, and shopping and recycles now and again. But staying warm, a woodstove is just heavenly.
        HOpe your woodstove is keeping you equally warm.

      • June Yeatman

        Hi again, I am sure I have never seen a thawed area on that pond. I will double check with others who are familiar with that farm. The theory that making the berms and therefore altering the water flow underground seems so likely and correct that the other idea about the frogs – is just not – as the frogs have always been there. Not sure how long there has been goldfish in there but I don’t think they would have any effect. I stick with the that first idea that altering the water flow has created a spring.
        We shall see !!! Certainly got me thinking. June Y

      • June Yeatman

        I conferred with Ginny who lived there for many years, and she does not know of any melted area in the pond. Going back maybe 20 years. I think this is conclusive that it is new. I believe Artie dug this man made pond with his beloved tractor when he bought that 10 acre piece. He needed a water supply, so he created one knowing the slope of the land. June

  3. Jon

    Looks like a spring to me. Where I live, surface runoff gets underground pretty quickly (ie ground gets really mushy downhill), and seasonal springs form along the low spots. Some of the springs even have a bit of pressure to them. I stuck a steel pipe into one of the seasonal springs, and the water comes up about 2 feet above the pooled water. Maybe that would be a way to test it in your pond?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: