Non-Koi-Related Rants / Blog
There have been many times that I needed and wanted to complain about something in a very public way, to let the world know of some injustice. Be real, we all have had things happen in our lives that were just plain wrong or unjust, and we all wanted an ear at times to help release our frustrations, and/or to let the rest of the world know about the people or businesses that created or caused the problem. I am sure you have all had these types of experiences, and you may just enjoy this page of my site. On the other hand, you may end up thinking that I am just a whiner and chronic complainer, because this part of my website will be full of primarily complaints for the most part. There may be an occasion that I write something here that is good and will want to share those things as well, but the primary reason for this blog is for me to vent in a very public way! This is probably a character flaw of some sort I am sure, but for those of you that truly know me.....simply add it to that long list. Heck, there may even be the occasional Koi related issue here!
All of you that do know me, know that my life is an open book for the most part. Seems like I am always telling my customers my whole life story....even new customers at times! Some may think I am nuts, but for the most part I have found that most people enjoy and embrace my candor and honesty. For those new customers that do not know me well, I would hope that you get to know me before judging me or what I write here. For the most part I have found that most people enjoy and even appreciate my candor and openness in person to person meetings, but I am not sure that will fly in writing on my website. I guess time will tell?
Recently there have been many things, (seems like one after the other) that have happened to me that I feel were just plain wrong! In my frustration, and even anger at times I admit, I was trying to think of some way to let everyone out there know about some of the unjust things that can occur to all of us.This in an attempt to warn everyone so they do not have the same bad experiences, as well as me attempting to feel some sort of retribution in the matter by letting the world know. Things like businesses that I feel are crooked, scammers, poorly run, overcharging, etc. as well as some personal thing that may have occurred because of some individual or circumstance. Everything I write here of course will strictly be nothing more then my personal opinion, and with that you can judge as you deem warranted. You know what they say about opinions: They are just like a$%holes....everyone has one! and mine is no better I suppose.
I run my life and my business based on some very simple morals. Treat people as I would want to be treated. That is fairly, honestly, ethically, friendly, and with good intentions. For me personally, I add bluntly to this list, but I do know that this is considered harsh by some. I simply do not know any other way then to come right out with it. Of course, even I attempt diplomacy at times, but with some things there is simply no correct way to say something other then straight up and to the point.
Chris will also be posting his thoughts, whining, and rage here as well.
So if you are bored to death, or simply tired of feeding the animated fish on my home page, I hope all of you enjoy reading this blog. Feel free as well to laugh at some of the predicaments I get myself into! Hopefully I won't end up in too many lawsuits over this blog either!
Table of Contents: Click one of the Titles below to go to that rant/blog post!
How to Cook with a Chiminea (Clay fireplace)
Few backyard activities are as primal or satisfying as building and tending an open fire. The smells, light, and warmth make us feel strangely alive and remind us of our wild roots in nature.
Fire pits of all kinds are a great way to enjoy all the sensations of a campfire in a clean, controlled, and safe way. In my opinion, a clay chimenea is the ultimate in fire pits! These thick stoneware fireplaces shelter the flame from all sides and funnel smoke up the stack and away from the audience. Unlike the cheap metal pieces you get at Home Depot (the ones that get red hot and even melt with any decent flame inside), a real clay Chim is thick enough to work around and handle safely even with a roaring fire inside. Hanover Koi Farms will have these magnificent Clay Chims in stock this season in 3 different sizes…..just saying….you should buy one from us….
You need to set up your Chim, of any size, in an open area with a clear line to the open sky: no overhanging roofs or trees.
Make sure wherever you decide to plant it is stable enough to support the weight of the chim, even loaded with sand and wood (we’ll get to that). Note: when using a metal stand for your chim, the area under the base does not necessarily have to be heat-proof (ie cement or stone), but should be non-flammable.
Don’t add too much wood at once!
I wrapped my potatoes in a double layer of heavy foil (one layer will just burn right through) and buried them in the hot coals. I kept it simple, but feel free to add onions, peppers, butter, or olive oil inside the foil with the ‘taters.
It’s a thing of beauty! Maybe not the classiest of meals, but it's hard to beat on a cold day.
Chimineas are great for cooking and all around outdoor enjoyment year-round.
