A pond and a dead raccon ( not for the squeamish)

Holland, OH(Zone 5b)

This morning I went out to check on my ponds and how the new deicers I'm trying were performing in our sudden cold weather ( temp 9 F ). Ok - the back yard big pond was doing just fine. Big hole in the ice and the water temperature had actually risen ( 37 degrees) now that there was an ice cover over a large area. Headed to the front pond. This one is smaller, only 480 gals. and has only 7 fish which are sarassa comets and shubunkins. Because of the heater wattage and the small size, this pond has no ice and the water is a toasty 50 degrees. The fish are lovin it. But I stopped cold in my tracks. There at the edge of the pond where the water from the upper part flows down a short waterfall into the lower part ( when its not shut off for the winter) was a large furry lump with a ring tail. There was a raccoon hanging over the waterfall with its head just a fraction of an inch from the surface of the water. It was dead. It had died sometime early morning in the act of getting a drink. It wasn't yet completely stiff. What the heck?! Husband removed the dead raccoon using surgical gloves. He's been disposed of. Other than a ratty looking coat there were no obvious injuries. I've posted a couple of pics in boxes below. So, if this bothers you please don't go any further.

Holland, OH(Zone 5b)

First picture:

Thumbnail by snapple45
Holland, OH(Zone 5b)

Second picture

Thumbnail by snapple45
Holland, OH(Zone 5b)

Third picture:

Thumbnail by snapple45
Holland, OH(Zone 5b)

Any ideas what killed this raccoon? We contacted our vet who was quite perplexed. Both he and his partner said it was highly unusual.

Ocoee (W. Orlando), FL(Zone 9b)

This time of year many animals lap up the antifreeze that puddles in the driveway. It has a sweet taste but is highly toxic. It may have been something like that, now that people are reloading their cars due to the cold weather.

Oh.... poor thing!

Holland, OH(Zone 5b)

Antifreeze poisoning is certainly a possibility. I worry about the local stray cats getting into it.

Life is short and brutish for these guys. I read that life expectency is 18 months to three years. I just hope there wasnt a lot of suffering. They drive me nuts when they get into the ponds and eat the fish, tip over pots and just generally wreck anything that isn't nailed down. But I can't and won't harm them. We "havahart" trapped and released three this past season. We knew we had a fourth one too. You could see the tracks in the snow at the pond edges. But I didnt want to trap in the extreme cold and risk it dying of exposure overnight. I never expected this to happen.

BTW M2 and Carolyn - How ya guys been? Great I hope. I've been so busy with school that I havn't been on DG in quite some time. This is Christmas break. I start back Jan 10. I have three quarters left to go. Looking forward to getting it over with. I sure have learned a lot.

One of the things our soil science instructor taught was that adding any of those pricey beneficial pond bacteria products was a complete waste of money. A cycled healthy pond does not need nor does it benefit from it. He did say that the enzymes that cleared sludge could be a good idea in some ponds. He taught that it was all about good circulation and proper fish load. If only I could make myself stay at the proper fish load! I see one of those pretty finny things at the local pond store and I just automatically rationalize that there's room for one more.


I have been good - crazy, but good. I am taking a class right now that is just kicking me. I am anxious for it to be overwith, but I also have so much going on as well. My daughter is coming in this weekend and has to be back to work on the following Monday, so we are having a Christmas this weekend for her. Can't wait to see her.

I know what you mean about the 'just one more fish won't hurt'...... I am pretty sure I am over the fish load where I should be. But they are so beautiful and I love them so much. We had some very pretty babies from the year before that I can't bear to get rid of as well...... so, yes - we do use the enzymes with the sludge remover. Wouldn't be without them - apparently it is the sludge remover that is doing more for my money than anything else.

I had wondered where you were - had not heard from you since you retired. Sounds like you are having a wonderful time. I have not heard from MM or MM2. - I have wondered about both of them......

This past year was a good year for ponding, however not a good year in the garden. We had so little rain, it was all I could do to keep my plants alive in the garden, however an excellent year for my fish.

Here's to ponding weather......

