“Please Come Home with Fish Food”.
As text messages go, that should confuse him. Who? Stuart, hubby. Because you see we don’t actually have fish. Sorry, scrub that. We didn’t have any fish. That is we didn’t have any fish until today.
So, how do we have fish? Well, it started like this.
The chimney sweep was here this morning, looking at the fireplace and the chimney. We have been having problems with the fire which all relate to the same thing. It doesn’t draw (here’s hoping that is the correct draw!) The fireplace and chimney have a fundamental flaw. The fireplace is too big and the chimney is not tall enough. The fire is never going to draw because there is no hope of it ever getting the chimney hot enough. The fine ash filter has been removed from the chimney: there is evidence in the way of rust on the roof that it has not normally been on the chimney anyhow, and being off may just help a touch. We just have to remember to replace it when we stop using the fire as a source of warmth.
I also asked the chimney sweep to look at the pot belly stove in the ‘studio’ to see if it was operational and safe to use. It was missing a handle to open the door with, and it is badly rusty but the flue is clear, so I have lit a fire in it after cleaning it out and wow, did that draw. It went up instantly and it heats the room up really well. Better still there is a ‘H’ signal on the phone in that room which in theory means I can create a hotspot and have internet access in the ‘studio’. The room is relatively clean, free from signs of all pest/rodents and anything else and generally looking pretty good. It has electricity, it has bore water, and the pot belly stove has a flat top for an aga kettle or saucepan if needed… Bathroom, well there is always outside and the house is not that far away if needed. So, whilst I was waiting for the chimney sweep to arrive and do his stuff, I did some more cleaning. The pantry is now fully clean and ready to go which is great news.
But I was longing to be outside and have some fresh air and the sun was starting to break through the clouds and the day warm up a touch (It’s winter here and this is one of the coldest areas of Australia and boy do we know about it lately. It is also much wetter this year than many people can remember for a long time.)
So I decided after emptying my bucket out outside in an area that I have dedicated to stuff not safe for septic tanks, that with bucket in hand and marigolds still on, that I would empty the 2 stagnant ponds next to the house which would become breeding grounds for insect, insects that bite, before long. They stank. I emptied the smaller of the 2 first as far as I could and found nothing. Happy at that, I started on the bigger of the two (there is a third further away from the house, but that has plants growing in it). It took a while because of the size of it and the amount of debris I found in it (batteries, solar lights including the rechargeable batteries), drain pipes, pringles cans, etc). I was down to a few inches if that when I carefully removed another of the rocks at the bottom and suddenly I was very aware that I was not alone down there. The bucket contained something other that stinking water, rotting debris and stagnant, contaminated water. Carefully emptying as much water as I could out of the bucket without letting the ‘other party’ escape, I very quickly identified the ‘other party’. A largish fish with a paler orangey yellow (not gold) belly. It only had the normal fins. I’ll get to this in a moment.
So, panic. It has no water and is clearly distressed. Rush to the bore water tap (thanking our lucky stars that we not only have bore water but also tank water, no mains water at all… so we don’t have to worry about additional chemicals etc…) And move the fish over to water. It is happy again and can breath.
Then I spot movement in the water again. There is a fish lying on its side gasping for air. Not good. So I grab it, notice that its belly is more orange, it is smaller in the body and its fin is totally different. Are they the same species? I have no idea, but into the washing up container it goes with the other one. They don’t take long to find each other, I’m waiting for a fight. Nothing, they ‘nose’ up to each other and stay put. Now what to do. Well I can only continue with what I was doing, but a quick check on the time tells me that if I want Stuart to come home with fish food (given I have now most likely removed all of their food, despite the water levels in the pond being exceptionally low when we moved in) I need to send him a message.
So I set about recreating the pond. I know something at the back of my head about ponds needing to have an exit for things to get out if they want to, not that the 2 fish will obviously and all of a sudden there is another flutter and I now know that we have 3 fully grown adult fish. I have no idea what species, but who cares. I have a pond with very little water in it, and no shelter for them. So I set about cleaning out the remaining waste that should not be in there, and rearranging the rocks so that instead of being flat on the bottom of the pond, they are stable, but either on their side resting against others, or creating ledges and the likes for the 3 (? there could be more) fish to hide under now that there is much less litter and leaf litter in the pond.
So having set about refilling the big pond, I went off to the 3rd pond to get some of the plant that is growing in it. I think having some plants in the fish pond is useful. I don’t want to transfer the fish because, a) I have only caught 2 of them, b) they are probably stressed enough as it is, and c) I don’t know the state of the other pond short of it is chocker block full with this plant, has human related litter in it and is totally covered in a pond weed. I washed down what I cut off the plant (iris type leaves) to remove as much pond weed as possible) and set about recreating a habitat in the bigger pond. When done and whilst it was filling with bore water, I looked at the smallest pond which was also covered in a different pond weed, one that was much prettier than the other. Then I noticed movement. Investigation showed light brown mite like water bugs and some shrimp like life. I refilled that one as well, adding some rocks. We have a laughing kookaburra in the immediate area, so I am keen to make sure that the 3 fish which have obviously survived long enough to adulthood continue to survive. I’ll go back out shortly and photo my efforts and add them to this.