Austin Pond Society Meeting – April 2017


DSC_5179The Austin Pond Society held their monthly meeting this past Monday, April 17 at the usual place and time. This meeting was our Annual Plant Swap when members bring in pond or garden plants surplus to their requirements to swap out for those of a different kind that other members have brought in.

It is always a fun event and usually, there is always someone who brings in something different or exotic just as a change from the usual pond and garden plants. The meeting was well attended with around 55 members showing up. Not everyone brought in plants to swap out but as usual, there were so many that if they wanted to, everyone went home with something new and different.

Prior to the start of the swap, Steven Monfrini, our Hospitality person, treated us to hot dogs with all of the fixin’s with desserts of different kinds brought in by the members. As I am not a big hot dog fan, I made up for it with extra helpings of desserts especially those of the chocolate kind. While the members were enjoying the food, they were able to watch a video made by yours truly of the APS Website and some of the things available on it.

15 Minute Video from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Following the food and the video, Jeannie brought the meeting to order and went around the room for reports from the various Board Members. Nancy Hall talked about the upcoming Garden Tour and Ted Paone, Chairman of the Pond Tour, outlined the progress to date which he states, is is falling into place quite nicely.

At 7:15 pm, the swap started and although it didn’t appear so, there was some method to the madness with those that helped to set up going first to get the first dibs, followed by those others who had brought things into swap and finally by everyone else whether they had donated or not. It went pretty smoothly thanks to Barb and Darren who kind of kept an eye on everything. One of the rules of the swap is that if you bring it in and it doesn’t move, it goes back home with you. Not sure how much of that happened or whether everything found new homes.

Austin Pond Society Meeting April 2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

The meeting was over early around 8:00 pm as members lugged their new goodies out to their cars. The clean up crew tidied up the back porch and the Swap was over for another year.

Austin Pond Society April, 2017 Business from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

The next meeting is on May 15 and this one is our Sponsor Night when many of our Sponsors will set up a table and share their wares with the members. This is always a popular event and is well attended. We are having a potluck dinner which is always fun as we taste other people’s cooking. Hope someone brings an apple pie…See you there.

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Austin Pond Society March Meeting 2017


DSC_5001The Austin Pond Society held their monthly meeting on March 20th which was attended by about 45 members. They were treated to a meal of Chicken Spaghetti with the salads  and fixin’s provided by the members. We were a little short on deserts this time around much to my disappointment as this meeting is the only time I allow myself the luxury of desert.. Many Thanks to Steven Monfrini, our Hospitality person shown below in his kitchen.

Following the meal and just a little different from our normal procedure, John O’Sullivan announced that he was now involved in helping people to get their Voter Registration up to date and that he was now able to give assistance to any and all that might need help in this area. He mentioned that Texas is now the most stringent State in the Union regarding Voter Registration and he felt that it was very important that everyone that can vote is eligible to do so.

Following John’s discussion, Jeannie Ferrier, President, started the advertised part of meeting with the introduction of a couple of new members followed by a brief report of the members activities this past month with cleaning Mayfield Ponds and the fish rescues that we have done. With that out of the way, we moved into the presentation for the evening with this particular one offered by Jeannie and Steven. They spoke about the construction of their 10,000 gallon pond and all that was involved in it from digging the hole to installing the pond plants. Steven spoke about the lights he has installed both in and around the pond. They fielded a lot of questions during and after the presentation which was warmly received by all of the members. Below is a video of their presentation.

Jeannie and Steven, March 20, 2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

After their presentation, there were reports from the various Board Members and a lengthy discussion from Ted Paone about the upcoming Pond Tour. He also discussed Zilkerfest which is being held  the weekend of March 25-26 for which he needed Volunteers to man the Austin Pond Societies booth which is used to promote both the Society and the upcoming Pond Tour on June 3-4. The new stream renovation in Zilker Gardens is also having their official opening dedication ceremony which the Pond Society had donated $5000 to help towards the cost of that project.

The Tour arrangements are moving along very nicely, according to Ted. So far, there are 11 ponds on the North side and 9 on the South with the possibility of at least one more.

The meeting came to a close with the drawing for the door prizes and this time around, all of the food had been consumed so there was no need to ask people t0 take some home. The next meeting will be held on April 17 and this meeting will be our Annual Plant Swap. Bring along your surplus plants or fish that are both pond and garden related and swap them for something useful to you. Hope to see you there.

