Thursday, July 17, 2008

Pond News

It turns out that we have one, possibly two, common snapping turtles in the pond. We glimpsed them the other evening but haven't seen scale nor shell since. I have been a little more careful about mucking around in the pond, although at about 10 inches long I doubt that these critters can harm me or Jasper the Great Frog Hunter. When I was a lad of about 12 in Georgia, I made the mistake of taunting an alligator snapping turtle in the swamp beyond the east 40. The damned thing reared up and chased me at a pretty good pace, and I got pretty mangled up in some brambles making my getaway.

The koi we bought from our contractor are prospering despite the recent drought that has seen water levels in the pond drop by 24 inches. The creeks have dried up early, and I have been adding water to the pond with a hose for an hour or so every now and then to aerate it and freshen the water. There are lots of water lilies, pickerel weed and water hyacinths to oxygenate the water. Also, some aquarium plants that I threw in last year have done pretty well for themselves. These keep the water full of O2 and provide food and hiding places for the wildlife.

I have seen as many as seven water snakes at one time. Brad, the head snake, has shed his skin and is pretty fat. Jasper killed one of the juvenile snakes last week. In addition to the koi, we have comets and shiners. There are several species of frogs and some salamanders. The turtles round out the vertebrate population. The largest invertebrates are the crayfish, followed by some pretty nasty looking water bugs.

I am able to wade around in the pond to do maintenance without (legitimate) fear of any of the animals. The biggest danger, I suppose, is that I will be overcome by the methane gas that builds up under the muck and is released when I poke a spade into it.

I have been very anxious for some rain to freshen the water in the pond and to help my garden. Watering, while a Zen exercise of sorts, is very time consuming. We have not had significant rainfall since Independence Day. The thunderstorms that have come through have bypassed us altogether. I created a new planting bed that really could use a good soaking, and I miss the sound of the creeks running and that of water cascading over the weir.

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