Written by Chris O'Brien, Copyright Hanover Koi Farms 2017
Amazon Sucks! (And will cost the consumer in the end)
Many people now go to Amazon.com when purchasing ANYTHING nowadays it seems. Why not, you can surely find the best deals on many things there. Or can you? Basically put, Amazon.com has become an e-commerce monopoly, and as with all monopolies they are completely exploiting and abusing the retail world as well as the buying public, to fuel their evil greediness! Read the facts below and you will quickly see how they take complete advantage of any business that wants to sell on their marketplace. They will destroy any small business in the end as well, as they cannot absorb this abuse like the big lot stores. In the end this monopoly will destroy the ecommerce world, and/or the consumer will end up suffering for it. So if you think you are saving money there now, just wait for it. In the end you the consumer WILL end up paying for how Amazon abuses their power. The money squeezed out of the sellers there will eventually be passed onto the consumer.
As many of you know, Amazon.com is the leading internet retailer worldwide, and had $107 billion in net sales in 2015. They’re touted as the leader in e-commerce, e-retail, and the premiere internet marketplace. Who wouldn’t want a piece of that, right? This is what I thought 2 months ago when we signed up for a professional seller account for HKF. Since then, dealing with this site and everyone associated with it has been nothing but a hellacious nightmare. Let me walk you through why Amazon is a huge scam for sellers and buyers alike.
The first problem is that Amazon is a seller on the Amazon marketplace!!! That’s right, unlike Ebay, they list and sell stuff on their own site. Not only do they dictate how everything on Amazon.com is bought and sold, they’re also selling stuff themselves! So of course they warp the entire system to give them an advantage and help THEM sell the most. Products sold by Amazon itself (not an independent seller on Amazon) get priority over those sold by EVERY OTHER VENDOR selling on Amazon: Their products appear highest in buyer search results, and they are always the first vendor in line to get the sale when a buyer purchases a product, EVEN IF THEY DON’T OFFER THE LOWEST PRICE FOR AN ITEM. So buyers are getting screwed because Amazon is trying to force them to pay more by buying from them, and sellers are getting screwed because Amazon has unique advantages that can’t be competed with. For sellers like me, who are paying $40/month just to list our items for sale on Amazon, it’s a kick in the teeth knowing that, even if I offer the best price, shipping, and customer support, I’ll still never be able to sell more than my competitor: Amazon itself.
Nothing about selling on Amazon is user friendly. This wouldn’t be so bad if you had decent customer support, right? Well Amazon’s seller support is a complete joke. It’d almost be funny if they weren’t playing around with YOUR MONEY. I logged half a dozen complaints about problems with the selling programing. I reported the first problem (I couldn’t change the price of shipping on some items I was selling) on October 1. It’ currently November 30, and Amazon still hasn’t fixed the problem. The same is true of all the other problems I’ve reported to them. They either never address the problem, or when they do provide a solution (which is rare) it doesn’t work. I’ve communicated with Amazon “seller support” through email, phone, and online chat. None of the representatives spoke English well, and most of them couldn’t answer the simplest questions about Amazon. You can never reach the same representative twice, and most of the time they have no idea which seller they’re talking to, let alone what problem they’re addressing (During one email conversation, the Amazon rep called me a different name in each email: Chris, John, David, and Robert [who are David and Robert]). There are no managers or higher-ups to speak to speak to so if you have a problem with using Amazon.com you’re better off googling it than asking an Amazon Rep (because they’re just going to google it anyway: we caught a rep doing this during a phone call once).
Finally, the seller fees charged by Amazon are ridiculous. For every item you sell, Amazon takes at least %15 of the selling price as part of their fees. This is IN ADDITION to the $40 monthly subscription fee for professional sellers. This makes it even harder to compete with Amazon (which, remember, is selling stuff right alongside you) and turn any kind of profit. But it’ll be ok as long as your making sales, right? Wrong. Even if you manage to beat out Amazon on their own marketplace (which is unlikely), you don’t get paid until well after you ship the item. That’s right: Amazon holds your earnings until 10 days after the item you’ve sold is supposed to ARRIVE to the customer. So, after paying your monthly seller fees, you make a sale! Then you lose at least %15 of that sale to Amazon right off the bat. Then you have to ship your item to the customer (you have to mail out a product BEFORE Amazon pays you for it). Then you wait until 10 days after the latest calculated delivery date. During all this, if you have more monthly seller fees due, Amazon will kindly automatically deduct these off your profit from this sale. Then, generally about 60 DAYS later, you get paid whatever’s left. So basically, Amazon is like a deadbeat roommate: they’ll pay you the money they owe you but only some of it, and only when they feel like it. So sellers are getting screwed, but what does this have to do with the majority of Amazon users who are strictly buyers? Well, when the sellers are hit with these crazy fees, they have no choice but to cover their costs. How do they do that? They have no choice but to raise their prices. Amazon has just forced them to pass on the cost of all the fees to the buyer. Amazon squeezes profit out of the sellers who then have no choice but to squeeze what little they can out of the customer. So in the end, Amazon is NOT saving the buyer any money: their policies are COSTING the buyer more. This is sure to get worse as more Amazon sellers figure out that they can’t stay in business without raising their prices to cover themselves. So even if Amazon’s prices appear cheap now, I can guarantee they will NOT stay that way.
