Interesting winter projects?

Good winter work. You’ll be ready for nice weather when you don’t want to be doing maintenance.

Thought my project would be to make a GP, however thanks to Hurricane Zeta it is repairing damaged fences. Completed my fence today and will replace my kayak covering next week. Will start repairing my 84 yo neighbor’s fence next week after taking a break to paddle between passing weather fronts.

While getting lumber for the fences, grab an 8’ , clear pine 2x4 and whittle on the GP to relax.

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I just built a 2 level surfski cradle for a friends dock. I starting paddling a friends surfski 2 years ago and had access to his lovely dock on Fisherman’s Bay Lopez island. Now that I have my own surfski I had to make space for 2 boats. The criteria was to take up the same foot print as one boat, cradle the boats well and be strong enough for our winter storms that can tear across the bay at 40+ knots. I worked up some interesting geometry with this and it works well. Made from recycled wood from my old sheep paddock fence.


This is a dangerous topic for me. I don’t know why, but I seem to be constitutionally afflicted with the “hobbyist” gene. I’ve discovered that there are certain activities that, once I take them up, the “bug” bites and I get obsessed with doing and improving at them. And it can last for multiple years. Over the years music has been like that for me, and breeding tropical fish, building and flying model airplanes, and, of course, canoeing.

A person can really only get deeply involved in just so much at any given time. The other obsessions get put on the back burner, neglected, and, if not forgotten entirely, a least allowed to get disgracefully rusty. So I need to be careful what I start.

Lately I keep thinking about the 58 aquariums that are sitting dry in my basement. I’m remembering the peaceful hypnotic hours I’ve enjoyed raising fry and enjoying the beauty of the aquatic life I used to propagate. These are a few of the many…

And I know if I start there will be paddling trips I can’t take because, like farming, this is an activity that requires a few hour every day or stuff, usually the next generation, starts dying. As much as one enjoys it, one also gets tied down by it. When I’m too broken down for paddling, the tanks will still be there. All things in their season.

So today I avoid filling tanks, contacting old friends who are still in the game, chasing down breeding stock - and read a book or go hiking or something. The winter will pass.


PoL, is that my former S18S? Beautiful fish too. My son is into :tropical_fish:.

Winter down here is Retriever Hunt Test Season…Cooler weather is easier on dogs handlers and the throwers. Our one year old completed first of four “Qualifications” today.

She really likes playing this game. If Covid doesn’t close the competitions down she should get a title this winter.


I too was into tropical fish. My first job as a young teen was working for Minnehaha Tropical Fish Company in Tampa, FL as a teen. I had numerous fish tanks, but no where near 58! I liked raising many of the different Cichlids. I got into free diving and catching marine topicals in South FL. It was very lucrative and fun. Thought I would end up in the Keys doing it for a living. Moving with the family to SC and entering collage I majored in biology, and later mastered in wildlife ecology. This and marriage changed my trajectory. I ended up as a fisheries biologist for the FL Game and Fish Commission as my first job out of College. However, life eventually took me in other directions.

Castoff, one of those ‘directions’ everyone can appreciate: sharing your wonderful photographs with us. Thank you.

Ah ha! - A kindred spirit. The fish took me back to school also. At the time I though it was my duty in life to straighten out the mess that was the genus Cynolebias with the advantage of DNA sequencing technology. But, alas, it had been so long since I’d been in school that I had to retake all my chemistry, physics, and foreign language requirements - by the time I did that again (and I did do it again) Costa had already done the reclassification work. And then, like you, I spent a few years selling fish at a shop. In my case it was in the aftermath of the Regan shut down of the solar industry that Jimmy Carter was trying to get started, and which I was then employed in.
I started with Cichlids also and occasionally dabbled in them later as well. (Aequidens and Tanganyikan shell dwellers most recently) Never worked in a regular commercial hatchery, though my father did… Weber’s Tropicarium in Calif. in the 40s They developed the red brick sword and were the first in the US to produce Oscars commercially.

So do you ever feel the inclination to jump back into the breeding game? It surely does have its satisfactions, but it seems like an “interesting winter project” that could take over one’s life. I’m afraid I’d still enjoy it. Sorta’ like how many other folks enjoy heroin.

Thank you, I do enjoy capturing visual moments and sharing them. I use a small point and shoot waterproof camera (Nikon coolpix). That has taken a beating and keeps on clicking (plagiarizing Timex). So many shots are fleeting and it allows me to quickly pull it from a pocket in wet conditions and hopefully power up in time to catch the moment. Not always fast enough. I have missed some great ones. Being small and rugged I have it with me. That’s the secret. There are those still shots we often miss because we don’t have a camera. Anymore, some of the phones take great photos. I can’t take full credit for my photos most of it goes to the people, the beautiful world, and the amazing creatures that so generously surrounds us with wonder. What a miraculous world we are blessed with. I just take the time to record a small part of it, and then I have to catch up again with those I paddle .

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PJC, I can relate to what you write. I have always thought that those annual killifish are among the most beautiful of freshwater fishes. While with the FL GFC I did a food habit study of the Seminole Killifish (a FL endemic species) they are extremely drab in comparison. The Gulf Killifish can stand an amazing range of salinity from freshwater to high salinity tidal pools. Apparently the Seminole Killifish branched off of one of the coastal killifish species when the higher sections of FL were islands when the water levels were much higher than today.

