Monday, June 11, 2007

Holy jumping fish

When we added on to the original Ste. Anne's building back in 2003, one of the requirements stipulated by the local building authority was that we provide a large reservoir of water for fire fighting. A local excavator and colourful character known as "Stoney" took on the task of digging a pond at the highest point on the property, right next to the Sentosa spa cottage. From the bottom of the pond, we connected a 6 inch pipe to a fire hydrant close to the spa. I thought it was kind of neat to have my own fire hydrant, as did all the local dogs. Each day I would go up to the pond to see if it was filling up with water. It was fairly quick to fill up to the top of the pipe feeding the hydrant, but it seemed to stall at that point. I concluded that because our pond was on top of a hill there weren't sufficient natural springs to keep filling it up. I decided to buy a liner. The first liner I ordered turned out to be too small - I had gotten the measurements wrong. The second liner, while big enough, called for a massive effort to get it pulled across the length of the pond - I think there were 12 or 13 of us tugging on this thing. Eventually we had to attach it to my truck to pull it the last few feet. With this great big liner in place, it became evident that the banks weren't quite level - we ended up with about 6 feet of very ugly pond liner exposed on the east side. To make matters worse, even with the liner in place, and a hose pumping water into it, the pond was still not filling up. Well, it turned out that the hydrant was the culprit - it was left open just a crack, so the water was leaking out just as quickly as it was added. We closed the hydrant, and a couple of months later we finally had the pond filled. Debbie and Darlene, our wonderfully creative and incredibly strong gardeners hauled hundreds of stones from the property to the banks of the pond, and planted a wide variety of bushes and shrubs to dress up the banks. Now we had a pond - all we needed was a fire to fight. Being an optimist, I decided that we would try growing fish in the pond. I bought about 80 seven inch trout, and about 24 minnows to get things started. Since then, all kinds of creatures have made this pond their home. It is literally teaming with life; tadpoles, minnows, bugs, trout and bass all co-existing and fulfilling their role in the cycle of life. Once in a while a great blue heron will drop by in hopes of a meal, along with the odd family of ducks and geese passing through. One of our great sources of entertainment comes each night around dusk, when make our daily trek from Maison Sante up to the pond to feed the trout. What a show they put on - like a symphony, jumping for each little pellet as though their life depends on it. Unfortunately, this is not an easy phenomena to photograph, so the picture above is not from our pond. You really have to see it in person, so if you're in the area, be sure to drop by some time around dusk for the fish feeding frenzy at the spa.

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