Boy are there stories to tell of craziness on the farm in recent weeks. Riddles I tell you, Riddles. Farmers and homesteaders will probably tell you, if you have time to sit down for a cup of coffee, that deaths on the farm are head scratching riddles. When animals die it is a deep dive into who done it. Well, boy do we have a story to tell.
This past week I found one of my rare ducks, a silver appleyard female, dead in our pond. Our pond is not very large. It was floating in the water with all its feathers on and no trauma mid torso up to the head, basically everything above the waterline. But, when I scooped out the duck, everything on the carcass below the waterline had been eaten.
What the heck? Who done it? I have had raccoon kills and I thought they went at the chest. Part of that chest above the water was fine. And then how did it get in the water?
We have lived at this farm for two years now. In all the time we have lived here there were never any fish in the pond. And, the man we bought it from had lived at the farm 15 years. In that time HE had never put fish in the pond. So, we assumed NO FISH.
So, I was scratching my head if it was a snake or what. While pondering the who do it of it all with duck in bag standing next to the pond I look to the right of the duck and low and behold there were tiny fish in the water. I would say the fish were only four inches long, but fish none the less. I was literally floored. HUH? Fish in the pond? I thought fish needed aeration? I was perplexed. Then, how the heck did fish get in the pond? I have never seen action on that pond in two years since we moved here.
I began my very curious journey into researching fish this last week to determine, could a fish have eaten that duck? I had never heard of such things. So, I reached out to Lanny Parkhurst who is the owner of Big Whiskers Catfish Farm here in Tennessee. This is where the Catfish Warz TV show is with him and his staff. Their website says “Whiskers is what locals call “One little honey hole of a fishing pond”. Billed as “Tennessee’s “Home of the Monster Cats”, he has turned an old fashioned workin’ man’s pastime into a recreation business…” You can learn more about this enterprise here .
So, I talked wtih Lanny to get some intel on catfish, mainly can catfish kill a duck and is that what is in my pond. Lanny helped me tremendously.
First, he advised I go purchase floating catfish food and feed a coffee can size of the feed at dawn or dusk each day for a week. I was to do it at the same time each day to get the fish used to the feed on the surface. Once the fish know that is the feeding time they will comfortably come up out of the water and I will be able to identify the fish.
Okay I said. That sounded great. He said that once I identified what was in the pond, he could help me make the pond better managed to optimize the fish and pond eco-system for the fish. I was so excited.
Off to Tractor Supply I went to buy a big bag of floating catfish food and I waited in anticiipation for dusk last night. The sun started sinking behind the Smoky Mountain skyline and I was ready to go.
I headed down into the pasture with my goats, sheep and ducks – with them all hanging around me wondering what was up. I threw the food in the water and waited, and waited, and waited. Slowly but surely small ringlets started forming in the water. I began to see little fish from three inches to five inches long, lots of them. I stood on the dock watching in amazement with my blind lamb named lambo. But, he nearly fell off the dock due to being blind so we moved to land to continue witnessing this outburst of water activity playing out on the surface of the water. It wasn’t ten minutes later when there is a big splash. I look to the far end of the pond and I literally see what is probably an 18 inch long and five inch thick body of a big fish. This thing had a big mouth coming up to the surface and eating the food. Then there was another. WHAT?!
Yes, I have big catfish in this pond. The mouth of that catfish was definitely bigger than the size of a duck. Holy cow I thought. So now I embark on the journey of making our pond the best little catfish hole ever!! Who knew?
So, let me show you what I am talking about through pictures.
So can you believe that? We now raise catfish! How is that for crazy. What a complete shock.
I have been told this is a blue catfish. There were two large ones in the pond and tons of tiny fish so we will begin the adventure of blogging on catfish and catfish ponds as we learn more about this most amazing discovery on our farm.
God Bless! L. Davis