Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I am beyond heartbroken - Marge and George have passed

 It is with a heavier heart than I could ever imagine that I have to tell the Austin Frog Blog that Marge and George are now waiting under the Rainbow Bridge for me.   They made it from Texas to California without a hitch, in a bait bucket, wrapped in ice, with a battery-operated bubbler keeping them happy for three days.  When we got to California, I had brought a small tank for them, with a good bit of their water from Texas, filled with the bacteria they were used to.  Then, when the movers came, I also had 75 gallons of purified water delivered, so I could set up their 75 gallon tank.  They made the move fine.   They were happy.   For over a year, they were awesome fish who seemed to like California just fine.  But then we bought a house and I had to move them again.  This move didn't go as well.
I wanted them to be happy, so I bought them new plants and some live food.  They started to become sluggish and had clamped fins and were hiding on the bottom.  Panic struck.

I tried to get help.  I got recommendations for antibiotics.  They didn't work.  I made an appointment at UC Davis.  George died.  Then Marge was crashing around, in obvious distress and my husband called me from work in a panic.  I knew she had to be euthanized.  How do you kill your own pet?  I had heard that freezing actually causes pain when the ice crystals form, so I told him to put her in an ice bath to slow her down, while I rushed to the store for clove oil, which is supposed to be a painless way to euthanize fish. 

So it was done.   Marge and George had personalities larger than life.  They were interactive and funny.  I spent time just watching them every single day.  Feeding them was one of the favorite parts of my day.    I now realize that I can no longer eat fish.  It's like eating dog to me.  Can't do it.   Bye guys.  Thank you for being good fish. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Austin Frog Pond Says Goodbye

With a heavy heart, I emptied the frog pond this morning.

This pond began as a project back in 2010, after I lost my job.  I carefully nurtured the pond and its inhabitants, learned a lot about frogs, fish and bugs, and learned a lot about myself in the process.

But in a few days, we move to California because I have a new exciting job waiting for me.  So, I give up this Austin frog chapter in my life.

I will miss them so much.  They became an enormous part of my life.

I thought about keeping the pond going, but the pond was dirty and filled with scary crawly things that were probably larvae of something nasty that the pond filter could not keep up with. Besides, the frogs have largely been staying away because the recent rains have made the creeks much more attractive places for young frogs.  One little toad has been singing for a girlfriend, but he hasn't stuck around. Actually, the pond has been pretty bereft of frog life since the drought last summer.   

The erstwhile goldfish, George and Marge have been delighted with their aquarium inside.  They stopped being afraid of coming to the top of the tank, forgetting about the birds of prey that used to hunt for them outside.  They chase each other and play and seem quite joyful.  They are coming to California with us, transported in a bait bucket with a bubbler, with ice packed around them to keep them cool through the desert.  They will travel with us, the 3 large dogs and the noisy cat, Roxanne to our new house in the SF Bay Area.  Hopefully, someday, there will be a frog pond there.

I won't say goodbye just yet, though.  Because I hate goodbyes. I've also collected a wealth of very interesting Austin insect pictures that I'd like to upload the next time I have some time.

My favorite is, of course, the walking stick!  He really likes my car.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Empty Pond.

Our little female Rio Grande Leopard Frog who had been patiently waiting for friends to join her simply disappeared.  I kept checking, but no frog.  I was sad, thinking that something bad may have come of her.  The pond is very quiet with no fish and no frogs.

But last night, I went out to the street to check for mail and heard the unmistakable sound of a male Leopard frog calling for mates.  Well, I'm guessing that she got tired of waiting for suitors and decided to take matters into her own hands. He didn't sound too far away, and with all this recent rain, there is water in the creek and various other places, so she has places to lay her eggs. Hope she finds him.

The videos demonstrates what she (we) heard.  I took both of these last year of an earnest male frog looking for some girlfriends.  One is labeled Gulf Coast Toad, but it is actually a Leopard Frog, I just didn't change the label.

Monday, February 27, 2012

My little lonely pond

Well, you haven't heard much from the frog blog lately, mainly because there really hasn't been much to talk about.  We only have one little resident, a Rio Grande Leopard Frog who I am assuming is female because she is quite silent.  Every night I see her in the pond and she disappears in the morning.  She used to jump for cover when I came to say hi, but she cautiously stays around, watching me.  I was actually able to finally taker her picture:

 I know these aren't very clear, but keep in mind that I am sneaking up on her with a flashlight, trying not to drop the smartphone in the water!  She is very cute.
It seems like she is very lonely, though.  She just hangs out, waiting for friends to join her.  If we are going to have some tadpoles in the pond, she can't continue to be in there by herself.  I am wishing a froggy boyfriend comes to join her soon.

Sadly, I haven't seen a single toad since the worst of the drought.  I am so afraid that we have killed off our beautiful and charming toads.  I miss them so much. 

We have had a good amount of rain in the past couple of months, so the lack of frogs and toads is simply heartbreaking, as in previous years, this wet weather would have frogs and toads jumping all over the place.  Damn drought. 

Monday, January 30, 2012

Happy Belated New Year!

Let's just say Happy Chinese New Year, shall we?  After all, frogs are good luck in Chinese culture and having a frog in your garden is supposed to bring you money.  I am hoping for a bumper crop of frogs this year!

So far, this winter has been so weak, lots of of critters think it's spring.  These butterflies have taken over the  garden and birds are filling the sky and scouring the fields for food.

