Dear Readers, in this past few weeks my boiler broke, the washing machine gave up, and the pond….well, the pond has been refusing to fill up for several months, but I have been trying to pretend that it’s just because we’ve had a hot summer, not much rain etc etc. However, a few weeks ago even I had to admit that something was wrong. A lovely young woman from Women With Waders came out for a look and shook her head sadly.
‘Have you, by any chance, been visited by a heron?’ she inquired.
‘Oh dear’, she says. ‘We find that they often stab right through the lining’.
That’s the trouble with a wildlife pond. The wildlife is, shall we say, wild.
Anyhow, on a cold crisp day last week the Women With Waders team turned up, armed with hoses and wheelbarrows and, most importantly, a pump and some shovels.
First step was to empty the pond water into a massive tank so that, although we’d have to top up with tap water, we at least had some of the original stuff. As the water level went down, the level of sludge became apparent. It went onto the garden, where it will weather down into some nice fertilizer over time. Fortunately, it hadn’t yet become anaerobic, because at that stage it absolutely stinks.
And as the water level went down, there they were – 5 or 6 clean stabs right through the lining. It was the heron what did it, clearly. But not just the heron. There were some tiny indentations in the liner: the larvae of caddis flies, who make a casing for themselves out of little bits of twig and stones, are fond of gnawing at the rubber, and can go right through it given enough time. We’ve patched up all the damage, but let’s see how it goes. I see a new liner in my future in a few years.
And then there were the frogs. They were unhappy at being moved, but it wasn’t for long. In the end, we counted 55 big frogs and one teeny tiny little one.
It’s not until you see a lot of frogs together that you realise how varied they are, in colour and in size. This lot vary through darkest green, olive, russet and golden. I am relieved to see that they survived the depredations of the heron, because it seemed to me that he had eaten the lot.
The plants were cut back and repotted, and we decided that the bulrushes had been a mistake, what with them taking over the pond and all, so we’ve upped the irises instead. It all looks very neat and tidy.
The frogs were popped back into their new, cleaned up home. They sat around for a minute and then disappeared back to the bottom of the pond. It all looks a bit bare at the moment, so I might have to buy a few pondside plants to give the mating frogs a bit of cover. But it does feel as if things are gradually coming under control again – my boiler is fixed, the washing machine is chugging away downstairs, and soon, the frogs will be singing. Spring is on the way. Now, if I can just get through next week’s audit in one piece, I shall be a happy woman.