Let’s review: the website itself barely functions, sellers are pegged against Amazon (who makes and breaks all their own rules), customer support is useless, and Amazon will siphon off your earnings through the whole drawn-out selling process. Needless to say, we’ve made the executive decision to withdraw all our items from Amazon, close our Amazon account, and spit on Amazon’s shoes on our way out the door. If you are a small business, or anyone looking to make an honest dollar selling products in a competitive marketplace, DO NOT sell on Amazon. You’ll save yourself time, sleep, headaches, and a whole lot of money.
So here’s what I propose, on behalf of every small business owner trying to scrape out a living doing what they love and doing it honestly and competitively: Don’t give Amazon your money. Don’t buy FROM Amazon and don’t buy ON Amazon (because no matter who you buy from, Amazon’s the only one making money). They don’t deserve it. Show them that Americans still care about business ethics and that these marketplace monopolies that extort both buyers and sellers are NOT going to be accepted.
Instead, buy directly from the seller. If you find a vendor you like on Amazon, look for them outside Amazon (they’re sure to be somewhere else on the web). That way you both dodge Amazon’s BS, and you’ll actually be supporting the (often small) businesses you’re buying from, away from the draining fees Amazon marketplace. It’s no different than choosing a Mom & Pop produce store over your “local” Super Walmart. Take your money where people still care about you as a customer, not just a source of their $107 billion in yearly earnings.
Thanks for listening, guys
-Chris & John
Hanover Koi Farms
Credit Card Companies & Banks SUCK!!
We all know most of the ridiculous and sometimes fraudulent things that banks and credit card companies do and advertise, so i won't go into those details. However you may not be aware of their latest form of scamming us and misleading advertising.
I am sure you have seen all those bank and credit card commercials that have been advertising how they and their cards will give you a percentage of "rewards" "cash back" etc. on every purchase when you use their cards. Well guess what? Again they are criminally misleading us. While it is true you will get these incentives, the lies come from whom actually gives them to you!
As most of you are aware, I am a seasonal business. In the winter sales are slow. One particular month this winter I had only one credit card sale. However it was for $6800.00. When i got my statement from my credit card processing company, I saw the normal percentage that they take out of every sale for this particular sale. However, in another section of the statement I noticed another charge of $175 taken from my account, and it was listed as "reward" for that particular card. Well, it was no reward to me as it was be DEDUCTED from my account on behalf of that $6800.00 sale! Since I did not know what this charge was, I called the company. They told me that this was an additional fee I had to pay because the customer used a card that offered a "reward" on their purchases. It was at this moment that I found out that the MERCHANT pays these incentive and NOT the credit card companies or banks! On their commercials they say that THEY will give you a "bonus", reward", etc, BUT it is not them at all giving them to you. It is the merchant like myself that pays 100% of this incentive, and the banks and credit card companies gives you NOTHING! Yes, you heard right! It's just another form of misleading advertising where they try to make themselves look good, when all along they are hurting you the consumer!
Can you imagine the meeting that took place when they came up with this idea? I can picture it perfectly. I picture some idiot sitting in the meeting at the bank or credit card company saying "how can we sucker more people into using our cards without it costing us (meaning them) a cent? Then someone chimes in and says;" I have an idea; Let's offer a reward or cash back BUT let's make the merchants pay all of it!" We can then advertise that we give these incentives, and it makes us look good, but in reality it we are giving up nothing"
Yes, that's right people, the MERCHANT is the one that is paying all those reward s and what not, and not the banks and credit card companies! So guess what? This will eventually mean these added costs to the merchant will be tacked on top of the purchase price of whatever product you purchase. In the end you are getting no rewards at all, and in the end it will simply jack up what you pay for things in the long run.
