by Drew and Kit Coons
|Drew and Kit Before|
“After retirement, you’ll probably want to travel.” said the financial adviser. “Omh … actually, no.” was our answer. We were then staff of a Christian marriage ministry. Those 19 years allowed us to speak at over 100 events in every part of America and in 32 other countries. We’ve even lived in Africa and in New Zealand. We’ve been to most of the world’s famous places and many more places not even on a map. The desire to settle down is how we found ourselves on a small Arkansas farm living a creative and sustainable lifestyle. See our blog at oakmeadowsadventures.blogspot.com
|Drew and Kit Now|
As we were considering purchase of this 23 acres and old (money pit) house, Drew was excited about the many signs of wildlife. Reality came quickly in the form of beavers. They come out of the river into our pond and yard. There they show a decided preference to eat fruit trees and ornamentals. One of the big rodents cut down our peach trees by the back door. In response, we built a 400 foot fence between the river and pond. But, beavers can easily bite through the welded steel wire. If there are beavers in heaven, I can only guess that God Himself wonders why He made them.
Free range catfish have probably been our best agricultural success. The way we cook them, very lightly fried in canola oil or in chowder, catfish are a health food. Our acre pond is carefully managed to create an optimum ecosystem. In the beginning, we used chemical fertilizers to stimulate algae growth, the basis of the food chain. Then wild geese discovered the pond and now organically fertilize it for us. We don’t sell the catfish in the marketplace. The priceless experience of our guests catching a 15-20 pound fish is worth more than the value of the meat.
|guests and catfish|
Once again, wildlife are a challenge. Lots of predatory birds come here to feed, even one bald eagle. Then one day we noticed a river otter in the pond. “Isn’t he cute?” we thought. Then it started slaughtering our fish, hundreds of dollars worth of fish. I tried to live trap the otter using a $20 slab of fish for bait. But, the otter came to watch me set the trap. That ended the trap effectiveness for the otter. We did catch a rather humorless raccoon. After scolding it, we let the raccoon go. To repay us, it destroyed our cantaloupe crop. Finally, we got the otter to leave by waiting until it was playing in the river. Then we simply blocked the beavers’ hole in the fence. Beavers can bite through wire, but otters can’t.
Buck deer destroyed our pecan orchard rubbing the velvet from their antlers on our little trees. A copperhead (type of poison pit viper) hid in our blackberries. Skunks and armadillos continually dig up the garden. Coyotes ate our entire watermelon crop. Who knew that coyotes love watermelon? But, believe it or not, we do produce commercial quality vegetables in our raised bed, nearly organic gardens.
|Kit at the Hillcrest Farmers Market|
And if you ever need a pair of entertaining speakers on relationships, travel adventure, or how not to manage wildlife, give us a call.
Also in this series: Rattle's Garden, Tammy Sue's Critters, Falling Sky Farm, Willow Springs Market Garden and North Pulaski Farms. If you are a farmer and would like to showcase your farm, email Julie: luvmyhub AT gmail DOT com