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.

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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.

 

Wasting Time


gloomy_day_by_bebewaltSitting here on a gloomy day
wondering what to do
hoping that sometime soon
the sun will come shining through.

With so many rainy days
my list is getting slim
I’ve done all of the things on it
a new one I need to begin.

The urge to write is always strong
but ideas are growing thin
I need something to write about
but don’t know what lies therein.

Another shower is passing through
as the rain comes lashing down
doesn’t look like this day will clear
enough to get anything done.

Maybe I should take a nap
always a good thing to do
then I will feel like I wasted time
of which there is so few

As I grow old and time passes by
and what’s ahead grows small
then every minute needs to be filled
and not wasted, none at all.

 

Austin Pond Society May Meeting 5-16-2016


DSC_2123As usual, on the third Monday of the month at the Zilker Botanical Gardens, the Austin Pond Society held it’s May Meeting. This one was entitled Sponsor Night when many of our sponsors attend to introduce themselves and tell a little bit about their product. Many bring items for sale especially if they are in the retail business and are not pond builders and such.

Following our normal practice, we opened with a meal. This time we had chicken along with the many side dishes brought by the members and again was enjoyed by everyone. Jeannie, our President, brought the meeting to order and introduced a couple of new members. This was followed by the business section which was entirely made up of discussion about the upcoming Pond Tour. BJ made a plea for Volunteers to man the ponds as we are still at least 25 or so people short. Anyone that may be interested can check out the website at www.austinpondsociety.org and register on line or email Mary at volunteers@austinpondsociety.org. For a four hour shift, you get a free tee shirt and a ticket to visit the rest of the ponds on the tour plus all you can eat at the SPLASH party.

With the business out of the way, the mike was handed over to Barb to introduced the sponsors who each spoke about the business they own and the work they perform. Unfortunately, I developed camera problems as this part of the meeting was going on and do not have them on video. My apologies.

Following their spiel, the meeting was opened for the members and sponsors to get together during which, Jeannie announced the winners of the door prizes many of which had been donated by the sponsors.

The meeting came to a close around 8:30 pm.

Below is the video of the meeting and below that, a bunch of pictures. If you click on any picture, it will enlarge them and you can use the side arrows to move the pictures along. Use the “Escape” key to get back to normal.

APS May Meeting 5-16-2016 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Austin Pond Society Annual Plant Swap 4-18-2016


DSC_1907For the second meeting in succession, the Austin Pond Society had to get out of it’s comfort zone and do things a little different than normal mainly due to the inclement weather we have had for the past few days. Texas experienced very heavy rain sometimes almost torrential resulting in flooding and the ensuing cancellations resulting from it. The monthly meeting that we had scheduled for this past Monday, April 18 is the one we know as our Annual Plant Swap at which our members bring and exchange pond and garden plants and anything pond related. Normally, as we are dealing mostly with pond plants we set up on the back lawn with our collapsible ponds that we have specifically for this occasion and our members are able to wander around and take their time in viewing what is on display with an eye to having first dibs on it if is there by the time we start the actual swap part of the meeting.

Due to the fact that it had rained all day, the lawn was off limits to us so we had to make do with the small overhang area outside of the back doors to the meeting room. We restricted the ponds to just one and all of the other plants were sort of distributed around the general area. Did I mention that it was still raining and we were glad to have the small amount of cover that we had. Three of the members even wore their waterproof rubber boots for the occasion.

The Board Members had been e-mailing each other throughout the day as we were making decisions on the fly whether to go forward or to cancel the event. The final decision was to go ahead and be damned with the consequences. As usual, we started off with a meal which this month was Pizza accompanied with salads and desserts brought in by the members. We tried to get a very rough count of the number of people we thought might attend to try to get the Pizza order somewhat in line the the number of attendees. Needless to say, we were way off and had enough Pizza left over to feed a whole herd of hungry teenagers. It was not wasted and found its way to several people’s homes some who were almost reluctant to take it home.

