The last roll of the dice came in , and it's a double 6 !

We’re in the middle of the busiest period on the project so far this year, and I think we have a few more weeks like that until things finally calm down. Must admit, it’s been a bit much. I’ve been prioritising hard and settling for not being able to do everything I’d like at the time that would be optimal. Frankly, even as a short term flurry, it’s taken up more time than I am happy spending on the hobby.

Part of the work load is due to the late season big success. And, that’s nothing to complain about. In fact, it’s brilliant !!! But for next year, we will have to work out how to find further efficiencies in the process or cut back on the number of spawnings. It’s a frustrating compromise, but there is only so much time available, and that is that.

Last weekend we started harvesting the fry ponds. We completed harvesting the bottom pond, and are about half way through the top pond. Judging by eye, we’ve harvested more fry from the August ‘16 #2 spawning than my previous best… and we still have more to pull out from the top pond. I forecast the number of fry we’ll end up with will be in the range of 30k to 50k. That’s still a long way short of the 100k target, but at least it demonstrates enough progress to give me the sense that I am on track for my 10 year target. I must get to grips with getting larger quantities of fry to first selection… and achieve that consistently. We’ve made a huge leap forwards this year on that point, but it’s still not where I want it to be, and its just not yet good enough for me to achieve my long term project aims.

Here are some pics from the harvest:

With so many fry in the bottom pond, for the first sweep we just netted around a third of the pond, And this is what we hauled up

The top pond was covered in duck week - despite Amanda spending around 10 hours clearing it over the last few weeks. It held up proceedings, but we did manage to harvest around half the pond and we cleared most of the duck weed

And here are the results!

Cage net 1 - the results from the first seine net on the bottom pond

Cage net 2 - the results from passes 2 and 3 with the net on the bottom pond

Cage net 3 - the results from the partially harvested top pond

The parent set behind the August ’16 #2 spawning is the same one that produced my baby champs from the last 2 years. And having such a large harvest from the same parent set bodes well in terms of rearing some kohaku’s with show potential for 2017. With the spawning being so late in the season, we may run out of time to grow the best ones large enough to challenge in size 2 next June.

It does however present a mammoth first selection challenge…. Up to now, I’ve taken on all the selection activity. But with such volume to go through, I’ll need a hand. So Amanda and I have put the weekend after the All England show aside for selections. The kids are staying with family, to leave the weekend clear for us to work through it.

It’s the All England show this weekend, and that’s always one of my favourite koi events on the calendar. I’ll be exhibiting some of my home breds like last year. No expectations of any awards, but you never know – and as the saying goes, … if you’re not in it… you can’t win it. One day I will win some prizes at that show, but for now, my expectations are simply to show off what I’ve achieved. I’ll probably be taking one koi from 2014 spawnings, and a few from last year’s spawnings to give me perhaps 4 entries, spanning sizes 1 to 4. The largest one might be in size 5.

I also have a range of niggling tasks hanging over me like:

- Harvest and first selection of around 500 to 1000 fry from the spawning of my new 3 step kohaku. These are the hatchlings we salvaged from the eggs that were decimated by fungus. Not overly impressed by the ratio of fish with patterns that we see when the fish come up to feed, but we’ll only know for sure once I’ve seen them up close in selection conditions. Current thinking is – we’ll be trying a different set of males with this female next year.

- We’re about half way through growing on inside the fry from the August ’16 #1 spawning. There are quite a few thousand fry remaining, and they’re doing ok… if growing only slowly. Cage nets need cleaning, and the fish need moving into a fresh cage net… We’ll start losing some if I don’t get on with this. In one sense, I don’t have time to bring this batch on. but there’s great value in seeing the keeper ratio at first selection ..

- I also have the nissai selection to perform; around 15 or so have been growing on in the females tank, and I must go though those, work out which ones to grow on further, which to take to the show this weekend and then the rest will have to be sold. I haven’t been heating the tanks this year and it will be interesting to measure a few of the nissai to see how they’ve got on despite not always having the right temperature. I’ll get a measurement when some go to the All England show this weekend.

And, we’ve run out of space in the polytunnel… .. The QT is up and running, and I have a few koi in there from last weekends shopping trip to Yume J … top ups for next year’s breeding efforts. And, I’ll use that tank to quarantine the return of the fish I take to the show this weekend. We’ve had a much better run through the summer by protecting our tanks from fish movements as far as possible. And the QT is proving invaluable….