White ibis

White ibis
Ibis

Sunday, November 12, 2017

A Fishy Assignment

It's been a long time since I last blogged.  But my computer was broken most of the summer and I had lots of work to do.   I finished my summer job September 30 and left October 3.  Since then I have had several adventures as well as  also several visits with friends and family, and I my eventually get around to telling you about them.

A year ago, I decided I wanted to get a job at a fish hatchery and started searching for one with housing.  Most hatcheries don't do much in the winter, so I didn't think I would get a job. But I got one in the tiny town of Warm Springs, GA.  This hatchery raises lake sturgeon, bluegill, stripped bass, and I think some other species of bass. They just raise catfish for kids fishing day, when the children can catch up to five fish and take them home.


My first landing spot

I had to take this picture before I called to report in.  This is our display area and those trees in the background are cypress.

I arrived mid afternoon on this past Monday after a twelve hour drive from my friend, Hulin's house in Louisiana. I pulled into the road that was signed National Fish Hatchery, only to find I was at the Aquarium and the only living things around were fishes. I called the Hatchery and found I was one driveway away.  Soon I was meeting my new bosses and co-workers. They mostly pointed me to my house, another driveway down the road.  I spent the rest of the day cleaning most of my stuff out of my car and finding bedding, towels and the clothes I would need for Tuesday.

I remembered to take a few pictures, before I trashed the place.  It is dated but fundtional and comfortable to live in.  (And I have guest bedrooms.)


Half my house - I was in too much of a rush to walk up to the road

You come in the side door to the dining area

The kitchen is part of the same room

The living room - the door I usually come in is behind the lamp on the left -
the front door is at my right in front of the bookcase

I had already junked up my room but things are mostly put away

My guest room - and I have lots of bedding

On Tuesday, Trent, the biotech, was assigned to show me around and start training me for some of my jobs. I've spent the most of my learning time with him this week and have had great fun with him.  He taught me how to open the Aquarium, how to clean it, and how to feed the fish.  He also took me to his main interest, the fresh water mussel lab, where I helped him clean out a bunch of aquariums whre he maintains fish that he will use in his mussel breeding program.


Trent showing me around the lab and letting me take his picture to show a mutual friend - what a small world.

Trent has two tanks of baby lake sturgeon which he is raising to use to breed mussels on. They often swim around vertically with their heads out of the water. 

Ain't he cute - a baby white lake sturgeon

In the afternoon, I helped Trent clean out aquariums where he houses the fish he uses in his mussel program.


Trent siphoning out the aquariums

I'm scrubbing out the aquariums, after he siphons them, then letting most of the water drain out

On Wednesday, I was assigned my own personal golf cart and then Hale, another biologist taught me how to feed all the fish we are feeding in the ponds. Trent also taught me a lot about our water system, which consists of two springs which we have to treat to bring up the pH.  And I learned how to feed the goldfish we have in huge tanks and which will become food for other fish.


Self portrait, taken from my kitchen door deck
One of our springs provides most of our water and also supplies warm springs with their water. I think we use two-thirds of it and the town gets one-third.  That spring is hidden inside a building but used to be a gathering spot where people came to wade and collect water.


This is the spring and the little wall build around it in 1933. Trent is holding a light while Alex tries to see the spring bubbling up in the sand

The pool continues down a channel and then through a small and large opening where it splits out for us and the town. 


Thursday I didn't have a lot of work so I decided to work a project to plan for a pollinator garden. The hatchery doesn't have wi-fi in the office but gave me wonderful 5G wi-fi at my house, so I came home to work on that and wait for a promised visit of Rosal, a former administrative assistant, and a member of the friend's group.



I have to fill buckets from 50 pound bags. and in some cases, mix two feeds Then I head out with a map of the ponds and a list of what to feed each pond. 

These are the catfish of pond 7.  They are the only ones that come to the surface and feed so they are my favorites.
When I answered a knock, Alex, our administrative assistant, and another man were at the door.  The man turned out to be the manager of our Fish Health group, a separate entity that is just across the road. He had read my resume and wanted to see if I could also do work for him.  I agreed to do a test designed to see if the frozen heads of fishes show the signs of whirling disease.   I'll find out the details on Monday, but I'm excited to use my degree again. Aparently I can work from four to many hours a week, depending on how much I can stand.

Friday I was mostly on my own, feeding fish, except I learned how to harvest goldfish and feed them to the fish in our display pond.  I also did heavy cleaning at the Aquarium and a little feeding.


I think I'll be real happy here and am looking forward to visiting Roosevelt's Little White House.  This is where he came for his polio therapy. And there are several state parks within less than a two hour's drive so I think I'll find lots to do.  But my first weekend is cold, cloudy and rainy so I may have to wait to get started on outdoor stuff.