Fish Pond Secrets


Beating up on the female.

Every year around about this time, the Koi in my ponds decide that it is time to go through the annual mating ritual which is pretty dramatic to watch and for the fish involved. My little dogs obviously thought so as they barked very excitedly at the spectacle.

There is nothing gentle about it especially to the females and it is made worse by more than one suitor at a time. In fact, it is not a bit uncommon to see a single female being chased by a half dozen of the opposite sex all pushing and shoving and literally bumping the female in an effort to induce her to drop her eggs which they will then fight over to fertilize. Once dropped, the eggs, of which there are several hundred, can be fertilized by several different males and only in the case of selective breeding under controlled conditions by Fish Breeders are there any choices made.

The movie shows just how aggressive the males become and there is always an element of risk involved for the females. A few years ago, I had one female jump clean out of the pond and before I could get to her, Richie, one of my dogs had grabbed her and ran off down the garden. By the time I reached them, the dog had taken a large chunk out of the fish’s head. This year, I did not have anything quite so dramatic but did have two of the large Koi die, one in each of the big ponds probably due to egg binding or some other related problem. The big female Koi in the video are all of 24 – 36 inches long so are pretty big.

When all of the eggs are laid and fertilized, some semblance of peace returns to the otherwise tranquil ponds. The eggs themselves are at risk from getting eaten by the Koi themselves or by any turtles that may live in the pond. Even after the remaining eggs hatch out, the fingerlings are still subject to getting eaten by their elders and by the same turtles and in my case, Brown Snakes of which there are two that live in the ponds. So, for all of the hundred of eggs that get laid and are successfully fertilized, very few will ever make it to grow into larger Koi. This is not a bad thing as there is such a thing as too many fish in one pond.

Now it is a game of wait to see if any of the fingerlings survive. Next year, we will do it all over again as such are the ways of Nature.

Written 5/7/2019

A Visit to Wimberley 4-21-2019


I went out for a drive and of course, took my camera with me. I headed towards Dripping Springs with the ultimate goal of driving into Wimberley. This is a nice old Hill Country Town founded in 1848 and most of the buildings reflect the age of the town although I don’t think any go back that far. The shops are many and specialize in arts and crafts. I was there on a Sunday and business was brisk with the sound of music coming from several different locations. The town is located on the banks of the Cypress Creek which flows through the center of the town and has many, many very old and and very large Cypress trees. One of the trees has a nameplate designating it as “Big Daddy” Circa 1400 AD which makes it well over 600 years old.

The Town

I walked around town taking pictures and one of the things that I noticed were the colorful cowboy boots at different locations. These are part of a project started in 2014 named Bootiful Wimberley and to date, there are 50 boots located around the town. You can read more about this project and see more pictures of all of the Boots at this Link. I was only able to locate a few in the area that I covered but even they are very impressive.

These boots just keep on walking.

I spent time on the creek taking pictures but I cannot do justice to the Cypress trees as they are far too tall to include the entire tree from my position under them. Many stand 80 to 100 feet or more high.

Cypress Trees on Cypress Creek

On the way out of town, I decided to take the River Road to see the views along the Creek and the rock formations that make up the banks. I was not disappointed and got some great pictures.

Written 4/24/2019

A Drive to Llano


These hills stand out. This is an 8 picture panorama.

I wanted to get out but was not in the mood to take a hike so I decided to go for a drive instead. I decided that I would head towards Llano as I haven’t been in that area for some time and I knew that the wildflowers would be blooming.

As I have reported many times before, I like to listen to Audiobooks as I drive as I find it both relaxing and educating at the same time at least from a writers perspective. I do not consider myself a writer but more of a reporter. I need something to write about as my mind is not sufficiently skilled enough to come up with plots and twists that leave the reader guessing. Currently, I am listening to “The Highlander” by Diana Gabaldan and am as far along as Book 4. When you consider that each book is between 40 and 50 hours or more of listening then you get a general idea of the quality of the story with it’s many twists and turns. On top of that, the Narrator is a lady by the name of Davina Porter who alone makes it so worth listening to. She has a delightful British accent and considering that the basic language and accent in the book is Scottish, she does a really wonderful job.

