Schubart: Pond Humor
06/23/11 7:55AM By Bill Schubart
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Commentator Bill Schubart is enjoying his newly dug pond, but the
project has raised a few challenges for those thinking of building a
pond which he will share with us.
(SCHUBART) We recently dug a pond in the retired pasture next to our house. It raised some questions, the most common of which is, "Is the bottom yucky?" I have learned to dismiss the question with a simple lie, saying only that we used hard wood flooring for the bottom. If the person is older, I just say the bottom is linoleum. This seems to satisfy most people since we decided to sidestep the issue of "yucky bottoms" altogether by building elaborate stone steps into the pond. We might have considered one of those stair climbers that seniors install in their homes, but it's said that they pose a significant risk of electrocution when installed in water.
In truth, the pond bottom is yucky. The bottoms of all ponds are yucky unless one uses flooring, which, I suspect, makes it hard for fish to feed. We were advised by the pond excavator of the habitat needs of the trout we planned to stock the pond with. Trout are very private and like shade. He suggested I place large rocks in the bottom for them to hide in. Being somewhat obsessive, I built a trout castle out of stone. It's kind of a low slung raised ranch with plenty of privacy to encourage discrete breeding and the raising of little smelts.
A grumpy conservative friend of mine asked about the regulatory hurdles I had to fight to get permission to dig the pond. Honestly, they were remarkably few. We had to fill out a one-page sheet detailing our plans for the pond and submit it to the design review board with a blank check.
Our nearest neighbors signed off on the deal when we gave them permission to have their two pink flamingoes and a lawn chair by the pond. Only a few showed up for the hearing: a wild turkey who said nothing but took copious notes, two does who wanted to know if we planned to post the land around the pond, a mud hen who claimed ancient nesting rights and a hippy farmer seeking to retain his "strolling of the heifers" right-of-way.
I also get asked if there are snapping turtles, water snakes, or leeches in the pond. We took an innovative approach to these perennial pond-owner problems. I had a number of three-inch-high enamel traffic signs made with a universal reptile symbol inside a circle with a diagonal line through it. The growing number of personal injury attorney's business cards tacked to trees around the pond, however, has become an eyesore.
One last thing for pond owners, be sure and reset your Google privacy settings for Google Earth. The You-tube videos of me skinny-dipping, though funny, are embarrassing.