MM and MM2 - you both seem to be MIA^_^

Thumbnail by Carolyn22
Holland, OH(Zone 5b)

Thanks for the sunny, spirit warming photo! Enjoy your time with your daughter and the early Christmas. We're not having much of Christmas at all because I'm having foot surgery on the 23'rd. I'll be not walking for a week then 3-4 weeks in a funny shoe after that. Why two days before Christmas? Because it's the only time I can get it done before classes start Jan. 10. Even then I'll probably have to have my husband drive me and carry my books ( how quaint) for a couple of weeks after classes start. I put it off for two years and can't stand it any longer.

Couldn't do it last quarter because one of the classes was Landscape Construction in which you actually hands on build things, like lay driveway pavers and patio pavers and build retaining walls and design wood decks. Yeah, I did all that and got an A! The other class was Woody ID where you spend at least four hours a week traipsing around arboretums, botanical gardens and other places identyfying trees, shrubs and vines. You cant do that with a pin sticking out of your foot. I aced that class too. It was a fabulous learning experience. Probably one of the best I've ever had. What is the "class" that's got you feeling kicked?

Snapple - the class I am taking is International Traffic and Arms Regulations. I feel like I need to be a Phila. lawyer to understand it. I'd much rather be enjoying the classes you are taking.....

Holland, OH(Zone 5b)

Um, now that's a class that raises some questions. Such as "What on Earth?" It sure doesn't sound like a hobby class. Wikipedia gives some info so I guess it's work related? If you can get through that tangle, Woody ID would be a breeze for you.

A good source to self educate on Woody ID are Virginia Tech's two sites:



They were a great backup for my class. However, I gather that right now you don't have a lot of spare time to devote to pleasurable pursuits. Which are you wishing more for - spring - or the end of your class? I just finished out my 2011 Perennial Plant Wish List. I haven't done any work on the annuals list. That will take all winter. Its the only thing that gets me through winter. Heaven Bless plant catalogues.

Snapple - It is not a hobby - definitely a class that is for work. I should be finished with it after the holidays. Your classes look like fun though. I would love to take the classes you are taking - especially the Landscape construction.

Holland, OH(Zone 5b)

It was a blast. The information and skills I learned are - to me - priceless. Much of what I was taught I can do myself. Really. If I were to ever hire a contractor or a sub contractor, I'd know instantly if the plans were engineered correctly, if the price was within reason and if the work was done correctly.

I'm dead bang certain that anyone who can sort through and grasp the intricacies of International Traffic In Arms Regulation can learn load, joist span and beam span. You'd love it.

Quote from snapple45 :

I'm dead bang certain that anyone who can sort through and grasp the intricacies of International Traffic In Arms Regulation can learn load, joist span and beam span. You'd love it.

That made me laugh! ^_^ ^_^

Ocoee (W. Orlando), FL(Zone 9b)

Hi all! I'm here!

I've been so incredibly busy as well, so I pop in and read, but don't often get to add comments.

Great to hear from you all!

My daughter's wedding was Saturday, so the new pond building went on hold. Between that, the car belt breaking, the freezer breaking (lost thousands of dollars of meat, the hot water tank breaking, and the pipe inside the wall breaking (thus flooding half the house) my time has been a bit limited, as have the finances! Just tooooo many things all happening in one month! I currently have my jumbo sized koi in the pool right now, and the smaller 18" and unders, crowded in to the 2 smaller ponds. Talk about a strain on the natural balance of pond water! Eeeek!


OMG Mary! What's next? Sounds like everything went at once.

How was the wedding? Was it in FLA or did you have to go to OH? It's cold in OH. It's cold here for that matter.

Ocoee (W. Orlando), FL(Zone 9b)

It was here in Orlando, so all Ohians had to travel this way! Although it was an outdoor wedding, it was the one day it stormed here after a drought of 3 months...sheesh. The rain stopped for one hour just as the wedding was about to begin, so we were very happy campers.
This cold weather is driving me nuts, my yard is mostly tropicals, or should I say WAS mostly tropicals.
I'm a lacrosse coach, so working outside is no fun when it's going to be in the mid 20's tonight.

Ahh spring will be a very welcome commodity this year.... :)

Yes, Mary it will be a welcome commodity this year..... I am already missing my time outside on the deck with my fish. I haven't seen my fish in a number of weeks with the ice on the pond.

so glad it stopped raining in time for the wedding ceremony!

