Losing Pets


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Losing a much loved pet is very difficult for all of us and some of us grieve for a long time as we try to move on.  The same is not true, at least for me when I lose any of the big Koi that live in my ponds. Fish, by nature, are cold blooded things and don’t do well in the cuddle department. I know that some people do not share my views on fish but I find it hard to even come close to any form of grief when a fish dies as they are sometimes apt to do.

A couple of days ago, I lost a big white Koi which was the biggest fish I have ever had. She was one of the originals so probably close to 38 years old which is pretty good for a fish in an unprotected pond. She was well over three feet long and probably weighed close to twenty pounds. I suspected that she was  going to that big Koi pond up in the sky as she had been acting very lethargic the past few days and did not appear to be eating and sure enough, when I came out to feed them the other morning, I could see her laying on the bottom of the pond. It is my experience that these large Koi don’t float immediately and it usually takes a couple of days for them to get up off the bottom of the pond, I suppose as they start to decay and the gasses start to form.

After a real struggle on my part due to her size and weight as my net was hardly big enough,  I managed to get her out of the pond.  Close inspection did not reveal any outwardly visible signs of damage or disease so it must have been an internal problem of some sort. Anyway, dead is dead and after pulling on a pair of long sleeved rubber gloves, I carried her to the bottom of the garden and with some effort, tossed her over the fence for the vultures or other wild things to clean up. She was heavy enough that I managed to wrench the muscles in my left upper arm in the process causing me to light up the air with a few well chosen cuss words.

I have at least fifty or sixty Koi in three of the five ponds some of which are almost as large as the one we just lost. These are the second batch of Koi bought way back in 1980 following a refilling tap water incident which wiped out the original stock purchased in 1977.  I have one surviving Koi from that original 1977 group and he is definitely the oldest and is at least 41 years old but being a male, is not among the very largest ones. There are also a couple of hundred or so Goldfish in three of the ponds and it is hard to stop them from breeding especially in the ponds that are populated by Goldfish only. Koi do a good job of keeping the population down as do a couple of turtles that are in the other ponds as they eat the eggs and  young fry.

The occasional fish die off is not always a bad thing as it keeps the population manageable. I am glad though that I don’t have to make the choice  of who lives and who dies. I’ll leave that to Mother Nature…

Here come the buzzards,  Mother Nature’s cleanup crew and so the pendulum swings as it always does, in the grand scheme of things.

Written 8/9/2018

 

Common Sense.


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I walked around out in the yard
trying so very, very hard
to ignore the heat that I felt out there
and wondered how much I could bear
before I give up and move back inside
or my face and skin will be fried
even though I had carefully rubbed in
sun tan lotion upon my skin
which would keep me from getting a burn
and please my Doctor from whom I had learned
that too much sun is not good for the skin
and makes bad things grow eventually within
as I worked on things needing to be done
I was thinking about the rising sun
and wondered what I could do instead
as obviously I have been misled
into thinking the task I was working on
was something that would not take long
and I could quickly get it done
before the heat from the sun
made me think for a bit
that maybe tomorrow I can fit
this project into my busy day
and get out early if I have my way
I packed up my tools and put them away
this project can keep for another day
I’ll get up early and while it is cool
do the work that is needed as common sense rules.

Written 7/13/2018

Today


What did you do today the store clerk asked
as I checked out the things I had bought
groceries and such and things put away
in case I get hungry during the day.

Oh I don’t know let me think
what did I do different than any day
I said as I helped her pack my stuff
in the bags I had brought just two were enough

Nothing much was different I said
a shower to wake my sleepy head
and coffee to start the morning off right
and feed the dogs with their eyes so bright.

Check on the ponds just to make sure
that everything works just as before
and feed the fish as they splash around
as the gurgling water makes its sounds.

Read my mail and send a response
to all of my friends who have taken the time
to read the blogs that I posted there
as sharing with them to see if they care.

Then back outside in the garden to work
as usually something needs to be done
trim the paths and rake the leaves
as I look at the beauty that my eyes perceive.

Lastly I am here at your store
buying groceries just like before
as I have done about everyday
nothing much changes along the way.