Doesn't this just piss you off? It surely does me! Americans are so easily manipulated and fooled by all the false and misleading advertising going on out there. I am here to tell you that banks and credit card companies WILL be the final nail in the coffin of the American economy. Think about this the next time you use your credit card.
Please do not take this rant as me saying or implying I will not take credit cards for purchases any longer, or that I do not wish to. I will continue to take them , and please do not feel guilty using them at my business. I just thought the truth needed to be told to all of you. By the way, You are all welcome for those rewards and such that we the merchants are giving you, but please give the credit to whom it belongs.
Apparently many of us are being ripped off by some firewood vendors!
Are they ripping us off intentionally, or is it like many businesses out there that simply do not truly know their trade? I think a little of both!
With the rising costs of electric, propane, and heating oil, this year I decided to burn wood in my fireplace. Since I have lived here at the farm, I never rally utilized the fireplace prior to this season, so I needed to find some wood. To date in my search for quality wood it seems some vendors are cheating us. This may or may not be intentional, and it simply may be due to ignorance on our part and/or the part of the vendors. I am not sure yet, but would like to tell you what I have experienced so far.The first place I looked was on Craigslist, and found quite a few ads for local firewood vendors. Here is an account of what happened.
As stated I found quite a few vendors advertising on the York PA. Craigslist. So I picked the one that I thought was the closest, as well as reasonably priced. After calling them and discussing their wood and pricing, I arrange for a cord to be delivered.They said they would get back to me when they could arrange delivery. So a day or so later they call and tell me they can deliver the wood. However I could not be at the farm the time they wanted to deliver it, so I arranged for them to drop it off , and I left payment for them. This was my first mistake!
So now I arrive at the farm after delivery and see the wood dumped just off the driveway. Upon inspection I noticed that most of the wood was not the split heart wood of the main trunk, but about 70% tops and branch wood. This if you do not know, is inferior wood, and should only make up no more then about 30% of the total cord max. The next thing I notice is most of the wood is completely rotten and wet in the first 1" circumference around each log. As a matter of fact much of the rotten part of each log fell off when they dumped it, and made a mess. I probably lost about 10% in rot that was turned into sawdust upon dumping, and left all over the ground. This was obviously wood that was very recently picked out of the forest where it laid and was left to rot. This is not the proper way to store and harvest firewood. It must be dried properly and in a specific manner for it to season properly. We will get to that later in this rant. I will say that once you got through the rotten outer surface that the heart of each log was of good quality oak.
Concerned about the wet and rotten part of the wood I attempted to burn some. It simply would not burn due to the wet nature of that rotten outer surface. You should know as well that I was told that this wood was ready to burn.
Even though I was disappointed in the quality of the wood, I decided to look past it and keep it anyway. It would soon dry out and be able to burn in the near future. So I commence to stacking.
I had set up a rack that was 16 feet log to accommodate a cord of wood. On this rack a cord would take up the entire sixteen feet in length, and should stack one row of logs to 4 feet high. (We will discuss in detail later what a real cord of wood is suppose to be).
After stacking, the wood was obviously short of the sixteen feet stacked 4 feet high, and it was about 20% short of a cord....... (and this is when considering only these two factors in measuring a cord.) In reality it was a far larger percentage short because of other factors. We will get to that. So needless to say, this fact, combined with the fact that it was inferior wood, as well as would not burn, it was simply unacceptable. So I call the vendor and tell them to come get it, and give me a refund. They agreed.
When the vendor arrived to take back their wood, I showed them what I did not like, as well as how I was short a cord. They really could not argue the point, as it was obvious, and they offered to bring me more wood in replacement of this load. However, lately I am simply fed up with being disappointed by shotty businesses, and business practices, and I simply will not give them my business. I must say however, that this vendor did seem to want to make up for his mistake. I will give him that. as well I do not think this vendor was intentionally trying to short or cheat me. His primary problem was ignorance in not knowing what good wood was, how various grades of wood should be priced in the industry, as well as what a cord of wood truly was. So since he did seem remorseful I gave them $25 for their troubles of delivery and pick up of the wood, and sent them on their way.