On the way, I managed to capture some pictures of the flowers along the sides of the road and also one particular striking piece of rocky hills. This is the start of the Hill Country after all. When I reached Llano, which I have written about before. (Use this link to view that blog) I headed towards Georgetown before heading down US 183 and back home. All in all, I covered almost 100 miles of the beautiful Texas countryside in the Spring.

A closer view of the rock face

A Hike at McKinney Roughs 4-20-2019


The very muddy Colorado River

Tired of sitting around indoors, I made a last minute decision that I wanted to take a hike. The next question was where did I want to go. After considerable thought, I decided that as I hadn’t been to McKinney Roughs in a while, that would be a good place. I texted my friend BJ to see if she was interested but she texted back that she already had plans.

I wasn’t about to let that stop me from enjoying the beautiful Spring day and after a short drive of about thirty miles, found myself in the parking lot at McKinney. I had recently bought a new backpack that I hadn’t yet had time to try out. I had already packed it with all of the relevant gear including the Tamron 160-600 long lens which, if I plan on using , usually carry already attached to a camera and on a waist harness. The carrying system that I have is from Cotton Carrier which enables me to carry two cameras and a pair of binoculars at the same time if I so choose. This lens adds considerably to the weight of the pack as it weighs in around 5.5 pounds when attached to the camera making it a very heavy addition. The new pack also had straps on the bottom allowing me to pack a lightweight tripod just in case I needed it. Altogether, the pack weighs in at around 25 pounds fully loaded so in many ways, this was going to be a test as to whether I could manage such a heavy load.

I stopped in at the office and paid my $5.00 and chatted to the lady behind the window and set off heading for the Riverside trail. Turns out that there was going to be a wedding and preparations were underway with the staff busy setting up tables outside and a band off to one side that was practicing and getting their sound systems just right. Another lady was preparing bouquets for each table and there was a general air of busyness.

Pictures of the trails at McKinney Roughs

I walked on Riverside heading out into the beautiful lush new spring growth that Nature provides us every year taking pictures as I went. I wasn’t really sure which trails I was going to take as I had no plan and was waiting to see what would guide me. On a whim, I turned off onto Valley View and followed it for a while and then took Bluff Trail Loop. This trail has a major overlook of the valley below with glimpses of the Colorado River. The river was extremely muddy colored as there had been a lot of rain very recently and was flowing quite strongly. I did not plan on walking down to the river on this particular walk guessing that the bottom trails would be very muddy and cut up.

Spring Flowers

I completed Bluff Trail Loop then headed back up Ridge to the Main Campus. I passed back alongside the wedding area taking care not to get too close as I didn’t want to interrupt anything. As it happens, the guests were just starting to arrive looking somewhat out of place with the men all dressed up in suits and ties and the women in dresses with summer hats. It would have been more fitting if they had on shorts and tees to go along with the scenery. Oh well…Still a beautiful place for a wedding. Lets hope that the lucky couple can copy nature and make their marriage last forever. Hard to do in these modern times but I wish them the very best. Guess I am a cynic.

Panoramic pictures of McKinney Roughs

Altogether, I covered 4.5 miles and I’m happy to say that the pack rode very well. I only noticed it a couple of times and if it had become too heavy, I could have always pulled out the camera and long lens and attached it to one of the carrying straps on my waist belt. I got some great pictures and everything is so wonderfully green with lots of wildflowers in bloom. Here’s looking forward to the next walk.

Written 4/24/2019

A Poem for Our Time


This poem describes the current situation perfectly. Thank you Mary Oliver.

The First Gates

Yesterday, as I paged through a nice collection of Mary Oliver’s poetry, Devotions, I found a poem, published in 2008, that characterizes the state of our nation and our world better than countless learned articles that attempt to explain us to ourselves.

