As I pushed the shovel to the ground in an attempt to further deepen the mud pond, I asked myself again if it can be done.
Not counting all the other mud ponds I once had, and after the purchase, it has been six months since me and my farm hand have been toiling particularly on this little piece of land that made up this little Koi farm I named La Razo. It has always been like this, resorting to doing manual labor even though we’ve had ideas that could have made the job faster and easier. Needless to say, since the beginning we never made excuses but dealt with the hand we were given and stubbornly forged on towards making some modest dream a reality, one snail-pace step at a time.
Thinking of simultaneously doing farm development and farm production I can say that despite every challenge thrown at us along the way, we already had a few harvests and was fortunate enough to select what we thought are decent tategois.
I am not koi savvy at all. However, even though we have limited knowledge on this field of koi breeding, koi culling, mud pond management, all the problems we’ve had that led to enormous losses gave me valuable lessons to learn from. It gave us information that only those who go into koi breeding, cull koi frys and manage a mud pond will ever experience and learn firsthand. It is hard to go into details but it made me aware of the important things about mud ponds and myths.
I am not sure but maybe, just like anyone who’ll go into this hobby and feel like a kid again each time a topic of koi comes up, that immaturity led me to read and read about things NishigiKoi.
I cannot say that it was the best way to learn about koi, but it did conveniently give us references after references. I also developed this habit of saving every high quality pictures of koi being posted on the web as well as saving each picture of selected fishes fresh from culling from the famous bloodlines. It is safe to say that tategoi selection wise, we are using any information we can get that we believe we can possibly use now or along the way as we thread in this endeavor. Always using whatever we thought useful to us and as early as now despite blurry, it somehow gave us ideas about what our last harvest would be.
Looking back since I took this hobby seriously, all I can see are mistakes after mistakes. I can say that as much as I like learning that way, I am also overwhelmed sometimes thinking of the time that needed to be spent just to realize future targets we set for ourselves. Plus, it is also quite scary to think the money spent already and the money that we have yet to spend just to end up with one high quality fish if we are lucky. Simply put, being a Koi farmer is not easy.
If you are trying to have a partner in this business, make sure that you have some sort MOA signed by an attorney just so to protect yourselves from yourselves because koi breeding and koi keeping that aims for best results involves money, lots of it. So that when sometimes the partnership won’t work at all, all of you have some signed agreement or document to fall on.
I had one bad experience when a certain municipal councilor approached me and proposed a partnership. Naïve as I was, I jumped into the idea spending a few thousand cleaning and fencing the mud ponds in his own lot only to be told a few weeks later of the budding partnership that he cannot do further because of so many lame excuses. Later, I figured that the real reason was that the dream was just to big enough for him. Needless to say no matter how disappointed I was trusting someone so easily, the experience pointed me in a direction of buying my lot that is now La Razo.
I’ve fired farm hands for stupidly harvesting the ponds on their own without me telling them simply because they thought it was the best idea.
There was also this time after making a low dike on my first mud pond, I then proceeded to put my 1 month-old koi fry in the still shallow pond only to be feasted on by the birds. It did not stop from there as a few weeks after that, I put in a new Sanke Koi fry only to be almost obliterated by the few Kohaku fishes that survived and were big enough to feed on it. Luckily enough, of those debacles I ended up keeping two 5-month-old tategoi that measures 13 inches now.
It is fair to say that we’ve had our share of challenges shoved down are throats already and maybe a few more along the way.
Another thing also that I learned is that when someone will try to get their hands dirty in koi breeding, one has to inevitably also embrace the business side of it. Simply because as much as you hate or have no idea in selling koi fishes, one has to also understand that growing also in this hobby will mean more and more fishes.
We’ve figured that we are having more and more fishes than we can ever take care of. We’ve figured that no matter how grand a champion is your koi Oyagoi is (We do not have a koi show Grand Champion yet… hehehe), not all of its offspring are the fishes you would like to keep and develop. We’ve figured that there is just no use debating the difference between a koi hobbyist who only collects and a koi hobbyist who collects and sell koi fishes. We’ve come to understand that the one who grows into the path of doing koi business is only sufficiently nurturing in a different way what both have in common in the first place, the hobby itself.
So many things happened already since I started breeding koi and a year removed from deciding to grow in the hobby further.
So far, we have what we think are decent tategoi as results while also acknowledging that not all will be impressed by it as each hobbyist has its own belief and standards based on knowledge and preference of the hobby.
We are far from satisfied from our results and modesty aside we have big goals that can be achieved if not sooner, maybe later.
We are not planning to produce “Island-born,” fishes because we totally hated that term as we thought it is a diss to all Koi breeders outside Japan. I am not sure but the connotation that term brings feels like it meant less. As naive as it may sound we are going to produce La Razo koi using established koi bloodlines.
While we learn not to divulge the idea (it is really not that much.. hehehe) how to achieve it and no matter what others may say, what we are trying to do (we are certainly dreaming on this one now..) is produce koi that will at least match quality wise to those imported koi fishes that are quite expensive and wishfully thinking of winning a few koi show awards using our own fishes from our breeding.
It is really a big task that needed lots of sacrifices, constant learning, “gut feel,” patience, and lots and lots of time and no matter what will go wrong along the way there is no giving up because the fun and happiness delving into this is just awesome and too addictive to let go of. Besides, all the moolah, time, effort and everything else we have given for it was just too big enough to fail already. So in any case we feel tired and lazy the worked we’ve put on already should motivate us more to keep going.
I know that we can only go as far as the budget and the time that would be spent on it does not make the wife angry. And then maybe soon, in a few years or so, if we are fortunate enough to be sprinkled with some dusts of luck our way, we will harvest our modest results.
Maybe, maybe, maybe soon, at La Razo. :)