Holland, OH(Zone 5b)

Happy New Year ya'll! Had my foot surgery and am recovering nicely. School starts Jan 10th, and I will be limping slowly around campus until the end of Jan when the pin comes out. Then it ahould be full steam ahead.

Ditto on the rain holding off for the ceremony. Certainly glad that happened. As for weather we have had about everything here. Heavy rains melted the snow, thunderstorms with lightning, and now a plunge back into the usual Jan deep freeze. I understand dormancy in necessary for much of what we grow here, but does it have to be that cold for that long?

I'm counting the days until its time to get in the gardens again. About 72 days or a little less I guess. Then the late winter pruning begins. I too have not seen my koi for a while but its because the water is murky with algae. All the ice melted with the temps being in the 50's for three days. Its odd how a pond can grow algae when the water temp is staying at about 37 degrees. But it does. Must be because its in full sun.

Who's got a plant list going for next year? Anything special?


Glad your foot surgery went well. I hope very soon you will be back to 100%.

I too keep going out and checking my pond - the ice has melted and you are right, I am limited in my visiblity, but I continue to go out and look. I am quite eager for the ponding season to begin, but I know that is quite a ways off.

I don't really have a plant list, but do have some fancy waterlotus seeds coming in a trade. I am looking forward to trying lotus again as I failed miserabley at getting the lotus to do more than put out the first leaf.

MerryMary - I have been wondering about you being in the Deep Freeze in Florida. How as this strange weather affected you and your ponds? I had heard from a friend of mine that lives in Southern Florida last week and we were warmer in NE Penna then she was......

I was wondering if either of you had any promising offspring that were born in the last year or two. I have one that I am anxious to see in the coming ponding year. He's a beaut - looks like he is going to be a golden butterfly matsuba.....


Holland, OH(Zone 5b)

grrrr..............That's the sound of fish spawn envy. I didnt get a spawn last year. Last year was not a good ponding year here. Raccoons caused me a lot of big trouble. Then it went from cold to very hot practically overnight, and stayed in the low 90's for most of the summer. We roasted.

I will never,ever forget summer 2010 and the punishing heat because I put in a 6000 sq ft full sun xeric shrub and perennial garden. There were a few times when I came mighty close to doing a face plant puttting in the plants, approx. 650 of them.

My pond has frozen over again, except for the deicer hole, so no fish sightings are possible, even if it wasnt so murky. My DH checks daily since I'm temporarily housebound. We're back in the deep freeze again.

Danville, IN

Snapple45; Glad your foot surgery went well, and hope you have a speedy and uncomplicated recovery. If you don't mind me asking, and I might have missed it somewhere, but are the classes you're taking going towards a degree, for self-improvement, certification, or what? Your class content descriptions are very interesting.


I am sorry that 2010 was not a good year. We were hotter than I don't know what during 2010 and had little to no rain. I did not do much in the garden because of the heat, but truthfully it was all I could do to keep plants alive.

2010 was a good pond year for us. I am sorry yours was not so good. I am hoping that 2011 will be better for all of us.

I am surprised your koi did not spawn. Do you think it was because it got so warm so quickly? I know that MM has said the same thing about spawning and being down in FL. Did you have a spawning in 2009?

It's nice that your DH is out checking the ponds for you. I would be anxious about mine as well. Every winter I try to see what fish I can see through the holes in the ice around the deicers.... I miss my fish and the pond so much!

If I can find a picture of the little gold butterfly matsuba fry, I'll post him for you. More often than not, the fry are not that interesting looking, but every once in awhile, there is one that is really special.

I hope you are feeling better soon.

Holland, OH(Zone 5b)

Well, Hello HG!

This is a two year Associates Degree in Landscape and Turf Management from an accredited community college ( Owens Community College). It's just a complete blast. Because I have a bachelors in finance I'm spared the general college courses. Thus far I have had Plant Biology, Soil Science, Woody ID and Landscape Construction. The latter was both class room lecture and hands on. We actually did contracted jobs, all residential and worked a full 8 hour day on the job.

