Cleaning the Ponds


The jungle that is my backyard
The jungle that is my backyard

Following the last wind/rain storm that we had a couple of weeks ago, the Spruce tree that I have in the 6000 gallon pond blew over. This is not really that surprising as it stands about fifteen tall and it’s roots are in an eighteen inch diameter shallow container weighted down with a couple of heavy rocks. For those of you that are unaware, pots and such when placed in the water are very easy to move around as the water makes them feel lighter and more buoyant. With this top heavy tree and the weightlessness (almost) of its base, it doesn’t take a lot of wind for it to topple. Spruce trees in the wild have a very extensive shallow root system that spread out in all directions with a lot of those same roots above ground.

You can see the extensive root systems of these Spruce trees

Yesterday, I resolved that I would make the effort to upright the tree. This required that I get into the pond along with the fish and the turtles. I kicked around whether to wear my waders or to strip down to a pair of shorts and chose the latter. Actually, the water was not a bit cold and as I had just finished moving and stacking the rocks to stop Sandy from digging her way out, was a very welcome way to cool down.

The blown over Spruce
The uprighted tree.

The tree uprighting went very well and I managed to swing it back into place and retie the supporting cords. I found the rocks that had fallen off when it went over and replaced them. I could feel as I walked around that the amount of leaves and debris was more than I should allow as when that stuff rots, it tends to give off methane and ammonia which are toxic to the fish. So, I figured that as I was already in the pond, why not go ahead and clean out as much of the junk that I could. At the same time, I was able to reach in the bog and clean it of some of the very abundant plants growing there.

By this time, I was really in the swing of things and after completing the 6000 gallon pond, I moved over to the 5000 gallon one that is just off the deck and proceeded to jump into it. As well as cleaning the muck out of the bottom, I needed to trim the Umbrella plant and take out other excessive growth. The urn that is in the middle of this pond had stopped working and I surmised that the hose had broke and needed to be replaced but when I turned it over, it was just totally blocked up. A few pushes with the drain cleaning snake and it was free and clear which was a pleasant surprise. I needed to rebuild the base as I wanted to put a shelf above the water line for the many turtles in the pond to have a place to sun themselves. I bought that urn thirty years ago and installed it on the very first pond that I built and subsequently moved it to the rebuild of that same pond later years.

There was a nest of fire ants at the exact spot that I used to get in and out and they managed to bite me a few times even when I was in the water. Nasty little buggers, fire ants. I don’t like them one little bit. I finally finished all of work inside these two ponds. I didn’t realize how sore I was with all of the exertion until I jumped in the hot tub.

Shallow Pond

I need to get in the shallow pond and clean it out and cut back all of the growth as I can hardly see the water. I haven’t seen anything of out friendly Heron but that is probably that he can’t even see the fish it is so grown over. That and the two Scarecrows. This is the pond that the two Brown Snakes do all of their fishing so it will be interesting when that time comes. I also spotted a Whip Snake yesterday so we may have at least three of them living here. Probably wear the waders for this one…

Footnote.
We had very heavy winds overnight and needless to say, the tree has blown over again. Oh well….

Written 5/20/2019

Don’t Scare Me Like That


For those of you that follow my blog know that I have recently adopted a new little girl who is a Maltese mix to fill the void left by the death of Gizmo. Her name is Sandy for her coloring which is mostly white with sandy colors mixed in. I adopted her knowing that she needed to be treated for heart-worm which we have been undergoing for the past couple of months with several more months to go.

She really is a very sweet little girl although somewhat demanding just as most females are. It is easier to cater to the demands of a little dog rather than a full grown person of the opposite sex. That’s why I have dogs. She gets along very well with the other three dogs even Ginnie who is the only one remaining from the original pack and can be a bit of a snot. She really likes Mikey who is super full of energy and himself very demanding for attention. As for Buddy, the other recent adoptee, he just goes about his business wandering around the garden or spending his time asleep. Buddy is very deaf and does not see too well either which makes him a bit of a slow mover.

When Richie was around, he was a really inquisitive dog always exploring in the oddest of places including the woods at the back of my house. He did this by digging out under the fence resulting in my scrambling over this 6 feet high wooden fence in order to get him back. At the time, the neighbor had a mean donkey that had the run of these woods and she had warned me that it was a killer of small animals so you can imagine how quickly I was after Richie. He came back after taking one look at the donkey and I quickly blocked up the hole he had dug. I then ran an electric fence all the way around the entire fence line really close to the ground to deter Richie from future explorations of the great outdoors beyond the fence line. He must have hit it at least once as he never again tried to dig his way out.

That was several years ago and the fence worked well. Richie joined the other dogs of my life in that great outdoors up in the sky after getting bit by a rattlesnake about 3 years ago. I kinda let the electric fence go a bit as none of the other dogs had any inclination to dig their way out being content with their lot within the confines of their own back yard. It hurts my feelings when they try to get out like that as I give them the best care and all of the love that I have. But, dogs are dogs and probably retain some of their wild instincts even after all of the thousands of years of domestication.

That is, until Sandy came along. I had no idea she was a digger until I happened to glance out of the kitchen window after coming in to get a drink and there she was, tail erect and trotting down the driveway towards the very busy road. I did a double take and tore out the door leaving the faucet running in my haste. I opened the back gate having enough sense to close it to keep the other dogs in and trundled off down the driveway after the dog. I can’t remember the last time I broke into a trot other than a fast walk but run I did even at eighty three. In the meantime, Sandy was heading back as the traffic on the road was enough to frighten her forcing her in the same direction from which she had come. I called her and she immediately came back to me and I was so relieved to get to her unhurt that I forgot to scold her for digging out.

