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In which the House Dam fills but does not fail – Huzzah!

January 23, 2012 | Building, Natural Building, Water Harvesting + Reuse | 9 comments | Author:

So just over a year ago, our house dam filled for the first time. And then went into scary nearly-melt-down. So we pumped the water out, fixed it, and then waited for it to fill again. And waited. For a year.

Do excuse multiple soggy shots of muddy pools, but this is big news at Milkwood Farm. Last weekend, for the first time, our swale and dam system filled, thanks to a big downpour on the tail of a very wet spring. And nothing went wrong. Yay!

If you’d like to read about our imperfect (but ultimately triumphant) history with earthworks at the farm, please read the Saga of the Top Dam and the Saga of the Middle Dam.

You could also read these if you’re just feeling sad, and need to be cheered up by the fact that at least you don’t have multiple heart-stopping earthworks structural oddities that nearly took your best-laid plans apart.

But that’s all behind us now. The house dam is full! Not that it will stay full in this climate, we know that. But we are fairly sure that all the dams on our little farm work now. And that makes me extremely relived, for all sorts of reasons.

As you can also see, the tinyhouse is nearing completion. Hoping we’ll be in for Easter, but hoping in a ‘I hope The Decemberists play Sydney and I can escape child-free  for a whole weekend to see them’ type way… it would be great (really great), but we’ll live if it doesn’t happen.

We’ll be swimming + fishing off the deck in no time….

The pond below the house dam, created to acquire material to repair the dam wall the time it nearly failed due to dodgy construction in December 2010. Now a frog and goose haven.

Thanks to Stephen Couling for the photos…

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  • Mark Fuller January 23, 2012 at 8:32 am | Reply

    Phew! I imagine that was an exciting (!) few hours. Good job!

  • Sandy Blackburn-Wright January 23, 2012 at 11:56 am | Reply

    Hard work pays off (even if you have to work and rework, very hard and for a long time). So congrats!!! no doubt it all the dams will give you pleasure and water for many years to come.

  • LightFoot Education January 23, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Reply

    Congratulations on a full dam! I like the idea of swimming and fishing off the deck but I’d be concerned about having little kids so close to the water. I’m sure you’ll be vigilant in watching your little man though! Did the Council have anything to say about this? Railings etc?

    1. milkwoodkirsten January 23, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Reply

      Thanks for your concern – but fear not, there is a pool-height fence going in around the house and courtyard, and we ain’t moving in till that’s done!

  • Michael January 23, 2012 at 10:04 pm | Reply

    Sir Darren, Knight In Shining Dam Sealing Expertise, strikes again :) !

    1. milkwoodkirsten January 24, 2012 at 7:17 am | Reply

      Well, Sir Darren, Sir Cam, and Sir Nick, actually!

  • Darren J. Doherty January 28, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Reply


    I only suggested new non-dispersive clay, a sheepsfoot mounted on an excavator and gypsum. Otherwise Nick did all the rest in his usual fantastic way….Highlights what has been the core issue from the start and one that I have been harping on about for many years: its really important to not just dive into earthworks without the appropriate due diligence. A PDC is not an open licence to do ‘Reconstructive Earth Surgery’ as suggested by many in the movement. I see that as being the height of irresponsibility and for some would be the end of their rural resettlement plans. In this case Milkwood is fortunate it is able to generate some of the revenue required to cover the costs that otherwise could have been avoided with the appropriate process in place. Looks great and so happy for you all that the house is nearly ready to camp in! Well done all round. Ciao, Darren

  • Dan Palmer February 3, 2012 at 8:58 am | Reply

    Looking great! Well done sirs. We’re tackling a leaky dam in NZ currently and will surely benefit from the learnings you’ve shared.

  • rob February 11, 2012 at 3:01 am | Reply

    Looking great guys!


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