From this, dead foliage and all showing the lowered water level.
to this…How very sad.

Yesterday, was a very sad day for me, one of two that are planned, with the other yet to come in two weekends time.

As many of you that follow my blogs already know, a part of my plans for what remains of my very interesting life is to downsize and live in my RV full time. To achieve this, I am selling my “Bricks and Sticks” home of the past 35 years which I have discussed in previous blogs. After much thought and consideration and debating in my mind, I decided that it would probably be very difficult to find the right person in the new owner, to care for the fish in the 3 ponds. It is a big responsibility to undertake especially if that person does not have the experience or the interest and I would hate to think of the fish and turtles being neglected.

The alternative was to hold a “Fish Rescue” which actually involves members of the Austin Pond Society. I had arranged with Jeannie and Steven, the leaders of this wonderful group of volunteers, and they had contacted all of those that they knew would help with the rescue this past weekend and rehome the fish, some of which are enormous and both over 30 inches long and 25-30 years old. The rescuers are rewarded for their hard work by taking home the Koi to their own ponds. With the fish gone and the pumps and fountains running, the ponds would add an additional feature without the responsibility of the fish to a future buyer. It would also give me peace of mind wondering if the new owners really cared and were neglecting the fish’s welfare.

We chose the 5000 gallon pond closest to the deck as the first pond to rescue. All of the ponds are fitted with automatic water levelers which add water as needed to keep the ponds topped up as water vaporizes. I did not realize it but there is a leak in the liner in this pond which I discovered when I shut the water lines off due to the recent freeze. The water level dropped by about a foot before stabilizing. This gave them a head start on pumping out the remaining water to rescue the 25 or so very large Koi along 40 of last years babies, which are now over 8 inches long. Incidentally, this was the largest number of baby Koi that I have ever had at one time and could not have happened at a worse time. Usually, it is no more than a half dozen or even less. The wonders of Mother Nature at work. She must have known and had planned for the freezing winter that we have just had here in Texas with lots of replacements.

When it came time to recue the fish, I did not want to be a part of this activity as it would have made me sad and depressed. I collected the dogs and we went to Henly to stay in the Eagle on Friday evening planning on returning Sunday evening. When we got there, the first thing I discovered when I opened the door to the RV was water all over the floor. Turns out, there is a leak in the pipe leading to the sink or maybe the gooseneck faucet itself, probably caused by the recent frosts even though I had shut the water off and drained the system. This meant compromising on how we did things. For something that one takes for granted like having running water at the turn of a faucet, suddenly, it not being available meant having to think of different ways to do things like brushing teeth, making coffee and washing dishes to name a few. Almost like tent camping.

And then their was the toilet. With no water available, I had to resort to using one of the large 5 gallon water cans that I always carry just to flush. I still had water at the outdoor park standpipe which normally, I would have been hooked up to. Because of the freeze that you can read about here and luckily for me, I had shut the water off at the spigot the last time I visited the park. By the way, 5 gallons of water is a lot heavier now than it was 20 years ago. Such are the joys of camping. The leak is in a difficult spot and the materials used are nothing I am familiar with so I ended up calling an RV repair company to do the work when they can fit me in. More on that later.

By coincidence and mainly because he was working at a neighbors house across the street and also because he came over to talk to me, I had arranged with that tree contractor to come over and do some clean up work after the winter storm. At the time, I didn’t realize that he wanted to start instantly or at least the next day which was the same day as the Rescue was scheduled. So, the Fish Rescue and yard cleanup were all happening at the same time. Luckily, they compromised and were able to work together without imposing on each others space but it did create a situation that required me to return back to the house which I had not intended to do before Sunday evening. When I arrived back, the Fish Rescue Volunteers had all gone and I was greeted by two empty ponds of both water and fish, a sad sight indeed but at the same time, a necessary one. After some negotiations with the contractor for some additional work and paying him for the work he had accomplished, I left and headed back to the Eagle to spend another Saturday night at Henly before returning on Sunday to spend the night at the house because I had an early appointment to get my truck fixed on Monday.

As you can imagine, for me, this is a very sad time with over 30 years of my life invested in the fish and the ponds which I built myself in the first 15 years. My interest in fish and ponding started shortly after my third and last wife moved on for greener pastures. Not sure if the fish were a replacement, not saying that she was cold blooded or that I just needed a new hobby to fill the time as suddenly, I had a lot of it on my hands. In truth, the actual designing and building which I did myself including using a jack hammer on the Texas rock, was really more pleasurable than the caring for the Koi and Goldfish. They still gave me a lot of enjoyment and it is an interesting hobby. There were many sad times when the big fish died for different and various reasons and I had to get them out. They all ended over the fence in the wood for other crittures to feed on. Then of course, the tussle with visits from several different Herons and Racoons and other wildlife over the years. Such is the way of Nature.

Without the ponds and the fish, I would never have discovered that I like to write when I started blogging more than ten years ago and the old site, is still available for viewing. The one major drawback with having the ponds and the fish was that unless I made other arrangements, I could never leave for more than a couple of overnight stays as someone had to check that the pumps were still running and to feed the fish twice a day. This did restrict any travel plans that I might have had in the past 20 years but luckily, my roving days are pretty much over and I am very content to stay home. I have plenty of other hobbies like photography and hiking and now RV’ing. My one regret is that I never got back to England to see my two sons.

Now I have decided that it is time to move on to a different interest in what remains of my life and is the reason for the RV and for selling my house. With the fish gone, I can move forward in finalizing whatever work still needs to be done, hold an estate sale and then put the house on the market. There is still a lot of work to do as I wade through all of the junk I have collected over the past 40 years. I look at some of it and marvel why I ever bought or acquired it in the first place. Once everything is cleaned up and the house sold, we will hit the road. By then, I should have the RV repaired and have running water again……

On the weekend of March 20, the 6000 gallon ponds will be emptied and homes found for the remaining 20 or so very large Koi that are in it along with the 2500 gallon Goldfish pond with over a 100 goldfish that it contains. I wonder what the large brown water snake will find to live on with all of the Goldfish gone? Incidentally, the 6000 gallon pond only produced 2 baby Koi last year and goodness only knows how many baby goldfish in the small pond.

More on that to follow

Written 03/07/2021