Bear Versus Koi Pond

A small Florida Black Bear (Ursus americanus floridanus) visited one of our ponds a few weeks ago and left a 12-inch (304 mm) paw print (hole) in the pond along with multiple puncture holes from his impressively long claws. The pond was lined with a 45 mil thick Firestone PondGuard Rubber Pond Liner. The liner was no match for the bear's claws.

I had stocked 25 koi (Cyprinus carpio; carp) in the pond 2 years ago and they had multiplied into about 300 fish. It was imperative to move the fish immediately due to very warm temperatures and the quick loss of water. The soil underneath the pond is 90% quartz sand which can absorb water indefinitely. This was backbreaking work and the fish were very uncooperative.

After moving all the fish to another pond we had to buy a new liner and await its delivery.

A 15 foot by 20 foot (4½ x 6 m) EPDM liner (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) liner

costs about $250 (€184). The liner weighs about 115 pounds (51 kg) and costs about

$80 (€59) to ship. EPDM liners are theoretically permanent and contain no algaecides

or fire retardants like those found in EPDM roofing materials.

The small print says "Protecting Our Natural Resources™" which is

well. . .a little hard to understand. This is synthetic rubber after all. . .

I see nothing natural about any of it.

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The rubber is very thick and quite heavy and difficult to work with.

Above: We laid a piece of an old 45 mil liner salvaged from another pond over the section of pond that had bear claw holes and puncture holes to doubly reinforce that section.

Next we dug a trench around the original liner which was nailed into a frame 16 feet by 8 feet made out of 1 x 6 inch pine timbers.

Then we rolled out the new liner over both the patch and the old liner and centered it in the pond.

We carefully folded the excess rubber into the trench around the frame and prepared it for

securing with very large cable staples.

A square piece of plastic will not fit into a curved space without some alterations. In order to make the corners and sides smooth we put darts (folds) in both ends of the pond. Much like when making a dress. In dress making darts are used to smooth out puckers in the fabric. In this case the fabric is very thick rubber, but it works just like if were were making a garment out of the rubber.

After darting the rubber and tucking the sides into the trench we used very large cable staples to nail the rubber in place. If cable staples were not available roofing nails would work just as well.

Above: Hollow concrete blocks were added to both shield the fish from predators and serve as platform for pumps and filters.

Cable staples used to secure the rubber into the 1 x 6-inch wooden frame and

prevent the rubber from slipping, forming a permanent pond form.

Above: We wore hoodies not because of cool weather. It was in the mid-80°s the first week of January (29° C). The protective clothing was to shield against swarms of biting flies and mosquitoes.

Finally the pond was refilled with 2,000 gallons of water (7,571 liters).

In a few days when the chlorine has burned out of the water the fish

can be returned to their home. A protective net will be added over

the pond to prevent small predators from harassing the fish.

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Below: A little dirty and a lot sore. . .but satisfied that the job was complete

and well done.


Above: A very warm bonfire with sunflowers and a hot January sun on January 5, 2014.

After a winter that has produced no cool weather we are expecting a flash freeze in coming nights due to an unusually large and intense low pressure system — a polar vortex of cold, dense air — riding a severe kink in the jet stream south from the Arctic.

On the 6th day of January 2014 the sunflower tree hedge is still in full bloom.

After the cool air arrives early January 7th the sunflower trees (Tithonia diversivolia)

will likely freeze to the ground, with temperatures forecast to dip into the mid-20°s F (-4° C).

The sunflower tree hedge will not die, however. Temperatures will return to

the 80°s (27-29° C) in less than 72 hours, and within weeks the plants

will be at the top of the fence again.

Above: Oranges and nectarines will likely freeze on the tree if temperatures stay

in the 20°s for more than 8 hours.

Above: The African Date Palms (Phoenix reclinata), now 15-feet tall (4½ m), are susecptible to cool weather so they were covered with very large car covers and tarps to prevent their fronds from coming into contact with ice that is forecast to form over the next couple of nights. While the ice would not kill the palm trees it would make them brown and dead-looking for 6 months or more.

Above: The only indications of winter on January 5th were a low noontime sun only reaching 39° into the southern sky and contrails from jets going to and from Orlando International Airport and points beyond. The contrails are formed from billions of ice crystals, a byproduct of fuel combustion in cool air aloft. At the surface temperatures were uncomfortably warm in the mid-80°s.

Above: Hibiscus (family Malvaceae) in bloom on January 6 will likely be dead on January 7.

I do not bother trying to save these plants as they always seem to

recover from periodic, quick freezes. While they may freeze to the ground they

will sprout back and be large enough to bloom by next fall.