Monthly Archives: April 2017

Souvenir — Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors

Listen To This

Literary LoopExperiences of life and love, aligned with fables sewn together like a quilt of remnant road stories and pure imagination —that, in a nutshell, is Souvenir, the latest release by Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors. Holcomb and Co. have been traveling the highways and byways for the past 12 years and have managed to release 10 solid albums. Virtually unknown to most, Holcomb continues to pour out songwriting gold with no signs of stopping. 

Souvenir is a slight departure in soundscape compared to its predecessors, but the roots of Americana, steeped in passion, have never been more delicate. Holcomb has mastered the mood that harkens the whispers and welcomes the crescendos. There’s chaos and rawness with tones of hope and positivity that pour through each track. 

Most notably, songs like “Rowdy Heart, Broken Wing” and “The Morning Song” carry an effortless Jim Croce-esque vibe while rockin’ tonkin’ songs like “California” and “Sometimes” drive excitement and unexpected genius. Holcomb has a pure knack for taking the simple and obvious and crafting a unique memory that uses every sensory mechanism attached to the head and the heart. 

Overall, Souvenir is named appropriately. You will enjoy it just as much tens of years down the road. 

- Chris Rucker

Paddle Power

Sports

Paddle PowerRow, row, row your boat down the Savannah River at the 11th annual Paddlefest.

Whether people prefer to stand or sit, race or recreate, Savannah Riverkeeper will offer an event to satisfy all types of paddlers with its 11th annual Paddlefest along the Savannah River. Canoes, kayaks and standup paddleboards are welcome on the water.

The six-mile race and recreational canoe/kayak route will begin at Savannah Rapids Pavilion and end at the Boat House in East Augusta. The first half of the course is all shoals, and the second half is deep flatwater. A recommended passage through the shoals will be available on race day. Categories for racers include male, female and mixed pairs. 

“Paddlefest is a fun race if you’re an expert kayaker, and it’s a great event for beginners as well,” says Elena Richards, the Savannah Riverkeeper communications director. “It’s a great way to see a new part of the river. We also will have experienced safety teams on the water in strategic locations.” 

All canoe and kayak paddlers are asked to take their vessels to a check-in booth at the Savannah Rapids Pavilion bridge, where volunteers will take the boats to the launch sites. After checking in, paddlers can take their vehicles to the Port Authority parking lot, 105 Riverfront Drive, Augusta, and a shuttle bus will take them back to Savannah Rapids.

Paddle PowerThe standup paddleboard event is a recreational paddle that goes from 105 Riverfront Drive, Augusta, to the 13th Street bridge and back. The route is about four miles long.

During registration, participants also can pay $5 to take part in a poker run. The first poker card will be handed out at check-in at the start and the last card will be dealt at check-in at the end of the paddle. Cards will be distributed at three locations on river as well. A prize will be awarded to the best poker hand in each of the three categories – canoe, kayak and SUP.

An awards ceremony with lunch and a live band will be held after the paddle. All proceeds from the event benefit Savannah Riverkeeper, which protects the entire river basin from the headwaters to the Savannah coast through education, advocacy and action.

If You Go:

What: Paddlefest

When: Saturday, May 13; kayak and canoe race and recreational launches 9 a.m.; SUP launch 9:45 a.m. 

Where: Savannah Rapids Pavilion (canoes and kayaks); 105 Riverfront Drive, Augusta (SUPs) 

How Much: $35 for single canoes, kayaks and SUPs; $60 for two-person canoes and kayaks

More Info: (706) 826-8991 or savannahriverkeeper.org

The Broken Road by Richard Paul Evans

Literary Loop

The Broken Road by Richard Paul EvansA broken man. A twist of fate. A second chance. From New York Times bestselling author Richard Paul Evans comes the first novel in a new trilogy that explores the tantalizing question: What if you could start over?

Chicago celebrity Charles James can’t shake the nightmare that wakes him each night. He sees himself walking down a long, broken highway, the sides of which are lit in flames. Where is he going? Why is he walking? What is the wailing he hears around him?

By day, he wonders why he’s so haunted and unhappy when he has all he ever wanted — fame, fans and fortune. Coming from a childhood of poverty and pain, this is what he’s dreamed of. 

But now, at the pinnacle of his career, he’s started to wonder if he’s wanted the wrong things. His wealth has come legally, but questionably, from the power of his personality, seducing people out of their hard-earned money. When he learns that one of his customers has committed suicide because of financial ruin, Charles is shaken. The cracks in his façade start to break down, spurring him to question everything: his choices, his relationships, his future and the type of man he’s become.

Then a twist of fate changes everything, and Charles is granted a second chance. The question is: What will he do with it?

Tripp J. Williams Agricultural and Natural Resources Agent and County Coordinator

P.Y.S.K.

Agricultural and Natural Resources Agent and County CoordinatorAgricultural and Natural Resources Agent and County Coordinator
UGA Extension – Columbia County

Number of years in position: 5

Family: Wife, Anna and son, Turner

Why I’m Passionate About What I Do: Georgia is fueled by an agricultural economy. I respond to the agricultural needs and interests in our community with unbiased, research-based education. For example, when I teach pesticide safety, I not only educate producers on good agricultural practices. I also ensure a safe food supply and help to protect the environment. Ultimately, the benefits included are a healthier population, reduced health care costs and higher quality of life. Those are pretty good reasons to be passionate about what I do.

