Busy Days

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Official weather report: cloudy with chance of showers for next 7 days. My weather report: completely overcast skies, no blue showing ever, chance of never-ending rain 100% with occasional downpours for weeks at a time. Honestly, we haven’t seen more than a couple of hours of sunshine in over a week. Everyone is starting to grow webs between their toes, including the muttzos! Sigh……..

Our days at the hatchery have been busy. The “fish guys” have spawned once or twice a week asking for our assistance each time. Hundreds of thousands of Tule salmon fingerlings have been released from the rearing ponds through a complicated series of underground waterways and valving, splashing into Tanner Creek not 50′ from our motorhome. Waiting to feast on them are seabirds, great blue herons and sea lions as they negotiate their way down Tanner Creek, the Columbia and finally to the Pacific Ocean.

Even though some salmon remain, the fall run is over. The coho run will begin shortly and with it more collecting and spawning. Attention turns towards raising the smelt and fingerlings along with incubating the salmon eggs in the incubation building, a.k.a. the egg house.

Jil transfers fertilized eggs into 5 gallon bucket, which is then taken to the incubation building.

Picking Salmon Eggs: About once a week the millions of eggs are “picked”. The eggs that have not survived must be removed to prevent contamination of viable eggs. This goes on until the eggs hatch, but the process of removing the expired never ends until the fingerlings are finally released.

We are beset with the wrath of Fall- 2.15 bazillion falling leaves all sporting seasonal hues. The wind and rain coupled with gravity give the leaves from deciduous trees an incentive to fall creating quite a mess. The pines, cedars and sequoia redwoods like to get in on the action too!

And guess who gets to pick them up? You guessed it! The volunteers, all of whom are north of 70 years old, ’cause nobody (fish guys south of 40) else wants to do it. Well, that’s not exactly true. It’s the job of us old timers to pick up every single one of those pretty leaves. So out come the backpack blowers, the trailer mounted vacuum and rakes……. again and again. The trees are still turning and loaded with leaves so this process will be ongoing from now until who knows when. Oh yes, we also pick up and dispose of their fallen branches and limbs………

Us volunteer hosts have also done a lot of ivy trimming, maintaining Mitchell Creek, cleaning light fixtures, removing cobwebs, also cleaning and repairing fountains. The upper and lower trout ponds were vacuumed and the coins from the bottom of the ponds were collected, cleaned and sent to the bank in the name of the State of Oregon.

Fixing broken power equipment seems to be the order of the day as an inordinate amount has broken down. Sink drains have been unplugged, inquiring phone messages returned, and a lot of printing of flyers has been accomplished. We also feed Herman the Sturgeon and his pals. Oh yes, and we also remove the morts (dead trout) from the trout display ponds. I’m sure there’s more that us volunteers have been involved with. We do what needs to be done so that our one million visitors have a pleasant experience here at this very busy hatchery.

Our boss Hugh in waders vacuuming bottom of upper trout pond

We have a safety issue that we hadn’t noticed in our previous stays. It involves the safety of our guests. Cars are driving where pedestrians aren’t expecting them. Hikers are walking into “verboten”areas. They apparently are following their GPS which shows egress down a paved roadway leading to the back of the grounds- i.e., a shortcut. It’s pretty obvious these folks are GPS’ing because they are looking down as they pass the large double stop signs marked with “No Entry” written across them. What GPS doesn’t show is the “No Unauthorized Entry” signs nor the eight foot high fence and locked gate between the wayward hikers/motorists and the exit, so they all have to turn around and go out the proper way.

I ran into an interesting fella a while ago. He had driven his car into the portion of the hatchery that forbids unauthorized vehicles. I was prepared to jump down his throat- “Hey, didn’t you see those big stop signs stating NO UNAUTHORIZED ENTRY? Of course you did- you drove right between them!”…. or something like that. Instead he drove over to me, rolled down his window and said “My name is Anderson and I know I drove where I wasn’t supposed to but I wanted to show my wife where I used to live as a boy.”

Old photo of historic government town of Bonneville- lower right, before new navigation lock.

Really? Yes, he lived across the street as a young boy (he’s now in his early 80’s). His dad was the superintendent. He told me that the Corps Of Engineers had built a small village for dam employees and named it Bonneville, right where the channel for the newest lock is now. In fact, the village was dismantled to make room for the lock and the residents had to find housing elsewhere. Mr. Anderson is a very nice fellow. We had a very nice chat before he and his wife drove off. I’m so glad I bit my tongue- for once…..

Question of the Day from a five year old boy visiting the hatchery: Boy: Do you work here? Jil: Well, I am a volunteer here. Boy: Can I ask you a question? Jil: Sure! (Jil readies herself for a question pertaining to the hatchery). Boy: What do you know about the Titanic? Jil: Not much…………….

2 thoughts on “Busy Days”

  1. What a AWSOME Picture that Jil took! I want to paint a picture of it.
    So when are you two busy bees heading home? We miss you both.
    We love seeing your blogs, It’s such a pleasure.


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