Anticipation. April 29, 2009Posted by ourfriendben in critters, gardening, homesteading, wit and wisdom.
Tags: container water gardens, goldfish, raccoons, water gardens
Spring is typically a time of anticipation. Our fellow garden bloggers are anticipating all kinds of wonderful things—a new home or deck, a potager or chicken coop, new lambs or kids, the arrival of the first hummingbird, the unfurling of beautiful leaves and flowers as their gardens return to life, new vegetable beds and the appearance of those tiny, precious seedlings from the sea of fresh-dug soil. It’s a delight to read blog posts and revel in the excitement and inspiring photos.
Our friend Ben and Silence Dogood are experiencing a different sort of aniticipation here at Hawk’s Haven, our cottage home in the precise middle of nowhere, Pennsylvania. That’s because it finally got warm enough to reestablish our container water gardens this past weekend. We’d had them both filled with water for weeks so it could warm up, and had put the piece of clay pipe horizontally in the bottom of the deeper container so our fish would have a “tunnel” to hide in if they needed to escape from predators. We’d already put the oxygenator plant anacharis in the water, too (it grows like a weed in our indoor aquaria so we always have plenty to spare for our outdoor water gardens). It was going to be a hundred-degree weekend. It was time to get going.
So last Sunday, Silence and I trekked over to Aquatic Concepts and came back with three goldfish, six snails, a water lettuce, a water hyacinth, a variegated papyrus, a variegated cattail, and a pink-flowered arrowhead. Mind you, we already had water hyacinths, water lettuce, and papyrus overwintering in the container water garden in our greenhouse, so we’d assumed we were in great shape until a power failure occurred one frigid winter night and, by the time we woke up, the plants had departed for that big pond in the sky. Back to the drawing board.
Once home, we divided the plants and snails between the deep and shallow container gardens and floated the goldfish bag in the deep container until the water temperatures equalized, then released the goldfish into their new home. And here’s where the anticipation comes in.
For the past several years, we’ve had a raccoon come through here for a couple of weeks in the spring and a couple in the fall. It apparently considers Hawk’s Haven like a motel stop en route to wherever it’s ultimately going. While it’s here, it pulls down our tube feeders and eats the birdseed, empties the outdoor cats’ food dish, and fishes in our water gardens for goldfish and snails. (See our earlier post “Raccoon 1, gardeners 0″ for more on this.) We have seen it at the cat-food dish and it is big. And it seems to have an unerring insinct as to when to arrive, since it inevitably appears about the second we’ve planted the water gardens.
Well, we’ve made it to Wednesday without an attack. (You can always tell because some plants are shredded and the water’s all muddy, even if you don’t see partially consumed fish floating on top or hurled to the ground nearby.) As always, we’re hard-pressed not to hope that this year we and our goldfish will be spared. But we once again bought inexpensive goldfish, having learned from bitter experience not to pay for the premium specimens early in the season. And now… anticipation. It’s making us late, it’s keeping us waiting. And not in a good way.