Natura abhorret a vacuo

img_1061Bubbly trouble

We have a little pond that I dug in the yard outside our dining room four years ago.  It’s a blobby Y shape, holding about 750 gallons of water, and has been home to various amphibians, snails, bugs and some goldfish; it’s also chock-full of water plants and bordered by a decent-sized perennial garden with some bushes thrown in (buddleia, rose, dogwood, mock orange, tree wisteria, forsythia, hydrangea).  It has a small pump and waterfall, and a bench.  It is a pleasant little place.

Lately, we have been serenaded by a single Western chorus frog and a couple of toads.  The windows are open now and it is nice to hear the bubbling of the pond, the calls of the amphibians.  It’s actually more than nice.

You see, we killed all the animals that were in the pond this winter.

Mostly inadvertently, of course.  This is an instance of one’s green save-the-earth principles (let’s not waste the electricity by running the de-icer) actually have done more harm than good.  In most winters, see, the pond will ice over but it won’t last long.  This year it iced over and stayed that way, trapping all gases under the ice and killing all the fish and frogs.  Tom pulled out close to 100 frogs and all 30 of our goldfish.

So, yes, it is great to see some creatures return.  There are a few green frog tadpoles that also survived:  nowhere near the 100 that are gone, surely, but there’s hope for the future.

It is an indulgence to us humans, this little pond.  But by digging it, stocking it with fish, and enjoying the natural critters that come requires us to do what we can to ensure the pond critters’ health, safety and welfare.  Otherwise, I need to triple the size of that little pond and make it fully natural…something I doubt I will do, given how hard it was to dig through that damned clay to begin with.

10 responses to “Natura abhorret a vacuo

  1. It would be nice if you could find a little solar heater, that would solve both of your problems.

  2. Your pond sounds like a garden treasure. Sorry about your winter catastrophe, but how great that you had some returning residents.

  3. Yes, nature does – thankfully! There is always hope for the future.

  4. I’m glad some of them made their way back – I think nature is very resilient, and will try as much as possible to find a way through. Are there certain plants that can be added to the pond to encourage more animals to return? Sort of how certain flowers attract beneficial insects or birds?

  5. That was rough. If I was there, I’d give you a hug.

  6. We have BIG pond way in back. Home to all kinds of fish, frogs, turtles and water for thristy critters.
    Every spring we lose some frogs and such. Breaks my heart. But that is nature. We love the sound all of them make, like the pond is alive!!
    We lost a male turkey, there was a big fight between the 2 wild males and the next morning, all that was left of one was feathers. Broke my heart BUT one of the hens has a nest hidden in the high grass and has been sitting for 2 weeks. Hoping for wild baby turkeys!!! The weather was wild yesterday. Sun, warm, wind, hail, rain, cold, snow, hail again.
    True spring weather in Michigan!

  7. So sad. Yet hope for the future is wonderful.
    We also have a pond. It’s full of nothing. Weeds, shallow muddy water, old junk.
    It is my goal this summer to clean it up(as is my goal with the rest of this property we’re learning to love).
    We would love to see fish, frogs, and plants thriving in the pond.
    We go for walks back there up into the woods and the pond is the first stop. How peaceful it would be to have it beautiful and alive. A creek runs through as well. I’d love to make a little swimming hole there, yet I’m sure in summer the creek will turn into a trickle. 🙂

    Thank you for teaching me something new every time you blog.

  8. I don’t have room for a pond, but I understand completely. I still haven’t successfully decided whether or not to have a heated birdbath in winter. Electricity = $$ but late spring dry spells like the one we just had point out the necessity of that big flat saucer of water in the garden. More birds visited the bath than the feeders in the past 10 days.

    I have so far ruined two plastic basins trying to provide winter water (freeze-thaw-CRACK!-drip drip drip).

    Do you get enough winter sunshine for a solar heater to work well?

  9. Mrs Chiot, you would think so but it’s awfully cloudy here for the 2 months of the year when it’s deeply frozen. Sigh.

    Pamela, thanks! Yesterday our solo Western chorus frog now has company. They do a little duet. I don’t know how a girl could choose between the two: they’re both melodious.

    Jennifer, I think so too; all I need to do is look how marvelously the weeds appear in any newly-turned garden bed and I know how resilient Nature is.

    MC, well, we’re kind of chock-full with plants so I think it is just a matter of time before we’re re-stocked in the amphibian department. There are at least 4 big green frog tadpoles in there, and more guys will hop their way to the pond eventually too.

    Thanks, Laurene! It wasn’t one of my finest hours.

    Grandmabecker, we have a big pond out back too…it used to be part of this farm. It’s actually a dammed stream and the farmer actually had an icehouse where they stored ice from it for the summer back in the pre-refrigerator days. Kind of fun to think about. It’s about 500′ behind our house: you can hear all kinds of wonderful critters from there too.

    Amy, what a fun project, pond restoration! I would see if someone in your county extension service has any tips other than “get rid of the garbage.” There might be something you can do, some plant you can introduce, to help things along. Especially if it’s stream-fed (I see watercress of course but that could be just me). It would be fun to have a swimming hole!

    Firefly, our best birdbath has been a metal one. We do have a huge old concrete one out in my garden but I don’t try to keep it in water in the winter. But no, not enough sun here for the solar heater, at least when we’d need it! But yeah the birds do love our pond. I have one edge that is shallow and pebbled so they swoop down and bathe; it’s pretty funny stuff.

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