The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

The pond garden

goldfish in our pondOne of my great pleasures is to walk down to the pond garden and feed the fish. From midsummer onwards the fish expect to be fed whenever we pass the pond. I’m not sure how they know that we’re coming. Our footfalls must resonate through the water. As we approach, they rush to the feeding area, a mass of multicoloured fins and tails, and stare up open mouthed. We feed them twice a day but often those fishy stares are hard to resist and they get another snack.

The semicircular pond is twenty eight feet by twelve. There is a gentle gradient from the edges to the deep over-wintering area where the fish hibernate. In the summer, we spend long hours in our pond garden. There’s a large table and comfortable chairs, and Danny’s swing seat sits in the shade of the trees. Our circulation system pumps 2,000 litres an hour through a 500 litre filtration tank. The sound of water splashing into the pond makes it a very peaceful place. The water attracts many birds and colourful dragonflies. Our bees drink there as well as our friends.

Apart from our George, the Old English Carp, we have goldfish, shubunkin, tench and a motley collection of hybrids. Last year I noticed that at least half the fish were black and hard to pick out in the dark water. We decided to introduce twenty multicoloured fish in the hope of breeding a more dashing collection.

I grabbed a twenty pound note and drove out to the fish supplier. I was shocked by the prices; a small goldfish cost three pounds. Twenty baby fish, barely three centimetres long, seemed a better long term investment. In a years time they would be breeding.

The baby fish skulked nervously in small groups in the reeds at the edge of our pond. This was a world full of giant fish, insects and George. This carp is over twenty years old and probably twenty inches long. We watched the lilliput fish as we enjoyed our evening glass of wine. Like any baby creatures, they were enchanting as they gained confidence and began to explore their new surroundings.

The next morning only fifteen turned up at feeding time. By the evening, I could only find ten. Had we spent ten pounds on a memorable meal for George or had they been picked of by a passing heron. We still can’t agree.


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