The pond has been quiet.  When I come out at night, I occasionally see a Leopard Frog leaping to a hiding place or hear a little "plop" which I know is a frog diving for cover. Always just one, maytbe two. No concerts, so I think the frogs hanging out are females.

The frog population needs help around here after this terrible drought.  For my part, I knew I had to get the goldfish out of the pond as they have proved themselves to be voracious frog egg and froglet predators.

Over the holiday, I found a giant 75 gallon fish tank on Craigslist for $100.  It is HUGE!!  It sat in the front yard for a month, but about two weeks ago, we finally hauled it inside and set it up.  Putting 75 gallons of bottled water in that thing was quite a chore, but our well water is too salty, so I had to make several 30 mile roundtrip treks to the water store  to fill up our jugs and fill the tank.

After running the new filter for awhile, I managed to corral the fish into big plastic bags, carried them into the house and set the bags in the tank for the water temperatures to equalize.  Marge wasn't hard to catch, but George was pretty wily.
They are set up next to a window, so they have a nice view.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Raining all weekend!

The pond is full, the fountain and filter are working well and the water is clear.  I still haven't moved Marge and George into the aquarium, but am putting extra netting over the pond every day because I saw evidence that a bird has been eyeing the pond while I've been at work.  No wonder my fishies were getting shy!   Now that double nets are up, the fish are bolder.  I love that.  Cleopatra is still hanging out at the pond.  I think one other Leopard frog is, too, but I haven't seen a toad in ages. 

I put a little lit Christmas tree on the porch tonight as a festive touch.  Later in the evening, I looked out the window and say Marge swimming around pretty aggressively.  Normally at night, they just stay still.  Are they sleeping?  I think so! But tonight, Marge was pretty active so I was afraid there was a snake or some other menace around.  I checked and all was well.  When I came out, they settled down.  Maybe they don't like the lights from the Christmas tree. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011


The weather in Austin has finally changed.  We have had a few rainstorms.  We have had a frost.  The ground in moist and we have a bit of green everywhere.  Not to say that the heat has passed, though. We are still reaching the 80's during most days and sometimes I don't know whether we will need the Air Conditioning or the heater that day.

I was hoping that the change of weather would bring a slew of frogs to the pond.  I was hoping that all those frogs that had gone underground during the drought and the heat wave would dig themselves out and start partying at the pond.  Alas, that has not happened.  I still see Cleopatra, but she is so very shy and the pond has been sadly still of frog activity or song in the evenings.   I think that we have lost a lot of frogs in the drought and that makes me very sad. The fish have been very shy, too; I think they have seen predators because Marge hid from me when I came to visit today.  I haven't seen any snakes, though, although I sometimes dream of them. We will be feeling the effects of this drought for many years to come. 

Today, my husband asked me if I wanted to know if he came upon a dead frog in the driveway.  He asked me whether I would want to see and take care of it on my own, or whether I would want him to take care of it.  I asked him to take care of it, but now I feel guilty.  I wanted to know which frog this was.  I probably knew him.  It was probably a toad. It was probably one of the two silly toads I kept having to chase off the driveway.  How could I have squished a frog yesterday?  Normally, I keep a close watch when I drive in.  But I was the last one in and I know I was driving too fast.  I know my husband probably just threw the flattened toad into the trash.  But -- I should have buried him.  I should have said a few words and wished him or her well into the next adventure, whatever that may be for a silly toad.  Send him some thoughts, if you will, so that if he gets a  "next time", he might stay off the road; so that he would not be so lucky to have survived the worst drought and heat wave in Texas history - just to be mowed down by a Honda.  Sigh.

But - change happens.  It happens whether you are ready for it or not.  Life moves on.   I have been acutely aware that my lovely goldfish, the ones that started out as tiny .19 feeder fish from Petco, have become little monsters.  Marge is over 4 inches long and George is almost as big.  They have gone from cheap carnival goldfish to mini-Koi.

I have tried to block it from my mind, but I know that they eat tadpoles.  I also know that they are a target for predators and they really need to be moved from their pond.  For  months I have been scouring Craigslist for the perfect habitat for them - a huge fishtank.  I was told that goldfish, due to their generally filthy nature, need ten gallons for every inch of fish.  This means I was looking for a tank of about 75 gallons.   Truthfully, I had no idea what that looked like until I answered an ad from someone who was selling the whole setup for only $100 - tank, filter, stand, extra charcoal - everything I needed.  When I went to look at it, it floored me.  A 75 gallon tank is HUGE!  
Seriously, this monstrosity is going to fill up half a room for two fish.  The two of us could barely lift it when it was empty of water.

This weekend, I had planned to clean the tank, fill it and get them situated.  Still don't know whether I will keep the tank outside on the porch or bring it into my office.  New life for Marge and George!  I hope they enjoy it.  Now, they will be safe little indoor fishies.   Hmmm.  I hope I am doing the right thing by them. They won't get to visit with any frogs anymore, nor will they get to eat tadpoles or survive on just algae. They won't hide from the birds or snakes or other creatures who have considered them snacks.   I will feed them proper goldfish food and they will become docile indoor creatures. I am hoping to move across country and hope to take them with me in a giant bucket, where they will be California fish and maybe live in a pond outside in the San Francisco Bay Area where I will battle raccoons and other California varmints.