Not a Single Minnow Left

Buddy Koi and Partner

Last week we had a beautiful day here in the tiny town of Frankfort. The birds woke me up early and I actually went out to the garden to plant a Castor Bean seedling a friend gave me. I got the fever. The pond needed another dredging before the water lilies over take it. I got my trusty fifty year old lawn rake out of the  garage and began scraping the bottom of the pond of organic mush, mostly decayed leaves. It took me about forty-five minutes to get around the perimeter. While doing that I kept my eyes open for fish survivors. In that whole time I spotted only one lonely Koi. Last Father’s Day my son-in-law surprised me by stocking the pond with two four inch koi and a couple dozen comet goldfish about on inch long. By the end of summer the koi grew to six inches and the gold fish to four inches.

At the beginning of fall I always shut down the pump which makes the water flow from the pond into a waterfall. That action keeps the water aerated. When the pump is off I usually install three aerators to keep air moving into the water. For three years in a row all the fish went belly up by mid November, that is, until last fall. I kept the pump going all winter long. The electric company kept sending me letters that my electricity consumption was thirty percent higher than any of my neighbors. Such is the cost of saving fish lives. At the end of winter when all the ice had melted on a nice sunny but cold day the two koi sunned themselves, and a beautiful black and orange comet joined them. Success! I saved the fish. I figured I better clear the skimmer of scum and lifted the lid. There sitting on the edge of the skimmer basket was a giant leopard frog. He took one look at me and jumped into deep water. Here we are nearly three months later and I am finally doing maintenance on my water-garden-fish-pond. I didn’t see the big frog, but I did scare up one tiny beeper. Throughout the dredging only the larger white koi revealed himself. I never saw a minnow nor the koi’s partner.

Today, I took a closer look at the pond. The water lillies have tripled in size and have covered over fifty percent of the water surface, by the end of next week they will be giant beautiful deep green round pads and the flowers will begin to bud. I stared at the beauty of it when I spotted a slight movement beneath the foliage. Ah! There between the pads was the second koi, and then his partner appeared. I am a proud daddy of two koi. But where are all of the comets? Then I remembered the now missing big frog. I’m sure he had a very large grin on his face as he departed the pond for the wetland behind the house. Still, there should be some comet minnows hiding somewhere, but I have yet to spot a single one.

Oh yeah, I finally limped back into the house after four hours. I haven’t been able to move my legs since. My quads and glutes are just burning and keeping me from bending, sitting, walking, or anything. The best first day of gardening ever!

Join My Little World

New Pond Looking NorthWest

New Pond Looking NorthWest

Happy Birthday Barb! Today Peggy and I went to mass at Saint Anthony’s. The mass was said for you. You would have been seventy years old today, and officially older than me. Remember when I’d joke about it, and tell the kids that you were older than me?  Remember when I used this three week period to refer to you as the “Old Battle Axe?”  Now that I think about it, it wasn’t very funny, was it?  I miss our birthdays together so much. Because we were born in the best part of the year, it made for some really fun celebrations. The celebrations are no more. They exist only in my mind.

After mass, we drove to Pets Mart to pick up some fish food. The goldies in the pond are beginning to respond to being fed. We bought two koi. Immediately, they became Peggy and Joe. We don’t know what sex they are, probably never will either. We’ll know if they are a pair if the pond over populates with little koi.

We came home, and I placed the plastic bag into the stream to equalize in temperature. I left it there for an hour. As I did this, the flash appeared again. This time I saw the landing. It is a frog. Freddie has been verified. Peggy was distraught to learn that there was a fish eating frog in the pond. She asked me to net him and put him back in the swamp. I gave her a lecture on nature and the importance of predators to keep balance. She ain’t buying it. This is going to be an interesting summer.

When I let Peggy and Joe out of the bag, the current of the stream carried them into the big pool. Immediately they got lost in the school of goldies. The koi are three inches long while the goldies are six. Eventually, they will grow larger than the goldies. They will be obvious because they are 80% white with a touch of gold and black too.

The pond and the fish have become a mjor source of enjoyment for us. I often sit at the table and watch the action in the yard. Fish jumping, birds flying in to feeders, the squirrels jumping on the patio furniture, and the rabbit eating my precious tender plants. Occasionally, the yard becomes totally empty, not a bird or squirrel in sight, then it appears, the hawk. He observes the yard from a perch high in a cottonwood tree. When he leaves, frustrated, the action begins all over again.

A few evenings ago, I was riding my bike home from a meeting in town. As I approached the bridge crossing the wetland (swamp), a red tail fox crossed the road in front of me. Another natural predator has joined the eco-system. I love it!

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