Sunday, November 24, 2013

Fishy saga

Today has been bitterly cold with a wind chill of 18F/-8C. There is no snow or ice but that may change tomorrow. My recent knee injury and subsequent surgery has definitely thrown a wrench into any hope of completing most of the end of season yard chores. So, leaves have littered the lawn, frost blackened, skeletal tomato plants list in their wire cages and the trellised roses that broke free of their frame during last week's wind storm (tornadoes for Illinois) are swishing & swaying between the windows at the front of the house.

 Our two fish were hunkered down in the now very chilly, outdoor pond; fortunately unfrozen because we had thrown a couple of area rugs over the top. Sharky Boy, a substantial 8" goldfish, started living in our pond as a fifteen cent 1-1/2" feeder fish about seven years ago. He had three fishy companions but on day one, an apparently suicidal companion fish jammed his head under a rock and drowned. Down to only three fish, we learned their first winter, our 44 gallon pond freezes, with solid ice to a depth of six to eight inches and the unfortunate goldfish who became encased in ice did not survive. Consequently, we overwinter the outdoor fish in an indoor aquarium.

 The remaining two fish seemed to be the perfect number for eating algae and mosquito larvae, as well as aesthetically, simply pretty to watch. Sharky Boy and Pearl hung together for a couple more years until a sneaky raccoon preyed on Pearl's inquisitive nature and snagged her from the pond. Sharky Boy was now solo and wisely, reluctant to come to the surface.We installed chicken wire over the pond  and decided to add a "companion" fish, so we invested five dollars in a small koi, dubbed Dart.

 Dart joined the pond as a three inch, extremely fast fish. It took almost draining the pond completely last year to net him. This year he was wily, but slower and on inspection he has grown to approximately six inches! The resident fish saga has remained uneventful this season. The raccoons, unable to snatch a fish through the chicken wire, still occasionally visit. They sit atop the fencing bending it into the pond and dabble their thieving paws in the water, but both fish hideout in a submerged PVC pipe we added for extra protection.

 It certainly would have been much more sensible to be netting and transferring fish a couple weeks ago when it was warmer, but motivation was lacking and I was out of commission. Fortunately, our six years of practice made for a relatively smooth fishy transfer, aside from Sharky Boy jumping out of the net into a pile of leaves, so now both fish are swimming circles in their 20 gallon smaller pond.

This basically is the end to my season in the yard. If I can handle a rake before it snows, I will try to corral some leaves for mulching, otherwise Mother Nature rules. Next Spring I'll deal with the untended remains of this year.

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