Mountain View Koi Club
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President's Message

Splash from Toad Mountain Park

By Verne Gilkes
October 2014

Early Thursday morning, October 2, 2014 the sun had not risen as yet, Verne Gilkes and Leigh Mode head out for their annual trip to the Quality Koi Harvest in Carneys Point New Jersey. They cross the border at Hill Island without incident and head south on highway 81 and enter into a corridor of splendid colours as the trees on the hills of the Appalachian Mountains have just started to dawn their autumn colours. What a beautiful setting as they head south to harvest the koi of many colours similar to the hills they are driving past.

Arriving in mid afternoon they are met by Matt and Jennifer and Bri and Shawna the summer employees. It is obvious they have been busy already harvesting some ponds as there are several tanks with koi showing off their colours. As acquaintances are renewed more friends appear, Mike Frady a harvest buddy from the past. Mike is excited about his new collection and is very enthusiastic about how he is involved with it, it is not another koi he has bought, he is now a "bee keeper" and is en route to check out his hives located nearby.

Mr. And Mrs McCann, Matt's mom and Dad arrive at the farm and Verne introduces himself as he recognizes Tony from photographs and, they have corresponded via email with regards to trips to Japan. Tony and Susan are vacationing at the farm from Manchester England and over the next few days it is quite evident that he is the official koi photographer. Verne and Tony have many chats as they are both presidents of their respective Koi Clubs and Verne can learn a lot from Tony and his experience.

The first day quickly draws to a close and Verne and Leigh head for their Motel and get ready for the next day's harvest which will be the front pond, all the ponds are ether named or numbered for example the tear drop pond or the long pond etc. Applebee's for supper and an early night as it has been a long day, a quick reminisce about their annual friends and lights out.

The second day of the harvest starts early and the weather appears to be good for the front pond. Everyone suits up and Verne hears Leigh say well Hi; fancy seeing you here, Verne looks up and sees Bill Bodnarok and his son Jeff, Bill is a member of Verne and Leigh's Koi Club the Mountain View Koi Club from Vankleek Hill, Ontario Canada, what a surprise to see another Club member come to the Harvest. Koi, because of their beauty and gentleness attract friends from all over the country. The pond is seined, moving the koi to the shallow end where Bri and Verne bag the Koi and hand them off to Shawna who moves them forward to Leigh and Dave who puts them in the first tank to be examined by Matt.

The koi are all measured and photographed and at this time it is evident they missed one koi who managed to jump over the net as it was being dragged along. Saturday morning told another story, there was a second koi left in the pond which was still sitting in the mud as the morning dawned, it was quickly recued and taken to a pond with the rest of his pond buddies. We have to go back a bit there was also in this pond a huge black water snake, it must have been 12 feet long, well in the eye of the beholder it was 12 feet, however it was only 3 feet, Brianna very bravely trapped it with a net and handed it off to Dave who relocated it to another pond.

Saturday morning dawned with heavy clouds and showers on and off. 10 a.m., time to pull the ``Long Pond`` the sun came out and it was a beautiful day to harvest koi. This pond was certainly apply named it seemed to go on forever. On this day Bill had his hands on the net and feet in the water as the koi were corralled to the shallow end of the pond where they were bagged and placed in the transport tank. Fifty some koi came out of the long pond, here we seen some of the most beautiful Gosanke koi ever, Matt should be very proud of his breeding skills matching the koi couples that he has done. These were two and three year old koi some owned by customers and some that were for sale. As the koi came out of the muddy water you could hear the delight of some of the owners as they saw how well their koi had grown over the summer months in the luxury of the clay mud. Why do you think people use mud packs, just ask a koi and they will tell you?

For a koi keeper experiencing a koi harvest is probably one of the most exciting things you will ever do, to see the koi coming out of the mud ponds is amazing. The growth and colour change is very unbelievable, only those that have been there will know what is being talked about. If you are a koi keeper it is an experience you should do at least once in your time of having koi.

Back at the Greenhouse the koi are separated into sold and not sold tanks. Here is where the knowledge of Matt really shows up, as he handles the koi he will talk about the growth as well as the colour development and what makes a better koi from the next. He gently bends the koi to see how many layers of paint the koi has been given; this will give you an idea how deep the colour is. If you see a yellowish colour under the scale you know it will fade somewhere down the road. The width of the head the length of the tail stock, size of the pectoral fins, all these mean something to Matt and he will tell you what it is. The learning process at this time is ongoing no matter how experienced you are as a koi keeper.

Sunday morning dawns with cooler temperatures but clearing skies, the last day at the harvest for the northerners. This morning the tear drop pond containing the 3 and 4 year old koi will be seined. Now this pond may be called a tear drop, it is certainly not indicative of the size, it is huge almost acre in size and requires six to seven people to drag the net, once the koi are all corralled at the shallow end they are bagged and these koi require two people to carry them to the transport tank. They are around 26- 28 inches in length, absolutely beautiful show koi that any koi keeper would be proud to own.

Well it is time to head back north again, but not without mentioning the koi friends that we make and keep. Mr McCann imparted some of his knowledge, if you like the koi and it is healthy, it doesn't have to be a show winner if you like it will be a winner in your pond. Jon and Terry, their koi cards are the way to go, always willing to talk about koi and their hobby. Kevin and Corin always bubbly and Corin always has a treat for the lunch, and speaking of treats Joyce always has a morning coffee treat. It was Verne's pleasure this year to meet Jo Mead the new president of the Mid Atlantic Koi Club. Surprising enough she doesn't have koi or even a pond however she has a good knowledge of koi and how to keep them healthy, she is very pro active and has a strong feeling for the MAKC and with some support she will revive the MAKC to what it was 10 years ago. The Club Vice President was also at the harvest and shares Jo's enthusiasm. Seeing Barry Hixon at the harvest brought back some good memories of his help when there was a border crossing difficulty.

As the travellers head back north it is sort of quiet in the truck as there are no koi on board, however that is not to say that there will not be any coming later, Leigh participated in a silent auction and finally won one of the group of twelve. Verne spotted a Tancho Showa that he liked and should know in a short while if it will become a Canadian resident. Yes another great experience at the Koi Harvest on the Quality Koi Farm in Carneys Point New Jersey, everyone should experience this once in their life as a KOI KEEPER.