The Austin Pond Society held its April meeting on the third Monday of the month at the normal location, Zilker Garden Meeting room. What made this meeting a little different was that it was also the Annual Plant Swap.
I arrived a little early just after 6:00 p.m. as I knew that the volunteers would be setting up in preparation for the members to bring in their plants and I wanted to get some pictures. The actual swap was scheduled to start around 7:30 pm and we had to find time to consume the goodies that Sonja had prepared as well as get business out-of-the-way. This time, Sonja had hot dogs with all of the fixings plus a salad and to top it off, small chocolate brownies. I can’t remember the last time that I ate a hot dog and even though they are not a part of my regular diet, I didn’t think one would hurt me. I have to say that it tasted pretty good and I can understand why people eat fast food.
With food out-of-the-way, there was a short meeting that recapped all of the things the members had been working on in the previous couple of weeks. The big item was the weekend spent at the Down Home Ranch rebuilding the ponds which by all accounts, was a very satisfying experience for all that were involved.
Down Home Ranch is a working farm and ranch, where about 40 adults and children—including 32 with Down syndrome and other disabilities—live year round, caring for 330 rolling, forested acres of the Post Oak Savannah in Central Texas. They actually live in dorms on the farm and it is a major part of their life.
The Ranch community also welcomes 160 people with disabilities to summer residential camps. Some of the proceeds from the pond tour this year will be going to support the ranch. Read more about Down Home Ranch at http://www.downhomeranch.org .
With business done for the evening the Plant Swap started in earnest. The rules that applied to the swap were pretty simple.
Rule 1, Volunteers gets first pickings.
Rule 2. For every plant, either pond or garden variety or fish or any other swappable item, each member was issued a ticket which they could redeem for a different plant or item of their fancy. This system enabled some fairness and system to the proceedings.
Rule 3. If you bring in something to swap and it doesn’t get taken, it goes home with you.
Towards the end when it was clear that the members had swapped as much as they were going to, the signal was given in the form of a very loud shout from Jeanne of “Free for all, go get ’em”. With that, the remaining plants and the few fish that had been brought in quickly changed hands and the plants that were left will be taken to the Down Home Farms to stock their ponds.
The members who had stayed to the end, quickly and very thoroughly cleaned up any mess and when they were finished, it was difficult to see that anything had taken place on the lawn.
Below is the video that I took of the entire proceedings. The first twenty minutes or so is showing the setting up and the members arriving with their goodies. The second part is the swap itself. If you listen carefully you can recognize the voices in the conversations in the back ground. Apologies for my long discussion on the heron that is calling my ponds his own private HEB but I finally had something to talk about and what’s more to the point, someone who would listen even if they were a captive audience in their role at the table.
All in all, it was a lot of fun and it’s interesting to note that an additional 15-20 people showed up from the normal 35 or so that are regulars at the meetings. Whether it’s the draw of something “free” or in fact that the swap is different from our usual meetings, who knows. In any case, we were very glad to see the additional members.
Our next meeting will be on May 20th, at 7:00 p.m. at the Zilker Gardens Meeting room. Hope to see you there.