It’s another blue-sky day here in the Bogs. Simply, wonderfully, beautiful.
Noah caught a big bass yesterday around sunset. It was 17 inches long yesterday. This morning it was 17-1/2 inches. And this afternoon it was 18 inches. As with all fish tales, the fish grows with each telling of the tale. (Actual size was 17 inches.)
After posting yesterday I decided to go out for a stroll around the pond. The weather was too nice not to. Even Izzy agreed it was a great day to be outdoors.
Izzy, being a bit of a ‘fraidy cat, tends to hide under the deck. You know it’s a nice day when she decides to come out.
Shortly after I started my walk I came across some bones scattered on the lawn by one of the old maple trees. I was amazed at how clean they were, as if they had been out there for a while, weathering in the sun. I’m not sure what the animal was, but I’m thinking an opossum based on the shape of the jaw. It has that snouty sort of look to it.
Leaving the bones behind, I moved on to the garden area. The pussy willow, which lives near the garden, is covered with catkins now. I couldn’t quite capture the rainbow colors in the catkins that were in being highlighted by the sun.
There were two ducks (Buffleheads) swimming around the pond, occasionally flying from one end to the other when they thought I was too close. They don’t make it easy to photograph them, that’s for sure. This is the first year we’ve had Buffleheads come for a visit.
I could be wrong but I think the flies will be bad this year. M has been out chopping wood and thinning trees lately, and I noticed yesterday that the freshly cut wood was covered with flies. Most of them dispersed when I stepped closer to take a photo.
At the back of the pond, the maple trees are sprouting these little fuzzy things. I could tell before I got back there something was going on with the trees as they are looking fuller, almost as if the leaves are ready to burst out.
The turtles are out and about. I saw three of them, sunning themselves by the side of the pond. They were too fast for me to capture with the camera. They looked like common mud turtles. I also saw evidence that the bigger fish are stirring. I didn’t see the fish themselves, but lots of ripples and splashes. There are lots of small fish hanging around near the edges of the pond. They don’t seem to mind my company as much as the bigger fish do.
I didn’t see the turtles today although I did see the mud clouds they make in the pond when they disappear into the mud and leaves at the bottom. What I did get a good gander at was a muskrat. I do hope there are some mink around somewhere to take care of the muskrat.
There was only one little duckie out on the pond. He didn’t seem to mind me too much. He kept swimming back and forth on the other side of the pond, keeping pace with me.
The creek is finally making its way back to its banks, leaving behind a mess of mud and debris. I don’t know if we’ll bother to clean any of that up or not. A couple of good rains and it’s all likely to get washed away.
I did notice that I can see the old barn stones once again. I can’t remember the last time I saw them. Probably not since the first snowfall. The barn stones are on the neighbor’s property. The guy that used to live over there wanted to sell them. We offered to buy a few. He said no. He wanted to sell them all at once as a big group. When he didn’t find any buyers, he did the spiteful thing. He hauled them down to the creek and dumped them.
Sometimes people do the strangest things.
It’s cloudy and in the 40’s here today. Rain is coming. That will be followed by snow on Thursday and Friday, with temperatures dipping back down below freezing.
I hope the flowers make it through Winter’s brief return. There are so many daffodils and tulips out there looking ready to bloom. Hopefully they will hold off until it warms up again.
We’ve been doing a draw down of the pond. At the risk of stating the obvious (because there might be one or two folks who are not familiar with what a draw down is), a draw down involves drawing down the water level of the pond. We thought about doing this last year (or was it the year before?) but the cost of renting a pump coupled with the cost of the gas it would take to run the pump for the weeks needed to draw down the pond to the level we wanted/needed was too much.
Did you follow all that? I think I managed to confuse myself there for a moment.
The reason for the draw down can be summed up in two words: Pond weeds. A pond needs plants. Absolutely. The smallest plants (microscopic aquatic plants, to be precise) are the base of the plant chain and provide dissolved oxygen through photosynthesis. The larger plants provide a place for small fish to hide as well as a habitat for aquatic insects.
However, too many plants spoil the pond soup. They stunt fish growth for one thing. Yes, we have fish in our pond — bluegills, bass, and a couple of carp that are supposed to be eating pond weeds but they’re not doing their job very well. We won’t be giving the carp pink slips because we gave them tenure when they arrived. Besides, we don’t believe in firing our fish unless we’re going to eat them.
