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Robyn's Pond Blog for February 2018

Last Updated: 2/28/18

1. On 2/4/18, there was freezing rain. The air temperature was 31 degrees F, and the rain was moderate. It was not conducive to pond chores! Both pond thermometers read 40 degrees F. I couldn't wear a regular coat, or it would get dirty. I couldn't wear a rain coat because it would restrict my movements and get in the way. So, it was long johns under the clothes, a cap to keep water off my glasses, and going to the warm shower right after. I didn't get in the pond because the net was iced down. I had emptied out the water hose and put it on the porch, or so I thought. When I tried to use it, it was jammed with ice. I bucketed a bucket to the bird bath and one to the 153 gallon pond but didn't want to go get another hose to top off the two bigger ponds. I hoped the rain would just fill them up. My attempts didn't last long, and I gave up.

2. It poured rain most of 2/10/18 and 2/11/18 but then it stopped around 3 pm on 2/11/18, and it was up to 60 degrees F! The humidity was 100%. I went to do pond work without any extra clothing or coats! The 1800 and 153 gallon thermometers both read 47 degrees F. When I pulled the main pond's pump plug, it tripped at the outlet. And, the buttons don't work anymore! So, I could push all day but I can't reset the outlet so I had to run extension cords out, one for the main pump and one for the aerator. It was warm enough that I just removed the de-icer. I called an electrician the next day. I squirted off the pond filter materials. There was a small live pickerel frog in there but two well rotted ~3" and ~4" pickerel frogs in the debris next to the pump. That makes 17 dead pickerel frogs this year. ;-(
With all the rain, I didn't need to add any water! I put a few handfuls of salt in the main pond due to all the rain and the usual additives (baking soda, BZT, and koi clay) in smaller-than-recommended doses. I found a tropical waterlily nut tuber in a net full of debris that I scooped up off the bottom of the pond! I brought it inside and put it in the wet reptile sand with the other one.

3. It snowed from about 3 pm to 10 pm on 2/17/18. I measured two inches of snow in the morning.

4. It warmed up quickly on 2/18/18 so I could do some pond chores. I could not get in the pond because snow still held down the net but I didn't really need to get in anyway. The air temperature was about 45 degrees F when I went out at 3 pm. The 1800 gallon was at 44 degrees F, and the 153 gallon pond was at 43 degrees F. I added water to the big pond and found the lowest spot on the overflow where the water was coming out and tried to lift the liner there by sticking rocks under it. The maximum water level seems to be continually going down but could be due to water diversion/loss in the waterfall area.

5. On 2/20/18, the electrician replaced my pond outlet. The former outlet had four plugs with a GFCI outside that kept tripping, a single switch, and a short post which it turns out was completely rotted out, at and below ground. The new post is a 4"x6" post instead of a 4"x4" post. It has the covered four outlet spots of course but the new cover makes it very hard to bend the cords to fit out the holes and still close. I knew that would be a problem. I told the electrician this was why I wanted to keep the old cover but he didn't agree there would be a problem. In addition, there are a now two small flood lights on the top side of the post which is much taller (maybe three feet instead of a foot). There is a covered box with two switches, one for the light and one for the outlets. The circuit breaker has the GFCI so it is no longer outside in the weather. I bought a copper cover for the top of the post. It looks strange but nice. I can now turn on the lights if I need to tend to the pond or have a post crisis after dark so I won't have to juggle the flashlight to see. The house was built with flood lights on three sides of the house, all but the pond side!

6. It was in the 60's on the morning of 2/21/18 so I gave the big pond fish their first food of the year, a small handful of Cheerios.

7. On 2/22/18. there were wood frog eggs in the 153 gallon pond.

8. On 2/24/18, I pulled the de-icer out of the 153 gallon pond and removed the green Rubbermaid tub lid off of the main biofilter.

9. It rained most of 2/24/18 and the first half of 2/25/18 but then the rain stopped. The air temperature was 50 degrees F, and more importantly, there was no wind. Everything was wet, and the humidity was 100%. The 1800 gallon pond was at 50 degrees F, and the 153 gallon pond was at 46 degrees F. I did a lot of pond things. I needed to find a place for the wood frog eggs. Due to lack of time, I could only clean the 20 gallon tub pond. I removed the two gallon pot of iris which needed repotting but I didn't have time so I just put some fresh gravel on top. I bailed the pond out. There were no live animals that I could see, and the remnants of the anacharis and hornwort did not look viable as they had fallen apart when this pond froze solid repeatedly and for a long stretch in January. After putting fresh water in this pond with the iris pot, I aerated it for the hour that it took to do the chores that follow.

I put a bag of mulch around the new pond outlet as there was exposed dirt. I put fresh ant traps in outlets at both ponds and also in the new switch box. For the new post, I taped the ant traps to the inside of the plastic door so they don't fall out every time I open them. It was nice to be able to use the switch to turn off the pump and not have to pull plugs! It's been years since I could do that! I netted out one dead 2" pickerel frog from the bottom of the 1800 gallon pond. I squirted off the main filter floss and squirted out the bioballs. I found one 4" female green frog and one 2" pickerel frog in the biofilter. I put the green frog in the main body of the big pond while the pickerel frog hopped down the waterfall. I had also found a small, ~1" pickerel frog in the filter floss and put him/her in the 153 gallon pond.

When I had the electrician out, I had him cut the plug off of my original pump, the OASE Nautilus which had been sitting in the bottom of the pond since it died. The men who built my pond buried the electrical cord so I couldn't pull the cord through the dirt underground until the plug was cut off. I had tried to do it myself and couldn't dent the thick cord. I was finally able to remove the pump that ran my pond for 20 years! It's going to the dump. I saved the intake screen but I'm not sure why.

Once I was done with those chores, I put the air stone back in the 153 gallon pond that I had had running in the 20 gallon pond for an hour. This was to drive off the saturated carbon dioxide in our well water which can give animals air bubble disease (essentially, they get the bends). I bucketed out eight, yes eight wood frog egg masses from the 153 gallon pond and put them in the 20 gallon tub pond. As soon as I get the 50 gallon tub pond and 153 gallon ponds cleaned, I will move lots of tadpoles back to those ponds. It will mostly likely be five weeks until the other ponds get cleaned. If I left the eggs in the 153 gallon pond, I would either have to not clean it this year or kill the majority of the tadpoles because they would be too small and multitudinous to hand pick out of the bailed pond water. This problem happens every year. The wood frogs are ready to go before I get things cleaned up. I grabbed some anacharis and hornwort from the 153 gallon pond and added those to the 20 gallon pond to seed it with life and food. I will have to feed the wood frog tadpoles once they are born at least until I can get them in to the other cleaned ponds.

The winter jasmine is in full bloom. A few winter aconite are blooming. The snow crocus would be blooming but it was too dark so they didn't open when I was off work. Some snow iris will be blooming soon. The snowdrops are finishing up.

Continue to the March 2018 pond blog.

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