Austin Pond Society May 2018 Meeting


The Austin Pond Society tried something different with this May Meeting and held it at one of our Sponsors Store, namely Aqua-Dome located just off Ben White in Austin, Texas.

Aqua-Dome Meeting May 2018 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

The meeting was held outdoors with the weather cooperating, a nice breeze and not too hot. The first part of the meeting was as usual the Business Section and although the idea was unique, the soundtrack left a lot to be desired due to external traffic sounds. The second part of the meeting in which the owner, Gary Coffman, gave a demonstration on repotting water lilies was held in a different part of the large yard and the sound is much better.

Another of our Sponsors, Jet’s Pizza located in Brodie Lane, supplied the hungry group with a grand selection of different pizzas for us to devour which we proceeded to do at a rapid rate. There were about 40 members that had showed up and they listened intently as Gary showed us how he repots his water lilies. He also discussed Lotus and all of the other freshwater bog plants that he has for sale.

The meeting was over by 7:45 pm and I am quite sure that many of the members learned a bit about repotting water lilies. Thanks to Gary Coffman and Aqua-Dome for giving us something different.

This is the Business part of the meeting.

APS Meeting May 2018 – Business from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Gary Coffman demonstrating on “How to repot Water Lilies”.

Austin Aqua-Dome 2018 Repotting from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Written 5/22/2018

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Austin Pond Society April Meeting 2018


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The Austin Pond Society held it’s April Meeting at the same place and same time this past Monday, April 16, 6:30 pm at Zilker Botanical Gardens Clubhouse. It was attended by a little over forty members which was not surprising as this meeting was the Annual Plant Swap. This always nurtures a lot of interest as the members bring in their unwanted plants to exchange for others of a different variety. In theory, you had to bring in plants in order to be eligible to swap for other plants but in reality, there are always so many plants left over at the end of the meeting that it didn’t matter if you had plants of your own or not. The donating members didn’t care as they would have to take them back home if they didn’t exchange hands.

The food for the evening was the good old American staple, namely hot dogs with all of the fixin’s and deserts provided by the members. Yours truly made do with a bag of chips and several cookies as I don’t eat hot dogs. Following the meal, Jeannie, our President got right into announcements and the small bit of business that needed to be done. She was followed by Barb as the Special Events Organizer who explained to the group the rules of the Plant Swap. As usual, the volunteers who had arrived early and had helped with the set up all went early as they had have first dibs. They were given about five minutes to grab whatever they fancied before the rest of the ticket holders rushed out to fight over whatever remained. They were followed by those without tickets to hopefully grab all that was left to save the donators having to take them back home. Incidentally, the tickets signified that you actually had contributed something in the way of plants or fish. I opted to not donate anything this year as the few remaining plants that I have at home will be used in my own ponds. This did give me more time on taking the pictures and videos so it had some positives.

The swap went very quickly and the meeting was over by 7:30 pm with even the cleanup completed. This has to be one of the fastest meetings on record.

The next meeting will be held on May 21 at the Austin Aquadome. More details to follow. The three videos that I made are below.

The first is entitled 2018 April Business.

and the second is the Annual Plant Swap live.

The last is a slideshow to music of all of the pictures that I took

Written 4/25/2018

Austin Pond Society Meeting March 2018


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The third Monday of the month rolled around as it does on a regular basis which is also the day, actually evening, that the Austin Pond Society hold their monthly meeting. There were about forty two people that showed up and they were treated to a Chinese meal from one of our Sponsors, Bamboo Bistro. The food was absolutely delicious and there was none left at the end of the night. Thank You Bamboo Bistro. BTW, as a sponsor, they offer a 10% discount on all of their food by showing your APS Membership card.

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With the meal out of the way, the Speaker for the evening was Dr Geigel who spoke to us a couple of years ago. Dr Geigel is a travelling fish doctor although he treats any and all animals and birds no matter what type they are. For the evenings lecture, he focused on fish and fish ailments. At the end of his presentation he took many questions from the floor all related to fish illnesses.

Dr Geigel Video March Meeting 2018 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Following the Speaker, Jeannie, our President took over. There was very little official business, just a lot of general discussion. The evening ended with the drawing for the door prizes which always leads to much mirth and laughter as different and various people win the prizes. My apologies for the quality of this video. My original video camera that I had setup, the battery went dead so I grabbed a second camera and shot this without the use of a tripod. Again, my apologies.

APS Meeting March 2018 – Business from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

The next meeting will be on April 16, Income Tax Deadline Day. Hope you have filed yours in time. This meeting is our Annual Plant Swap when members bring in their surplus fish, garden and pond plants to swap or giveaway to anyone that either wants them or is willing to take them. However, at the end of the evening, any unswapped plants are the responsibility of the original owner who must take them home. If you are looking for plants (or fish) bargains, this meeting is for you. This is not restricted to just pond plants. Any form of garden plant can also be swapped, The one exception are any invasive species which also applies to pond plants. This is not to be confused with the Annual Swap and Sell Meeting held later in the year which is more about material items such as used pond and garden equipment. Hope to see you there.

This is the view through the windows of the Garden outside.