I should add that there were several Board Members who were not present having taken this opportunity to make trips to various parts of the country before the very busy upcoming time of the Pond Tour. Among them, Jeannie, our President, BJ or Publicist, Betty our Librarian,Nancy our Treasurer and last but not least, Juliette, out Secretary. Luckily, there was not a lot of business to discuss and Jeannie had left the proceedings in the very capable hands of Barb Lenhardt, our Programs and Special Events Coordinator. There were a few announcements and some discussion from the floor in a general question and answers session. The main piece of business came from Glen Hubenthal who announced that it was time to elect the Koi Person of the Year and asked for nominations from the floor.

Stephen Monfrini

Stephen Monfrini

There was only one name put forward and that was for Stephen Monfrini mainly for his work on performing along with Jeannie, very many Fish Rescues this past year. It didn’t hurt that Stephen is also the new Hospitality Chairman which almost always guarantees a lot of popularity. Personally, I thought it was a good choice as fish rescues are messy and are not a lot of fun especially in the big ponds so I was very happy to second his nomination. Well done Stephen.

Following the voting which was done by acclamation, it was time to get on with the business at hand, namely the Plant Swap. I was not interested in taking home any plants and neither did I bring any in although I have plenty at home that I would like to share. I made an announcement and passed out flyers showing what I had to give away just in case anyone was in interested. Then I busied myself taking pictures.
In a way, I’m glad that we had to do things differently as it did give me something to write about and different pictures to post. Anyone who happened to review the past three years of Plant Swap reporting would be hard pressed to tell the years apart. We got out of there early with very little cleanup to do as the members all left with brand new plants. Did I mention that they also had to take home any of those that were left over that they had brought in and were not taken.

Even though we managed to get it off, I would not call it a success. The inclement weather had a bearing on the number of attendees and I counted 35 members in all at an event that usually has more then 50 people. The area was too small and the plants were virtually on top of each other making it difficult to pick and choose and in the end, members just grabbed what they could without being as selective as they would have liked.
Maybe, we should think about holding a smaller Plant Swap in the Fall.

Below is the video of the Business Section of the meeting.

APS Plant Swap April 2016 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

If you click on any picture it will make it full size and you can advance by using the arrows. Use the “Escape” key to get back to normal size.

It’s Hot out there…while building a Skippy Filter


The finished unit

The finished unit

I got up early today with the view of getting outside and working a bit while it was cooler. That is, if you call 80 degrees cool as it quickly warms up here in my part of Texas. The overnight low was 74 and the forecast was for it to be at least a 100 degrees and could go as high as 104.

I had a couple of small projects that I wanted to get done. After the success of changing out the filter material in the big ponds and the small ponds filter systems to Lava Rock, I really wanted to do the same thing for the rest of the filters that I have located on the various ponds.

So, this morning I started out by building a new Skippy filter using a 20 gallon tub. I needed to do some work to it first like drill a hole and install the 2 inch drain system. I found a 2 inch fitting that reduced to 1 1/2 inch threaded fitting that had a flat area wide enough to take a rubber washer. I cut the washers (2) out of an old piece of liner material and placed both of them over the threaded end. I followed up with a thin layer of Plumbers Putty and then placed it through the hole with the threaded area inside the tub. On the threaded area, I didn’t have a washer large enough to fit over the 1 1/2 inch screw fitting so I had to make do with a piece of hard plastic from a storage box that I had also cut out a 1 1/2 inch hole. I secured the whole thing with a threaded ring washer used on electrical conduit. It worked perfectly and after tightening the whole thing up I finished it by placing 2 inch Tee fitting set parallel to the pond level so that water could flow out both sides.

