Time is of the Essence

9 04 2010

April 4, 2010

So I’d been dividing my “to do” list into categories, specifically: “Things I Can Do without Electricity” and “Things to Do before the Snakes Come Out”. Knowing that snake season is encroaching, the latter of the lists commands priority.

Now, I have no problems with snakes. I grew up with them, both in our yard and in our house (caged, most of the time). I’ve always found them fascinating, regarding them with caution and respect. My favorite is the King Snake, and I would consider myself lucky to have a nest of Lampropeltis living in my crawl space. They not only eat mice and other household pests, but they’re the best Organic Snake Deterrent on the market: They eat poisonous snakes for lunch, and the other serpents know it.

When I attended the Meadowcreek Weeks camp here, a herpetologist from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission did a snake presentation, complete with live specimens. She put a King Snake in one pillow case and another (non-venomous) variety in a separate one. Then she put the two pillowcases next to each other: the second snake went crazy, writhing about, trying to get away from the King.

King snakes, while not dangerous, will bite if thoroughly provoked. They don’t have fangs, but rows of short, sharp chompers instead. They’re chewers, and if you harass one into biting you, good luck getting him to let go. The best thing is just to leave them alone (by all means, don’t kill them) so that they can continue hunting for the critters you really don’t want around your house and garden. But if you ever come upon a King Snake eating a copperhead, take a few minutes to watch without disturbing the process; it’s pretty awesome.

I’d decided that cleaning up some of the lumber piles and debris in my yard should be the first task on my “Before the Snakes Arrive” list. I think I can salvage enough lumber to build a Wood and Wire Three-Bin Turning Compost Unit for the hay and manure I’ll need to clean out of the barns, and maybe even a Worm Composter for my kitchen scraps. I like the design of this worm composter because it will keep the ‘coons and armadillos from scavenging for treats.

Keep the Critters out of Your Compost!

I have nothing against scavengers, either, but it would be nice if some of my kitchen compost made it to the garden a la worm castings. I think this should do the trick!

Low and behold, as I approached the first pile of yard debris and construction cast-offs, a solitary serpent slithered from the fallen leaves and sought shelter beneath a nearby rock. The first snake of Spring, though suggested it may have been a lizard (and we do have a species of legless lizard here in the Ozarks), has graced us with its presence. It seems my Snake-Free window of opportunity is quickly closing.

Note to Self: Print a “Snakes of Arkansas” guide to have on hand for future encounters. (You can find one here, if you’re interested)


The Meadowcreek Initiative, Day 1

1 04 2010

March 31. 2010

The day has finally come:  After 4 years of finger-crossing and persistent pestering, the Board of Directors determined that I wasn’t going away.  Bev (she’s the Vice-Pres) called yesterday morning to give me the news–the Board had voted in favor of offering me the Spring House residence.  So here I am, spending my first night camped out on the bedroom floor, journaling by candle light.  (Primitive camping, that is…we don’t have power, water, or internet yet, which might explain why my posts show up online a day after I write them for a while.)  Hyla is chattering away right next to me, too excited to sleep despite the encroaching midnight hour.

And I’m excited, too.  We spent the afternoon up the hill in the small community of Fox working on Gus and Cynthia’s farm.  Today was potato planting day, and it’s always such a joy to chat with Cynthia while we work.  Hyla is crazy about Gus and his goats (they just had babies!), and we always end up staying longer than planned.  I’d hoped to make it down into the Valley long before sunset, but it was dark by the time my eyes came to rest on the “Welcome to Meadowcreek” sign.  Home!

If my heart has ever been anywhere, it’s been here at Meadowcreek.  This valley is magical, something I realized when I attended summer camp here in sixth grade.  Given, a lot of things have changed in the past 17 years. but it still has that “take your breath away” and “renew your spirit” vibe that stole my heart as a child.  There’s a lot of work to be done, but I am confident that we will be sharing the magic of Meadowcreek with the world again very soon. This place has far too much potential to be kept a secret for long, and I look forward to educating, motivating, and captivating minds of all ages in the future.  As for all that work that needs to be done:  “Ain’t nothin’ a little sweat, blood, and elbow grease can’t fix!”

I should hit the hay soon as tomorrow will start early…but this entry wouldn’t be complete without mentioning my really awesome neighbors  Samantha and Robert.  I dropped by to introduce myself and let them know that if they saw an unfamiliar grey car at the Spring House, it’s just me.  (We have the most incredible neighborhood watch in all of Stone County down here!)  Samantha is about my age and has children close to my daughter’s, which is wonderful.  Her parents are also residents, her father John having maintained the Meadowcreek property for the past couple of years.  You can’t overestimate the value of good neighbors, and from tonight’s front porch conversation, I can tell that I’m going to enjoy having them as mine.  By the way, if you haven’t spent an evening shooting the breeze with an old friend (or even a brand new one!) lately, there’s no better time than spring!

Off to bed now.  Looking forward to what tomorrow brings…