Sunday, May 04, 2008

Dad Duty

Yesterday, I got up before dawn as usual, blogged as usual, and ran into town while the day was young and I was still presentable. I had big plans for the garden and expected to be dirty most of the day.

I picked up some more wire fencing to finish deer proofing the garden, some hardware, and about $30 worth of well started Bonnie plants. My plan was to finish deer fencing and then plant the grape tomato, cowhorn pepper, big bertha pepper, heatwave tomato, husky cherry tomato, and beefsteak tomato.

By the time I got home it was so close to lunch time that I had to put my garden plans on hold and switch to chef prep mode. The menu was supposed to be wings, but with the girls home from college and a nebulous guest list for lunch, I added a few items.

Yes, my fryer side chef table IS an old piece of plywood across two sawhorses.

While my baby plants spent an hour in the shade of the oaks, I fried wings, chicken tenderloins, dill pickles, hot kosher pickles, and Greek peppers.
(Chef's note: the Greek peppers came out great, but poke 'em with a knife first and drain the juice out ... unless you enjoy being splattered with hot oil)

After a heavy mid-day meal my gardening enthusiasm took a hit, plus it was the hottest part of the day, so I stretched out on the glider bench on the front porch with both dogs pawing me for scritches.

I was just about to drift off (and I NEVER take naps) when SHE came out and started tweaking the waterfolly. "We need to clean the pond" ... I think that's what I heard her say in my fried chicken induced stupor.
The pond is cycling as new ponds do and has gone a bit green this week.
In my almost asleep state, I muttered something like, "Be patient it will clear up."

Rumor has it that I said, " If you're going to be anal about a sparkling pond, you'll drive yourself crazy."

Whatever I said, ... in a few minutes I was up and draining the green water out of the pond, capturing turtles, and refilling with fresh clear water.

Preclean green.

An hour later, the pond was clean, the sun had dropped quite a bit, a cool breeze was blowing, and the garden project was calling. I told Mrs. FC, "I'll be in the back planting and fencing if you need me, but I need to get these plants in the ground, so please don't let anybody need me for a while."

I stepped into the garden, set the camera atop my old dead truck, and was just about to gather the fencing tools I would need when I felt a presence behind me. I turned around to find Junior and buddy Jonathon.
Junior had that, "I'm about to ask you for something." grin on his face.

I said, " Look, before you say a thing, I've been waiting to work in the garden all day and I just walked out here to do that."

His grin expanded.
"We were just thinking if you took us to canoe on the Waccasassa, you could hang out in Devil's Hammock and get some sweeeeet wildlife pics while we canoe."

"You know it's after 6 pm, it's a gonna' be darkening already on the river. Might be buggy too."

"That's okay."

So, about 20 minutes later, I found myself alone in Devil's Hammock with a noisy rattling canoe trailer attached to the JEEP.

There was no way I was going to find any critters with the noisy trailer attached, so I parked it and walked down a dirt road that bisected a marshy area. The very late day sun was low and obscured by a grey haze ... not ideal photo conditions.

I walked on through the marsh with very low expectations.

Out in the marsh, I heard a soft, low grunting. I stopped walking to listen.

A herd of wild hogs were moving through the marsh, their location telegraphed by the moving cattails and duck potato plants. They were moving directly towards me, so I crouched down and waited.

The quiet grunting got closer and closer.

They emerged from the marsh and on to my road, still grunting back and forth to each other. Once they were all out of the wetland, they trundled off down the road.
I didn't pursue for more photos, because the light was really gone at this point ... besides, the boys should be heading back by now.

On the way out, I stopped and chatted with a game warden for about 15 minutes, so by the time I got to the river pickup point it was dark.

The boys were just arriving, completely wet from wrestling in the shallows.
(No sense in asking them if they saw any wildlife)

We loaded the canoe and headed home. By this time, the sun had set on my gardening plans.

So, I never planted my veggie plants yesterday, but today is a new day.

Perhaps ...


pablo said...

Today is supposed to be gardening day for me, but it's already 11:30 and there are still chores to be done before we can get any plants in the ground. Alas, no canoe trips in the offing either.

It's good to know that you're such a soft touch for giving your kids enriching experiences.

Hurricane Teen said...

I have the same problem with big meals when I am planning to work out in the garden. And, like you, I never nap.
And I love how you and your family know what each other is thinking and answer questions before they are asked, and how JR. knows how to lure you into doing things.

Dr. Know said...

On the green pond thing...
Where there is nitrogen, phosphates and sun, there is algae. Tap water often contains traces, especially the latter.

Barley straw is reputed to have an deleterious effect. Throwing some floating hornwort (Ceratophyllum demersum, or coontail) in there helps as well - it possesses a natural algicide, consumes nutrients, and provides some shade.

Like any ecosystem, it takes time to stabilize. You can't force it.

Anonymous said...

I hope this doesn't post twice. I hit, "publish," and nothing happened.

Um...I don't get it.
Why exactly drain out the pond and refill it?
Because it was green? Or is there another reason?