Starting next Monday I have Aboriculture, Turfgrass I, and a summer internship. I also start a "Capstone" project which takes about 3 quarters to complete. There's no class time for this. You choose a research project, write it up and present it. Your progress is reviewed monthly by the department chair. Fall 2011 will be Herbaceous, Landscape Graphics, Landscape Design and Pests and Diseases. Also there is new class supposed to start in the fall - Greenhouse Management, which I intend to take as an elective. Winter will be a class on Small Engine Repair and Spanish for the Green Industry. It's quite comprehensive. I should graduate Spring 2012.

Compared to the four yr. degree I've found that they don't really dumb down any of the curriculum. The biggest diffrence is that they do work almost one on one with some of the students to keep them on track and offer loads of learning assistance. Lots of free tutoring available. They teach to include, not exclude. Woody ID was pretty demanding. The final was 75 plant specimens, some of them long dead, ( out of a possible 225) of which you had to know genus, species and common name. You also had a written section on plant morphology.

Landscape construction covered laying pavers, estimating material needs and costs, building retaining walls, estimating material needs and costs, desigining decks, estimating material needs and costs, taking landscape plans from which you produced the plant and hardscape material order. The final project was pitching a proposal to a fake company for landscape maintenance services. All the services and estimates were covered, mulching, mowing, pruning, edging, changing out annual bed displays, fertilization schedules, weed control, blowing off pavement etc. It was extremely detailed down to amortizing the cost of equipment use and repairs, and labor costs per hour including benefits. If you needed to rent equipment that had to be included. You also had to produce your company borchure and sales copy. This class used your right brain, left brain and hind brain.

Can you tell I'm having a ball!

Danville, IN

Wow! Impressive, to say the least! You seem up to the challenge though. What will you do with all the knowledge and skills you gain?

Holland, OH(Zone 5b)

Realistically, I don't have much hope of working for any company because of my age. However the local botanical garden does hire part time horticulturalists and age is no barrier there. If you are credentialed and can do the work you will be considered. I can free lance ( have already done some small stuff) and I can look for that plum estate gardener position. I've been networking with all the local "plant" folks for about four years and should be in a good spot if a position does open up. The gentried here usually post positions with the local extension office ( where I volunteer ) and also reach out to the LTM program in which I'm enrolled. I've won three local awards for my home landscape and also best in show (overall) once in the horticultural division, and five times for hydrangeas and aeoniums at the local flower show. That kind of stuff gets your name in the paper and people do remember. I also give presentations about container plant arrangements by request to various gardening groups. I have one coming up in February.

I just sold a business after 35 years and am not eager to start up another one. The thought of managing employees, payroll, tax deadlines and forms, all the licenses and other stuff is just not somethng I can mentally handle. I was suffering from burnout X 3 with maybe a little post traumatic stress disorder thrown in. If it hadn't sold when it did I would have liquidated. Just had to get out.

Danville, IN

Makes sense to me. If you can work out something that you enjoy and can be flexible with, that would be a good thing. In the meantime, knowledge is a wonderful thing, especially in an area you already enjoy and have experience.

Ocoee (W. Orlando), FL(Zone 9b)

Snapple...Happy to hear the foot surgery went well and you're on your way!
It's been the oddest weather down here, that's for sure. I won't even begin to prune anything until March 1. As of now, it looks as though everything is dead. The banana trees are brown, certainly all the hibiscus. My star fruit fell off the tree, but I think the tree may have made it (fingers crossed)
I just fed my fish yesterday for the first time, as the weather warmed up a bit, and the water was in a sunny spot. I don't think I'll feed them too much as it's really not consistently warm.
Nooooooooooo, lol, nothing from a spawn of any type! Last year was apparently not an amourous year. The goldfish yes, but the 20 inch koi, nope...nada... Maybe better luck this year. I want to get rid of a few larger koi, and make room for some possible off-spring. The koi I have are rather nice, so my hopes are that their offspring will be even nicer.
I had sumberged purple stemmed taro elephant ears, and although everything above the water level froze, below the water I can see new green sprouts coming up. That and the umbrella palm papyrus is probably what I'll stick to this upcoming year, with my water lotus.

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