Thursday, 27 June 2019

The keeper of Koi

Yesterday was bitter sweet. For 45 years we have had garden ponds and fish, and over this time both have grown bigger. And as much as we enjoy them, the keeper of the Kio decided it was time to say goodbye. The idea grew over a couple of years, when the fish outgrew the space and adding another pond only resulted in the fish quickly breeding. Not what we had planned.

Yes, we could have rehomed the bigger fish, but these are the ones we most enjoyed. Their stunning colours and way they came to the edge of the pond and ate out of our hand was all part of their appeal. Then there was the equipment. It's expensive to buy and some needed replacing. The pond itself also needed attention. The time had come....

Our first responsibility was making sure the fish were rehomed with care.  To buy Koi this size you would be looking at four figures but we wasn't worried about money. And so some smaller fish went to a friend and others are going to a care centre for adults with learning disabilities.  The problem was the Koi and some of the other big fish. Because of the need to quarantine there are restrictions, but my heart sang when I phoned a public garden and they were excited about the idea of homing them. They had a large deep natural pond that was not stocked, and there are plans to develop this area into a Japanese themed garden. The planting of maple trees has already started and introducing Koi into the pond was perfect.  It means that we can go and see the fish, and it is hugely comforting to know that they have the space they need and will be well cared for. In addition they will bring enjoyment to others who visit the Estate too. 

But first - catch your Koi!  This isn't as easy as it sounds and trying to catch the smaller fish had taught us new tactics were needed.  So this time we were better prepared. The keeper of the Koi first drained some of the water from the pond, and laid a large net across to reduce the area.

Then it was time to climb in.  

Luckily this worked better and we were as fast and gentle as possible catching the fish and getting them ready for transportation. We used large plastic bags designed for this purpose and floated the koi in the pond until we were ready to leave.

Each koi then fitted into a large Ikea bag which made it easier to carry them. It's a good thing I had a good supply of these and while they are multi functional around the home I never thought I'd be using them to carry koi!! 

After the drive to Marks Hall Estate, in Essex, we were shown the way to the pond using a private track.

I knew the pond from previous visits, it is secluded and a haven for dragon flies.

Then came the job of releasing the fish. Luckily Ian, one of the Estate team gave a hand.

We stayed to watch the fish settle and it was interesting to see how they behaved in this larger pond. We noticed they all formed groups, and these Koi followed each other in circles.

They also explored the edge of the pond, circumnavigating it several times.

As disappointing as it was to rehome the fish it was lovely to see them in this bigger natural space.  And we can visit when ever we choose. In fact there is a sculpture event planned in the coming weeks so it was already in my diary to go. 

Ian spoke about putting more water lilies into the pond.  The koi destroyed the ones in our pond but maybe these lilies will fare better with the extra space. Can you spot the dragon fly on this lily? I didn't realise it was there when I took the photo and we saw lots of different kinds while we were at the pond. Apparently a camera group often visit to photograph the dragon flies as they are especially attracted to this pond. I hope they will enjoy taking photos of the koi too.

This fallen tree trunk is cared into a dragon's head. It's somewhere to sit and it feels quite fitting in this Japanese themed garden.

So if you live in Essex or visit and go to Marks Hall Estate, do take time to wander over to the pond. You might see us there! 
A big thank you to Becky for her enthusiasm and help in arranging the rehoming. 

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