Now let's stop here and discuss firewood, and the industry standards, as well as what a "cord" of firewood truly is supposed to be.....by law. In my recent dealings with three vendors in a row, is seems as though the vendors themselves, at least some of them, don't even know what a cord truly is, or what the firewood industry standards are! It also seems as if many folks that purchase firewood don't know either, because if they did these vendors would not be able to attempt to short people like they do. So I think we need to go over a few things about firewood, for the sake of the vendors and customers that do not know how things are supposed to be in this industry.
Let's start by talking about the wood itself. It is a well known fact that different types of woods, ie; oak, maple, etc, have different value as firewood. The type of tree/wood has a great influence on how much a cord of that given wood type should cost. Knowing this, it is also well known that oak is one of the best, as for burning, lasting, and getting the most heating efficiency from a given fire of the same. Oak simply burns better, longer, and more efficiently then most other average, softer, and common tree woods available. It is for these reasons that oak is the preferred wood to purchase and usually commands the highest price per cord. So needless to say when you are comparing prices per cord of wood, make sure as well that you are considering the type of wood you are getting.
Now, let's discuss the most important aspect of buying wood. The cord. By definition, a cord measures a volume of wood stacked tightly mind you, that is 8 feet long, by 4 feet wide, by 4 feet high. More importantly it needs to be 128 cubic feet of wood BY VOLUME AND STACKED TIGHTLY! To put this to example, if you cut logs 4 feet long, and stacked them reasonably tight, then the cord would be these 4 foot logs in a single row stacked 4 feet high, by 8 feet long. However, as you know, most people do not and cannot have logs to burn that are 4 feet long! Most firewood is generally cut between 16" and 24" long per log. Somewhere in this range are the most widely used and accepted lengths in the industry. However, there are occasions that a customer may have the need for longer, or shorter logs to accommodate whatever receptacle they are burning in. For example, some small wood stoves cannot handle logs longer then 12" at times, and some people have huge fireplaces that can handle very long logs.
Now, understanding all of this, it ishould be easy to see that if you stacked two rows of 16" logs side by side by 8 feet long, by 4 feet high, that this is NOT a full cord! Why? You see it is the 16" length that would cause you to be short of a cord. In other words, two 16" logs stacked side by side, would not give you the 4 foot wide measurement that a cord dictates. These two 16" logs stacked side by side in two rows would only give you 32" in width as opposed to the 48" it is supposed to be. You would be short by 8" ON EACH LOG or a total of 16" in total width of cord! That is a lot of wood you would be short. So as you can see, due to the varying lengths of the average log, you may have to increase the length or height of that measured stack of wood to get a true cord.
Only logs cut to 24" in length could be stacked in such a way to achieve the 4 foot within a cord. In all other shorter lengths of logs less than 24", you would have to increase the height and length of the total stack to get a cord. So however short (or even long) the logs are cut on average shorter or then 24", you would have to increase the length or the height of the stack to achieve the 128 cubic feet of wood by volume.
Let's talk about this 128 cubic feet in more detail from yet another angle. This is important and that is why I am spending so much time explaining this so that you all understand.
You figure cubic feet of wood by simply multiplying the length of the stack, by the width, and then by the height. For example. A cord measures 8 feet long by 4 feet wide, by 4 feet high. So take 8 times 4, times 4, and you get 128 cubic feet. Got it? So no matter the measurements of the logs if you multiply the length time the width times the height you can always figure you cubic feet no matter how long the logs are cut.
For example, let's say you get a load of wood that is supposed to be a cord. You would simply stack it in such a way to measure the length times the width times the height. It can be stacked for example in one row 16 feet long, or how it is generally done in two rows 8 feet long. Now let's say the average log in this load was cut to 18" in length.
In this case, you could stack two rows of these logs side by side and then see how long and high the stack was when finished. So, with two 18" logs stacked side by side, this makes the width when finished 36" or 3 feet. Now let's say when complete the total stack measured 8 feet long and 4 feet high. If this were the case, then you would multiply the 8 feet length, times the 4 foot height, then times the 3 feet width (two 18" logs side by side stacked in two rows). This only gives you 96 cubic feet, and with logs cut to 18" length, this is what many vendors would call a cord. Not! As you can see you would be 32 cubic feet short of the 128 cubic feet a cord is supposed to be, and this in turn is only 75% of a cord! You would be short by 25%, and that is quite a bit of wood! In this case you would have to increase the height or the length of the total stack to achieve the proper measurements of a cord.
