My New Pet

my new pet backswimmerI’m kind of limited to what I can do with my back yard, because my wife (mainly) and mom think of it as “their” back yard. Most of my suggestions get shot down by one or both of them almost immediately, while I’m expected to automatically LOVE every idea they have. So I was kind of surprised when they had an idea that I actually liked – a water feature. Instead of talking about it with them though, I quickly changed the subject. Even though I liked loved the idea of a water feature (i.e. fish pond/water storage), I knew if I let them keep talking about it they would soon tell me exactly how it would be built, where in the yard it would go, etc, but I had my own ideas…

First steps – a barrel pond

The next day (Monday) on my way to work, I stopped at Home Depot to look at pond liners. They didn’t have any, but they did have some really nice half wine barrels made from oak. All the staves were nice and tight, so I bought one and put it in the back of my truck. When I got home, I didn’t say anything to my wife about it, knowing that the next 2 days she’d be working. When I got home Tuesday afternoon, I put it in my back yard and filled it with water. There was major leaking between the staves, but I didn’t care because I was planning on either sealing it with epoxy or getting a liner. After letting the water run into it for 3 hours, it would only fill to about 4 inches below the rim. My wife would be home soon, so I watered the garden and went inside.

The next morning, enough water had leaked out that the barrel was only about half full. OK, that’s what I expected. I didn’t try to fill it because I didn’t want to wake up my wife and have her come outside to see what I was doing. When I came home for lunch (after she’d left for work), I filled the barrel again. When I got home from work that evening, some water had drained out so I filled it again and watched. This time I could get it to within 3 inches of the rim. I watered the garden and went inside to get the kitchen cleaned before my wife got home from work.

Thursday morning, the bucket was still about 3/4 full. That’s like a 50 percent improvement in just 2 days. I was pretty stoked. Thankfully, the wife was busy all day even though she was off, so she didn’t go into the back yard and notice my “pond” while I was at work (nothing like one one of those “WHAT THE F*** IS THIS???” phone calls to ruin a day at work…). She did notice it when we went outside that evening to water the garden… “What is that???” OK, I played it cool. Even though it was new, “I got it awhile ago. You know, you and mom were talking about a water feature and I saw this at Home Depot and I thought it looked cool. Besides, it’s in really good condition and it only cost $40. Walmart had some for $50 that were total pieces of crap – rusty bands and falling apart. I really like this one.” She was skeptical, but didn’t argue. In fact she agreed it was nice…

My new pet…

When I checked our pond Friday morning, the water was within 6 inches of the rim. I filled it and it went a little higher than the first time but I was in a hurry so din’t have time to measure. I also thought I saw some movement under the water but I didn’t have time to check it out. When I got home Friday evening I filled it again, and it went all the way to an inch from the rim. After it settled down, I decided to look for movement under the water and sure enough it was there – a tiny bird with wide wings flying around under water – kind of reminded me of a killdeer. Of course what it really is, is a backswimmer. The thing I don’t understand is how did he get into my pond? He didn’t come with the barrel (it was dry), and I doubt he came through the hose – no way he would have fit through the sprayer I use. So where did he come from and what is he eating?

After a week, my little pet is still in my pond. He’s not very active during the day but in the evening he likes to swim around. Lots of fun to watch and I’m grateful to have him. I just wish I could figure out how he got here.

Related links:

Fish in a barrel
How to make a mini wildlife pond