If you look closely at the flamingos in the photo above, you will see the excess growth of pond weeds. In addition to stunting the growth of the fish, the pond weeds will turn the pond into a bog and then into a meadow as time goes on and on and on. You will also see, if you look very closely, mud. Normally you wouldn’t be able to see the mud but the drought conditions have lowered the pond’s water level. Being the opportunists that we are, M and I decided to jump on Mother Nature’s bandwagon and help with the draw down. A couple of weeks ago M placed a hose in the pond, ran it out to the creek in the woods, and the water is being slowly syphoned out of the pond.
The pond is approximately 1.5 acres (or 1.8, I can never remember which). Basically it is the size of a small lake. Over the years, in an effort to avoid using chemicals, we have weeded by hand. Well, not really by hand. By large rake. Very large rake. It’s difficult work, especially during the hottest months of the summer when it needs it most. A draw down will expose the weeds so that they freeze over the winter months. The freeze will kill them. All the killing will happen without the back-breaking work of raking/dredging and without chemicals. A win-win situation. We hope.
The only problem with the draw down — and it’s really no problem at all — is that the pond is not looking as pretty as usual with her weeds and muck and mud showing. She’s not so bad from a distance, though, so I will continue to take the usual wide view shots of the pond occasionally.
Mother Nature’s decision to dry things out around here has been helpful to us and to some of the plants that not only tolerate drought conditions but seem to love them. I mentioned the goldenrod in a previous post. The thistle is also enjoying the drier climate.
… when you put together this:
and add it to this:
You get our latest project, started and finished over the weekend:
A floating dock! We can now swim out to the middle of the pond and relax on the dock. M will be taking out an umbrella and some chairs to make it more comfortable.
The dock is difficult to see in the picture above. It’s to the right of the pedal boat. Here is a better shot taken on Sunday morning:
The rake sitting on top is the giant rake we use to pull out the pond weeds. M is going to use it to test the bottom around the dock to make sure there is nothing to get snagged on or injured with or on when we jump off the dock. It’s anchored for now but we can always move it if need be.
Oldest Son and M did a fine job of building the dock and getting it into the water in one day. Saturday was a hot day and I know they both appreciated going for a swim once they had the dock in the water. The water in the pond is warm on top but grows colder a foot or two down and can be quite refreshing.
For those wondering about the pond statistics, it’s 1.5 acres in area and 13 feet deep in the middle portion. It’s well stocked with widemouth (or largemouth) bass and bluegills (also known by some as sunfish), along with a few carp. We’re not sure how many carp are out there. We used to have two large carp that we nicknamed Jaws and JawsII because most of the time all we could see were their large fins slicing through the water near the edge of the pond. We added a few more carp this year but haven’t seen much of them. In theory, the carp are supposed to help keep down the vegetation. We haven’t seen much evidence of it in practice, though. Then again, it might be worse without the carp. Who knows?
There are also snapping turtles, black snakes, bullfrogs, green frogs, tadpoles, dragonfly and damselfly nymphs, muskrats, and a whole host of other creatures living in or about the pond. We also have frequent visitors such as great blue herons, egrets, kingfishers, green herons, deer, fox, and minks (who like to eat muskrats). Our biggest problem with the pond this year is the plant and algae growth. We have tried to control it through raking but it’s a big pond and a daunting task. One of these years will get it worked out, but we’re still a long way from that now. We did attend a pond clinic shortly after buying the property, and have tried some of the methods they recommended. Some have been successful (too successful at times) and some have not. It’s a big learning process for us.
I’m starting with Emma’s flowers, which served as our centerpiece for Sunday’s dinner. She picked them in our yard.
I figure the flowers can serve as the nice part of this post about food, or food possibilities.
Our pond is well stocked with fish. It was already stocked when we bought the property. There are blue gills, wide-mouth bass, and a couple of carp. There are also, if one were so inclined to catch and eat them, snapping turtles and frogs. Lots of bullfrogs with long legs.
Don’t go on if you’re easily grossed out by death or dead creatures (especially if they’re staring you in the face). You can’t say I didn’t warn you.