THREE LITTLE FISH, NOT TO BE FRIED

About fifty years ago we had a pond dug at our poultry farm in Madison, Connecticut, to enhance the landscape and to provide water for the chickens in times of drought. When we converted our farm to a golf range some twenty years ago, and still rely on the pond to water the tee area when rainfall is insufficient.

The pond has not only been helpful, but has provided much enjoyment. Originally the State of Connecticut stocked it with trout. An amazing amount of wildlife found its way into our pond over the course of time. In addition to the trout, there were other fish whose eggs were carried to the area on the feet of ducks. Children loved to catch sunfish. We’ve had turtles and lots of frogs, even during the time when there was concern that the frog population was diminishing.

We swam, ice- skated and even paddled a canoe on the pond.

At a recent family gathering we noticed that our nephew’s pond was free of algae. He told us that he had carp in the pond, which feed on the algae and eat the mosquito larva as a bonus, and suggested that we contact the State of Connecticut Fish and Wildlife Service to see if our pond would be suitable for carp.

A representative from Fish and Wildlife assessed the pond and determined that three carp would be enough to eliminate the putrefaction of invasive algae, caused by a lack of oxygen and limited rainfall. He gave us a list of fish suppliers in our area, adding that we needed a permit from the State of Connecticut.

The fish, about $50 each, were delivered and tossed into the pond. They are only a few months old and about twelve to thirteen inches long, but they can grow to nearly four feet in length. The lifespan of this type of carp is between two to ten years. However we were advised to replace them halfway through their lifespan because larger fish have less of an appetite than the smaller ones, and would not be as effective. To control the population of the carp, electric shock is used to cause rearrangement of the chromosomes and render the fish neutered.

Apparently herons are apt to grab carp. We do see a heron at the pond occasionally and will cope with the predators as necessary.

The pond carp are related to Koi, seen in decorative landscape ponds and fish tanks, as well as pet goldfish. There are many edible varieties of carp that are also delicious, but I’m not planning to have a fish fry anytime soon.

After two days the carp seemed to have adjusted to their new habitat.

I’ll keep you posted!

 

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Faces in the Trees

When I sit at my kitchen table I witness an amazing panorama of trees through the picture window. I have the impression that most of the trees are in close proximity, although this is not so. Yet the branches of each tree appear to be reaching out to others and create the feeling of a puppet show or possibly a type of mating dance. I observe numerous figures in this mosaic, but when I turn my head the images are gone.

The wind and the sun affect how the patterns are created. The markings on the trees such as lichen and scars left by lost branches contribute to the plethora of designs as well. The woods in the background and even the small amount of visible space between the trees add to the magic.

When the wind is blowing the feathery boughs of the hemlocks look like alligators, with open saw tooth jaws. On the old gnarled maple, I observed the head of a man with long hair, wearing headgear suggesting a medieval helmet. His features were amazingly clear. One image that wasn’t so fleeting was that of a deer perched on the branches, dining on leaves of another tree. Hmm! Maybe that wasn’t a vision.

The foliage is sparse now but we still have lots of squirrels and interesting birds to grab our attention. A few days ago Marty and I spotted a pair of gorgeous gray birds with bold, black, art deco -style feathering. After checking my bird book, I determined that these were Northern or Loggerhead Shrikes. According to the book, these birds make rare appearances. Since I’ve been looking out of the same picture window for 52 years and haven’t seen them before, I must be right.

Usually we experience a heavy rainstorm before November is over, which brings down the remaining leaves. Then we see into the woods and imagine how the trees will tantalize us during the following summer. But then, aren’t the sculptures formed by drifting snow, mesmerizing?

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