So no matter the length of the logs, or how you stack it, it needs to end up as 128 cubic feet of wood to be a cord, and you need to increase the measurements of the stack to account for the length the average log was cut. As well, there are standards in how wood is stacked. Generally, it is to be stacked tightly, with one log placed neatly on another. There is an old saying that it should be stacked in such a way that a mouse could fit in between the stacked logs, but a cat could not follow it in. This is very general, but you should get the idea. Stacked neatly and tightly within reason!
I would also like to point out that most states have strict laws pertaining to how firewood is sold and even advertised. Upon researching this subject, even I was surprised as to the detail in these laws. So I would suggest that all you firewood vendors read any laws pertaining to firewood in your state, and stop cheating people. Learn your trade for goodness sake!
Now the second vendor I tried on Craigslist is listed below. This was a young man that was intentionally trying to cheat people and it was very obvious. His logs were cut to an average of only 13". This is short by average standards, and would be far less then a cord when stacked in two rows. As well he delivered it in a short bed pickup truck! (This fact will become important later).
When he arrived I immediately said it was far short of his advertised cord. He then stated that he would be bringing too loads in his "baby" pickup truck. I then said even so, I doubt it would end up a cord. He snootily replied that he was sure it would be a cord, and that if it was not, that it would be free. Well guess what? He was far short a cord. Believe it or not he still had the audacity to argue with me, and was not polite at all. We all most went to blows. He was very rude and disrespectful, and tried all he could to weasel out of his very obvious fraud.
Below is a copy of his listing on Craigslist, so if I were you, I would avoid purchasing wood from this kid. He is absolutely and purposefully cheating people, and is not the least remorseful of it.
Since the ad below was copied and pasted here, he has changed his wording. He thinks it is for the better, but now he is really cheating people. He now also offers what he calls a "pickup truck load of wood for $80. He is implying by price that this is one half cord. Remember he has a very small short bed pickup truck and only piles the woods to the top of the sides of the bed! This is barely even a quarter of a cord! Avoid this guy!
Here is the exact listing #
and here is how the add read at the time;
100% OAK ALL SEASONED AND SPLIT READY TO BURN!
DON'T BE FOOLED BY MIXED AND GREEN WOOD SCAMMERS!
OAK BURNS CLEANER AND LAST LONGER!
--PICK UP --
call for other pricing
$10 per cord based on distance
PICK UP LOCATION IN SPRING GROVE
(Since the time I utilized this person their ad wording has changed some and their price has risen).
Here is his latest listing as of 11/27/11;
FIREWOOD 100% OAK SEASONED/SPLIT -DELIVERY AVAIL- - $185 (YORK)
Date: 2011-11-25, 10:56AM EST
Reply to: [email protected] [Errors when replying to ads?]
100% OAK ALL SEASONED AND SPLIT READY TO BURN!
DON'T BE FOOLED BY MIXED AND GREEN WOOD SCAMMERS!
OAK BURNS CLEANER AND LAST LONGER!
--PICK UP --
$90 - 8 ft pick up
call for other pricing
$10-25 per cord based on distance
PICK UP LOCATION IN SPRING GROVE
DIY Pond Net Support / Greenhouse
Fall is in full swing and many of us are struggling with keeping leaves, and migrating herons, out of our koi ponds. One of the best ways to do both of these is with an over-pond net. However, a net stretched flat over a pond can sag under the weight of wet leaves, and herons will walk on top of nets, pushing them down into the water and spearing fish right through the net!
A great option to support your pond net and keep it up off the surface, is with a homemade support frame, which can be easily fashioned from PVC and anchored around the pond with short pieces of metal rebar.
Just pound some short rebar stakes in around the pond, slip some long pieces of small diameter (3/4” or 1”) pvc over the rebar, and bend the other end of the pvc into a large arch. Then just secure the other end of the pvc by slipping it over another rebar stake and you have a large and surprisingly strong hoop over your pond. Repeat this for as many supports as you need and drape your pond net on top, securing it to the frame with tie wraps and to the ground with rocks or landscape stakes.
This frame can also be covered in clear plastic to serve as a greenhouse! Simply hang a light bulb from one of the supports and this homemade over-pond greenhouse can keep your pond running completely ice free all winter long!
