Always something new at the ponds

Jerry Apps
The two ponds at the Apps' farm are filled with surprises. like this family of Canada geese.

The two ponds at our farm are filled with surprises. They are water table ponds; their water level rises and falls with the water table. For the last few years, they have been at 100 years highs. Ten years ago, they were but puddles surrounded by marshy land.

The ponds attract a wide variety of wildlife, from song birds to deer, from bull frogs to snapping turtles, and so much more. We’ve had a pair of sandhill cranes nesting at the north end of one pond for many years. Each spring, the cranes always return to the exact place where they nested the previous year and the year before that.

For the last several years, a pair of Canada geese nested on the south side of the pond, across the water from the sand hill cranes. I know that Canada geese, with their population on the increase, are despised by many as the geese enjoy grazing on wide open grassy areas.

Geese can digest grass, and they, being always cautious, like open areas so they can spot possible predators. They leave behind little reminders of their being there—not appreciated by golfers and others who enjoy open, mowed grassy areas.

Steve and I spotted mother goose the other day with her two little goslings swimming on the pond. Geese mate for life—one of their interesting characteristics. They are a joy to watch, mother goose in the lead, the little ones lined up behind, paddling furiously.

We’ll watch the little ones grow up as summer moves along, provided a snapping turtle or some other predator doesn’t get them. Mother goose is always on the lookout for these hungry villains, and is highly protective of her little ones, like all mothers.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Seeing the little Canada goose family reminds me that some things are still right with the world.

Jerry Apps

Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life. For further information about Jerry's writing and TV work, go to