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Bring the serenity of koi to your back yard

Jim Medeiros likes being semi-retired but also relishes a thriving business selling koi, pool supplies and other small animals on his 20-acre Crows Landing farm property.

Medeiros considers the 18 ponds of his Central Valley Koi Farm a "pretty good little sanctuary" and he's more than content to spend seven days a week from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. selling the colorful fish formally known as Japanese ornamental carp.

"I spend 80 percent of my waking hours in the summertime here," Medeiros said. "I have always lived in the country. I sit by the ponds. The sound of running water and the serenity of the fish swimming around 'soothes the savage beast.' It's like going to beach and hearing the waves crash in."

Medeiros says he gave up on being rich but wanted something to do without having to work hard. Running a koi farm fits the bill and he says he actually still enjoys it.

The 65-year-old former Foster Farms chicken department supervisor, educational consultant and ex-Hilmar Junior High School football coach bought the West Main Street property in 1971 and moved there more than 11 years ago. He sells several thousand koi a year exclusively to hobbyists generally living between Sacramento and Fresno, not retail stores.

Medeiros first saw koi when he visited Disneyland years ago. Koi are easy to care for, Medeiros said, and hobbyists mostly need a pond with circulating aerated water. The fish don't need special treatment and tolerate both warm and cold weather climates.

Medeiros said koi are docile, slow-moving fish. They are one of the most friendly of fish types; they know when he is ready to feed them and are used to his cigarette smoke and cup of coffee. When they smell those scents, they gather in the corner of their pond, knowing feeding time is near.

Koi run the gamut in girth, from tiny, slender ones to those more on the chubby side.

Turlock landscape contractor Victor Phillips has known Medeiros for about 15 years and said Central Valley Koi is a "nice little operation." Phillips said Medeiros enjoys what he is doing.

"He loves telling stories," Phillips said. "He has always got a story He's a good old guy."

Phillips has seven koi in a 1,500-gallon pond and said to him they are like floating jewels. He buys liners, koi food, tubing, pumps, filters and other equipment from Medeiros. A chainsaw carver, Phillips fashions tiki statues which are on sale at the koi farm.

Medeiros said he "just likes people and animals." His range of products has slowly grown as people gave him some zebra finches, and canaries, diamond doves, parakeets, and button quail joined the mix. He bought his granddaughter two guinea pigs. Three months later there were five guinea pigs and pretty soon the numbers jumped to 10 and then 20, Medeiros said.

"It's not a lot of work but it is a lot of fun and games," Medeiros said.

Koi range from about three inches in length to 16 inches. Their colors run the gamut from pure yellow to white, red, white and blue, black, pale yellow, orange, black and orange and silver, Medeiros said.

The koi farm is located at 520 W. Main St. in Crows Landing.

— Doane Yawger of Merced is a semi-retired newspaper editor and reporter.