Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home
It snowed, snowed, and then snowed some more.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Something is very FISHY!!

Eggs, dead flies and fish!
As you all know, we are cattle ranchers. We know how to raise cows, we know what cows looks like from babies to old cows, let's just say that we know about cows.....not fish, but we figured it out by trail and error, mostly errors!!

Clay brings home this really big blue tank and a bunch of hoses. Then he tells us that he is going to raise some fish, well we were ok with is idea because he said that 'he was going to raise some fish', so it really didn't concern us much. It sounded like he knew what he was doing and had everything under control.

I kept asking him when the fish were coming, and he told me that it takes about a month to get the fish because you were on a waiting list. Now being me, my translation to this was, it must take a long time for fish to make their eggs. When I asked about a month later, I was told that he was on a waiting list, so I wasn't sure about anything at all other than there weren't any fish in the tank yet. That tank remained empty for almost 2 months, then one day Clay asks me, 'have you seen the fish'?

So I grab Sandra and we go down to see the 'fish'! There were only pink balls in this pitcher looking thing that had water running through it. We gave it a full examination and decided that the fish hadn't hatched yet, so we were sure that we would have to wait another month or so before we saw any fish. What we didn't realize was just how much work those little pink balls were going to be from that point forward. Let me just say that gravity flow water and raising fish isn't the best combination to have.

I think is was 2 or 3 days after Clay brought home the pitcher of pink eggs, the water stopped running. Now not being use to raising fish or even knowing how to raise fish, it took a few hours before we thought about the fish eggs not having any water running through them but when it did cross our minds Sandra and I were on the job, we grabbed our pitchers and started running water from the creek to the fish eggs. We had made about 20 trips when it struck us that we could just put the pitcher full of eggs under the pipe that was running into the creek, it took both of us to lift the pitcher full of eggs out of the fish tank and  then we almost dropped it. That afternoon the water started flowing again in the houses so we put the eggs back into the tank thinking that we had saved the day...maybe that day, but there was tomorrow.

The next day, Burt takes the track hoe up to the spring and starts to dig it out so all of the houses would have more water running into them. When he disconnected the pipe, it sucked all the baby fish to the top of their pitcher where the water was running into it at and even sucked some of the eggs out the top and down the drain. In a total panic, Sandra and I run down to the fish tank thinking that we would just see the eggs laying there in the bottom like they were the day before but when we got down there Becky was already pouring water into the hole, so once again we pack the fish pitcher back out to the pipe. We just knew that all the eggs were dead for sure. About that time Clay shows up, he was not to happy with our fish raising skills. He looked at the pink balls and told us that they were still alive, this was a relief and we took his word on it.

After the close call with Clay's fish, we thought that we had done a very good job and all the close calls were over. Water was flowing, the balls were churning and all looked good. I guess when you raise fish you should know something about the process in which fish develop, this would be very helpful for 2 women who think that fish will look like fish as soon as they are done being balls. After the ball stage, they look like dead flies, so being women when we saw all the dead flies laying in the tank we thought that we needed to clean out the tank. It was a very good thing that Sandra noticed that there wasn't as many pink balls in the pitcher so we closely examined the dead flies. We tapped on the bottom of the tank and the dead flies would move. Our dead flies were the baby fish, but they didn't look to healthy to us. We figured that it had something to do with being without water for to long, so things weren't looking to good to us. Clay asks me one day how the fish were doing, and I told him that they were all dying and laying on the bottom of the tank and looked like dead flies, he just laughed and said that it was ok. It turns out that they do that until the egg shell falls off, then they will start swimming. Swimming was another job all together!!

When the baby fish started swimming, most of them would all collect over the drain and plug it up, then the tank would overflow and the fish that weren't involved in the making of the plug would flow out with the water and be in the corner of the room flopping around waiting for either Sandra, or myself to come rescue them and put them back in the tank. Now we are not quite sure how, but some of the fish would even end up in the tub so we would have to scoop them out of there and return them into their tank,  sometimes this would happen once a day or several times a day. It  happens to be very difficult to pick baby fish up off of a floor, so we invented a fish retrieval system which you use sticky note paper to slide under the tiny fish, and with enough practice you can capture several fish in one scoop.

They actually survived us!!
Clay asked Roger, who is a master of never listening, to build a screen to put over the drain so the baby fish couldn't plug the drain. Roger translated that he wanted a screen to cover the entire tank, which only made it very difficult to get to the plugged drain when trying to save the lives of the fish. Then Clay tried to explain the screen idea to Sandra and I, he ended the explanation with, 'haven't you ever been to a fish hatchery'. Of course we had an answer for such a silly question, 'no, only the DWR goes there, not normal people', we wondered if that was where he had bought his baby fish because we couldn't ever remember seeing a store that sold baby fish. After we women decided that we knew what kind of screen was needed, we informed Roger that we wanted him to constructed another screen for the tank. This worked a lot better and the tank didn't over flow as much, but we would on occasion, still have a flash flood and we would be back to scooping up baby fish. At this point we informed Clay that we were sure that he didn't really know how much of a job raising his fish had become around here, but that there were still fish in his tank.

Last week, Clay put the baby fish in the pond. Yes, quite a few of them lived through the raising and became some type of trout and are now living in the pond.  I am not sure if we will be raising any more fish, but we will know what we are doing next time around.