Showing the 2 inch Tee

Showing the 2 inch Tee

In the bottom, I needed to make a water chamber so that the water would have a free flow as it came out before rising up through the lava rock to the drain. For this, I use 2 layers of plastic fluorescent light grid cut to shape and set up on 2 bricks, one either side of the pipe. The pipe itself is 2 inch and is set like an inverted Tee. On the ends of the Tee were 90 degree opposing elbows to create a flow of water. The center upright stands just above the rim of the tube and is eventually connected to the pipe from the pump. The theory is that the water comes in the top and then circulates from the bottom so that it comes through the Lava Rock and out the drain and back into the pond. The Lava Rock traps the dirt pretty efficiently. The 100 gallon one that I have installed on the big pond has really cleaned up that water. Incidentally, it works well to not glue the elbow situated on the top of the inverted Tee. This allows for easy removal of the grid when it is time to clean the unit. Otherwise, the center hole has to be pretty big to slide the grid over the elbow.

Lava Rock

Lava Rock

After completing the construction, with the final hook ups done in place, I filled it with 2 bags of the Lava Rock and then turned on the water to check that it worked properly. Satisfied with my work, I turned my attention to the old existing Skippy filter. I wanted to move it to a different location so that I could feed it with the main pump which is why I opted to build a new unit giving me more time to move the existing filter which is powered by a separate pump and contains the old filter material which I am replacing with the Lava Rock.

Showing the outlet

Showing the outlet

Moving it from its current location turned out to be easier than I had anticipated. Using mostly brute force and the judicious placing of a short 2 x 6, I moved it out onto the path and maneuvered it onto my dolly to be wheeled to the pond nursery area where I start all of the new pond plants. I will remove the Iris currently growing in it, clean it out and make any repairs that are needed and re-use it on one of the other ponds. With it gone, I was able to spend time on tightening up the electric fencing around that pond. I have fencing powered by a doggie shocker around all of my ponds to keep the Herons and Raccoons away from the very large Koi. You can see the fences in the pictures although they barely register with me as I am so used to them.

Now that I have a “spare” 20 gallon filter unit, I can take my time in preparing it to replace one or the other of the 2 existing ones that I have left, both of which have pretty extensive growths of Iris and Orange Canna. I may wait until the winter when the growth had died down before working on these two. As I pointed out above, the current “spare” unit also has a large growth of Iris in it which I need to dig out and re-plant somewhere or I might just give the Iris away. By the way, I do NOT plan on planting anything in the new filters. I would prefer they do not get enmeshed with roots even though the roots also act as a filter.

It took me all day to complete the project, I had to take a break and go to Home Depot for the fluorescent light grid as I was out of it but this only took about 30 minutes. Needless to say, my car would not drive past the Starbucks in Bee Cave so I had to humor it and buy a small latte. This tied me over until around 4:00 pm when I stopped for a tea break, but other than that, I was at it all the time. Funnily enough, even though it was a 100+ degrees, I never felt at any time that it was too hot to finish the project. I made sure I had plenty of water and I had liberally applied sun block and I was working in the shade for most of the time.

Must be getting used to the heat…..again.

If you click on any of the pictures, they will enlarge and can be quickly changed by use of the side arrows. To get back to the blog, press the escape key.

Who Said Koi Don’t Have Fun…


I was listening to the sound of the big Koi jumping in the middle pond and as popular belief among us Koi enthusiasts, wondered if they were getting sick and how many I might lose. So, I set up my camera and spent an hour or so just watching and filming their actions.

Turns out that they are far from sick and in fact are actually demonstrating the signs of their good health by actively jumping over a plant container that is sitting on the bottom of the middle pond. The container had a lily in not too long ago but the Koi have torn it to shreds and there is very little of the plant left. As I watched and filmed, it was very apparent that the Koi were deliberately jumping over the container. There is plenty of room on either side for them to go around but they chose to swim at and then jump over it. The big Koi in this pond hang out where the plants are most of the time and only venture into the open area occasionally. I think that the pond is now too shallow for them and they feel too exposed in the open water. That area is populated by the smaller Koi and goldfish that I rescued.

Watch the video and you will see that the Koi are apparently enjoying themselves.

Jumping Koi from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.