Mary Oliver, 1935-2019

OF THE EMPIRE by Mary Oliver

“We will be known as a culture that feared death

and adored power, that tried to vanquish insecurity

for the few and cared little for the penury of the

many. We will be known as a culture that taught

and rewarded the amassing of things, that spoke

little if at all about the quality of life for

people (other people), for dogs, for rivers. All

the world, in our eyes, they will say, was a

commodity. And they will say that this structure

was held together politically, which it was, and

they will say also that our politics…

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APS April Meeting 2019


The view out of the back window looking towards Zilker Park and the City of Austin.

With frightening regularity, the calendar once more moved to the third Monday of the month bringing with it, the Austin Pond Societies Monthly Meeting held as usual in the Zilker Botanical Gardens Clubhouse. This meeting was our Annual Plant Swap when our members bring in their surplus plants both of the garden and pond variety. The one stipulation is that if by chance, anything you bring in is not taken by another eager Ponder or Gardener, then it must return home with the original owner. That turned out not to be the case this time around as the offerings were pretty slim compared to previous plant swap meetings which is surprising considering that this was our best attended meeting of the year with about forty members showing up.

Along with the Swap and at the same time, Darren Bayhi was holding a re-potting seminar for anyone interested in “How to re-pot Lilies” which included both Tropical, Hardies and also Lotus.. As the swap was drawing to a close, more and more people stopped by Darren’s table to ask questions and watch his demonstration.

Prior to the swap, many members had volunteered to help set up the tables and kiddie pools used for this event. For this, they were given the opportunity of having first dibs at whatever took their fancy before the main body was let loose. With the small number of plants on offer, this was a good decision on their part.

Prior to the actual swap and following a meal of hot dogs with all of the fixin’s topped off by various deserts brought in by the members, Barb Lenhardt, President, had some business to offer which included a discussion by Ted Paone, who talked about the upcoming Tour with the membership. He outlined the Charities that will benefit which includes Central Texas Gardner on KLRU-TV, Austin Pets Alive, and Donor Choice, a charity which funds projects for teachers and students. Prior to his presentation, Ted was awarded the Koi Person of the Year Award voted on by the Members present for his efforts with the Pond Tours.

Ted was followed by Mike Peppers, our new Treasurer who outlined the budget for the Members along with many apologies for the lateness of the report. With the budget voted on and passed by the Membership and there not being anymore business, it was time to get on with the important event of the day which of course, was the Plant Swap.

Following the aforementioned reward for volunteering, they were allowed out the door first followed after a few minutes by the rest of the Members. The plants were taken in record time and the clean up started by those same volunteers who we thank for their efforts.

The next meeting will be on May 20th. The Speaker will be Katie Boyer of the US Fish and Wildlife and she will be talking about Monarch Butterflies. As these are another of Nature’s species that are in trouble due to man’s incompetence in managing the Planet, then it would be well worth our while to see what we can do to help save this species.

Hope to see you there.

Written 4/17/2019

As We Grow Old


As we grow old we are sometimes alone
maybe through no fault of our own
and even in another life
we may even have had a wife
or two or three whatever the odds
and their actions mean we lost the toss
and even though they left us to go
and we grew too old and willing to roam
and had not the urge to pick up the phone
instead choosing to live alone
along with our pets who are our friends
who stay with us until their end
both dogs and cats are in that group
with one another in an endless loop
as such short lives they all do have
and when they are gone we are so sad
at losing yet another mate
whose love for us had been their fate
if I had one last request
it would be that at my behest
when I die and my soul moves on
and even if there is no song
I want it to be at the very same place
where all of my pets at their Pearly Gates
are waiting for me and welcome me home
and together we will never be alone
for the past twenty years my pets and I
have looked after each other with the lows and the highs
they have been there through good times and bad
and comforted me when I was sad
and carefully laid their chin on my knee
which was their way of comforting me
and in return I would stroke their fur
and the troubles would lessen with them being there
as I grow old with the passing years
and know that my end and all of my fears
will someday no longer be
and I hope then that my destiny
once young and vibrant and full of life
now old and wrinkled no longer in strife
my pets will still have someone to care
and look after them as I am not there
to give them the love that has been their life
and look after them without any strife
and even though their lives are short
this is one time that I have to report
that they could well outlive me
as my life fades into history.

For the love of a pet or in my case, many pets…

Written 4/15/2019