Pond at Roshara is filled with surprises

Jerry Apps
Ponds, like so many things in nature, are filled with surprises.

When we bought our farm in 1966, the pond in the valley to the west of the buildings could best be described as a large puddle in a good-sized marsh. Slowly the water level increased. By 1973-1975, the pond was filled to its banks.

It was a place for swimming and canoeing, a place for bird watching, and animal gazing as deer, racoons, fox and other wild creatures came to the pond for a drink, especially during the often hot and dry days of mid-summer.

The pond has no inlet nor outlet, it’s a water table pond. As the water table in the region goes up and down, so does our pond. By the early 2000s, the pond level returned to about where it was in 1966, when we bought the place. We wondered if it would ever return to the level it had been in the 1970s.

Starting in about 2018, the rains came. Fifteen inches of rain in 10 days in August of that year. Once more the pond began looking like its former self. By 2020 the pond was higher than it had ever been in recent memory. Spilling over the banks of its once high point. Surrounding trees on the banks, oaks, aspen, cottonwood—and eventually killing them. Killing cottonwood trees that were likely more than a hundred years old.

This year, the pond, best described as a small lake, remains high as the rains continue to fall in central Wisconsin. Seven inches in a couple weeks. All the wild creatures love it—the pair of Canada geese that nest there and the sandhill cranes that nest there every summer. How long will it remain a small lake? One of the mysteries of nature that I find so interesting.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Ponds, like so many things in nature, are filled with surprises.

Jerry Apps

Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life. For further information about Jerry's writing and TV work, go to