AS I LAY FACE DOWN IN THE SNOWY TRENCH I’d just dug to get through thigh-high drifts to the frogpond’s edge the other night (temperature 7F, winds 18 mph), apparently Andre Jordan caught a glimpse. What, you ask, prompted me to go out in the raging darkness on such a mission?
I was trying to repair a failed de-icer in the pool. All that’s missing from his latest doodle: the flashlight I had in one hand, and the hammer (to crack the ice and save the frogs from suffocating) in the other. (Not the same tools I’d used earlier that day to dislodge ice dams from the roof.) I repeated the hammering periodically throughout the night to protect my beloved amphibians; who needs beauty sleep, when potential princes are at risk? A girl must be versatile, well-equipped, and ever-ready.
When does spring begin?
50+ degress here in northeast Ohio–at least for a few days. Some thawing going on, but I hope any frogs in my vicinity don’t get too cocky–winter is due back again this weekend. GOOD NEWS:–my very own copy of “and I shall have some peace there” arrived in yesterday’s mail! I’m saving it for the weekend–my treat to myself for a surviving a very long week!
I just spotted my Ivory Prince hellebore’s buds, under the oak where the plow didn’t pile it’s 5′ piles of snow from the driveway. THEY LIVE TO BLOOM ANOTHER SPRING! Too early to cut the old leaves?
we have finally risen out of the -30s and into the 20s
there shall be a lot of slush
Margaret, you never cease to amaze me. I admire your custodial conscience when it comes to the princes in your pond. BTW, I got “and I shall have some peace there” this week, too. Stayed up well past my bedtime with it last night. It’s fun getting to know you a little better. Did I say “a little?” ;-)
I know, Burndett, I sort of let it all hang out, didn’t I? Seemed that if it was to be memoir, it had to be honest. So within bounds of good taste (I hope) I figured, what the heck? :)
What about the frogs? Did they survive?
Welcome, Farmgerl. Well, the temp of the water was about 34 so I decided to NOT stick my arm in the 3-foot-deep pond and see if I could find a sleeping but alive frogboy. I happened to see the ice start to form just as the outlet failed, apparently, because the ice was barely formed on rhe surface. So my guess: Nobody suffocated. Phew!
There is hope, i saw my first snow drop in my yard in southern westchester yesterday.
No b****y kidding!
Careful with the hammer. The de-icer in my little pond hasn’t been equal to the most brutal temperatures either, but I’ve been told it’s better to melt the ice with hot water than bang it, which can cause shock waves. I’ve been slogging back and forth with kettles of boiling water ….
Yes, not good to bang it, you are correct, Lynn. Never would do with thick serious ice. But this ice was thin and had just formed (due to recent electrical failure) so the effort wasn’t too violent/shockwave-ish. This is the first time in nearly 25 years I have had a failure that caused even thin ice to cover either of my pools. Scary! What if I had not looked out from upstairs and noticed the ice forming?
Margaret! I got my book today! can’t wait to start it. Congratulations again
Frogs suffocate if the pond ices over? Did not know that. Am considering adding a pond to out backyard, so these are the little things I need to learn so I know what I’m getting myself into.
For mild freezes, tossing a tennis ball in the pond will help keep some of the surface from icing up. Won’t work for big freezes though.
Hoping your little frogs make it through the winter. Spring’s coming soon!
Thanks, Eirien, and welcome. I had read about putting a ball in the water but we get so cold…but good idea, I should have some on hand for interim duty in emergencies. What a night that was! See you soon again, I hope.
Frozen frog ponds – this is why we always keep one spare deicer on hand. I came back from a trip last December to 6 inches of ice in my little pond and thought the frogs and goldfish would be dead for sure. But after thawing a hole through with a new deicer I was pleased to see all of the goldfish alive and I presume the frogs as well.
LOVED the book, Margaret! Read it down to FL and back ( where it was 79 degrees this weekend and bougainvillea in full bloom, damn them). I couldn’t put it down. Great tips on what really matters in life, (and love). Love your pre-blizzard tips–and next year I will follow them all, including getting a modern snow shovel, to avoid Herb’s back problems. Check!
Oh, Steven, how nice of you to come visit and tell me that. As you can imagine, I am coming somewhat unhinged. All so unreal. Can you believe the day has almost finally come? Thanks a million times over for your kindness and encouragement.
My husband travels a lot and he swears some day he will come home and find me face down in my pond trying to open it up for my fish and frogs. I take a shovel to the ice. My bubbler slipped and went too low. It still works but with the cold I go out and beat the crap out of the ice.
Welcome, Lynn and Ann — fellow pond warriors! It’s so awful when something goes wrong, isn’t it? I feel so responsible for them. I always have a spare de-icer and a spare pump, but this time it’s the stupid outdoor outlet that failed, so I had to get a professional extension cord (the kind you use on a construction site with big power tools, etc.) and run it inside an outbuilding. In the snow. And ice. And all of it. :)
I have a small pool which is about 32 inches deep at one end and a foot at the other and which contains plenty of fish and frogs, etc. I never bother with the ice – just let it be – and they all manage to live another year despite at least a foot of ice on top for months at a time. I DO clean out the pool in September/October, putting the pond lilies in deeper and trimming off foliage as I go as well as replacing at least half to 3/4 of the pond water with fresh. I’ve been doing this for the better part of 10 years and the critters (and plants) do fine.
Welcome, Nancy. You are very lucky! You say you have plants and I wonder if any of them break the surface at all in winter, perhaps allowing a little gas exchange? Maybe you just have the miracle touch! You are right that removing excess decaying debris in fall will make the water more conducive to their survival — I do that, too, and top it up with fresh and so on. Definitely. I don’t have any lilies or perennial water plants, which is why I ask about that.
One winter, before I had a pond heater, the pond froze over solid and my fishes swam to the surface and got stuck beneath the ice, freezing to death. It was very sad. I laughed at the image of you going out into the freezing night to save the frogboys. Back when I worked as a reporter, I was once late for an interview with a fish and wildlife officer because I was trying to figure out how to administer CPR to a dying catfish…
I don’t have any ponds to de-ice and not ready to add any to an already existing problem of “ice daming” here in the Berkshires. While I listened to the dripping water and found yet another big towel and cooler (now totaling 3) to catch the water, I entertained myself by reading your new book that I was fortunate to have you autograph at your inspiring lecture on Saturday. I look forward to a quiet, peaceful afternoon with your book on my lap, the sun shining through my windows and the hope that spring will arrive soon!