More Fish Rescues of the Easy Kind.


This past week, I received calls from two different people and an email from a third person looking for help with their ponds. As I am the website contact person for the Austin Pond Society, I get the calls first and then make the decisions regarding the outcome of the various and different requests after I have followed through and obtained the details.

Usually, it is a simple decision regarding the type of action and if it is something that the Pond Society can handle. Then I decide if it is too big for me in which case I pass it along to Jeannie, our President who also handles all of the larger fish rescues.

What is a fish rescue, you ask? Simply put, it usually is a cry for help from the public to assist them find a new home for the fish they have in their garden pond which for any number of reasons, they are closing down. In many cases, the Husband has died and the pond is too much work for the remaining spouse or in the case of one of the calls I received, the owners had sold the house and the new owners wanted to keep the pond but did not want the fish. In nearly every case, the owners are closing down the pond.

With the three requests I received, I quickly determined that the first was too big for me and was one that required both help with the rescue and then the ability to house 10-20 medium sized Koi until permanent homes could be found for them. As I am not setup to house any fish other than my own, I passed this one along to Jeannie so that she and her merry band of Koi Rescue Enthusiasts could make the arrangements to handle. I should mention that we try to find good homes for any fish we rescue by offering them among our members first as they always get first dibs. Then we turn for help among the general public and finally, we donate them to Mayfield Park here in Austin. The Park has 5 ponds that are big enough to house a substantial number of Koi and Goldfish and this year, both Jeannie and I have placed a large number of Koi, Goldfish and Carp into these ponds. The Carp were in error and were mistaken for large black Goldfish but they seem very happy in their new environment.

The second and third calls were both in the range that I could handle and so I called the owners and set up dates to visit with them and make the rescues. The first house was located not too far from me in an estate where all of the homes were so big, my own house would probably fit in them at least twice and probably more. This house had already been sold and the ex-owners were just completing the final clean out and catching up on the odds and ends. When I got there, I could see the pond behind the fence with the gate open and “Jim”, the ex-owner was already standing in the pond with his net, splashing around in an attempt to catch the fish. I said hello and introduced myself. We chatted for a bit as he tried to catch the couple of fish left in the pond. I suggested that I would hook up my pump to lower the water level giving him a much better opportunity in his task.

The deal was that I was to take an 8 inch Koi and the two largest goldfish and he would keep the much smaller remaining goldfish for his new home. He proudly showed off the Koi that he had managed to catch which was in a 5 gallon bucket standing by the pond. As if on cue as we watched, the Koi jumped out of the bucket and back into the pond. After we both recovered from the fit of laughter that this caused, I hooked up my pump to help him by lowering the water level so that he could catch the Koi for a second time. In no time at all, he had caught all of the fish. I bid him farewell and then made my way back home where I put the Koi and Goldfish in different ponds at my house.

The next rescue, a couple of days later was also another easy one. The owner, a very friendly lady by the name of Debbie met me and showed me the pond which was a circular one of about six feet in diameter and only a couple of feet deep. It was real close to the driveway making it easy to load out the trailer. I set up my pump which quickly lowered the water and I pulled out seven water lilies in pots as it was pumping. It was very easy to catch the twelve small Koi and Goldfish and transfer them to my container ready for transport. Between us, we bagged up the lilies and reloaded my trailer and in thirty minutes, I was back on the road again.

This time, I headed to Mayfield Park where I planned to put the rescued fish. This went by without any problems despite notices spread around the ground warning the public, “To not disturb the Peacocks and Peahens as they incubate their eggs or they might attack you”. I repacked my trailer and made my way back home. The water lilies made it back to my house and into my containers that house my surplus plants which are free to anyone needing pond plants.

Interestingly enough, this last rescue was one street down from where I used to live out in the Pedernales area thirty two years ago. On my way back, I pulled into the street that was my old home and drove to the end just for old times sake. It brought back very happy memories of my time spent living out there on my five acres and rekindled in me, the old longing to turn back the clock. Of course that is not possible but a man can dream, can’t he? There was a Realtor’s Sign for the property next to the acreage I used to own so I took down the number and gave them a call. Turns out to be a 15 acre lot with an unfinished house and the asking price was $425,000. When I sold my 5 acres thirty two years ago with a house, a large horse barn and paddock, aviaries and sheds and fully fenced, it went for $120,000. Go figure…

 

A Beautiful Day


DSC_0852

It’s going to be a beautiful day
the sun is shining along the way
the rain has gone to a different place
and the day is now too good to waste.

I have sat indoors these past few days
watching it rain at a furious pace
but now the sun shines and there’s work to be done
to clean up the garden which sounds like fun.

Cut down the plants too damaged to live
clear the space new life to give
to the plants that remain behind
they will recover all in good time.

Storms and wind are Nature’s way
of changing things and have her say
the way she wants the world to look
as she turns the page of her open book.

We do not understand her ways
so powerful and violent on these days
and yet today there is just a faint breeze
rustling the leaves up in the trees.

