Welcome to Antler Valley Farm

The First Summer at the Creek

The first summer at the creek was almost magical for us.  My kids loved playing at the creek all summer.  We ALL loved it.  LOVED! IT!  What’s not to love really?  Shade, cool water, sand, mud, snails, salamanders, turtles, snakes, frogs, minnows, crayfish, crawfish or crawdads if your southern, bugs galore-I could go on forever here!!

 

                         Cute little salamanders like this provided hours of entertainment for my kiddos.  They would spend hours catching them.

You name it- we found it and played with it.  And yes, if you’re wondering I really was a huge tom boy growing up!  Ok, I guess I still am actually.  I might not have ever out grown that phase….

                                                                     Cute little crawdadsThe kids had a blast playing with them once I showed them how to avoid those pesky little pinchers.

When I was in college (way back when) we did a study on crayfish and how sensitive they are to water pollution.  If I remember correctly, and that long ago is really a stretch for my memory so don’t bet the farm on these snippets from my memory!  But, if my memory serves correctly, snails and crayfish are indicator species.  Which basically means that they are the first species that die off when a waterway is polluted.  (Just some fun and educational facts for ya!  My kids are always the ones to hear my so called educational snippets from the old memory bank.  I’m sure they are glad I’m sharing with someone else for a change!)

 

   Aren’t snails the cutest??

 

                        I’m sure not prejudiced or anything but I’m quite certain our snails are the biggest and prettiest! And of course, the happiest!!!

Well, we have umpteen gazillion (a very scientific and precise number, of course!) snails and crayfish in the creeks out there.  That means healthy creeks and soil.  What a wonderful blessing!  We were ecstatic!  OK, I was ecstatic about the number of snails and crayfish and Jim… well, he was happy I had found something to occupy my time.   Something other than trees, maybe….He never even laughed when I told him I had counted snails or crayfish all afternoon.  Saint Jim again!  I mean, honestly, wouldn’t you have laughed if I’d told you I had willingly and happily counted snails all day?  Without being forced…or without being paid?

                                          We found several different kinds of crayfish and even found some baby ones.  A sign of a healthy creek and happy farmers!  Prettiest crawdads I ever did see!

Ok, I have to tell a quick story about my daughter, Maylin, who was 5 at the time.  We found several large crayfish and I explained that some people eat them like you would shrimp or lobster.  Maylin was all for that as she loves seafood.  So she started searching for crayfish under all the leaves and rocks in the creek.  She had found 4 or 5 that were 4-5 inches long.  Not much of a feast, but it was certainly keeping her entertained and I was curious to see if she would go through with it.  Then she found a baby crayfish that was maybe an inch long.  And then she found another baby crayfish.  She went on and on about how cute they were and how little.  And then it happened-Maylin realized they were babies!  Oh, my, goodness!!  She dissolved into tears and quickly let all the other crayfish go (the Mommy and Daddy crayfish, of course!) so they could take care of their babies.

Let’s just say that she has never uttered another word about eating crayfish again.  I don’t think she will for quite a while actually.  She has become the official crayfish protectors.  She now searches for crayfish so she can make sure we don’t step on them.  She’s actually not worried about us getting pinched by the crayfish.  Oh, No!  She’s making sure the crayfish don’t get hurt!  I love that tender hearted little soul of hers!!! Such a sweetie-pie.                 This is actually a recent picture of Maylin after a day of fun and exploring.  (This was her snaggle tooth phase and thankfully she lost that front tooth the next day because I was going to officially change her name to Nanny McPhee!)  She had found a huge snail and wanted to bring it home to keep, along with a dead baby snake that the dozer had ran over, some tadpoles, a few dozen pine cones, a turtle, a couple rocks, an old animal skeleton, a deer antler, some flowers, something resembling fossilized poop?…..  I’m sure I’m forgetting something in that list!!  Let’s just say that I make sure to check her pockets and bags when she comes home!! 

 

 

                                           Who doesn’t love a turtle????  So cute!!  I don’t think he loved us quite as much as we loved him though…. Maybe we were a little too noisy????

The kiddos and I loved playing and exploring every chance we got in the creeks.  It never got old for any of us.  We always found something new and exciting to learn about.  And that was a really nice distraction from the…umh, tree drama, cough, cough… I had created.  Yes, I try to be honest about my issues!  Ok, moving on.

One day the kids had the idea to take our Little Tikes slide out to the creek.  Now, that was an awesome idea!  Wow, was that fun!  We put it at the edge of the creek and dammed up the creek until it was about a foot deep.  (No, a foot of water is not that deep but it’s a foot of pure FUN!)  Then my youngest two kids would take turns sliding down into the water and splashing me and my oldest daughter, Maleah.  Unfortunately, Maleah and I were too big to go down the slide.  And yes, we did both try!  And yes, I’m sure that image was Hilarious!  I wish that I had pictures of that for purely nostalgic reasons, of course, certainly not blackmail or anything like that….

 

                               This creek doesn’t look that big but when the kids dammed it up it would be nearly a foot deep and that’s a foot of pure FUN!!!

The great thing about the land we bought was that there were creeks everywhere.  That’s actually one of the biggest reasons we bought it.  We wanted a farm with a great water supply.  Boy howdy, did we get what we asked for!  There are several spring heads that pop up out of the ground and run into bigger creeks and then bigger creeks until they all run into the biggest creek at the back.  I think there are 2 spring heads that come out of the ground and 5 creeks that all run together at one point.  (I say, I think, because this spring we discovered some wet weather spring heads.  That’s a whole different story though!)  Some of the creeks are very small and shallow, some are much larger, and one even has a small waterfall, but they are all so much fun to play in!

 

                                     This is the kiddos playing when we first made a road across the creek down from the house site.  It was still muddy but we didn’t care.  It was cool water and we were planning to get dirty anyway, right?!?!?

                             This is one of my favorite spots at the back of the property.  The creek goes over some huge rock formations and forms a small waterfall.  It’s the perfect shady spot for an afternoon picnic and some rubber ducky races down stream. 

Camden loves playing in the sand at all the creeks.  Water + Camden= HAPPY Boy! 

 

                     I had to throw this picture in here.  I mean, what’s the fun of playing in the water if you don’t play pirates?!?!?  If I remember right, he was making me walk the plank…Oh, darn!  I must’ve messed up again! 

At the end of the summer, we decided that we still needed creek therapy on a regular basis.  So, if Jim was headed out to work on the dozer over the winter, we took our rain boots, towels, extra clothes and loaded up with him.  We found that creeks are fun even in the dead of winter.  As Maleah pointed out regularly, you don’t have to worry about snakes either!!

All that fun at the creek made me feel a little guilty that Jim was working so hard on the dozer while we played.  But until he gives up those dozer keys, I guess I’ll just have to make do with teaching the kids valueable science lessons while he builds our farm.  Ha!

 

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