Friday, July 5, 2013
The Lake on High Acres
When Mama and Daddy first bought the farm, the family they bought it from showed them 4 or 5 springs on the place. The construction or maybe I should say, "reconstruction" of Mama's house was the first priority. Then two projects topped the list - building a barn and a pond. The barn was not an issue. There was a local saw mill that could provide the heavy timbers he needed and plenty of the rough cut siding, just like was going on the house (much to my mother's surprise).
So while the barn was being built, Dad and Stanbury, the old mountaineer Dad had hired as his farm overseer several years ago, went in search of the ideal location. The only choice was a low place below the "Calf Pasture" where a very active fresh water spring was located. A back hoe was brought in, a large hole area dug out, and a damn built.
Very slowly the "pond" filled up. Dad was most excited about his pond. My brother and I envisioned a large lake where we could swim during the summer. Always being the planner, Dad had Stanbury and his crew build a floating dock in the pond for my brother and me to swim off of and a picnic shelter on the hill above the pond. Mama drew out the plans for the shelter.
Meanwhile the barn was going up nicely. Unlike most projects on the farm, the barn actually resembled what it was planned to be. (A novel idea I would learn for High Acres.) It looked like a real Dutch style barn. It had six large stalls and a large center aisle, a nice size tack room, and best of all, a huge hay loft. Dad had them paint the siding white and had a large HA (the farm's cattle brand) painted over the door.
The next time we went up to the farm, Dad was excited to check on his pond. What we saw was a bit disappointing. Instead of a "pond", it was more of a large muddy pool of water. When he asked Stanbury if there was a problem. Stanbury took his hat off, held it in his hand, scratched his head and said, "Don't know for sure. That thar spring runs like a clock. Ain't no holes in the damn, ar checked."
And, the picnic shed was built to Mama's plans, however, once again in the running theme, Stanbury had sided it with unpainted rough cut boards. Upon closer look, instead of using regular posts in the construction, he had gone and just chopped down some small trees, removed their branches and cut them to the correct size. All in all, instead of a nice looking picnic shed, we had something akin to a lean-to built by a frontiersman living on the land. Not the nice neat picnic shelter my Mama had in mind, not even close.
On the following visit to the farm the water level in the pond had reached the top of the damn. After further examination, Daddy realized that the pond was as large as it was going to get. Unfortunately, Stanbury had not built the damn as far away from the spring as Daddy had in mind. The floating dock, Dad had built to go in the pond for us to swim off of was pretty sad looking given it's large proportion to the small size of the pond - 40' x 75' at best.
Every time anyone started talking about how hot it was, my mother was quick to suggest a swim in the pond, as if she would be caught dead in that cold muddy small body of water. I think my brother and I swam there maybe once or twice to humor Daddy. There were times the water was so low the "floating" dock was not floating. Given the pond was dug from red clay, just getting down to the water was messy at best. Needless to say Daddy's pond was not one of his best ideas.
Always, able to make anything humorous, Daddy eventually started referring to the pond as "the lake" when giving guests the initial tour of the farm which also included a stop to visit the picnic shelter which he gave my mother full credit for its architectural design and construction, much to her ire.