‘just a regular Koi breeder that breeds really good Koi’ – that was how Scott Purdin, founder and owner of Purdin Koi Farm partially described his ultimate goal on my final morning with him at Purdin Koi Farm.

On route to Purdin Koi Farm I was quite unsure what to expect regarding the whole facility, the Koi that they produced and indeed what Scott would be like.  I had read information on the Purdin website, and a few other things before.  I had spent a short while with Bill and Maureen McGurk in the Philippines in 2014 during which of course we had discussed the farm.  I had met Scott very briefly in passing at the 2011 All England Koi Show in Kent when he visited with Bill and Maureen but it had been just a cursory introduction, that was all.

Bill and Maureen collected me from ‘Southern Comfort’, more commonly known as ‘the lake house’, my residence for the duration of my stay, at 7am and I was handed the keys for a red Ford pick up truck which was parked outside, my ride for the duration of my stay.  In the UK, and perhaps even more so in Japan, this vehicle would stand out like a sore thumb, indeed there are many roads in the mountains of Yamakoshi where this 4 point something V8 engined ‘beast’ would simply not be able to pass.  Very soon I would realise that the ‘beast’ wasn’t an over the top statement but very much the norm in the part of Louisiana where I was, in fact ‘my’ pick up truck was a veritable baby compared to some of the other monsters around on the roads.

We stopped first at ‘Cline Drive’ about 10 minutes drive away and the premises where Purdin Koi Farm started (more of which later) before heading to what is the new and main part of the Farm, a further 20 minutes or so into the countryside.

Purdin Koi Farm

Purdin Koi Farm

The aerial shot above shows the 10 acres which makes up this facility, the area including the buildings in the foreground and going up either side of the mud ponds as far as the trees.  Before reaching the Koi facility we had passed numerous ‘paddocks’ and a large barn complex, breeding Arabian horses being one of the ‘families’ other passions.

I think at this point my biggest fear was that I was about to be introduced to someone who was going to be brash, full of themselves, tell me all that what they breed is the best of the best and with lots of ‘awesomes’ thrown in for good measure.  They would tell me how the Japanese have been doing it wrong for all these years and quite frankly I would want to be on the first plane out of there.


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Thankfully, the Scott Purdin I was introduced to couldn’t have been further from that at all.  Without question Scott was a Koi person, a very passionate Koi person to boot and a Koi person with whom I shared much common ground.

Scott, Maureen and Bill discuss new 2016 parent

Scott, Maureen and Bill discuss new 2016 parent

Scott studying 2015 nisai Kohaku

Scott studying 2015 nisai Kohaku

Scott with the ever present Barny

Scott with the ever present Barny

Scott evaluating some tosai

Scott evaluating some tosai

I say so many times that there is one phrase that Koi breeders use all the time, whether is Japanese or English, and that is ‘it’s just my feeling’, a phrase applied to so many aspects of what they do, be it selection, treatment, preparation of mud ponds, pairing of parents, etc.  Within a few minutes of with Scott it became apparent, we both knew how much that ‘feeling’ played a part in Koi production, we were on the same wavelength, and very much singing from the same hymn book, and thereafter for 12 days or so many fascinating conversations would ensue.

Scott Purdin’s introduction to Koi is one that will be similar to many readers of this.  At the time his daughter Amanda was born Scott was pursuing a career in movie production.  On his first big job working away from the family home he couldn’t bare being apart from his baby daughter and subsequently quit to look after her whilst his wife worked.

At the time she was around 3 years old a visit to a pet store saw some ‘goldfish’ purchased to go in the small ornamental pond that stood in the garden.  That was around 25 years ago.

Encouraged by his wife Susan to find a new career the Koi had piqued his interest and Scott’s quest for more information began, starting with US literature, and then UK literature.  The BKKS magazine led Scott to Nishikigoi International magazine and subsequently to get into contact with Bill McGurk.  Bill would take Scott around the UK before taking him on his first visit to Japan.