Below is the Business Video of the meeting.

APS Business Mar 2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Barbara Hale’s Fish Story – Reposted


This story is a re-post of a story written by Barbara Hale.

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          A few weeks after my husband put in a backyard pond, I was in the Walmart pet department looking at goldfish and Koi. As enthusiastic new pond-keepers, we were always looking for more fish.

While peering into aquariums at the limited selection of fish, I overheard a loud customer speaking to the store manager. “Why can’t you take it? It’s perfectly healthy. I’m giving it to you for free!” she said.  “I just want it to go to a good home.”

This exchange peaked my interest so I moved closer to listen. The manager told her that Walmart had strict health regulations and could not take in a donated fish. The woman looked devastated. I approached her saying, “Excuse me, but are you trying to find a home for a fish?”

She told me she had an eight-inch goldfish that was too large for her aquarium and no one she knew wanted it. She’d had it for many years, ever since it was tiny. Due to back problems, she could no longer clean such a large aquarium.

I told her about our new pond and that I’d be delighted to take the fish. What luck! We needed a large fish; she needed a home for her large fish. Her face lit up and she asked me to follow her home. Once there, she netted the fish into a bucket, and walked me with the fish to my car. I thanked her profusely insisting she come visit some time to see her fish in its new home. She told me she’d certainly do that so I gave her our address and said, “Drop by any time.”

Several months later, my husband found the fish belly-up in our pond. “This is horrible,” I said. “What if that nice woman shows up to see her fish? We’ve got to find one that looks just like it!” My husband was unable to talk me out of it, so we drove to a store  that sells fish and pond supplies. It was a pond owner’s dream. On the grounds were rows of pond plants and an enclosure for turtles. Under an arbor behind the building was a beautiful pond with lots of large koi and goldfish—a perfect model for those interested in building their own ponds. Inside it, I spotted a goldfish who looked almost identical to our dearly departed one. How perfect!

We told an employee we’d like to buy a goldfish from out back. He followed us out to the pond area which was flanked by several rectangular vats containing various types and sizes of goldfish and koi. When I pointed out the one I wanted in the pond, he said, “Oh, those aren’t for sale. They’re impossible to catch.” He directed me to a vat of goldfish I could choose from, but none were large enough.

So I told him my whole impassioned story about why we needed that particular fish, and how happy the woman at Walmart was that her fish would go to a good home, and how she could drop by any day to see her fish. He was shaking his head back and forth as he listened. Then, after a long sigh, he said, “Okay, I see what you mean. I’ll try.”

With his long-handled net, he scooped this way and that through the pond, stirring up sediment from the bottom as all the terrified fish darted in every direction. I did what I could to assist by continually pointing out the target fish, saying things like, “There he is—no, there. Oops! Oh, here he is. Oh wait—now he’s over there.”  This went on for a good twenty minutes but miracles do happen; he finally caught the fish! By that time the pond was a muddy mess and the exhausted employee was soaked. We were so grateful he didn’t give up.

We took the new fish (which looked almost the same) home and named it Replacement. Twelve years have passed and Replacement still thrives in our tranquil pond. His former owner, the woman I met in Walmart, has never come to visit.


 

Austin Pond Society 2016 August Meeting


DSC_3675The Austin Pond Society held their August Meeting at the Zilker Gardens Botanical Center this past Monday, August 15, 2016. There was a very light turnout of membership with about 25 or so showing up which included three new members. Welcome to you all.

As usual, the meeting started with a very light meal of sandwiches with a choice of ham or beef and all of the trimmings followed by cookies for desert.

The video below is the presentation by Douglas Soltan.

APS August Meeting 8-15-2016 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

At 7:00 pm, Jeannie introduced our speaker, Douglas Soltan and his topic was going to be Native Plantings with emphasis on the Texas wildflowers. Barb Lenhardt, our Special Events Coordinator usually makes the introductions but she unfortunately was held up with a flat tire. Douglas told us a little about himself and the role he plays with the Wildflower Center. He is one of the many Docents assigned to educating the public about the wildflowers of Texas.