Now I have told you the story of life
as you asked me how was my day
this is how it is now I am old
very little changing as my story is told.

What you heard from me today
of things that happen along the way
is pretty much the way it will be
from here on out to eternity.

The store clerk looked at me so sad
I could tell she wanted to pity me
she went all quiet as if to say
You poor old man what a terrible day.

I looked right back at her and said
young lady I know it’s hard to reply
but look at this from another way
the alternative is that I will die.

As we live our lives out to the end
we make the most of the life we have left
and if that means everyday is the same
I’ll take it so my life to sustain.

She looked back at me and gave me a smile
the look on her face made it all worthwhile
as she finally realized what I had said
that to live like this is better than dead.

She rang me up so I went on my way
thinking of things that happen each day
if nothing much changes from the day before
then I’ll be happy for evermore.

The joys of being old. Who says change is great…

Written 7/10/2018

Blessed Rain


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Today we are having rain
something about which we do not complain
as I have said many times before
in Texas it rains and we let out a roar
as a sign of our pleasure for so simple a task
more rain is something we always ask
to combat the heat with the temperatures high
looking for clouds to darken the sky
and hoping that rain will fall on the ground
and so doing will cool the temperatures down.

I took a walk around the yard
in between the showers so hard
to make sure that things were OK
and the ponds could handle the rain this day
I barely had time to make one loop around
before it started to rain on the ground
and I dashed to get in the house and the dry
as the rain continued to fall from the sky
and sat by the window to watch it fall
as the rain is at Natures beck and call.

Written 7/9/2018

Mechanical Water Fillers


The rain has come and the rain has gone
and we are left to carry on
with just enough to water the plants
and top off the ponds which at first glance
are where the water level should be
no sign of hydration that I can see
but that’s because I cheat a bit
and have auto levelers that see fit
to turn on the water when the needs arise
like having a helper in the disguise
of a mechanical part designed by man
to take over the work just as planned
of keeping the level where the water should be
and so it is no mystery
of why the water remains
topped up to the level as ascertained.

Written 7/4/2018

This and That…


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I commented in the last couple of blogs just how hot it is here in my part of  Central Texas. It is like this every year with some years worse than others. The record was set in 2011 when Austin at Camp Mabry, one of the weather recording centers, registered 83 consecutive days with the temperatures 100 degrees or more. It doesn’t matter what way you look at it, that was a bloody hot summer. Luckily, the humidity was low which made it a little more bearable.

We have just had our first 100 degree days this past week with the thermometer reaching 100 on three consecutive days. There are thunderstorms forecast for the next couple of days which will bring some welcome relief. Along with the high temperatures there are all sort of bye products caused by the heat. Things like high electric bills with the A/C units at full blast and in many cases, replacement units due to the older models breaking down. Try to imagine what the inside of a house is like with no A/C when the outside temperature is 100 degrees or higher. Fans are a big help but they only move the hot air around as they don’t cool it.

If you are an avid gardener, it is a heartbreaking struggle to keep your precious plants alive especially if you are on city water and there are watering restrictions. Austin gets most of its water from the Highland Lakes which is a chain of six freshwater lakes in Central Texas formed by six dams on the lower Colorado River. A heat wave like the one in 2011 actually lowered the lake water quite considerably as the water evaporates along with the demands from all of the Municipalities downstream. It took several years for the lake levels to return to normal after that and it was officially declared a drought.

In my younger days, thirty or so years ago, I was still an avid soccer player at the top Amateur level. The teams I played with would often go away to Tournaments in Dallas or Houston or sometimes even further afield to New Orleans or Florida. These Tournaments were nearly always in the summer, again the hottest time of the year but although they were competitive, it was only for fun. Apart from getting to play several games over a weekend, we went for the company and camaraderie that belonging to a team brings. And the beer of course, lots of beer. I remember on two separate occasions, one in Dallas and the other in Houston when the heat got to us more than usual.

