The pond builder is exhausted. This weekend he toiled under the hot sun around the lower pond. I can hear the local fireworks outside, but the pond builder is falling asleep. You might be wondering why we’re working outside all the time but it really is our hobby. We enjoy puttering around the yard and I’m always amazed at the scenery I enjoy outside my back door. There are always songbirds in the yard, dragonflies, hummingbirds and the varied shades of green plants punctuated by an occasional hot pink, purple, yellow or white flower. Lots of Minnesotans go to cabins on lakes a few hours away but I can visit my little vacation spot all year. So it’s not all work. Over the weekend I played with my new net from Southwest Koi. Mike Weynschenck is really a great guy and talked to the pond digger about this larger net. We have a net that is 30″ in diameter but this 40″ net makes catching koi a breeze. I like to catch the koi every now and then to measure their length, take a photo or sometimes we need to move them. Using my net, I was able to quickly catch the little goshikis when my friend came over to pick up his goshiki. We have all put down $20 to see who can put on the most length on their koi by the end of September. I’ve been learning a lot of new tips on what people do to get their koi ready for shows and different ways to feed for particular results. My two growout partners are passing along knowledge shortcuts that I might not have heard of for years! After playing with the koi, I worked on moving around rocks and adding Irish moss to the steps. Irish moss is nice for some color and is less slippery. The large river rocks embedded in pea gravel looked nice but if you weren’t careful, you could slip a little bit on the loose gravel. I did leave some pea gravel mixed in with the Irish moss and added some glow in the dark pebbles. The photo-luminescent pebble aggregate give a faint blue-ish glow to the steps when it’s dark. I don’t think it will really help that much but if you happen to be walking on the steps at night, it might be useful. My other moss project has been going very well. The rocks along the waterfall have nice clumps of moss growing on them that come back after each winter. Every year I do end up transplanting some moss from other parts of the garden to add to the current moss. I love moving moss around to different parts of the yard since they add some instant age to any landscape. I haven’t been too successful applying moss to my statuary but maybe I’ll give it a try again this year. There is a Facebook page Old Moss Woman’s Secret Garden that has some beautiful photos of mossy gardens and creative gardening. I find a lot of interesting things that I can occasionally apply to my own garden. I also repaired the area where the pond digger buried the fill line. He does a good job of getting a lot of things under ground so that we don’t have to look at them. There is a black power line in the photo that should go underground some day. Here is some more of the underground work the pond builder has been doing. He has been redoing the drainage around the lower pond and is thinking about putting in a drain around the pond. This may or may not happen. The major pond improvement project this weekend was to redo the wood trim of the pond. The pond builder purchased and stained some beautiful cedar for the top. I had planned on putting yakisugi (charred wood) on the side of the pond but it takes about 8 weeks after you order and it’s very expensive. So we decided to go for a temporary fix of pressure treated wood. We may end up never getting the yakisugi depending on how this siding works. So we started this project by taking off the temporary fix that was put on in June. We spaced small pieces of 2×4 around the pond for the boards to sit upon. The pond top is set higher to accommodate the scupper and net hooks. The pieces were needed to support the few inches of wood overhang. I think the koi enjoy the little inch or two of overhang – not quite a hiding space but enough to feel comfortable. Cutting the top panels was very tedious but the cost of the cedar boards dictated measuring a few times before cutting to ensure you get it right. The wood can be a little difficult – it will warp easily in the humidity and will warp even if it’s not laying on a flat surface waiting to be used. The sideboards needed support so the pond digger mixed up a some more concrete to support the boards. I’m sure we will not see any boards falling off! Finally, he did a few passes of stain to see what the pond might look like. We’ll be staining the thin line on top and the sides a few more times to get a nice dark coating. Aside from the pond, we always have our usual farm duties. The hens are quite large now and not a single egg has been laid. Maybe next week… They are also true “chickens” – they are scared to leave the coop. They will stick their heads out but are unwillingly to strike out to the grass. When placed outside of the coop, they run right back in – these are the dumbest pair of hens. I’ve moved the grapes to a new spot in the garden (they used to be near the lower pond equipment). I’m not sure if this is the best spot for them but we can always move them. I’m hoping to train them into a little fence in this spot. Maybe they’ll keep out the crabgrass that my neighbor has growing all over her yard and into my yard. I have fewer raspberry canes this year since half of them were smashed by our old shed demolition project last summer and I had to transplant all the canes that survived. Some of the canes did not make it through the winter so I’m left with only about 6 plants. Raspberries grow pretty much like weeds so I’m sure that next summer I’ll have double the canes. I found some new supports at the local garden store that will make it easier for me to net the canes (at least I think so…) Another busy weekend in Minnesota!