He handed out copies of his slideshow so that the members could follow along and take notes if they wanted. His slideshow had 41 slides of both the plants and the butterflies that are attracted to each one. He had a picture of a Horned Owl which along with its mate, had a nest at the Wildflower Center and he stimulated much discussion over this pair and their young. His presentation was very informative and he closed by taking questions from the floor.

Following his presentation, Jeannie led us through several items that are coming up at the next meeting. Prior to that she had all of the Board Members who were present make a brief summary of their duties as several of them are stepping down and we are badly in need of replacements. Those that are definitely not serving again include, Darren Bayhi as Membership,  BJ Jenkins as Publicity, Cynthia Bennett as Parliamentarian and Nancy Reinert as Treasurer. All positions are up for grabs but several of the Board have indicated a willingness to continue. These include, Jeannie Ferrier as President, Julienne Smith as Secretary, Ted Paone as Pond Tour Director, Glen Hubenthal as Photographer and  Historian, Barbara Lenhardt as Programs and Special Events although she has not positively decided that she can continue,  Betty Blackson as Librarian and yours truly as Webmaster. If any of you have a desire to volunteer your time on the Board, please be at the next meeting on September 19 or contact Jeannie at president@austinpondsociety.org.

Following the Board positions discussion, Darren gave an outline of the upcoming Photo Competition which will be held at the September Meeting, details of which can be found on the website at  Austin Pond Society Photo Contest

The meeting closed with the usual drawing for the door prizes one of which was won by one of the new members. How’s that for a welcome.

The video below is the business part of the meeting.

APS August Meeting – Business 8-15-2016 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Thanks for Sharing


100_0229I lost another fish today but this one didn’t catch me by surprise. She had been moping around for several days and not moving much. She would not eat any of the food that I put in the pond which was very unusual as she being one of the biggest fish, was always at the head of the food line.

I decided to treat the pond with Broad Spectrum Disease Treatment in the hope of a kill or cure. Unfortunately, it was the latter although I have no idea if the treatment hastened her death. She was a very big fish, measuring 30 inches from nose to tail with an 8 inch girth and weighed in at 12 pounds. Life does not go on forever and even in these Koi that are reputed to live as long as 100 years or more (in perfect conditions) mine lasted 26 years which is no mean feat.

Fish, to me,  are not like dogs or cats and I have no special affinity for any of them. I have only one fish out of the 40-50 large Koi that has a name and that is only because she is the biggest fish in all of the ponds. Her name is “Big Bertha”. Not very original but aptly fitting for such a large fish. The responsibility of having such a big fish is a bit overwhelming as other than keeping the water and the pond in good condition, I have very little control of her environment.

This fish is now food for the buzzards and coons that haunt the woods behind my house. The cycle of Nature goes on.

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In the Ponds…


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View of the 5000 gallon pond. The plant on  the right is a Thalia.

I had reason to get into two of my ponds a couple of days ago. In one, the pipe that connects to the fish fountain had come disconnected probably because I had installed a 6000 gph pump greatly increasing the water pressure. The only way to reconnect was to literally get in the water as the fountain stands in the middle of the pond.

The ponds plants have taken over because nothing died back following our frost free winter and also helped by the fact that I decided to let things grow. I have not done any pruning or cutting back, this year at all. The entry into the pond that I specifically built is so full of Taro leaves and other plants that there is no way into the water without tearing the place up. I didn’t want to do that so had to devise another way to get in.

I went to the opposite end where the skimmer and pump are located and figured that if I put a couple of boards over the skimmer box, I could use it to gain entry into the pond. This I did and hooked the pipe back up to the fish fountain, this time wiring it together in the hope of it staying there longer.  While I was in the pond and as is my usual practice, I cleaned the pond bottom of as much junk and leaves that I could find. When I turned the water back on (I always shut off the pumps when I get into the ponds as a safety precaution) , the water streamed out a good three feet in front of the fountain, something it has never done before. As I mentioned, the new pump was putting out a lot of water and this was the first time it had been hooked to the fountain. Very impressive.

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The frog statue showing how far the new pump can throw the water.

I went over to the first pond by the deck and tried to think of everything I needed to do in this pond and before I got into it, had all of the pots and tools lined up.  My reason for getting into it in the first place was to try to upright a Taro plant that had slipped over. This one had grown very tall, taller than me which is not saying much, probably close to six feet. I also wanted to take the opportunity to clean out the pond which I always do if I have to get in them.