Written 3/22/2018

Two Fish Rescues to Start 2018


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I had calls from a couple of different pond owners who for totally different reasons wanted to close down their ponds. The first call, the owner stated that he had two ponds, one with two goldfish and the other with eight. He needed to find them good homes as the house and one of the ponds was going to be demolished and a new one built in its place.

I was met at the gate by the owner who showed me the ponds, one front and one back. The front pond was about six feet by three feet and contained two goldfish which were very easy to catch. The pond at the rear of the house was a large circular one of about eight feet in diameter with a fountain. This one, we had to pump out in order to catch the ten goldfish. It didn’t take too long and with the owners help, I was quickly on my way. I took these fish to Mayfield Park which was no more than a half mile from where I was.

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The other owner just didn’t want the pond anymore and was getting rid of everything including the Koi and the equipment. He had eight Koi, the biggest around fifteen inches long and all of them were beautifully marked. His pond had fairly large red sandstone rocks which had obviously been put in with a front end loader as they were way too heavy for me to handle and reluctantly, I had to pass them up. The owner was going to fill the pond with them which I thought was a waste but as I couldn’t get them out, there was no other choice.

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I made arrangements to visit him and catch the Koi the first day. I had lots of help from the owner and two other people so the catching went pretty quickly. The pond was around 1500 gallons and I had to pump it down to make it easier to catch the fish. The pond had been professionally built back 2006 as was obvious by the construction. They had dug a deeper middle section which must have been close to four feet. I took the Koi back to my own ponds and put them in the 6000 gallon pond where they joined several other larger koi.

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The next day, I went back to North Austin where the pond was located which incidentally would not show up on my GPS system, to collect the equipment which consisted of a large Sanyo skimmer, a 2000 gph pump, a single grate and netting from the bog, a waterfall and filter box and several pieces of 1-1/2 inch heavy duty flex pipe. It took me a while to dig out the skimmer box and the pipe was also buried but not very deep. With everything loaded, I made my way back home to unload everything.

The rescues were relatively simple and in both cases, the owners were very nice and very helpful.

Written 1/21/2018

APS Meeting February 2018


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The Austin Pond Society held it’s monthly meeting at the usual place, Zilker Botanical Gardens  in Austin. About thirty members showed up and were treated to a meal of Pulled Pork with Coleslaw. There were a lot of deserts including a strawberry pie that was absolutely delicious. Thanks to the Members for supplying these wonderful treats.

The original Speaker for the evening, Kieran Docker, is a Pond Builder who had an emergency with one of the ponds he had built and had to attend to it causing him to miss the meeting. That left an empty space in the proceedings but Barb Lenhardt who is our Programs Director came up with a very innovative idea to fill the time. She presented to the group an idea she had to rebuild her pond and asked the group for opinions.  It was like opening up a floodgate with some very interesting  ideas and comments plus a lot of good humor. In no time flat, the hour had passed.

I am not sure that Barb ever intends to put any of the suggestions into practice but if nothing else, the rest of us, who incidentally think we know it all, had the opportunity to put forth our thoughts and ideas. We also learned from the others giving us all something to take away from the meeting. Continue reading

Austin Pond Society Meeting – January 2018


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So starts a New Year for the Austin Pond Society. What will it bring, I wonder? We usually follow the same pattern every year. All of our meetings are set up to incorporate different things and we pretty much stick to the same items year after year. The Speaker that Barb Lenhardt, our Programs and Special Events Board Member had originally set up for this meeting had to withdraw at the last minute. This meant that we had to improvise which, as it turned out was no problem as we spent nearly all of the meeting discussing our lack of a Pond Tour Director and what to do instead.

But, I am getting ahead of myself. The meeting was attended by thirty members and as usual, Steven Monfrini, our Hospitality Volunteer put on a spread for us to enjoy. This time, we had many choices in which to make our own sandwich or in some cases, sandwiches. Our members absolutely outdid themselves with the choices of deserts and there was a whole table just loaded with goodies. I was torn between a sandwich or desert and resolved the issue but having both.

Keith and Locations Jan 2018 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

As is normal for the start of a New Year, we had a couple of new faces in the Board positions. Actually, that is not exactly true as Margaret Boeneke is our Librarian and was temporarily sitting at the Welcome/Sign In table due to the untimely death of Keith Neuse and the resignation of his Partner Rodney Lewis. Both will be missed. The Austin Pond Society wants to install a permanent memorial to both of them in the form of each of them having an engraved brick in the walkway at Zilker Botanical Gardens. We passed the hat around at this meeting for which the Members donated $210.00, enough to purchase the two engraved bricks. Thank You Members, you always come through for us.

2018 Pond Tour Discussions from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

What this means is that we are short two Board Members as Margaret is only sitting in the Welcome chair temporarily, so if any of you are interested in joining the Board of the Austin Pond Society as either Secretary or Membership, please contact Jeannie, our President at this link. For information on the duties of each of these positions, use this link.

More Discussion Jan 2018 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

For not having a prepared agenda, we did really good at filling up the time that would normally have been taken up by a Speaker. We had several items of interest among them, Tribute to Keith and Rodney, major discussion about our lack of a Pond Tour Director, a discussion on cleaning out the ponds at the Hyatt Regency at Bastrop, our annual budget upon which we needed to vote and which incidentally without a Tour, will put us in the red for this year.