For more info on fall and winter prep, check out the “About Ponds” section of our website:
Pond nets are available here:
The American Mink: Deadliest Winter Koi Predator
The American Mink: Deadliest Winter Koi Predator
Very few people know what a mink is, let alone how common they are, and the risk they pose to Koi in backyard ponds. Next to the great blue heron, otters, and alligators in the southern states, mink are one of the few predators capable of clearing a Koi pond of even the largest fish- and can do so literally overnight! They can easily swim down a healthy fish and catch it under water. The only other animal that does this is the less common otter can.
So what’s a mink?
Mink are essentially weasels that swim. Dark brown in color, and usually less than 18” long, with a slender tube-like body, pointed face with small round ears, short stubby legs, and a sleek furry tail, about a third the length of its body. They look very much like ferrets in shape and body language. Mink are in the weasel family, but are excellent swimmers and vicious predators of fish and other prey much larger than themselves. They commonly catch and kill fish up to and over 2 feet long! They will dive over 10 feet underwater and actively chase down healthy Koi and snatch it right up!
Do you have minks near you?
In short: probably yes. Minks are native to most of the US and Canada and can be found almost anywhere there’s a fresh water source and a decent food supply, although they are more common in rural or wooded areas. Streams and creeks are their favorite haunts, so if you have one on or near your property you need to consider the very real threat of a mink eating your Koi.
Is a mink taking your fish?
Mink are very hard to detect, unlike blue herons which can normally be caught red handed at first and last light. Mink operate primarily at night. Being small and quiet, they are very hard to see invading your pond, and often leave no clues other than missing fish and maybe a few scales laying around.
Mink are shy critters normally, but when their natural food sources are depleted (usually in winter), they will venture into your yard to get at your fish. If you’re missing fish in winter, and have not seen any herons or other birds that prey on fish, a mink should be a top suspect.
Unlike herons, OVERPOND NETS WILL NOT STOP MINKS. Slender and intelligent, these water weasels only need a hole about the size of a golf ball to enter your pond. They will climb over fences and berms, and even up the sides of above-ground ponds.
Clues that you may have a mink problem are:
1. Missing fish especially if:
a. The largest fish are missing
b. Fish go missing in winter
c. Fish go missing despite having the pond covered with a net
d. You have a stream, pond, lake or woods near your home.
2. Fish acting skittish - however this can be hard to detect in winter, since the fish are usually lethargic anyway due to the cold temperatures
3. Loose scales on the pond bank or in the area around the pond- mink typically catch fish and drag or carry them out of the pond and off to somewhere they feel safe eating them: this can sometimes leave a trail of a few scales or blood as the fish is dragged off wriggling in the minks' mouth.
4. Disturbed rocks around the pond’s edge, disturbed plants, or the water suddenly appearing muddy or dirty : minks are voracious predators and will relentlessly stalk and chase fish around the pond, displacing rocks and plants and stirring up mud or muck during the pursuit.
What can you do!?!
Mink are notoriously hard to deal with as pests around our backyard Koi ponds. Nets, sprinklers, fishing line, and deep pond will not stop mink. If a mink is visiting your pond, your best option is to trap it. You can do this yourself, although mink can be tough to catch in this situation. They are caught more easily in the wild as opposed to in your yard as they are especially wary in close proximity to humans. Professional trappers can use However mink in the backyards already know what they are there for and where the food is so scents and baits don't work as well as they do out in the wild. Your best bet is to use a professional fur trapper. They can usually be contacted through your local taxidermist, Dept. of natural resources or a local hunting outlet. They will often be willing to properly set traps around your property free of charge as they sell the fur of the mink. They can also use dog-safe traps for those of you with pets or children). Make sure you check your local regulations pertaining to trapping before taking attempting trapping yourself.
Mink can also be caught in the cage type live-traps like those made by Have-a-heart, although getting them to enter these traps is even harder than the standard traps use by trappers in the wild.
Our Secret Weapon:
Stay tuned to see one of our best mink traps that has caught several of these serial Koi-killers here at the farm.
Heads up and eyes open
Just like any Koi problem, predation from a mink is best addressed through diligence! Keep your eyes open for the clues and pay close attention to your fish even in winter. When dealing with mink, early detection is a MUST as they can and will take all the large fish from a pond within a matter of days.
Video courtesy of Hunting estate "Krasny Bor".