Next house no pond too old

One day soon it will look like this again!

A few years ago, there was an exercise to write a story in six words. The title is the cliff notes version to my post today.

We cleaned the pond this past weekend. It’s not a large one, measuring 5 foot by 11 foot. Deepest part is 28 inches. That’s just deep enough that I need chest waders rather than hip boots.

The pond lining is a very durable rubber material that is slippery when wet. I’ve had the pond for ten years so I’m a pro at this. Very organized. I do prep work so it goes smoothly (theoretically) and get all my supplies in advance. No trips to Home Depot.

We have to remove the water plants, fish, snails, tadpoles and frogs to do a complete water change and remove all the sludge. The muck stinks like the marshy areas near the sea. Working in it means I won’t want to eat seafood for at least a month!

As the water was running out, I started to pull out the submerged plants. That’s when the fun started.

First pot had a funny looking thing in it. Looked like a piece of rope but I wasn’t fooled. My friend Sharlene always talks about snakes in her pond. I’m always happy to say that I’ve never had any. That was then.

You need to know that I have a few idiosyncrasies. OK, more than a few. A fear of snakes is one of them. I can touch worms but snakes freak me out. Way out. I gently poked at the “rope” and it wiggled. I breathed deeply and grabbed the pot and took it out to the driveway which is quite a distance from the pond. I’m screaming all the way.

The beloved husband comes around to check. I tell him about the snake and he spots another one on the rocks surrounding the pond. It wiggles under the rocks. We keep removing rocks until we have completely dismantled the waterfall. It slithers into the water.

At this point I have to go into the water with a net to get it. I listen for rattling or to check if it’s a big headed cobra. (I have a heightened sense of fantasy.) It is pencil thin but long. Seemed like 80 feet but probably more like 2. I snag it. We put it in a lidded container (can you image a snake loose in your car?) and go look for its friend. That damn thing slithered out of the plant pot and took off (hopefully to the next door neighbor’s house).

We re-homed the one that was contained in a nearby creek but I’m totally freaked knowing that there is one in my yard somewhere. My friend said that there are more hanging around and I just haven’t seen them yet. (This is where I dusted off the “for sale” sign!)

The rest of the pond cleaning went OK. I fell on my butt twice but didn’t hurt anything (not even my pride, I’m so over that!). I checked all the plants for slithering friends; refilled the pond; and put all the residents back in.

I used to enjoy doing this. Not so much anymore. It takes about 3 to 4 hours which isn’t a lot of time but it is tiring work with all the bending and climbing in and out (and the falling too).

As I said at the beginning “Next house no pond too old.” Maybe I’ll get an aquarium.

83 thoughts on “Next house no pond too old

  1. Wow, I had no idea they were so labor intensive. Whenever I look at a water feature, I think sweet thoughts of unicorns and rainbows, not the interaction with slithering critters and backbreaking work to keep it looking good and healthy. Now I realize why people have gardeners!

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  2. My neighbours have a pond and he is always out doing something with it, but now I know what he’s doing! Last year I took a picture of his pond lily which had finally bloomed, so pretty….but sounds like a lot of work.

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  3. Hi Kate, Oh my goodness! Eek! Snake! I apologize for laughing at the screaming. You remind me how many years ago we lived in Prince George. I was home with an infant and a toddler. I think the bug? in the house was possibly a June bug? Huge and ugly. I ran out the front door and yelled at a boy (around 9 years old, never met him before)walking on the sidewalk, if he could come in the house and remove this ‘bug.’ He did. It would be called inappropriate nowadays. It was called survival then.

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  4. It is beautiful – I can understand the work. When I lost my butterfly garden and nearly every perennial and butterfly bush to the first Polar Vortex in 2013-2014 I said “never again” – I was walking in the morning and blogging so I’ve not thought much about the decision to keep it plain around the house … but since the Park closed, I have returned to walking in the ‘hood, in the area where the beautiful homes are with their manicured lawns and exquisite landscaping. Then I start to wonder … maybe when I am retired and will have more time. A fellow blogger has decided to make it easy on herself – no more fish. She found a dead snake, a live snake and the heron ate most of her koi – she added a dye to the pond to deter the heron, but he still showed up anyway.

