Wisconsin State Farmer

I do not like January. I miss going to the mailbox and finding Christmas cards. Bob and I would read the cards and notes together before putting them up around our kitchen window/wall.

Seeing family photos and hearing from long lost friends is always great. Seeing family photos and hearing from readers is the icing on our Christmas cookie. Thanks to all those who included us in their card mailing. We really appreciated every single one. I might take them down by February.

Anyway, no more cards, so January gloom is even gloomier for me. I anticipated this because it happens to me every year. Since I don’t like driving on iffy roads, I stay home more and hibernate. The only good thing is that daylight hours are lengthening, albeit slowly.

A month ago, I decided I needed a new pet to brighten my winter. No, I didn’t get a dog or a cat. I bought a fish, a Betta, otherwise called a Siamese fighting fish.

I had a fishbowl that I had tried to turn into a terrarium, but the plants died, so I decided to turn it back into a home for a fish.

When we were kids, we had a goldfish in a bowl, but the pet store clerk said they weren’t good for that kind of small space. I guess that’s why they never lasted long for us. We were always having funerals for goldfish.

The clerk said to get a Betta for my little bowl.

I looked over their teacup collection — well, they weren’t really in teacups. The little plastic cups they were in seemed smaller. They were separated from all other fish because the males are fighters. I was told the little fellows might react to their own mirrored reflection in an aggressive way.

Blue Fish came home with me that day. He’s an iridescent blue, ergo his name. Today he lives in our kitchen, brightening up my day. It’s fun to watch him gulp down the crumbles of fish food I give him. Sometimes, when he sees me, he comes to the side of the bowl and seems to ask for food, but he only gets a little because that’s what the directions say to give him.

There’s no filter in Blue Fish’s bowl, so I give him fresh water every week. The first time I went to change him into his fresh water, I realized I didn’t have a fishnet to capture him, so I transferred him with a small kitchen strainer. The next time I was shopping I thought about buying a net but changed my mind. I’m sure Blue Fish would end up floating belly up if I did that. Getting the net would only be bad luck for him.

One of our cats, Othello, has taken an interest in Blue Fish. He jumps up next to the fish bowl and watches the fish swim. I know Othello would like to catch that fish, but the closest he has gotten to Blue Fish is drinking some of the fishy water.


Othello watches the pet fish ... not his dinner

I do not condone Othello’s cat behavior. If he somehow did catch Blue Fish, Othello wouldn’t eat it. He’s a well-fed cat who barely likes to lick up the tuna fish water I squeeze for him from a can. If the cat did get the fish, it would end up on the floor like a discarded toy.

So far so good with cat and fish living in the same house. I just hope I haven’t jinxed Blue Fish by writing about him today. He has brightened my winter days.

By the way, I did a little more research about Bettas and found out they prefer a larger home. Even though they survive in small fishbowls, a 20-gallon tank makes them happier. I guess I’ll be doing some thinking about new fishy quarters in the future. It’s a good bet if I supplied him a huge home that might be pressing our luck. Time will tell.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;