The Dallas Tournament was played on a large soccer complex which like all such complexes was built with very little shade around the fields. Our particular field had Flood Lights surrounding the field mounted on six, sixty foot metal poles. This was the only shade close to the field and spectators and players not in the game were all standing in a line in the shadow of the poles with a larger group at the end where the bank of lights projected a bigger shadow. It was pretty funny. The actual temperature that day was 108 degrees, the hottest that I have ever played in. The game itself was played in slow motion with the players trying to conserve as much energy as possible and when they wanted to sub out, they had the greatest difficulty in finding someone to take their place.  Usually, subs are lined up just waiting to get into the game but not on that particular day. I can’t remember much about the game or even if we won as the heat was the overriding factor for all of us.

The Tournament in Houston was very much the same with very high temperatures. The difference was that in Houston, being close to the sea, the humidity was through the roof which made it appear to be much hotter than it really was. Humidity saps the strength right out of you whether you are used to it or not. The same thing happened as in the Dallas Tournament except there were no floodlights to provide shade. In the second half players were subbing in and out at a tremendous rate as in these Amateur games, subs are unlimited. In the end, it got to where you couldn’t find anyone willing to go back in which meant that you had to stay on the field or if you came off anyway, the team had to play short. That game was truly a miserable experience for both teams. I can’t remember who won and in truth, really didn’t care.

On the home front with all of my ponds, I have to be very careful to make sure that there is no water wastage from anywhere. As it is, keeping the water cool enough for the Koi and Goldfish during these periods of high temperatures is a difficult task. The only real way is to keep the water moving with waterfalls and water features and plant lots of Lilies and water shading plants. The other big problem it to maintain the oxygen levels in the water as the heat tends to deplete the amount of oxygen. I have separate bubblers in all of my ponds which this time of the year are running non stop and even with these precautions, it not a bit unusual to find fish floating on the top.

I have all native plants in my garden which I tend to let grow wild only trimming them where my pathways are or maybe to keep them from crowding out the other growth. If I  have to water them to keep them alive I have installed an underground soaker hose system which if absolutely necessary, will run at night on timers. This is enough to keep the plants alive without wasting too much water in overspill. My garden is really a jungle in disguise which makes it much easier to maintain.

The one redeeming factor is that we can look forward to the Hurricane Season and since 80% of the North Atlantic Hurricanes form from June through October, hurricane season is declared from June 1 to November 30. The months when storms are most frequent on the Texas coast are August and September. If we do get any at all and that is not a certainty, we will probably get cooler temperatures and rain which if it is in excessive amounts will bring its own problems.

Texas has a saying, “If you don’t like the Texas weather, just wait five minutes and it will change”. This saying is also credited to many other States to which it can apply.

Written on another hot day in Texas.
7/3/2018

 

APS July Meeting 7-16-2018


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In keeping with the last two meetings that were held outdoors, the first at Zilker Botanical Gardens and the second at the AquaDome, the Austin Pond Society held the July Meeting at Mayfield Park, here in Austin.

This is also the same park that the APS has been helping the City of Austin clean and maintain the six ponds that are located there. Now that most of the work is finished at least for this go round,  the Board decided that it would be a good idea to show off just what the Members have accomplished these past few weeks.

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We turned this meeting into a pot luck and the food table was absolutely full up with all kinds of goodies, most of which were home made. Altogether, there were close to forty members that showed up. The Mayfield Gutsch Cottage located on the grounds served as a gathering and eating place to start the evening off before everyone moved outside to explore the grounds and ponds. Most people were impressed with the amount of work performed by the APS volunteers and commented as much. Jeannie, our President was quick to point out to the group the work that the City of Austin had done as their part of the project.

The Peafowls, both cocks and hens put on a great display and serenaded us with their loud squawking. One Peahen was proudly showing off her two babies and walked right up to me as if to say,”Make sure you get a good picture of me and my babies”.

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The first of the two videos is the Business part of the meeting conducted indoors. The quality is not very good due to the poor lighting made worse by the row of windows directly behind the camera which cast big shadows on all of the people assembled there.

The second video is a short one taken outside of the Members as they walked around the ponds.

The next meeting is back indoors at the Zilker Garden Center on August 20th. The Speaker will be Steve from Hill Country Water Gardens. Hope to see you there.