Wednesday, February 24, 2016

how many days 'till spring?

It’s a rainy, dreary day.  Heavy rains from overnight have collected together and formed several small ponds around the side and backyards.  It’s a mess.  I don’t look forward to filling these areas in with dirt and smoothing out the yard, at least enough to fill in the largest holes.  Even the existing drainage ditch needs work. (If this stuff ever dries up.)  No, the sky isn’t falling, the ground is sinking.
There is one project I am so looking forward to: expanding the garden pond.  Currently, it’s a preformed, flexible 50 gallon pond, home to three unique goldfish: Gibbs, G, and Pride (names from NCIS characters).  I hope to double the size, replacing the current one with a sheet liner that will conform to the contours of the old and new hole.  I want the new area to have one section at least two feet deep.  It will take much less effort to maintain a larger pond.
Garden ponds do require maintenance to be kept clean and balanced. There are additives necessary for a proper water environment: water conditioners, clarifiers, coatings for fish health, beneficial bacteria and enzymes, and pH balance and algae control. 

In the winter, the fish settle to the bottom and dream I guess.  They aren’t fed.  I have a small floating water heater to melt winter ice.  Without it, gasses can build up underneath and kill the fish.  In spring, summer, and fall, I have a fountain with a filter (that requires cleaning).  I also have plants.  Anacharis is an underwater oxygenating plant that typically survives the winter.  In spring, I add water lettuce and water hyacinth, both floating plants. (I can’t make myself pay for an expensive water lily that could die.)
Over the years, I have had many fish.  One year, a raccoon (most likely) caught two large goldfish.  One was left on the ground beside the pond and the other was evidently consumed.  The blood caused a pH crash killing about eight babies we didn’t know existed.  That was a sad day.  I actually cried.  The large ones had been there for several years and were at least six inches long.  I pulled out the pond and filled in the hole.  But, I later reinstalled it and started all over again.

Call me crazy.  I don’t care.  But, every single fish we have ever had have been named.  I also have trained them.  A tap to the closest edge lets them know it’s feeding time and they quickly come.  I eventually can (to most) actually drop a piece of food into their mouths.  And, several have allowed me to pet them (rub their backs).

Several years the pond was also home to frogs.  Early on in my pond years, a tiny little frog appeared on a floating plant.  He grew and hung around for that year.  A few years later, a huge monster frog scared me out of my flip flops.  (I wasn’t previously aware of his presence.)   

I’m looking forward to spring.  My favorite time of year.  Sitting outside on my glider.  Listening to the soothing sound of bubbling water.  The fresh breeze and warm sunshine.  Ahhhhh....

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