I've finally brought out the diving board and leapt head-first into earthworks and a big hugel. This is the first BIG hugel I've attempted, and is the first pond as well.
What's happening here ... in no particular order these are the factors:
water coming off the house roof really needs to go somewhere this winter
pigs and ducks really want a pond
I have more wood than I can deal with - both in tree form and branch form
I've recently achieved enough confidence in my technique to safely fell a complicated tree near the house
Another area needs a similar pond and hugel complex - so gotta start learning!
Moving water through this area is the first step to moving water it to a potential food forest/silvopasture area.
So the plan is for a long oval pond with at least a 4' of separation between water's edge and the hugel - yes, the hugel is NOT functioning as a swale, although we may make a little channel from the pond to the base of the hugel to help charge it in the winter. The hugel largely faces South, but has some curvature to it. The North side will be very sheltered and shaded by the douglas fir - we'll see what goes there (possibly an animal shelter).
Its going to be a few days to finish!
#1 - Muscovies working the freshly dug ground
#2 - Some of the trunks waiting
#3 - the general scene... some excavated dirt in front, some of the felled Tree of Heaven marking the site
#4 - ducks inspecting the first application of dirt. The first layer is a bunch of little stuff - not ideal, but that's how it goes
#5 - laying out the first level
#6 - the second layer is prepped. The first layer was filled with dirt and compacted by driving the tractor over it and dragging the blade, and then I just dragged (most) of the logs into place by driving the tractor along the top.
#7 - placing a long log (since cut in half) using the choker cable with the backhoe.
I can't wait to see what happens with this really big hugelkultur berm! We built a nice medium sized hugelberm three years ago, and this summer it's been growing big artichokes and many, many perennial kale plants without any irrigation. I'll see if I can find a picture of that.
Here are some pictures I took of our hugelkultur berm in process: