With the current lock down and us having to stay in our homes except for important things like the Grocery and Starbucks, I have been directing my energy to working around the yard and trying to get the garden looking shipshape. I did go out for a walk with my friend BJ a few days ago which you can read about here but otherwise, I really have stayed close to the house. If I get really bored, I go out for a short drive and listen to Audiobooks and usually ending up at a Starbucks drive thru for a Latte.
A little over a week ago, I experienced what all pond people fear and that was the death of six of the biggest Koi that I have in the 6000 gallon pond, four on one day and two the next. One fish measured 36″ long and probably weighed over 20 pounds and was a bit of a struggle to get out of the pond. None of them had any visible signs of trauma that I could see. The fish in that pond are going through their breeding rituals which is pretty aggressive but I don’t know if that had anything to do with their deaths. All I could do at that point was to toss them over the fence into the woods behind my property so that the Buzzards, Nature’s Clean Up crew, would come along and to clean them up, which of course, they did.
Worried about an even bigger fish kill, I added another Aerator to the one already there and the next day, got in that pond and the other ponds and did a major clean up of as much of the leaves and junk in the bottom and cutting back the Iris and Papyrus in the 5000 gallon pond. To be truthful, I was surprised just how little there was so I ruled out that the rotting leaves were generating methane gasses which could have poisoned the fish. The Koi are going through their annual spawning season and sometimes the females do have problems but it is unusual for six of them at one time. Obviously something I have done wrong or not done, whichever the case may be has caused this to happen. I hate losing fish especially the really big ones, some of which have been with me for anywhere from 15 to 20 years or even longer
I have an Urn in the middle of the 5000 gallon pond, the one off the deck, which I purchased more than 30 years ago when I built that pond the first time around. I have rebuilt it once since then making it bigger and deeper and reinstalled the urn each time. As with all of these types of set ups, they are subject to the small calibre pipe that connects to the pump, in this case one inch, getting filled up with algae over a period of time and sometimes the only solution is to rod out the pipe to loosen the algae. This is what happened to this particular set up and the water from the urn did not flow out as it should. I took the opportunity while I was in the pond to correct this problem and when I had finished, the urn was flowing very nicely again with a 6 inch jet. A couple of days later, one of the big Koi that was enthusiastically jumping, managed to jump right into the urn and knock it over. So now, I have to get back in the pond to reset it upright. Incidentally, the urn was filled to the top with sediment it had collected over the years and I am afraid that most of that is now back in the pond just as I had the water clear, Always something… By the way, there are a couple of schools of thought concerning jumping Koi. One is that they are after bugs and gnats or just plain exuberant and the other is that the fish is sick or getting sick and jumping to help ease whatever is bothering them. Just have to wait and see what it is in this case. None of the fish that just died were jumping prior to their deaths but they were in a different pond.
From not getting much real rain for the past 6 months or so, today we got a real gully washer with 3 inches of rain falling in an hour. I walked the garden and took a short video showing the water flowing in the bottom of my yard. There is a 20 inch culvert right outside of my fence which is why I have so much water. By the way, this is the Murmuring Creek that my street is named after and as I already stated, only flows when we get a gully washer. Below is a link to a very short video taken on my IPhone of Murmuring Creek.
The problem with all of this rain is that it has almost refilled the small pond, the one that I am taking down. I punched holes in the liner but they were not very effective so now, with the pond refilling, I will need to pump it out and make the holes bigger as even when it is finally filled back in, I certainly do not want there to be a water collection system underground ready to worry the future owners of this property. Filling in this pond is my summer project to be worked on when I have nothing better to do. As you can imagine, it is with great reluctance that I am taking these steps but the truth is whether I like it or not and I don’t, I am getting older and slowing down. It is harder and harder to do the things that were a breeze in my younger days so consequently, need to make some adjustments. I am willing to bet that the rocks that I installed all of those years ago have grown much larger and considerably heavier than when I first installed them. When I do make that final move whether it be feet first or by choice, I need to make it easier for whoever takes over this wonderland which is my backyard. One less pond will help achieve that and in the meantime, hopefully will also deter the herons from visiting as this was their fishing hole.