The Washington Times - March 22, 2009, 04:34PM

           Walking in to my parents’ house a couple of nights ago, I found them sitting at the kitchen table with my nineteen -year-old son, all watching the pond for any sign of ripple under the security light that has brightened the surface of the water since the days of my childhood.

            I didn’t have to ask to know what was going on. I had witnessed the same scene hundreds of times over the course of my lifetime.


            Dad was on muskrat watch.

            Growing up, my oldest brother used to trap the furry beasts, enlisting my help in the skinning work. Being an animal lover this was hard, but I did it, often on the promise of pay once the pelts were sold. The pelts sold alright, but too often the pay didn’t materialize for this gullible little sister.

            Now, muskrats love ponds. They love to burrow and dig. They like to find things to take back to their little holes with which build their “dream” homes.  They also love to dig holes in the dams of ponds

            Don’t let the “rat” in the name fool you. It is a rodent, but the critter can be quite cute and fun to watch on a pond - unless you are my Dad. To Dad there is nothing cute about a caved-in dam.

            Thus, the need for Dad to be on “muskrat watch”.

            Now my Dad has a completely different problem to worry about besides the destruction of his dam - his geothermal tubes that rest peacefully at the bottom of his beloved pond. Purring with environmentally safe antifreeze, sunk and weighted down by his - and my fourteen -year-old’s very own diving exhibitions, the tubes sit in deepest part of this small body of water. And no muskrat will jeopardize his cheap heat!

           Tired of paying ever-rising prices to heat his home, Dad researched the best alternatives out there, did all the labor he could on his own, and convinced me and my husband to invest in our own system as well. It’s estimated that three million homes across the United States are now heated and cooled with geothermal energy.

          No muskrat has tried to build its life on my pond — yet, but when one does, I think I have muskrat watch down pat.

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