Muse: Backyard Bird Feeder

Hawk Composing Itself After Eating Bird

Always nice to see a hawk in the backyard … until you realize he’s just finished eating one of the other birds you’ve been feeding all winter long. Ecosystem Management. Pretty. Brutal.

Music to suit: Guns n’ Roses Welcome to the Jungle
(Source: YouTube, FROZENPONDproduction)

Muse: Electricity. The Perfect Gift After An Ice Storm.

Ice Storm Aftermath

Never guessed the best gift I’d get this year for Christmas would be electricity from Toronto Hydro. It’s so easy to take hydro for granted … until you get hit with back-to-back ice storms and have to go 3 days without power. Then you quickly realize if the 40F cold inside your house doesn’t kill you, the boredom certainly will. My hat’s off to the folks at Toronto Hydro for working night and day this entire Christmas week to restore power to 250,000 Torontonians. The only thing worse than living through an ice storm without power has to be working in the cold every day to restore it.

Music to suit: Ronny Jordan, In Full Swing
(Source: YouTube, Bluestorm1964)

Muse: Putting the Koi to Bed for Winter

Putting the Koi to Bed for Winter

Flurries and freezing temperatures … what a difference a week makes. That’s my cue to cover the pond with plastic and put the Koi to bed for another Winter. Not so bad for them. Just one more sleep till Spring.

Music to suit: The Specials, Enjoy Yourself
(Source: YouTube, Scuba Kat)

Muse: Thanksgiving Spirit

Can’t decide which image is more disturbing: the cute little rabbit I walked past this afternoon that had just been run over or the cute little cat eating it on my return. The harsh reality of Thanksgiving in the city, I suppose. Good for some … not so good for others …

Music to suit: Ray Charles, Them That Got
(Source: YouTube, Stephen Robbins)

Muse: From Old-School Fish Tank to New-School Koi Pond

Koi in Backyard Pond

Shut down the old fish tank this week, which was probably a good idea, since it was 20 years old and starting to leak at the seams. Hard to imagine that’s the second tank I’ve retired. Guess that just means it’s time to focus on bigger and better things – like the Koi pond in the backyard and sharing it with all the thirsty critters in the neighbourhood. Fully interactive and social. Feels just about right for today.

Music to suit: Ernest Ranglin, Love and Happiness
(Source: YouTube, gurufuttlappele)

Muse: A week away from The Big City … light pollution

Spent a couple days at a rental cottage in Grand Bend this week. Reminded me how much I miss the family cottage and the simple things, like watching the stars at night. It’s a shame that big cities like Toronto create so much light pollution that you can only see a handful of the brightest stars any more. We should never forget our place in the universe but it’s pretty easy when you can’t see it any longer.

Music to suit: King Crimson, Starless
Source: YouTube, Goskel Elbuken

Muse: Free Lunch for a Free Bird

Parrot at Bird Feeder

Always nice to see a new face at the feeder. Wonder if this parrot knows which way to go when the long, cold Canadian winter arrives? For that matter, I wonder if he’d choose to live one brief summer as a free bird over an entire lifetime as a caged bird? … mercifully, ignorance is bliss …

Music to suit: Lynyrd Skynyrd, Free Bird
(Source: YouTube, SecondHelping74)

Muse: Can’t See the Bee Fly for the Bees

Bee Fly on Coreopsis 'Jethro Tull'

Saw this odd-looking character in my garden last year and again this past week: looks soft and fuzzy like a brown bear, flies like a hummingbird and feeds like a mosquito. Apparently, he’s a Bee Fly and he likes my Coreopsis. Bet he’s been there the whole time; I just never noticed him before. It’s a small world – until you open your eyes.

Music to suit: Deodato, September 13
(Source: YouTube, tuberider1976)

Muse: Somewhere under the Rainbow, in my Backyard

Surprised to stumble over a rainbow last night when I went out back to feed the Koi in the rain. I can’t remember ever seeing a rainbow in the comfort of my own backyard before. Felt like a personal, concentrated message of good fortune from Mother Nature … though a quick search of the perimeter revealed no gold whatsoever!

Music to suit: Billie Holiday Sun Showers
Source: YouTube, purple0accident

Muse: Roughing it out back … in my garden

Garden Pond, Waterfall, Patio, Pergola

Never feels quite like Summer until after the May 24th Long Weekend, when the garden is planted and the pond is up and running. Nothing like reconnecting with nature and getting lost in the sights and sounds of falling water. Not a substitute for a cottage, but certainly a lot easier to get to on Friday nights.

Music to suit: Stan Getz, Corcovado
(Source: YouTube, TheChroniquesdumonde)

A Safe, Simple Way to Prepare your Backyard Pond, Koi and Goldfish for Winter

A well-planted, backyard water garden filled with fish is quite spectacular in the Summer. There’s nothing quite as therapeutic as getting lost in the sights and sounds of falling water, while Koi swim lazily between the Lily pads to greet you at the water’s edge … that is, until Fall arrives. Then it’s time to Winterize the pond and put your fish to bed for the Winter. And since they’re going to spend the entire Winter outside, it’s important to prepare Koi (Japanese for Carp) and Goldfish properly to ensure they wake up happy and healthy in Spring. Here’s the approach I use to close my pond every Fall. It’s an approach I’ve adapted from others who’ve written about their experiences, and so far, I haven’t lost a single fish yet.

Note: My pond is 8′ x 8′ x 2′ deep (with straight walls), in Zone 6 where temperatures can reach -10F (-23C) in Winter.

Fish Requirements in Fall-Winter

Koi and Goldfish are hearty species that can tolerate cold temperatures outside. In Fall, when the water temperature drops below 45F, fish will slow down, stop eating and become inactive. Continue reading