Because, and I hesitate to give advice when I don't really understand the motives, but you screwed up, man. Every time you drain it out and refill it, it's going to turn green. It takes a while for the pond to get established and become an ecosystem. ALL ponds turn green when you start one. I've had 3 ponds for years and years and they all turn green, then the algae and the pond plants eat all the nitrogen and the excess algae dies off and the water clears. I've never had green water since the beginning. Aside from cleaning the filter on the one pond that actually has a waterfall, that's all the maintenance we do once the pond becomes established. Fertilizing the lilies (and if you over-fertilize, expect green water for a few days afterward)is an optional pond duty. Sometimes we do, sometimes we don't. Do you know about the capped pvc pipe with the holes drilled in it as pond fertilizer stakes? But every time you drain it and refill it, you're killing off the beginning ecosystem and making it start over and you'll get green water again.

By the way, summer means pond tours. Check your area for any pond tours scheduled or come to Orlando and try this one:

I haven't been to those, but I have been to the Merritt Island pond tour which should be in June and that one is FABULOUS! Call them and find out if they still do it, because we haven't gone in a couple of years. It's COMPLETELY worth it because, you will learn a LOT and see a LOT. Kitt Knott grows Victorias, those giant water lilies that you could almost walk on. It's just fun to tour her yard and see what she's done, I can't even describe it, words fail. And she isn't the only one with a few ponds on that tour. Plus, you can probably get cuttings from people plus that Ace Hardware had a HUGE pond plant area. They had the pond sensitiva plants and lilies and all kinds of lotus plants and just things I had never heard of plus they sell fish. I stopped going because, even with 3 ponds, you run out of pond space for fish and plants. Maybe that's what makes it so addicting? They used to say on the pond groups, "We are the porg. You will be assimilated."

By the way, you really should get those edges covered. I have 1 pond that has big rocks over the top that overhang a bit, another has flat stones (also overhang for inside shade). Not only does it look unnatural to have this weird black pimple thing ourside, but the UV light will break down your pond liner. Cover the exposed parts with rocks and keep the water level high enough for the inside to be covered.
Want me to tell you all about furnace filters and lava rocks as a pond filter or you about sick of me yet?

threecollie said...

That was some day you had! I am impressed by your diligence, cooking ability and discernment (canoe trip vs. garden)....good luck getting your pond non green. Never ending battle for me.

Anonymous said...

Hello FC,
I have never commented but I do like your blog! Beautiful pictures! Gnvl does have a pond club if you are interested:
We love new members and will hopefully have a pond tour this summer!

Doug Taron said...

Sounds like a fun adventure. We don't have feral hogs here in northern Illinois- at least they are very rare here. I've heard that they can be dangerous. Is this correct? When I'm in the tropics, I'm mindful of white-lipped peccaries, and Ive had a sttartling encounter with javelina in Arizona before, so maybe I'm just too ready to believe horror stories.

Deb said...

Fried Greek peppers? Fried pickles? My white-food-loving ScandiMinneSotan heritage is screaming NO! But, last night for dinner we had Mrs. FC's mojo chicken, and it was enjoyed by all. So, your recipes are remembered and tried!

My gardening today was sidetracked by wet soil and general lethargy. And a virus.

Floridacracker said...

As you know, it's all about priorities. Hope you got some plants in the ground.

Familiarity breeds ESP.

I know.

Dang! Did you read where I said, "The pond is cycling as new ponds do and has gone a bit green this week."
The point was a husband doing as his queen requested.
I appreciate the lecture and all, :) but I've designed and run my own home recirculating tilapia system raising hundreds of fish in a few hundred gallons of water.
I know a little about algae, trickle filters, and pond cycling. It's my sweetie that's impatient not me.
I aim to please.

I figure the wild hogs were my reward for choosing kid canoe over gardening.

Welcome! Thanks for that tip. I'll check out the link.

I think a cornered one would be no fun at all,but I find them to generally be extremely skittish and quick to run away. They do a lot of damage to the FL ecosystem, but as long as they have a way out, they are not a concern.

I watched Andrew Zimmer's show on the Minnesotarctica State Fair and MN food in general.
Shudder ... pickled fish.
Glad the MOJO chicken was good! I finished my deer fence today and will plant those babies tomorrow after work.

Thunder Dave said...

Have fun getting the garden going, I can't wait until we can give it a shot too!
Hey when are you done with school for the summer break, or are you already?

Floridacracker said...

Not until the first week of June.

roger said...

a nicely varied day. fried peppers are new to me too. well, except chile rellenos. better than fried mars bars. i am this moment looking out at the wild ducks in our pond.

Anonymous said...

I think your son has you pretty well figured out. :)

Floridacracker said...

how fine to be writing and watching wild ducks!

Me thinks you are correct!

Anonymous said...

It was all Jr's idea...


Floridacracker said...

Yeah right!

The Troll said...

it's not a really smart idea to pursue feral hogs at night...

You chose wisely.

Floridacracker said...

True, but well, check out the upcoming Wed. post.