Compared to the first pond I had been in, this one turned into a comedy of errors. I didn’t have any trouble getting in and out of this pond as it is not so deep as the first one except in the middle. I walked over to the Taro plant wondering what on earth I was walking on. Instead of a hard surface under my feet, it was soft and mushy and all kinds of thoughts started racing through my head. Dead fish, dead plants, mud, pea gravel, maybe even a dead Heron as I had not seen my visitor from another world for several months.

I dipped my cleaning net into the water and brought up the first net full which turned out to be nothing worse than mud and pea gravel from the pots that the big Koi had managed to tip over or washed out with their tails. I had originally built  a couple of “tables” in the pond comprising of concrete blocks stacked three high with a weighted plastic shelf made out of garage storage shelves. The “tables” have been in the pond for probably twenty years or even longer and normally have pond plants in pots standing on them, the Taro plant being one of them. One table was still intact but the one that had the Taro standing on it had collapsed which is of course why the Taro had fallen over.

In my efforts to clean the muck and get the blocks and pots out of the pond, I managed to stumble over yet another concrete block and before I knew it, had joined the fish swimming in the water falling over backwards with a considerable splash. I quickly scrambled to my feet none the worse except maybe a little cooler and a lot wetter and wondered how many fish germs I had swallowed. After all, fish poop in the water. Where else are they going to go?

Interestingly enough, The big Koi and I am talking about fish well over two feet long and longer, were not a bit disturbed by my joining them in the water. Not even when I fell over. As I worked, they swam lazily around me and I even reached out and stroked several of them on the side and they still didn’t panic. I am not suggesting that they recognize me after twenty five years plus of me attending to them but they definitely did not consider me a threat.

I had planted in pots at least three lotus and a couple of lily plants this season but if they had come up at all, the Koi had quickly managed to destroy them. All that remained were the pots some still full of clay and stones, other completely cleaned out. I lifted these out along with the concrete blocks and continued with the chore of cleaning the pond. While I was at it, I cut back the overhanging growth around the outside of the pond. Then I turned my attention to the reason I was in the pond in the first place, the tall  Taro plant. I discovered that it had grown out of its pot which is the reason it had tipped over. I could not get it back into the pot and the only recourse was to drag it over to the side and scramble it up onto the bank.

I have it sitting in a large pot now and will keep it alive. The original leaves have already died but it will grow more. Maybe, I will put it back into the pond, this time in a much larger pot weighted down with rocks to keep it steady. Or not….

 

Austin Pond Society July Meeting 2016


DSC_3385The Austin Pond Society held their monthly meeting for July this past Monday, July 18 at the usual meeting place, Zilker Botanical Gardens in Austin. As is usual, the thirty five members were treated to a light meal of Hot Dogs with all of the fixin’s followed by several kinds of appetizing desserts. The half hour from 6:30 pm to 7:00 pm is always used as a social half hour giving the members time to both enjoy the meal and the company.

Following the meal, at 7:00 pm, Barb Lenhardt who is in charge of Programs and Special Events for the Society, introduced our speaker for the evening, Mark Klym and his topic would be “Texas Amphibian Watch”. He spoke mainly about the frogs and toads that inhabit our ponds and how beneficial they are in keeping the pond life adjusted. He was a very entertaining speaker and following his presentation, he answered many questions from the floor. Below is a video of him speaking.

APS Mark Klym July 2016 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Following Mark, Jeannie, our President brought the meeting to order to discuss the next upcoming meeting and passed along general information to us all. We are attempting to break new ground with a table sale of anything pond or garden related that any member may bring to sell for the cost of “renting” a $10:00 table. This does not include Plants as we have already had that at the Plant Swap Meeting. It will be interesting to see how many members will try to sell off their unwanted pond and garden equipment.

The main piece of business was to have an open discussion on the duties that each Board Member performs as we have a couple who would like to or in fact are stepping down. Each of us was asked to give a brief description of what we do as theoretically, all of the positions are up for grabs. For those that do want to continue, their jobs are pretty secure as historically, there has never been a mad rush of people from the floor wanting to volunteer their time.

APS July Meeting – Business 2016 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

To close out the evening, there was a door prize drawing which always evolves a lot of laughs and cries of “cheater” and “favoritism”, not to mention “rigged” and my favorite “draw again”. The meeting ended at 8:30 pm.