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      • No, I do not have annuals anymore. I did buy artificial silk flowers and planted them in all my baskets and pots and small wheelbarrow. I took my time and found realistic silk flowers, and bought stones and filled up orange or grapefruit mesh bags and secured the flowers to the mesh with pipecleaners. You can’t tell they are artificial, though they have faded a little and should be replenished. I have some Precious Moments two-foot tall figurines which match the pots, and they match the house siding (Colonial Blue). Last year and the year before, I put nothing out as we had continuous rain from mid-May until almost 4th of July. By then I figured – why bother? I was the only neighbor who had flowers or any ornaments out – even a wreath on the door. I have become as apathetic as everyone else.

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  5. Your fear of snakes is a lot like my fear of roosters.But seriously, kudos for going in there and trying to catch it yourself. Facing your revulsion . I’m impressed. Next time I am confronted with one of my former roosters on my dinner plate, I will channel your attitude.

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  6. I hear you loud and clear. I’m glad you didn’t get hurt while cleaning out the pond, which looks lovely by the way. My adaptation of your title would be: Next house no curvy stone paths on wooded ravine lot too old.

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    • What once was an attraction is now a distraction. I’m grateful I didn’t have a bad fall. Wet rubber is very slick. My waders have crepe soles but I still go down. I put a 2×4 across the pond to have something to grab or lean on. Next house won’t have pavers either. Weeds grow between them faster than grass grows!

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  7. Boy, I give you credit not only for taking charge with those snakes, but for that hard work. My daddy taught me well . . . pay someone to do it (I’m talking about for me. I’m too lazy). Seriously, for being freaked out by snakes, you did great. We had snakes in our house in Florida. Can’t remember if I blogged about it. We had a wildlife guy out and he told us we had to check the entire house for any tiny holes that could give them access (they were also pencil thin). We eventually found it.

    The snakes won’t bother coming around unless you’re in their territory, like when you climbed into the pond. That loose one won’t bother you.

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    • I worry the loose one will crawl into the pond and eat my tadpoles and the baby fish. It can’t eat frogs or larger fish because it’s not big enough but it has to be eating something. Your dad had the right idea!

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  8. OMG Always admired your pond – which looks more lake size than little to me. It’s just so pretty.
    I never considered snakes. There’s a wealth of snake varieties around lake, wetlands, and fields…few nice ones. ( You know the old saying, snakes always travel in pairs…)
    I’m impressed you carried the snake in a pot – and in the water with one.(shiver) Noooo. I’m rethinking having a pond. A small falling water feature in a pot is sounding better. Less stinky work…easier to move with me sooner or later…and less likely to house snakes.
    This post was so funny – great writing.

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    • Thanks. In Maryland there is Waterloo Gardens. I’ve been there once. It is a haven for water plants. They have half barrels with a lotus plant in it and a few other things and it’s just lovely. No fish but then you don’t have to worry about life either. Lots of water alternatives. It must be an optical illusion because it is definitely not lake size! 🙂

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  9. You’re brave; I can’t imagine picking up one of those things. It reminds me of the first episode of “Northern Exposure,” when Joel is running outside from his cabin with a dead rat to throw away and saying, “Oh my G-D, oh my G-d!” I see a fair amount of snakes here (the inspiration for my blog’s name), and I just keep walking. But nonetheless, congrats on getting it all done. You get a gold star for the day. – Marty

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  10. oh you are sooooo brave! I’d have taken off running, screaming for anyone to come save me, lol! You’re right to think ahead about continuing to clean and care for the area, keep or remove… maybe you have time to decide before the next cleaning?

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  11. Your pond is so beautiful but I completely understand why you think it might be too much work now. I know it’s a labor of love… but it is labor. I’m not too concerned about snakes as long as I know they aren’t poisonous. We have had a gopher snake in our yard, which I much prefer to gophers… eat up, I say!

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    • Once cleaned in the spring, there is not much work the rest of the year. Backwashing occasionally (take 5 minutes) but not much more. I feed the fish and water lilies but that’s just me. Downsize, yes! Definitely. My garden is down to 4 tomato plants, parsley and basil. That’s it.

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  12. I am so glad I read your post! I have wanted a pond for years. I didn’t know you have to empty it and refill it with clean water. I just assumed once it was there it was done. Wow, snakes, slugs, snails. I cannot stand any of them. I’d have to have a full wetsuit on to clean that pond! I will, like you say, get an aquarium if I want fish!!!!!!

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  13. Visions of Indian Jones comes to mind….”snakes, it had to be snakes!” You are far braver then I would have been. I hope to have the pleasure of enjoying your pond again. But, you can be sure it will be from a distance!!!!!

