This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

March 30th, 2009

Flyfishers Are Easily Led

Last week I got a bit carried away with our first frog of the season. I do like the little guys, probably more than one should.

About ten years ago we hand dug out room for a small fish pond. We enjoyed it and a year or so later dug out space for another larger pond and little creeklet between the two. A little Castwell engineering produced the pumps and filters to keep the creek running between the ponds. We got hooked, of course, on fish for the pond. And plants. The whole thing is probably more work to maintain than it really should be.

Requiring things like full bird net over both ponds to keep the darn blue herons out. The racoon and possums figured out rather quickly how to get under the netting. We lost a few fish to them, but nothing like a friend of ours who has a commercial set up.

Joan and George dug out a very large pond, all sorts of neat features and all kinds of Koi from four inches to 15 pounds! They used it to sell their products, but what a terrific place. We stop in several times over the summer. A year ago all the fish were gone (well almost we did see a few little ones.) We asked Joan why there weren't any fish? She explained the river otters got all of them. The otters followed the scent of fish up a really tiny creek which now also carried any overflow from the pond. The creek was miles from the river where the otters live. The otters did not eat all the fish, but they killed and ate the heads of all they found. I'm glad we didn't see the carnage, and I can't imagine how Joan and George felt. They have since installed an electrified fence. If you are ever in this region, do look up the Roadhouse Nursery, well worth your time (great water lilies too.)

The frogs seen to have some magic of their own. When we first had the ponds working so nicely I mentioned I wish we had some frogs. Jim talked to a couple of guys and put the word out that Mrs. Birkholm was paying a dollar for each frog delivered to her in good shape. We didn't have a lot of takers, but six frogs produced exactly the feel and sound I was looking for.

The following year my friend Sherida mentioned she thought she had seen some polliwogs in a little pond near her home. The next time she came out with a couple glass jars with lots of polliwogs! We should have put some in the aquarium in the den — but it is good for us to get outside too. The frog population at the Birkholm house is in good shape.

I'm, not sure how they winter, but they do. I know we were very surprised the first time we opened up the cover for the hot tub and found two of our tree frogs enjoying the warmth of the hot tub. There is a little indented place for the controls with just enough space around it for a couple of little tree frogs to spend the night. It doesn't happen every time we use the hot tub, but often enough that we chose to be careful not to damage any of our frog population.

I've strayed on more than one occasion, back when I decided to have some of the ' wild' flowers we see on our streams in my own garden. A few catalogs brought great joy to this budding wildflower gardener. Unfortunately the credit card took a hit about then. We still have some flowers remaining from that binge, and if I ever run across someone who is terrific at propagating seed, I will work out a swap for plants from my seeds for pink Lady Slippers. The seeds are frozen, it could happen.

Life is wonderful but a bit strange for those who drift off the beaten path. Fly fishing tends to lead those who have even the tiniest inclination to stray well beyond any boundaries. Don't miss out – it is there for the taking! ~ DLB

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