Tony Woodlief | Author

Time for a Little Carping

The snake ate my grass carp. I think I told you how I stupidly left my pond fountain off long enough to kill all the fish (but not the $#!%!*! snake). As a consequence, an algae problem has presented itself. Thick wide islands of slimy green algae, anchored to the bottom of the pond by long runners of progressively darkening stuff that terminates in a base of sludge. (For those of you who were planning on having sushi for lunch, I apologize.)

So I bought some grass carp. Two six-inch, rambunctious fish, just aching to get at my algae. I haven’t seen them since I dropped them in. And it’s not like I’ve only casually visited this pond, you see, because recently I had to go in to slough off the algae.

Allow me to paint that scene for you. Picture me in shorts and knee-high wading boots. No shirt, because I’m an idiot. We’ll come back to that point. In one hand I’m carrying a metal rake, and in the other I have my big machete. But of course I have to put down the machete, because the algae is so heavy that I need two hands to rake globs of it toward the shore, where I scoop it onto the grass. I don’t know how to accurately portray the smell, but imagine death being simmered at the bottom of a big pot, and you should get close. Now let’s add the heat: 101 degrees. Because it’s Kansas, and the heat is the only way we know to keep away the shallow coastal types.

So there I am, slowly working my way around the shore of the pond, which is a good thirty by forty yards at its widest points. I’m stomping and slapping at the tall grass, and talking really loudly in hopes of scaring away the snakes. I’m scooping algae. I’m jumping at every movement in the grass at my feet. And meanwhile, my shoulders and back are acquiring third-degree burns, because of the part I mentioned earlier, about me being an idiot.

At some point Isaac, my worker buddy, came out with his little rake to help. We eventually realized that we needed to call in the Woodlief Navy. So I dragged our inflatable raft down to the edge. If you’ve ever had a big dog try to sit in your lap, this was me attempting to situate myself in that raft. The only reason God didn’t let me roll over is because I was providing him too much entertainment right-side up.

I rowed to the center, and began reeling in algae. Don’t underestimate the weight of water-logged algae. I heaved in a little at a time and wrung it out, creating giant balls of rolled, dried algae that I plopped at my feet. All the while I kept looking over my shoulder for that ginormous snake. I think he was nearby, because I kept hearing these swishing, plopping sounds. He is a crafty one, this snake. I pulled at least 250 pounds of algae out that way, and I think next time I’d just as soon use napalm.

But back to my grass carp. There wasn’t a sign of them. What would eat two six-inch grass carp? That $#!%!*! snake, is what.

So now I’ve got to get more grass carp. And I’m going to have to stake out the pond with a shotgun. Somebody told the snake I bought a machete, because he’s made himself scarce. But sooner or later he’ll have to rear his bruised head, and that’s when I’m going all Bolivian army on his Butch and Sundance. Because a man can only take so much.

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