The seeds were sown for Purdin Koi Farm.


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Postbox at Purdin Koi Farm

Postbox at Purdin Koi Farm

As Scott and Susan searched for somewhere to start the fledgling Koi business they happened upon a property at 7017 Cline Drive, Glynn, around 30 minutes drive from their home in Baton Rouge.  The house dated back to the 1830’s and Susan fell in love with it.  This became, and remains, the address of Purdin Koi Farm.

The property operated as a retail outlet stocking imported Japanese Koi, and Scott also started breeding his own Koi, for that was what had fascinated him so much.

The Fish Barn

The Fish Barn

Inside The Fish Barn

Inside The Fish Barn

Scott’s first breeding attempt was with Showa which, rather by luck than judgement, proved to be the ideal variety to breed.  With limited volumes of water keeping the young fry alive could be a challenge.  The fact that within 1 week of hatching Showa fry are culled to only keep the black ones meant that Scott was dealing with a much fewer number than had he bred Sanke or Kohaku for example, as he was to find out later.

Placed side by side with imported Showa, his ‘domestic’ Koi sold favourably and further spurred on his passion to learn more, and breed more.

Whilst accompanying his wife on an out of town scholarship for 6 months Scott had signed up at Berlitz language school to study Japanese language, something which he states he found incredibly easy, I only wish I could say the same.

The ability to speak Japanese, as well as read and write, enabled Scott to make numerous lone visits to Japan.  He would arrive in Nagaoka and simply take a taxi to Yamakoshi.  He talks passionately about his out of season visits when breeders would apologise for having nothing to sell.  That didn’t concern Scott, he wanted to see and learn about parent Koi, and cites the many occasions where he would spend time sharing a drink and a cigarette with the breeders he visited and chatting for hours about the finer points of Nishikigoi.


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Scott suggests that the timing of him starting to breed Koi had some fortunate coincidences, not least that the breeders in Japan had started their own pursuit of jumbo Koi.  As a result he was able to acquire a number of high quality parents sized around 75cm simply because they didn’t meet the size criteria.

Restricted by the facilities at Cline Drive Scott sought about acquiring land on which to construct mud ponds, finally resulting in the purchase of the 10 acre site pictured above, then of course a blank canvas.  A previous failed attempt to construct mud ponds on some rented land was the start of a whole new learning curve.

I mentioned Koi breeders using the words, ‘it’s just a feeling’ earlier on.  I have spoken to Koi breeders in many countries, and often they ask of me, and moreso the Japanese, about the techniques required to raise Koi.  In many cases, for example in tropical countries like Indonesia or the Philippines, the breeders simply cannot answer those questions because they have no experience of the environment.  Scott faced the same issues in Louisiana.

Upon starting to develop the mud ponds and breed on a larger scale Scott states quite simply, ‘I had to become a farmer, I had to start thinking like a farmer’, meaning he had to develop a sixth sense, a feeling for what his ponds were doing, what his water was doing and what, ultimately, was best for his Koi.

Purdin Koi Farm continues to develop and continues to grow, all because Scott has a dream and a goal.  Despite the fact that the facilities now have Bill and Maureen running them on a daily basis still every day Scott will make the drive from Baton Rouge, be it for 30 minutes or 4 hours, just to be there.

I will write more, and show much more, of the facilities at Purdin Koi Farm and they Koi they are producing in later posts.


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Chatting with Scott

As I stated at the beginning, I asked Scott his ultimate goal whilst sharing coffee that final morning, this was his reply in full……

‘The ultimate goal is I want to be a Niigata Koi breeder, just a regular Koi breeder that breeds really good Koi, and is respected in Yamakoshi, or Mushigame, whatever, I’m just one of the guys.  I don’t want to be the great guy, I don’t want to be the lord guy, I just want to be one of those Showa breeders who has a small farm that creates really good fish every year, that’s it, or Kohaku or Sanke, I’m happy just doing one, I don’t have to do them all, I’m just happy doing one.’

 


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