I enjoyed collecting other critters besides fish to add interest in a large tank. Small stinkpot turtles, mud puppies, newts, etc.

I vividly remember my first Oscar. They have personality. In fact their personality is what draws me to the Cichlids. Many years later a neighbor here in SC was telling me how he likes to go to South FL to fish for Oscars. FL has the most introduce non native species of any place in the world. I am posting a photo of Plecostomus in Silver Springs, FL.

When younger I though I might one day like to set up a whole wall in a den side to side and top to bottom as one big tank. Something to lose ones self while watching. You make a great point about when we can no longer paddle. Only time will tell.


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I have a sort of love/hate relationship with mine. I wish it had a lens cap. Any tips on dealing with water spots on the lens?

Also over the years it has drifted into overexposure land. Quick fix with FastStone Image Viewer but still a pain.

The killifish lineages are a wonderful puzzle. One of the easier killifish I’ve ever worked with was Rivulus cryptocallus which is a species endemic to the island of Martinique. Not the most colorful of killies, but nice enough and it used to be quite sought-after in Europe. At the time it was good “trade bait” for new African Nothobranchus and Apheosemion species circulating there. Genetic studies revealed that its closest relatives were not NE South American Rivulus, as might be expected, but Central Mexican. Apparently it had been isolated and evolved since the time Martinique began its tectonic travels though the Carribean from the west. Amazing. The fact of annual killifish in both Africa and S. America suggests that the trait evolved before the continents separated - during the age of dinosaurs. What a world we live in!
I recall once sending a fairly large number of pairs of cryptocallus to England for the BKA (British Killifish Assoc.) show and receiving them back, unopened and dead, a month later. Apparently the influential PETA lobby in the UK at the time deemed keeping tropical fish to be an act of cruelty to animals and, after due discussion and contemplation, forbade their import. Arrgh!
Having a hard time living the good life, well I know.
PS: I also spent a year or so working with poison dart frogs with another local guy. The Shedd Aquarium in Chicago still has decedents of our Dendrobates azureus.

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Yes, I hate the water on the lens too. I place my camera in my PFD pocket with the lens facing into the PFD. The pocket has a net front. This seems to help fairly well. I keep a bandana to wipe the lens, but wet hands tend to quickly dampen that. I have had otherwise good shots ruined by water spots. Sometimes they can be cropped out. If my hands are dry enough a thumb across the lens sometimes works.

Mine has too, Not so much of a problem when the light level is low, but bright scenes are more of a problem than they use to be. I use the exposure compensation feature on the thumb pad and drop the exposure a step or three. On a stationary scene I may take several photos at different exposures.

I have been waiting on my camera to fail before getting a new one. It doesn’t want to cooperate. I might at some point get a new one, and just keep the old one as a backup.

Oh My! What a beautiful animal !! it looks like it is made of plastic and a toy for a child. I have to wonder how many have been picked up by children or outsiders that then become statistics. I would be one of those statistics except I know enough to be leery of brightly colored things like frogs or coral beans.

You were a true dye in the wool aficionado sending fish to the European fish shows and trading, I am impressed!

PETA, I wonder when they will ban lions from eating an animal diet. Their actions killed the fish in a most distressing way. Talk about cruelty. I happen to be a member of the original PETA …people eating tasty animals that is. We should show respect for all life. With that I agree. However, nature’s ethic doesn’t align with PETA’s definition. We happen to have evolved in nature’s world.

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Most of the captive raised dart frogs, oddly enough, don’t exhibit the toxicity of their wild brethren. There are a few exceptions - notably Phyllobates terribilis.

In a way that is regrettable as there were a number of folks who are interested primarily in the toxins, mostly for medicinal investigations, and we couldn’t come up with them. Probably some dietary precursor that is unknown to us and necessary to trigger poison production. But that was nearly 20 years ago, perhaps that problem has been solved.
Still, we didn’t lick our fingers or rub our eyes after handling them.
The guy I worked with brought back the first captive specimens of azureus (from Surinam, not far from Jonestown if I recall his telling correctly) They were know in literature but thought to be extinct. He found them in an island of rain forest surrounded by encroaching grass and farmland. And they bred fairly easily, though the first hatched tads would eat their siblings as they hatched if they weren’t separated to individual containers. Gawd, his basement was a magical place to work. He had a frog room, I had a fish room. Hot, humid, smelling of damp peat moss, frogs chirping - each with their own distinctive call. It was like stepping into a rain forest, something I’ve never done and now will probably never get a chance to do.

I got to quit thinking of this stuff or I’ll start filling tanks.

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Perhaps when CRISPR technology is better developed we can produce some lions that eat reed canary grass or kudzu.

Wimmin are sometimes brightly colored. We guys usually learn too late how dangerous they can be. :smiley:

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There was a time when I was hoping to date one of those wimmin and I was scarred to death that she would run… the first time she saw my place I had 500 poison dart frog tadpoles in individual plastic dixie cups, stacked in layers, on my kitchen table. I feared she might think me odd.
But you’re right, they can be dangerous. As it turned out, perhaps it would have been better for both of us if she had run.