Between COVID cancellations moving and judging commitments, we have not shown our koi for awhile. This past weekend we took four of our koi to the ZNA Carolina Koi Show. It’s one of the koi clubs I belong to and so I was an exhibitor and show volunteer. Koi shows demand a lot of work behind the scenes and during the show. I did some website work, about ten minutes of benching and spent most of my time at the club table welcoming guests, answering questions, selling raffle tickets and club swag.
It was fairly easy to catch the koi in our garage pool and the koi were very docile. They have probably forgotten what the net was for. We made a substitution for one of the four koi because she had a red spot starting on a lower edge of her side. We did a little first first aid and we’ll plan to take her to another show later this year. It’s stressful on the koi to be transported to shows so the ones that travelled to Raleigh this past weekend will not go anywhere else this year. I’m hoping that the ones I plan to take to a show in September/October will fatten up in the outdoor pond this summer. Even the ones I took to this show could have used more weight.
The photos below show my pond builder bagging the koi, which gets placed in a cooler for transport. At the show, all the koi are “benched”, meaning they are registered into the show with size, classification and a photo.
While I’m busy at the club table, judging starts on Saturday morning. We had some rain roll through much of the day and they brought out some flashlights to examine some of the koi. From left to right — Jim Rothwell was the scribe for the judging team and his job was to get final rankings to the scorer. Jim is also entering the ZNA judging program as a student judge so it’s a learning opportunity as well. Michelle Gravenish was an honorary judge of this judging team. While she is not a ZNA judge, she is an AKJA judge. Larry Gill was the head judge for the team and the assistant judge was Garry Chinn. Then we have two ‘wranglers’, Bill Doyle and Mike Glefke. Wranglers are often part of the benching team before the show and during they show, their job is to get all the koi in position to be reviewed by the judging team. For smaller koi, they are bowling them by size in the tanks, for larger koi, they may be gently guiding the koi towards the judges or keeping other koi away within the vat.
Before judging started, I had the opportunity to walk through and look at all the koi entered into the show. Lots of nice koi and I was unsure how competitive my koi would be. So it was a really pleasant surprise to see that our kujaku (named Bourbon, reminds me of a fellow judge who had an outstanding kujaku…) won a major award. To date, this is the highest award we have received for our koi. My other koi did not merit any awards but you always learn something about your koi from the judging team (and the benching team). Two of my koi are male which means we will most likely rehome them. Males generally keep a slimmer build and they will not compete well. My larger kohaku has lovely skin and shiroji (white areas) but her beni (red) pattern is mostly on the top. Beni that wraps a little farther down on the sides of the koi is favored. It’s kind of like a woman who is wearing a skirt that it a little too short.
The koi show is supported by vendors who send in donations and also attend with equipment and koi to sell. We purchased a few tosai from PS Koi just because. Everyone who has been around in the hobby will say ‘don’t buy tosai’. It’s pretty much a gamble and many tosai never turn out to be a grand champion years down the road. However, I saw some really amazing and very large koi at the show from koi keeper Jason Yates who has grown little tosai to champion koi. It’s like my friends Steve and Sandy Zimmerman – they actually have two of my tosai and are babysitting until my pond is finished. Steve and Sandy know how to grow koi big and the two koi they are keeping for me are thriving and looking large. Anyways, back to the tosai – they’re fun, they’re cute, they always give you some hope – just like a lottery ticket. Not sure if any will be female koi. The small koi are always good as ‘canary koi’ and quarantine tank mates should you have a koi with a health issue. There’s always a lot to learn watching them grow as well.
Along with my fun pack of little tosai, we brought home the head judge, Larry Gill and a koi dealer, Taro Kodama. Too bad our pond wasn’t completed to show them but we love having people stop by the farm. I make everyone take a picture in front of the barn and someday I’ll make a giant collage, it’s like a visual guestbook. We had some expert opinions provided on some of our other koi and just had fun talking koi. We also enjoyed talking Army with Larry who is a Vietnam Veteran.
The concrete guy was here on Monday morning and has set the guide where the floor is going to be poured on Thursday. Of course the excavator is not available today so the pour date is now moving a few days. The excavator is needed for some additional digging of the 10×12 equipment house area. Might not have the pond concrete completed by Memorial Day…. The pond builder will be putting in the two rotary drum filters we have and hooking up two bottom drains and a skimmer to each. The redundant system will ensure that should we have a mechanical issue with one, the other can limp along until repairs are made. Lots of other decisions will be made in the next few weeks like landscaping around the pond, what will the filter house look like, will we build a pergola this year or next year… it never ends.
Our gas tank is near the pond so I am trying to grow some transplanted tall, ornamental grass around the tank. The grass in front of the house continues to thrive- the transplanted grass is taking, but slowly.
We really need a lot more rain. I have an area that I am turning back into forest and I planted a willow tree. We left for a few days and the temperatures were pretty hot and the poor thing looked a tad dead/dry when we came home. We gave it about 160 gallons of water over the next 8-10 days and it’s coming back.
My fruit trees that showed some promise earlier this year (see photo) below are now missing a lot of fruit. I think the deer and birds have found them, maybe we need to spray the trees, netting the trees might be helpful… Last night there was only one piece of fruit on this tree.
While I wait for my pond construction to progress and document plant success and failures… I have time to check out an item we won at the koi show banquet auction. This is a kuchi-e woodblock print by Yamanaka Kodo (1869-1945), published in 1901 in the literary magazine Bungei Kurabu vol 7 no 16. Kuchi-e are frontispiece illustrations used in the publication of Japanese novels and magazines around the turn of the 20th century. This frontispiece was for the novel “A Late Autumn Shower.” Koi show auctions are great places to find some unusual things that have no value to their donators. I do enjoy sleuthing around for information, particularly when the back labels are wrong 😂. If you come across a kuchi-e print, they are fragile, usually have two creases since they were folded into books and will fetch $250 to $600 depending on subject and quality.
Hope the next time I post, I’ll be able to share a photo of something that looks like a pond!