And the sun is shining to greet the day
the warm breeze is blowing as if to say
come out and play with me for a while
and I’ll tickle your face and make you smile.

I open the door to venture outside
and breathe the fresh air no need to hide
for Nature has come through once again
the clouds blown away for me to begin.

Day 4 – Harvey


Today is Day 4 of the Hurricane Harvey Saga in my part of Texas. The storm as predicted, moved back towards the cost and is still pummelling Houston and the surrounding area as it slowly makes its way down the coast towards Louisiana. Compared to what those guys have had to put up with, Austin has got off very light. All we had was about 7 inches of heavy rain causing low water crossing closures and some minor flooding.

For myself, very little damage from the strong winds. Lots of leaves and small branches down but no major tree limbs on the ground. A lot of the plants are laying a bit sideways and I will have to wait and see how many straighten back up before chopping them down.

The 5000 gallon pond had one pump that quit working and I replaced it this morning. I also cleaned out the other 4 pumps on this pond as the water has turned a real muddy color. There is probably at least one upturned pot that has dumped its clay into the water and it will take a few days for it to settle out.

I already mentioned the cypress tree that has blown over in the 6000 gallon pond in the last blog but as far as I can see that is all of the damage that we sustained. I plan on getting into the ponds tomorrow and cleaning out the leaves and cutting back the damaged vegetation. As I write this, the sun is shining brightly and there is hardly a cloud in the sky. Nature is such an amazing thing how the weather can change in the blink of an eye.

Oh yes, the stained glass window made it through OK and now I will take it down out of its tree and find a more stable place for it so I don’t have to worry when the next storm hits.

.DSC_0856

Too Much Rain?


504_1920x1080_gloomy_day

I was looking for something to do
my brain was acting without a clue
as the rain outside came teeming down
and the wind blew hard to add its sound
we were going through an unusual remake
of three days of rain without a break
as the hurricane moved way inland
and off to the East with its heavy rain bands
the weatherman says we are not through yet
as more of this wet stuff we will get.

Texans complain when they’re in a drought
things are dry and withered no water to spout
so a hurricane that brings lots of rain
to make things green and growing again
is a welcome site for those who hold dear
or live off the land the rain brings good cheer
usually one day is enough
two maybe and thats pushing your luck
get to three and then it is time
for rain to stop and for sun to shine.

Actually I kid a lot
as we will take any and all that you got
to fill up the lakes and rivers too
for when rain comes it’s something new
and we never know how long it will last
or how quickly it is a thing of the past
as the sun scorches down at one hundred degrees
baking the land and shading the trees
and before long you will hear people say
“Sure wish some rain was heading our way”.

DROUGHT-BIG-27-JULY

Harvey – Day 3


DSC_0845

I checked the computer and watched  the news before going to bed around 11:00 pm on Saturday evening. There were tales of doom and gloom on both of them with dire warnings of flooding and high winds. I figured that there was not much I could do unless the roof blew off the house in which case, I would be busy rescuing important stuff, like pets and electronic gadgets including my cameras before jumping in the car (hopefully) and heading out. Or if this was not possible, hunkering down in any room that was still dry if I couldn’t get the car out of the garage.

Hoping for the best, I went to bed and fell asleep in no time flat only waking when the call of nature prodded my brain to use the bathroom which sadly to say, happens all too often nowadays. I didn’t hear the storm as it continued through the night although my cell phone went off a couple of times with weather alerts telling me to be aware of “strong winds” and “lots of rain”. Sometimes it helps to wear hearing aids which I remove at night enabling me to sleep through anything but the loudest thunder.

I awoke the next morning and looked out of the french doors at the yard. As far as I could see, apart from things laying in different directions from the wind, I could not visibly see any damage. The stained glass window is still hanging in the trees although a little more lopsided than before. I still need to find it a new home when the weather gets better.

Choosing to get up even though it was before 8:00 am, I showered and dressed and went outside to see the extent of the damage up close. There are leaves off the trees everywhere. Many plants are laying lopsided as the wind has blown them over and apart from the water in the 5000 gallon pond being very dirty and of course the downed Cypress tree in the 6000 gallon pond, everything doesn’t look too bad at all. It looks like one of the pumps has stopped working or is blocked in the 5000 gallon pond. I will get to that later. All of the ponds are full to the brim with the overflows working nicely to let some of the water run off.

I wandered down to the bottom of the garden to the area know as Murmuring Creek which, as I have mentioned many times before, only murmurs when we get a real gully washer and although it was very obvious that it had flooded a little bit, it was nothing like I had expected.

All in all, it looks like my part of town has gotten off very lightly. The weather map shows the main part of the Hurricane to have moved off to the East and we should probably only be getting strong winds and rain for a couple more days. If there is anything to report tomorrow, I will follow up then.

Austin Pond Society October Meeting, 2017


DSC_6506

The Austin Pond Society held it’s monthly meeting on Monday, October 16 at the usual place, the Zilker Botanical Gardens Clubhouse. The meeting was attended by around 35 members with a couple of new ones adding to the group. New members are always welcome. The meal provided by the very popular Stephen Monfrini, consisted of pulled pork rolls with salads and dessert’s provided by the members. As usual, a very welcome start to what was a very busy evening.

