Northwood couple's duck pond brings joy

·3 min read

May 23—When it comes to backyard water features, a Northwood couple's pond is a bird of a different feather.

Tony and Pam Shirey, who live on Drouillard Road, wanted something more unusual compared to the traditional oval or kidney-shaped pond.

"We always wanted a pond and had land to do it," Mr. Shirey said. "And if we were going to do it, we wanted something unique, not just a hole in the ground."

Mrs. Shirey said the rear of their property, which used to be subleased to a farmer for crops, had been improved a lot and much of that would get destroyed or disturbed to add the pond. So it had to be something special.

"Planting over 500 trees, different types of grasses, walking trails, and lots of wildflowers," Mrs. Shirey said. "My husband put a lot of time in creating this little piece of heaven and it would all have to be dug up."

So when the self-described wildlife enthusiast who collects ducks decided their pond should be in the shape of the waterfowl, Mr. Shirey then had the task of finding a way to make it happen.

He said it took a couple of years to find a contractor willing to do the unusual job, let alone for a reasonable price. The project finally came to fruition in the fall of 2019, using global-positioning mapping to mark out the silhouette and taking about two weeks to complete.

The body of the duck is lined with a rock border, helping to define and maintain the shape, while the head was made using pea gravel and the beak is colored sand. The pond is filled by natural drainage and dyed blue to keep plant growth down. The couple stocked it with bluegill and catfish last year, and will soon add some bass to the mix.

"When my friends come over, they don't go to the house anymore," Mr. Shirey said. "They drive all the way back here. They know where I'm at. They'll come over and we'll fish for bluegill."

So far, the only ducks in the Shireys' duck pond are decoys the couple hopes will attract the real variety to take a dip. But deer and other wildlife quickly discovered the oasis and visit regularly.

The couple spends their afternoons and evenings by the water, and hosts family gatherings there too. A nearby "she shed" acts as a small shelter, a changing room, and storage for swimming and floating gear.

"Pretty much every day in the summertime, we'll be out here doing something," Mr. Shirey said. "It's a big pool that I don't have to pour chemicals in every day or clean and cover."

He's also a volunteer firefighter for the Northwood Fire Department and hopes to host a water-rescue training at some point.

Mrs. Shirey wants to plant more trees, grasses, and wildflowers, as well a construct a floating platform and a pavilion. Mr. Shirey envisions adding chickens and goats to the property sometime.

"I look forward to getting off work and coming to cut my grass," Mr. Shirey said. "It's a stress reliever. I put on my music and just go crazy. I'll spend four hours and don't even realize four hours went by. When I retire, I'll be the guy out here doing something different every day."

First Published May 23, 2021, 8:46am

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