Thursday, June 14, 2012

Life in a Zoo The Real Thing: Geese on The Pond

Emden and Toulousegeese on our pond.

Our home and compound sat on about three acres.  We really didn’t have that much room for all the animals we eventually housed.  After people began donating more and more geese to us, we realized that plastic wading pools simply would not take care of their needs. See the post on Where is Sweetie's Husband? to see a picture of a goose in a wading pool.

We needed a pond. Unfortunately, we had no natural pond or source of running water we could dam to make a pond. Reasonable people would probably have gotten rid of the geese, but we weren’t reasonable people… at least, not in that sense.  Despite the limitations, we decided to build our pond.

Now, this truly was a testament to the good will and nature of our friends and volunteers.  Once I marked off the fifty-foot diameter location, we began to dig.  Actually, we looked into hiring a backhoe to come out and dig, but it was far beyond our meager budget. So shovels in hand, we began to dig.  Gracious, when I think of the audacity of that plan, I am astounded that we even considered it!

Every day we shoveled dirt into the wheelbarrows and hauled it to fill in low spots of the compound. Even with volunteers who brought their own shovels, it took several weeks to accomplish a four-foot deep hole.

Everyone who helped was treated to lunch and supper (if they stayed that long) I would fix huge pans of lasagna, or spaghetti, or chicken parmesan.  We enjoyed feeding crowds of people. In retrospect, once some of the home-sick veterinary students from the university heard about our authentic home-cooked Italian meals, they often showed up to pitch in and help!

Once the hole was finished, we lined it with a giant sheet of very heavy plastic. We covered the plastic with several tons of gravel, which we shoveled in by hand, of course.

Next came the concrete edging to hold the plastic in place and give us a stable edge to the pond. You can see that in the picture.  It took nearly as long to mix and pour the concrete as it did to dig the hole!  Joe and I spent time in the woods with a wheelbarrow gathering pumpkin-sized boulders to nestle in the concrete.

After the pond was finished, we waited for the rain to fill it.  Weeks went by with very little rain.  We only had a few puddled inches in the bottom.  Eventually, I dealt with the problem directly, and telephoned our volunteer fire department. I asked what they would charge to bring us a truck of water.  They were so intrigued with the idea, they donated their time and water.  The understanding was that in the event of an emergency, they would have to leave immediately.

Finally, the big day arrived!  A huge water tanker pulled up next to the zoo. We had to take down part of the fence for them to get the hose to the pond. We watched, fascinated, as two men held the hose and thousands of gallons of water gushed into our little pond.  It was only about half-full, so they had to go back for another truck!

Most of the loose animals fled to the back of the compound during all the commotion, but not Daisy!  She had to be right in the middle of things.  She wasn’t afraid of the noise at all.  As usual, she charmed the firefighters. I suspect that’s why they came back with another truck, they were in love with Daisy.

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