This meeting started with Jeannie, the President explaining to everyone the rules regarding the photo contest for next years calendars. The entries would be identified by a number only and the members would choose the first, second and third places in each category. There were four categories, fish, ponds, wildlife associated to a pond and water plants.

Following the time allowed to review and vote on the pictures,  the speaker for the evening, Paul Lawrence from “ Texas Land and Water Designs” talked to us for about an hour on the finer points of garden selection which emphasized included plants, where and what sort, contrasts, locations, statues and other solid objects and other ideas that may not occur to most of us. I had some technical difficulties with one of my cameras and it took me awhile to get it sorted out so I missed the first part of his discussion PLUS the camera was out of focus for a bit. My apologies for the poor performance on my part.

Paul Lawrence from “ Texas Land & Water Designs” Oct 2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Following Paul, we moved right into the election of officers for this upcoming year, 2018. As chair of the nomination committee, Julienne Smith explained the format for electing the officers and smoothly switched into announcing those board members who were willing to hold a position and return for another year. These officers were all elected by acclamation.

Business Section October 2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Below is a list of all of the newly elected Officers.
President – Jeannie Ferrier
Secretary – Keith Neuse
Treasurer – Jack Marshall
Parliamentarian – Nancy Reinart

Below is a list of all of the newly elected Directors.
Historian/Photographer – Glen Hubenthal
Hospitality – Stephen Monfrini
Programs/Special Events – Barbara Lenhardt
Librarian – Margaret Boeneke
Membership – Rodney Lewis
Publicity/Public Relations – Ellen Filtness
Webmaster – Francis Allcorn

All are returning officers with the exception of Keith Neuse as the Secretary. Keith is no stranger to the Board as he helped Rodney with the Membership this past year. Welcome Keith.

We would like to give our thanks to Julienne Smith who has been an active Board Member for seven years and has finally decided to step down. Thanks Julie for all of your hard work over all of those years.

The only position that was not filled was that of the Pond Tour Director without whom there will be no Pond Tour in the foreseeable future. This is probably one of the the most important and definitely the busiest position on the whole board for at least half of the year. Although there are many people that step up and work on the various Pond Tour Committees, the Director is the one that pulls it all together.

Please note that without a Pond Tour Director and therefore no pond tours, we will NOT be able to make the donations and charitable contributions that we normally make as this is our only substantive fund raiser.

Following the voting, Jeannie welcomed all of the members that have volunteered their pictures and then branched into a discussion regarding the actual Pond Tour. Notwithstanding that we need a Director to fill that position, she suggested that maybe we should consider holding the Tour every other year or cutting it back to a single day or both. Her reasons, apart from the obvious one of lack of leadership, is that it takes such a lot of organization and involves so many people. Another reason is that Austin has so much going on that other clubs in our organization, AAGC have also cut back on their tours and shows finding it difficult to compete. A further suggestion from another officer is to have two Directors, one North and one South to halve the organizational time and responsibilities and also to cut back on the mileage. All good talking points and something to think about.

At this point, Darren and Glen announced the winners of the Photo Contest for this upcoming 2018 Calendar. The pictures, in order, will also be posted on this website on a monthly basis starting January 2018. The final act of the evening as it usually is, was the drawing for the door prizes.

The next and final meeting for the year is scheduled for November 20th and it will also be our Holiday Party. Details to follow.

The Second Day of Harvey…


DSC_0846

I got up early just so I could see
damage caused by Hurricane Harvey
I slept soundly through the night
and did not hear weather to give me a fright
I did not even hear the rain
as it beat upon the window pane
and yet the two rain gauges show
that 4 inches fell of this I know

As I walked around the yard
the wind was still blowing pretty hard
treetops swayed first this way and that
as I stood waiting for them to crack
but so far everything is fine
in the part of Texas that I call mine
I’m sure before this storm is gone
something will break before too long.

I looked into the biggest pond
wondering where the tree had gone
as in this pond sits a cypress tree
in a pot with rocks but standing free
although it has a couple of ropes
cross tied so that in the hope
to stop it from falling upside down
when the big winds come around.

Alas the winds were mighty strong
and the tree is floating so before too long
I need to jump in and work on the tree
in order to get it vertically
but not much use until the storm ends
and then maybe with the help of friends
the tree we can right the way it should be
pointing upwards and proud for all to see.

So far nothing to make me sad
or damage so bad it makes me mad
the little bit that I can see
is not very much to worry me
not even enough to bring me tears
which I can fix when the weather clears
with trimmers and rakes and a wheelbarrow too
it won’t take long to make it look new.

There is still maybe two more days
of Hurricane Harvey coming our way
before he will blow himself out
and we will no longer be in drought
as the rain that he has left behind
will water our yards for a long long time
enough to last the rest of this year
as Fall is approaching and is quite near
and the weather will cool and more pleasant be
and the super hot days will be history.

“For this year…”