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    • Sure wish you had been here to handle the snake issue on Saturday! Not as much humor but I kept thinking this has got to be a blog post! Silver linings. Also I was suited up in chest waders and shoulder length gloves. Black mamba definitely! 🙂

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  14. I love your pond but I don’t have to clean it out. Luckily we only have one poisonous snake and it’s very rare. I have never seen one. The most exciting thing we get is the occasional toad. We did have a racing pigeon land in our pond once and I had to rescue it and dry it off with a towel.

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  15. The snake would have meant the end of my work day, Kate. Snakes shiver me timbers! So do eels. Good on your for maintaining your forward momentum despite those unwanted visitors.

    Your annual clean out is hard work (3-4 hours of drudgery and muckery) . . . but your results are beautiful for 6 months of the year. Enjoy it to the max this summer!

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  16. You do have a gorgeous pond that’s a “for sure” but dealing with the yearly cleanout and surprises lurking in the depths of the pond and plant pots – NO THANKS. I really have an outrageous fear of snakes – they creep me out BIG TIME. I couldn’t even have waded into the pond and you did that you brave soul you!! I’d say if you enjoy the water feature try a little automatic fountain so you can hear the musical sound of the water – and put an aquarium next to it so you can stare at the fish while you listen to the water. Yeah…..that sounds do-able right? RIGHT????? LOL

    Hugs, Pam

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    • Yes, it is a summer picture with everything blooming. Right now it’s more bare. I lost a few plants over the winter and have to replace them. The water lilies are starting to push up pads but won’t bloom for another few weeks.

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  17. Beautiful pond! Yeah, the snakes in water are extra creepy. I can keep from screaming seeing a snake on the ground. We had plenty of snakes on the Tiny Ten. When we lived on the Lake of the Ozarks and we spotted a snake, usually around our dock, I screamed like a little school girl. Hysterical is what I became. I guess your waders aren’t just for keeping dry! Eeeeeeeeeek… creeps me out just thinking about it! Hope you treat us to another picture as it fills in for summer.

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  18. totally would have thought the same, “Seemed like 80 feet but probably more like 2.” Hyperventilated over here just reading about it … nope, nope, nope.

    It is beautiful, though.

    I miss having a pool but I don’t miss worrying about it/keeping it going (pool girl, here!)

    ~MJ

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    • Spiders I don’t mind unless they are in the shower and I’m naked. Then I get totally freaked out! I still don’t believe I got into the water to net the snake. Never in my wildest dreams. Sometimes you do what you need to in the moment without thinking because thinking makes it harder.

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  19. I do lots of things outdoors, but snakes are not one of them. It would have been a contest which one of us was screaming the loudest. 🙂 Yes, as we ‘mature’ there are certain things that we wouldn’t want to do again. That 90′ of metal edging I did last week is the last time I’m doing that for sure. Remember – watch where you walk. 🙂

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    • I never walk barefoot. Not even in the summer. My mother always says I came out of the womb yelling, “shoes! I need shoes!” Several years ago we put down ceramic tile on the porch floor. It’s beautiful. I had done it in other houses but at the end I said never again. If we need to do, we’re paying someone.

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    • Thanks. That picture is from the middle of the summer. It’s a bit bare right now. Some of my pachysandra has died out so I have to figure that out and nothing is blooming right now. The new transplanted irises are looking good though.

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  20. I try to pretend snakes don’t really exist…at least not in my little universe. But Bill says we have a resident black snake in the pool house. Aaargh! He says they are good snakes. UhHuh.

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  21. If a snake is someone’s pet, I’m happy to handle it. I like snakes as a theory in the wild world, but not in unexpected places where I am also located. If I meet a snake in the wild, I’m very much a scaredy cat. It makes no sense, but this is how my brain works.

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  22. Yeah, I’d say an aquarium is a better option, or maybe just a fish bowl. You wouldn’t like our yard, Kate. We have an eight foot black snake that hangs out. He slithers between our yard and the neighbors. We like to have him around since there’s a high population of poisonous copperheads in our area and the black snakes keep them away. Let’s just hope that snake that’s still on the loose in your yard doesn’t come inside after a mouse! I’m just kidding…he’s probably more afraid of you. 🙂

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    • Me too! When we put it in I was astonished at how little work it was especially compared to a pool. The annual cleaning is the hard part. For the rest of the summer we have a filter that we backwash weekly-ish and that takes 5 minutes. Now I’m thinking maybe a small water feature in a pot would do nicely.

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