14. July 2011 · 1 comment · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , , ,

This week I put away the “kitchen laptop” once and for all.  We got our weather webcam working again with Dave’s old PC laptop that had been sitting in our front office unused since we moved here.

With no kitchen laptop to occupy my time reformatting and partitioning, I’ve taken on a new hopeless project.  Wasn’t sure whether to call it my Waterloo or my Achilles’ heel or what, but it’s effectively taken the place of the kitchen laptop.

I’ve talked about the small pond in front my rental house before.  It’s pretty, and the cascading fountain is really really cool.  Most of the time my involvement with the pond isn’t the greatest.

The hose in the background is connected to our well pump, thus making it easy (and free-of-charge) to refill the pond with non-chlorinated water.

It’s too small.  I’m going to guess the homeowner doesn’t read this blog so I’ll just be honest here and declare that it’s almost inhumane to have tried to keep 4 large koi in that small space.  I’d guess it’s about 55-60 gallons.  Not enough for large goldfish.

I’ve been keeping notes of my “pond issues”.

  • At first there was a lot of splashing out of those cascading trays and when the sprinklers weren’t running in the winter, I had to manually refill the pond almost daily.  I recently rearranged the trays and virtually eliminated this problem.
  • The hose that runs up the center of the fountain often slips and without warning the water isn’t cascading down the trays.  I have to remove one of the trays to access the hose and thread it back up the center of the fountain.  Darned gravity!
  • As I had written about this past spring, I had killed all 4 of the original koi that were with the house when we moved here in December.  So I had replaced those koi with 3 smaller ones.  The day we left on vacation we had thunderstorms and the outdoor electrical circuit that includes the pond pump shorted out.  Within 24 hours, those new koi were dead.
  • The algae!!!  Once the weather started warming up the amounts of algae have been very difficult to control.  The pond is too small for a UV filter, which probably would solve all of our problems, so I’m trying humane methods to control the algae: barley straw packets and manual water changes.
  • There is a frog that lives in or near the pond.  He’s really loud.  My neighbors send me Facebook wall posts, he’s so loud.
  • Or shall I say…”She?”

Meet Mr. Tadpole, one of about a dozen living in the pond now!  Perhaps this picture is difficult to see?  I brought 3 of the tadpoles into the house to show to the boys.

So I now have 3 tadpoles in the kitchen swimming in a Pyrex glass and I’m not sure what to do with them.  I’m considering setting up a small habitat and seeing if we can see the development over the next few weeks…a cool summer science project, right?  After all, I’m the ant-farming, vermicomposting Mom, right?

Also, to replace the koi that died during our vacation, I bought 8 feeder goldfish from our local Wal-mart.  At 38 cents a piece, I’ve officially thrown in the towel on making large investments in this pond.

I tried to get pictures of the new little goldfish trucking around the pond, but the water is so incredibly murky from the algae, it’s been near impossible:

Do you trust me when I say there’s a goldfish in there?

Wish me luck!

11. March 2011 · 2 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , , , , ,

Part II = The fauna!

Springtime in Florida also means the bugs and animals are all coming out of the woods, the ponds, the ground, etc.  I’ve already seen more than my share of millipedes in the yard and on my porch, plenty of mosquito hawks, and of course the birds are all coming back.  Those that never left are brightening up, the goldfinches are becoming more gold!

I didn’t get pictures of everything I’ve seen, but I figured a blog post was due because I captured pictures of not one, but TWO animals in my yard just today! I was assembling my new 3′ x 6′ raised garden bed and enjoying the lovely afternoon while the kids played outside.

First, here’s a baby Southern ring-necked snake for you to enjoy.  Don’t fret, he was a corpse by the time I discovered him in our driveway. And here’s the Florida Cooperative Extension Service briefing about black-colored snakes in Florida. The Southern ring-necked snake is the 3rd one on the list.

I photographed this one with my hand for scale.

Just before I took off for soccer practice (I’m coaching my youngest son’s team), I dumped some yard waste into my compost bin and discovered this lizard hanging out.

It took some sleuthing on this one, but I’ve got it narrowed down to an “anole” of some sort. The Florida green anole is native to this part of the country and they’re quite nice. Sometimes in late winter, early spring they’re more brown than green. I hope that’s what this is, because if it’s a “brown anole” or “Cuban anole”, they’re invasive and they EAT green anoles!

Finally, earlier this week I was rolling out the garbage can at about 7:30 in the morning and threw away some yard trash. The morning was humid and just under the lid was this cute little frog. I’m pretty sure he’s an American green tree frog, but I’ve been reading about these invasive Cuban tree frogs* and wondering if that’s what I have instead. This frog seemed to big to be “American green” but too small to be “Cuban”.

I worked on coaxing him out from under the lid, but not before he started descending down the trash can…luckily he figured things out and worked his way out of the trash can. Phew!

Lid closed, mission accomplished, congratulations!

*Do you see a trend here? The native species of both of the lizards and frogs mentioned here are cute and green and are called “Florida [frog or lizard]”, while the invasive version is brown, called “Cuban” and eats the Floridian? I’m just sayin’…