I checked the yard and sure enough, in the area that the famous Murmuring Creek, which runs through the bottom of my yard, was a hole dug neatly under the electric fence which I should mention, was not working. The hole was big enough for a little dog to squeeze out. This creek only flows when we get a gully washer as it is located on the low spot of the land and all of the water for several hundred yard around finds its way across my yard and then my neighbors yard and on. Plus there is a twenty four inch culvert that runs under the road and empties directly outside of my fence line. The end result of all of this water is Murmuring Creek.

I grabbed my shovel and filled in the hole and reinforced the rest of that part of the fence line with extra dirt and then went to work on getting the electric fence operable again. This took me several hours and after getting zapped a couple of times myself through my own carelessness, decided that the fence was working properly. I had to check the wire in the creek area making sure it was not grounding out and was unbroken. Satisfied, I turned to go back up the garden and when all of a sudden, Sandy screamed in pain and I immediately rushed over fearing that she had gotten bit by a rattler. In fact, what she had done was touch the electric wire with her nose and quite obviously, it was working just fine. She ran back to the house crying all of the way. I hated that she had to get shocked but at the same time, she learned a valuable lesson that might keep her alive.

She comes down with me to the bottom of the garden but steers clear of the fence line. I still worry that she may get brave enough to try it again so I stacked rocks across the spot where the water flows under the fence allowing the water to flow through on the odd occasions when we get the gully washer but enough to where she cannot dig her way out. If we get a big enough wash, I will need to replace it as the dirt will get washed away.

The entire width of the “creek”
The electric fence is in a wire stretched through the yellow holders.

I had this long conversation with her about how much she means to us as a family and that she needs to be careful but I don’t think that it sank in. She just looked at me with her big brown eyes and demanded more attention. Oh yes, I am no worse for wear after breaking into a stumbling run but I don’t think I will take it up as a form of exercise in the future. I also had one other stroke of luck as I was walking back to the house when lo and behold, the very large Turtle that lives in one of the ponds was walking down the path towards me. I scooped him up and put him back hoping that he will stay there. That with the luck of looking out of the kitchen window at exactly the right time was enough to make me jump in my truck and buy a lottery ticket. You never know as things do come in threes and I could use a couple of million dollars.

Just another day in the life of a dog(s) owner.

Written 5/18/2019

It’s Raining Again


The 5000 gallon pond.

It’s been raining at my house for a few days
preventing me from going out to play
and any work around the ponds
has to be done with a raincoat on
and even after the rain has stopped
everything has turned to slop
and being outside is just not fun
as the dripping trees continue to run
I’ve spent time indoors sitting around
not wasting it as I have found
that time on the website that I maintain
is put to good use as I make it the same
as I picture exactly what I want it to be
and then write the code so that others can see
the pictures and words of upcoming things
they can see for themselves my offerings
in an attempt to show them what is in store
including the fabulous Austin Pond Tour
with fifteen ponds spread over two days
all different kinds and so many ways
to make a back yard a beautiful thing
so that others can see and their praises will sing
not knowing the time and the effort it takes
to turn it into a beautiful place
the rain has stopped and I venture outside
to look at my ponds that Nature does hide
from view as I sit writing these words
with growth so thick that even the birds
have trouble in finding the seeds that I spread
as I welcome their presence and they’re not underfed
birds of all colors some big and some small
jostling to get to their share of it all
the yard I have is a beautiful place
everything so green filling a space
in between the ponds of which there are four
filled with Goldfish and Koi and plants galore
with pathways between leading around and around
until back at the start you can be found
ready to do it over again
to see what you missed as its never the same
to maintain the ponds is a lot of work
which in the past I did not shirk
but as I now am eighty three
the work is catching up with me
and I’m no longer sure for how long I can last
as I do not work like in the past
and things are much harder than before
as old age is knocking at my door
and with it the loss of strength that I had
especially when I was a much younger lad
and what I will need to do
is close down the ponds before I am through
and still have the strength to perform this task
just a few more years is all I ask
as I live out my remaining days
just me and the dogs very set in our ways.

Written 5/11/2019


Thinking of Things to Write


Cypress Creek in Wimberley

I sat here looking at a blank screen
thinking of something clever to write
my head it seemed was in a dream
and no words could I muster with any might
I thought of what had happened that day
and in previous days before this plight
but nothing jumped out at me to say
write about me this seems right
it is not that I haven’t found things do
as I very recently took a hike
out at Bastrop my most favorite place
and have written the words and they will be in plain sight
very shortly in a couple of days
posted to my blog for all to see
for me that hike is a memory
and the words are written as I put them down
I also spent time in Wimberley
taking pictures of this pretty town
nestled in the Hill Country
as picturesque as it can be
with Cypress trees as tall as the sky
reaching up and many centuries old
growing in the tumbling creek
that runs through the town like its very soul
but wait it seems I have something to say
even though it didn’t start this way
but now the mind is suddenly numb
and my thinking voice has gone quite dumb
so maybe my chain of thought is through
and I have nothing left to do
but end this sorry little tale
and try again when my thoughts prevail.

Written 4/25/2019

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

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