Monday, April 18, 2016

"Hey Ian and Annie, Otto is alive and well in the pond!"

When our California kids were here three summers ago, we successfully captured a big fat bullfrog tadpole and brought him home to live in the pond.

They named him 'Otto'.

Otto made himself scarce, there were few sightings of him after he transformed into a frog. During the winter I replace the pump with an aerator and heater to keep everyone alive till spring. Friday night the toads started singing and I knew it was time to clean out the pond and get the waterfall up and running before I have clumps of toad eggs.

I upgraded to a continuous flow pond vac last year, it fills one chamber and switches over to the next while the first one empties. Instead of running the water out of the pond, I cinched a 'muck sack' over the discharge hose and laid it on the rocks so it caught all the yucky crap but the water returned to the pond. 

Imagine my surprise when I dumped a filled muck sack into the bed of the gator and a toad was looking back at me. His eyes were rather crossed and he had that stunned look after being sucked up in the hose, swirled around the interior of the pond vac and shot out through the discharge hose. I knew exactly how he felt because that was what I was like after going down the 'waterslide from Hell' in Jamaica! 

I returned the toad to the pond and was a lot more careful after that, I dug around in the muck to see if there was anything else interesting. I found a dragonfly nymph and some other critter that I put back also.

A year ago I decided to do a pond makeover, I'd made some mistakes when I built it and I was never happy with the hokey, plastic waterfall that I could never quite disguise with rocks. I'd also made the cardinal sin of bringing home water plants from MN, I thought they would be a nice addition to the backyard pond. Oh they liked the backyard pond, all right, they took over, attaching their roots to the liner and growing up the side and down between the liner and wall of pond, creating leaks.

I'm going to give you a little tip! IF IT'S IN THE WILD, LEAVE IT IN THE WILD!!!

I pumped the water until I was able to remove all aquatic life, first putting them in the small tub with the aerator until I found a fish had attempted to commit suicide by leaping out, but I found him in time. I brought up the big tank and transferred everyone to it.  

It was an incredibly filthy job, Bruce was in MN fishing so I hired Austin, a strapping young man to help me take all the rocks out. This was early in the clean out, we both were covered with mud and muck by the time we were finished. Austin had to take his jeans off just to drive home, I was hoping he didn't get pulled over on the way!

I paid him well, $50 for 2 1/2 hours of work in hopes that he would come back and help me replace all the rocks but he was on to me and decided he was too busy, dang it!

Our neighbor, Tim, came over and helped me pull the liner out of the hole so I could rebuild the sides and when it was done to my satisfaction, I put the liner back and started replacing rocks.

It took several powerwashings and muck sucking to get all the dregs out before I could refill the pond.

All the rocks back and time to work on the waterfall.

My good buddy, Kim, came to help me figure out the waterfall, she's never built a pond but has great instincts and it would have taken me forever. Where ever we are digging dirt, there is bound to be a chicken nearby 'helping'.

We built and then looked.....

....switched things around...

....Murphy took a dip and approved.

Bonnie oversaw the construction and approved.

This little leopard frog stopped by a few days later and approved.

The plants flourished and approved.

All the hard work and achy muscles were forgotten when the TTT Garden Tour stopped by in July and people admired the beautiful pond.

Bruce and Simon took a rest on the garden bench from directing traffic.

Fast forward to Saturday, I just got the waterfall hooked up and running when a HUGE frog crawled out of the pond and nestled into the rocks, OTTO! He posed for several pictures before returning to the water.

Long live the King of the Pond!


  1. WOW, Julie - great pix of Otto!!! and I have to ask, maybe you've told us before in your blog - where did you get all those gorgeous rocks?? from the fields?? They look beautiful...and I just can't imagine how your back must have hurt after all the work, you are amazing. Nice entry...

  2. Yes, C.G., I drug home every rock I came across when the idea of a backyard pond was just a thought in my head. I even spied one halfway to Cleghorn and, after getting permission, I took the tractor and retrieved it out of the ditch. It was a job by myself! I knew I didn't want to build the pond until I was retired and that was a smart move, with the difficulties I had. My big pile of rocks was just about right when we got down to construction, I had very few left over. Last night I pulled three couples of 'horny toads' out of the skimmer box and a single toad, guess I'll have to gate it off with hardware cloth.

  3. Hey Aunt Julie, it's Annie. It is so great to hear that Otto is alive and well.