Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Schnauzer Babe, You are Falling Down on the Job!

Meadow, climbing on my waterfall.

Well, I did indeed have a leak in my pond's waterfall, and guess how that happened?

A rat chew! Rats squeezed into a slight opening along the margins of the vinyl waterfall liner, made a nest, and eventually got bored, and chewed a hole in my liner. According to Alice, this happens sometimes when we have had very dry weather.

I knew that, in the past, some kind of "wildlife" was underneath the rocks in my waterfall, because Meadow sometimes would go over to the waterfall, and paw and snort frantically. We were able to look for the leak very specifically once I told Alice that Meadow was interested in the right side of the waterfall.

Meadow, girlfriend, you're supposed to be a working dog where rodents are concerned!

Below, right in the center of the liner, you can see the hole where all the water was going. Luckily, the hole was in a place where the liner could be patched easily on both sides. Leak is now gone.

The pond also got a good cleaning, with a serious dividing and cut-back of its plants. Below are two pictures, (1) the empty pond, and (2) the pond cleaned and re-filled, with everything looking bare! It will take a while for it to green up again.

And I am happy to say that many, if not all, of the mosquito fish survived the winter.

Monday, 14 February 2011

More About Pond Water Loss

I don't know what I'd do without Alice, the aquarium expert and fish pond lady. Whenever she and her crew come out to clean my pond and re-stock it, I always stick around in the back yard. There is a lot to learn just listening to her.

Alice emailed last night, and told me to shut off the pump to the waterfall. Let no water circulate for 24 hours, and if the water level in the pond stays full, then there is a leak in the vinyl liner in my waterfall.

Did it. So far so good. Will check again tomorrow morning.

I was a little disappointed not to see my mosquito fish in the pond. Maybe they all died during the cold weather. Well, no matter -- they are cheap if I need to stock the pond again. It's always something.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Water Loss in My Pond

To the right: The pond at the Gaylord Texan Resort in Grapevine, Texas

For several weeks now, I've been having increasing water loss from my pond. All my usual remedies haven't done anything to slow it down.

I'm losing 1.5 to 2 inches per day from the pond. I'd like to blame it on last week's horrible weather with its snow and ice, but the problem actually started weeks before that.

I do have a gunite and plaster constructed pond, and how and why it became a pond is a story that you can read from the earliest posts in this blog. Could it be that I have developed a crack in the gunite? I may not know that until we get spring weather and I can drain my pond.

I tried to cover the basics of water loss in a pond in this summary , but I may not know everything.

I wish everything looked as nice as the pond in the above photo. Sigh....

Sunday, 6 February 2011

A Garden Harvest Basket

This is the harvest basket I recently purchased. I am most pleased with its quality, and I found out that the company which makes it is called Barber's Baskets. Their baskets have been featured in many magazines, as well as chosen for the set of the movie Julie & Julia.

See my review of garden harvest baskets .

Friday, 4 February 2011

Parsnips -- This Month's Vegetable

What a great winter vegetable. Parsnips. I'll never be able to grow them because of our warmer climate. But they are a good root vegetable for gardeners with a short growing season. The rest of us can buy parsnips at the supermarket.

Parsnips are sweeter than carrots and cook faster, too. To me, they are sort of a cross between a sweet potato and a turnip.

I have eaten parsnips cooked with a pot roast. Where you normally would use carrots, use parsnips instead. Along with onions and maybe potatoes.

Lately, I've been eating boiled parsnips with butter.

As you can see, there is not one vegetable that I don't like!

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Hidden Triggers in Food

Another wrinkle with the New Year, 2011!

For a few weeks, I've been noticing that every time I eat chocolate truffles, I get a headache the next day. I usually only eat 2 or 3 truffles at a time, and that is enough to satisfy me.

I believe that I may be afflicted with the migraine syndrome, but in a sort of mild way. Once in a while, I suffer with dull headaches that no pain reliever will help. The headaches last 2 or 3 days.

But there's no escaping the connection with the chocolate. In both cases, I ate chocolate that was imported from France. Yum, ummy.... and these latest truffles (hazelnut) are the best I've ever tasted.

Not all chocolates are the same, though. It turns out that I may be sensitive to phenylethylamine, a chemical in chocolate.

Or it might be some other ingredient. I should check.

But I know that red wine and chocolate are definitely, in some people, responsible for triggering migraines.

I wrote about the connection between vasomotor rhinitis (which I have) and migraine. My doctor was the one who mentioned this connection.

See my article on vasomotor rhinitis .

What can I do? Well, white chocolate might be a wonderful choice for an alternate sweet. White chocolate is simply cocoa butter that doesn't have any of the chemicals contained in the cocoa bean. There are some very good white chocolate bars with coconut.

Lindt Lindor Truffles White Chocolate, 60-Count BoxMilka White Chocolate, 3.52-Ounce Bars (Pack of 10)Ghirardelli Chocolate Sweet Ground White Chocolate, 3 lbs.thinkThin White Chocolate Chip, 2.1-Ounce Bar (Pack of 10)Toblerone White Chocolate, 3.52-Ounce Bars (Pack of 12)