Sunday, January 01, 2006


We have a Koi pond on our little “Ranch” with 9 grown Koi fish. At least that is the way things were when we moved in last June. We have awakened many mornings to see some of our feathered friends (herons and cranes) fishing in our pond. The smallest Koi is more than 20 inches long and they are pretty elusive with the large birds around. The pond is pretty deep with Lillie pads and other aquatic debris floating about. Let’s just say that the fish have a sporting chance for survival.

Around August this last summer, I was watching the big guys swim about in the pond. It is so relaxing to watch fish swim. The move so slowly like they’re out for a leisurely stroll. Maybe they secretly know they’re not really going anywhere and their in no hurry to get there. I was sitting on the edge of the pond just looking and noticed something a little different about the pond that day. What I saw was hundreds of tiny fish swimming near the edge of the water. Now how would tiny fish have gotten into my Koi pond? Hmmm.

Being the kind hearted soul I am and fearing for the little guys lives I fished out about 60 small fry (one at a time – they’re fast) and put them in an aquarium inside the tool shed (two aquariums actually - 55 gallon tanks complete with filters, lights, you name it). I thought that there might be another couple dozen little fish in the pond. Like I said, they're fast and difficult to catch. Besides the cranes and herons, I’ve also watched a couple of owls and other birds, not to mention the snakes eyeing the pond. So I figured that most of the babies would become snacks for the predators.

Because of my heroic efforts the 60 little bodies I tucked away in the tool shed are safe until I can find them a home. The local pet store doesn’t want them. We will be donating most of the babies to a local high school for their ponds. A few others have expressed interest too. This plan would effectively place all 60 fish in homes leaving the couple dozen in the pond.

Things don't seem to have worked quite as planned.

A couple of weeks ago, while there was still snow on the ground, Roger and I ventured across some large cat tracks. I know this is a real departure from Koi but you will get the connection shortly. Well, maybe.

Anyway, we thought they were cougar tracks. Roger called Fish and Game to report the sighting and asked what we were to do about a large cat roaming the area. They basically told us not to worry unless we came face to face with the cat. In that case we were to back away and raise our hands high to make ourselves appear to be larger than we really are. Somehow this does not make me feel courageous.

We learned that cougars are elusive and there’s plenty to eat around here so we have little to worry about…I hope. Last week I was working at my studio and got a call from Roger. He told me that he actually saw a cougar run across our back yard. As a responsible citizen he called Fish and Game to report the sighting.

The nice man from Fish and Game came out to investigate. It turns out that our cougar is really a bob cat (from the tracks). The faux cougar doesn’t seem to be quite as threatening now…except to birds and small animals.

Well, to make a long story short...I know too late... Roger took the gentleman into the tool shed to show him the baby Koi. He shows the Koi off to everyone. I’m sure he is hoping that one time someone will see them and just whisk them all away. Wouldn’t that be nice. Roger turned on the light in the tool shed to better show off the Koi. The light was forgotten and was not turned off when they closed up the shed. We didn't notice it for a couple of days.

Last night Roger saw the light on. Since I wasn’t really dressed for going out of doors he put on his shoes, took his flashlight with him and went to turn out the light.

Upon his return he asked me to come out to the Koi pond (with the flashlight of course). Now, as I said, I knew there were still a "few" babies left in the pond. I just didn't want to take the time to fish them out one at a time (like I did the first 60 fish) and also the Inn in the tool shed was already full.

To my surprise when Roger shined the light on the Koi pond I easily counted 60 more babies all floating at the top of the pond all basking in the moonlight and all alive and well.

You know, when I first took on the Koi rescue operation I understood from the guy at the pet store and the Koi enthusiasts that I would “lose a few fish” along the way. I figured that I might have 50 fish left by the time they were big enough to give away. The babies are about 2” long now and ready to move out on their own. J Much to my chagrin I haven’t lost a single fish. The pet shop owner keeps telling me how great it is that none have died but still doesn’t want them.

Up until I found the other (probably 100 or more) fish I would have agreed. But, I just can’t see myself sitting outside Safeway with a fish bowl and a sign that says “Free to Good Home”.

And…on the upside, we’ll have more next year.

Gosh, I love it here.

Great "Fish Story." Fortunately/Unfortunately ... it's true!

Is there something called a "fish contraceptive?"
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