As I have mentioned very frequently, I have four ponds, one of 6000 gallons, another of 5000 gallons, a smaller one of 3000 gallons and what I call the small pond at around 1500 gallons. The picture above is that particular pond. It’s biggest problems is that it averages out less than eighteen inches, shallow enough for the Great Blue Heron to wade in and help himself to as many fish as he can catch. Of course, I have set up various deterrents over the years, the most successful of which is the Scarecrow, a movement sensitive gadget that emits a powerful burst of water on anything that it detects in front of it including me and the dogs.
As I grow older and the work becomes progressively just a little harder to maintain the ponds, I have toyed with the idea of closing down this particular pond for several reasons not the least of which is the Heron’s ability to fish seemingly at will in this very shallow pond. A part of me is reluctant to do this as to me, everything I build holds a place in my heart and is special which includes the ponds. I see a lot of beauty in it as Mother Nature takes it over and makes it her own. On the other hand, the common sense in me says it is time to let it go as I approach that day when I can no longer maintain it. The pond has a very pretty waterfall and I have toyed with the idea of leaving it in place and just having a small pool at the bottom for it to drain into with no fish at all. But then I realized that it would still be work and maintenance and the whole idea of closing the pond was to eliminate some of that. The other 3 ponds are all raised up above ground making them easier to work on. Two of them have Aqua Filters which I managed to get used from other pond people who no longer needed them.
As it happens, my mind was made up for me when I went out to check the ponds and feed the fish the other morning. One of the Skippy filters had managed to block it’s outlet and instead of the water returning to the pond as it should, it was overflowing the container and spilling water all over the ground. Luckily, it could not pump lower than the pump itself so the fish were not affected and as soon as it hit that level, it stopped flowing over the walkways. By this time, the pond was either half full or half empty depending on your point of view. In my case, I chose the latter and took it as a good sign, immediately dropping a larger pump in there to lower the water even further to where I could catch the fish. I rescued 8 medium sized Koi and at least 15-20 Goldfish ranging in sizes from 1 inch to 8 inches plus a medium sized Red Eared Slider turtle and distributed the Koi into the two Koi ponds and the Goldfish into the Round pond which has nothing but Goldfish in it. I finished pumping out as much water as I could and spotted a solitary Goldfish swimming around which I rescued and put into the Round pond along with the others.
I left the pond with a little water in it and called it a day. I was still reluctant to punch holes in the liner which is essential and very important and the last action before filling in the pond. It’s like the very final act as up to that point, the pond could still be rescued. Later that evening, I was doing a final check for the evening and noticed some action in the pond in question. Much to my surprise, I spotted the 4 foot long Brown snake, one of a pair that live on the wall that separates the two ponds, with a small Goldfish in its mouth, one I had missed. Before I could scare the snake into dropping the fish, it took off at a very rapid rate, Goldfish and all and was gone along with its evening meal. Such is Nature.
By the way, emptying the pond and catching the fish was the easy part. Next comes the dismantling of the structure, folding the liner back in on itself and finally filling it in. Even though the liner has nothing wrong with it, experience shows that a used liner that has been submerged for any length of time is so stiff and hard to manipulate as to make it not worth the effort. I built this pond more than 25 years ago when I was much younger and much stronger. Since then, the rocks that I moved around with very little trouble back then, have somehow increased in weight and size and now present a bit of a problem for me to move. As I see it, I have two choices. One is to pull the rocks into the pond and let them stay there buried for evermore. To me, this is almost a sacrilege as good rocks are hard to come by and have to be bought. On the other hand, it helps to fill in the pond which I am going have to do somehow, either with the rocks or by trucking in a load of topsoil which I will have to then get into the garden by my little tractor and trailer. I will have to do the latter anyway to complete the fill and level the top into an eventual lawn/garden. Decisions, decisions. As my friend BJ pointed out, unless I want to give the rocks away, what am I going to do with them after I add them to the pile as I do not have any plans to build anything new in the garden. Maybe find a spot and turn them into a rock garden?
Since getting this far, I have taken down the fences around the pond but it has rained continuously and has filled the pond back to halfway so I am going to have to pump it out all over and I will punch the holes in the liner to keep it drained. I got up the other morning and my friend the Heron was back. When I checked the videos from the cameras, it showed him jumping up onto the wall of the Round Pond and then jumping onto a submerged lily pot in the middle of the pond, standing there for a while and not catching fish as they had all swum deeper. Incidentally, that pond is 4 feet deep. He got tired of waiting and flew into the now semi drained Small pond. He wandered around but of course there is nothing left in there to eat. He finally flew off when I walked outside. Pretty slim pickings for the bird and maybe he will stay away as he realizes that one of his favorite fishing holes no longer exists. As long as he doesn’t turn his attention to the 2 big ponds with the very big Koi which are way to heavy and big for him to eat.
I am in no hurry as I got all summer and in fact, the rest of my life to complete this work as long as I have the strength.
BTW, I do not plan on filling in the 3 big ponds. They will remain active for as long as I can care for them and then after that, who knows, rescue the fish and shut the pumps and filters off and sell it all along with the house?