Finally as per usual, we ended with the drawing for two door prizes both of which were cute (if you like that sort of stuff), Fishy things to use to hold letters, pictures and other similar stuff. I was fortunate enough to win one of these “things” but turned it back for a redraw as I had no use for it. I already have enough stuff.

The meeting closed around 8:45 pm.

The next meeting will be on February 19, 2018 at Zilker Botanical Gardens starting at 6:30 pm. Check the website to see who the Speaker will be.

The Hardworking Crew.


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See how much clearer it is through the trees

I had a knock on the door around 11:00 am which by itself is strange as I don’t usually get too many visitors. So, I used the peephole and saw a gentleman standing well back from the door and when I opened it, I was prepared to tell him “That I don’t need any” of whatever he was selling. I could see that his truck and trailer were parked on the street and figured that he was looking for work. I didn’t know what sort but it was probably tree trimming or yard work.

He introduced himself and very politely asked if he could give me a price for trimming the trees in the front which oddly enough, I had just been talking to my neighbor about all of the dead wood they contained. I am always a bit wary of strangers stopping by to try to talk me into letting them work around the place for obvious reasons but he offered me a good price and I haggled a bit just because and we finally agreed on a number which I thought was very reasonable. We shook hands on it and before I could get back indoors, he and and a couple of others were unloading their tools. I went back to what I was working on at that particular time and  I could hear the angry buzz of the chainsaws outside.

I got burned once before when a couple of white guys stopped by and asked if they could trim the trees. It didn’t take me very long to figure they didn’t have a clue and had to run them off which they didn’t take too well. So, I kept an eye on this group through the windows and it was very obvious they they knew exactly what needed to be done and they were going after it. I have about forty live oak trees in the front and about the same number in the back most of which are live oaks and all of them had a lot of dead wood in them. Two of these guys, all of whom were Hispanic were climbing the trees with a lot of agility with their chainsaws hanging from their waist belts. They used safety harness which they attached to the tree as they scrambled about. While they were doing the cutting, the third guy was loading the very large trailer which also included him jumping up onto the stack and using his chainsaw to consolidate and pack the load. I can’t believe how much stuff they packed onto that trailer.

I called to the bossman, whose name was Derek and took him to the backyard where the ponds are and we walked the garden with me pointing out some of the obvious deadwood and him telling me about what he perceived to be needing work.  He told me that a couple of the trees were Hackberries and needed to come down. We haggled for a bit and he came up with a satisfactory price which as I expected, was a little higher than the front because of the difficulty of working around the ponds and because the trees were much  bigger in diameter and took more time to cut down.

By now, it was getting dark and they stored their tools in my garage and said they would be back the next day. I paid Derek for the day’s work. When I inquired as to what time to expect them tomorrow, he said around 9:00 am or thereabouts.

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Day 2.
Well, 9:00 am turned into 11:00 am before they arrived back to work. This time there was a fourth man with them as they had to carry the material from the back out through the narrow paths and double gate to get to their trailer. They immediately picked up and carried on where they left off the day before. After about an hour or so working in the front, they went to the backyard and started work there.

I sat in front of my computer which also overlooks the entire backyard and it was very interesting to watch them work. They had evolved methods of doing things in order to make the work easier and to go along more smoothly. They worked on the Hackberry trees by cutting off the lower branches leaving enough for them to use as steps in order to climb higher up the tree cutting off more branches as they went. On the dead limbs that overhung the ponds, they attached a rope to them that had been slung over a higher branch and then one held the rope while the other cut the branch. They had to carry every bit of the material on their backs or in a wheelbarrow in order to get it to the trailer which by itself was a difficult task.  Even loading the trailer was an art as they had to keep using their chainsaws to be able to pack the material onto the trailer. They never stopped working. Very impressive.

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What is strange about all of this is the fact that I had been talking to my neighbor about the need to get this work done.  I had also been planning that yesterday, I would take a look at my own chainsaw to cut down one of the trees that was leaning over the workshop and had damaged the roof. For one thing, I can’t remember the last time I started my chainsaw and if it is anything like my lawnmowers,  it probably wouldn’t  start anyway. I have a riding mower that gets used twice a year and as I manage to forget to start it up through the winter, the seals dry out and I have to get it repaired every Spring, stupid thing or maybe it’s me that’s stupid for being so darn forgetful.  Some of the deadwood overhangs the ponds and I really didn’t want it to fall into the water for fear of it damaging the pond liners which would be really difficult to repair. They even took down the stained glass window for me as I was afraid that it was going to blow down in the last storm that we had saving me another yet job. I’m not so good at climbing ladders as I once was. Old age is really a bummer.

Postscript.
As can be expected, these men were all of Mexican descent and I have no idea if they are here illegally or not and I was not about to ask. I find it so difficult that the current administration wants to ban these people. They are extremely hard working and are doing a job that very few Americans want to do so they are hardly taking work away from any others who usually find this sort of heavy labor work too hard and too demeaning.

Written 12/14/2017