It’s going to be awhile before we start on the southern koi pond

Managing 40 acres is a marathon. Friends have been asking when is the next koi pond getting built and I’m not planning to break ground until next year. This month we were able to spend about ten days working for the company and working on the farm. Working remotely has not been a smooth transition. Our WiFi hotspot is sadly lacking even though the cell tower is less than a mile away. We are counting the days until the fiber optic line is laid down (90 to 100 days according to the site inspector. If we are lucky enough to get some department of transportation permits approved quickly, maybe 45 days). Our goal in August was to beat back some of the undergrowth.
One of the first things we noticed was that a few trees / large branches had fallen while we were away. There are numerous trees that have fallen over the years and are now balanced somewhat dangerously. We will most likely need to have a logging team come out to take care of some projects. I’m looking forward to the day that we can walk around in a cleared forest area safely. There are some old paths to be revived. We also plan to work with a forestry consultant to see if there are any trees that can be sold.
I spent a few hours one morning cutting branches and the pond builder repaired a pothole on the road heading to our house. Turns out that we actually own and need to maintain the road to our property. There are two other families that have an easement but have some difficulty helping due to age and health. We are adding to our list of things to schedule – have some gravel brought in by the truck to keep up our roads. The utility vehicle is old but serviceable. We will need to purchase a newer version soon. (Living on the farm is like a money pit – almost as much as keeping koi.)
The pond builder has been enjoying his new Stihl equipment. Just like building a koi pond, every task is easier if you are using the right tools.
We also opted for a new wood chipper. Not sure if this is a keeper. It does chew up 4 inch diameter wood pieces but the thinner, green parts tend to wrap themselves up within the blades. Maybe we need to take the time to ‘prepare’ the pieces to be chipped. That seems to defeat the purpose of getting work done quickly. If we can figure out how to manage this wood chipper, I will save on the truckloads of mulch that need to be brought in around the house…
Then there’s the grass. Lots of it. My son, Matt, came out for a few days to help us on the farm. Unbelievably helpful to have extra hands out here. Matt took to driving the Ferris zero turn mower quite easily. A few days later it was my turn to mow and my learning curve was a lot slower. Happy to report that I am now relatively proficient on a commercial mower. It’s actually kind of nice to cruise around on the mower.
Matt was also our barn wasp killer. He went through a lot of cans of wasp killer. Luckily no one has been stung. The barn and porches attract a lot of wasps. We dropped about a dozen nests around the house in July and this month, Matt took out a lot of nests in the barn. I will need to select porch furniture carefully so that visitors will not be sitting on wasp nests.
Wasp heaven
The large farm tools have been in the former owner’s family for over 100 years. It was fun to gather up some of the items laying around the barn and adding them to the front facade. There are a few horseshoes, bits, spur, etc.
Inside the barn, we got rid of some bird nests, a home for a mouse and lots of random stuff. The good snakes live in the barn and you can find occasional shedded skins.
We found this jawbone in the woods and added it to the barn. I think by size it belongs to a coyote. I’m hoping we don’t have coyote on our property. I’m sure my koi will not like these visitors.
We do have turkeys, a little scrawnier than our turkeys in Little Siberia.
And we have small deer…These animals don’t have to deal with our Minnesota winter weather so they just don’t get as large as the ones up north. This rule generally applies to mammals. My koi should have the opposite track and grow bigger given the longer warm weather period in North Carolina.
To round out our experience with nature – we had an encounter with a black widow. There was a deck box for UPS/FEDEX/USPS to drop off packages if the property gate was closed. I opened the box one afternoon and immediately saw the red markings on a very fat, glossy black spider. The pond builder went back later and sprayed the inside of the box with wasp killer. The next day, we saw the web had been remade so we carefully flipped the box over. Voila – Ms. Black Widow. After the photo op, she and a companion black widow were dispatched with a stick.
I was hoping to plant something in my fenced garden on this visit. Upon close inspection, the old chicken coop has a lot of weeds. Matt spent some time clearing and removing an old chicken coop. It will need more work getting the grasses/weeds out, roto-tilling, etc. (I’m hoping he will come back soon to finish.) Most likely a spring project to have some plants go into the garden. It’s not too far from the barn water spigot but it seems to rain a little bit every day. Growing vegetables without regular watering might be possible out here.
We found the molasses cooker / old picnic area. The pond builder cleared an old path to this area. Maybe the original farmer families had canes planted. The process reminds me of making maple syrup – cooking buckets of sap to get an 8 ounce bottle.
The couple who sold us the property did some research and left a lot of the older stuff. This pile of bricks comes from the original well that serviced the old farmhouse. Sounds pretty dangerous to line a well with bricks…
This small rectangle of rocks is part of the original farmhouse that stood where our current home is now. The weeds have overtaken the garden but I’m sure a few hours can get this back in shape. The old farmhouse had been abandoned for decades and covered with wisteria when the previous owners bought the property. There is one little wisteria plant left near a tree that has not thrived over the last ten years. I hope to move it to a sunnier spot and see if it turns into something interesting.
The weeding chore along the south side is pretty high on my September list. I plan to make this area a little more asian feeling. There are two rainfall pond gardens and a lovely Japanese maple. Maybe something that is more rock and pattern than plants (this is the septic field side of the house so we’re limited on the types of plants to put in.) It will be a good tie in to the new koi pond area which will be in front of the house.
Our next koi pond will be going in front of the house. Actually the next koi pond will be in the garage but there is a shortage of above ground pools because of COVID stay at home projects. Anyways, we anticipate a large rectangular pond with some type of waterfall on the western side of the house. Every morning it’s a lovely view to come out on the porch and see the field of hay. It will be even better when I can hear the sound of water and see the pretty koi swimming around. We’ll have to think about the best way to integrate a pond into the scenery. Making sure the pond equipment is protected and camouflaged is important. I can’t wait to get the koi to North Carolina.