Community Groups and Charities I Love to Support: Georgia 4-H! The goal of 4-H is to develop citizenship, leadership, responsibility and life skills of youth through experiential learning programs and a positive youth development approach. 4-H focuses on citizenship, healthy living, science, engineering and technology programs. I have the privilege of coaching the 4-H forestry team and judging numerous 4-H competitions. I feel involvement in 4-H exposes our youth to new experiences, and as they progress through these experiences, life lessons will be learned. I believe that 4-H is developing the next generation of leaders. 

Biggest Career or Life Obstacle I’ve Overcome and How: My biggest career obstacle was finding a job in the agricultural field after graduation. I graduated in December 2002 from UGA, and there were very few opportunities in this area that were in my field of study. I expanded my search outside the CSRA into Florida, South Carolina and Kentucky. I was offered two positions, but they were just not a good fit. After several months of interviews, I was called by a local golf course to interview. This interview was different. I could see myself working here and actually getting to use my horticulture background. I worked there for seven years, and I am still very thankful to Joe Durden, superintendent at that time, for taking a chance on a new graduate. Joe became a great mentor and instilled in me a passion for the green industry, a drive to always do your best and a good attitude despite inclement weather.

Accomplishment I’m Most Proud Of: I was selected by my peers to receive the National Association of County Agricultural Agents Achievement Award. This award recognizes a superior job performance and original programming by extension agents throughout the United States. I am excited to have been selected to receive this award and will be traveling to the national conference held in Salt Lake City later this summer. 

What Your Childhood Self Wanted to Be When You Grew Up: An astronaut. Space, “the final frontier,” has always intrigued me. This may have been attributed to watching countless episodes of “Star Trek” as a kid. 

Favorite Way to Spend Saturday Afternoon: While the activity may vary by season, my favorite way to spend a Saturday afternoon is outdoors. I love hunting turkeys in the spring and deer in the fall. During the months in between, I can be found on a tractor preparing for the next season.

Favorite TV Show: “24” with Jack Bauer. I haven’t been able to invest the time needed to save the world with the new cast of “24.” 

Favorite Movie: Like every other great outdoorsman, I love the movie Jeremiah Johnson.

Favorite Sports Team: University of Georgia Bulldogs – I believe 2017 is our year!

Favorite Comfort Food: Ice cream – I love any flavor at any time of the day.

Favorite App: Google Maps – I have to use it daily for site visits.

Last Book Read: Crop Rotation on Organic Farms by Mohler and Johnson. It wasn’t a pleasure read, but I need to stay current on new practices. 

Dream Vacation: My dream vacation would be to go on an African safari. I think it would be a great adventure to observe the amazing animals in their extraordinary habitat.

Something That Has Changed My Life: Surviving a car accident last April. I spent seven days at MCG and took two months off work to heal. I still feel the effects today. 

Best Thing I Ever Learned: Colossians 3:23-24 — “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” 

One Word You Would Use to Describe Yourself: Handy

Favorite Hobbies: Hunting, golfing, traveling and wildlife management

Secret Aspiration: I aspire to be a part of a team that grows crops on Mars. However, I would not want this adventure to play out like the movie, The Martian, where Matt Damon gets left behind on Mars.

Reality Show I Would Totally Win: Don’t have any interest in participating on any of the reality shows. I wouldn’t mind having a chance to play the game show, “The Price is Right.” I think I would totally win at the “Beat the Clock” game or “Plinko.” 

Something People Would Be Surprised to Know About Me: I hate to get my hands dirty. I always try to wear leather gloves when working outside or latex gloves when repairing a piece of equipment. I don’t like dirt, grease or glue on my hands, which is sometimes inevitable in my line of work. 

What person do you think we should know? If you’d like to suggest someone we should meet, email editor@columbiacountymag.com and tell us why.

Double Lemon Bars

Desserts
  • double lemon bar2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups flour, divided
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice with pulp
  • 1/4 cup grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Confectioner’s sugar for top

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and set aside. With an electric mixer, beat butter about 2 minutes until fluffy. Mix in 2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar until combined. Add 2 cups of flour (a cup at a time), beating until moist clumps form. Press dough onto the baking dish and up the sides. Bake about 20 minutes or until lightly golden brown. While crust is baking, place granulated sugar and eggs in a bowl and beat well. Add lemon juice and pulp, lemon zest, baking powder and remaining 1/4 cup flour. Beat until well combined. Remove crust from oven and pour lemon filling on top. Return to oven and bake about 20 minutes until filling is set in the center and begins to brown on top. Transfer to rack and let cool completely before cutting into squares. Sift confectioner’s sugar on top before serving.

 

 

Eco Exploration

Getaways
Eco Exploration

Photos courtesy of Black River Outdoors

Get close to nature during guided kayak salt marsh tours off South Carolina’s Hammock Coast

Off of South Carolina’s Hammock Coast, the salt marsh murmurs with rustling grasses, singing birds, spitting oysters, lapping water. The air is so fresh each breeze is like a soft relaxed sigh, every gust an adrenaline-fueled gasp. Light sparkles on water, filters through reeds. 

Here earth and sea mingle to create a muck that houses dozens of creatures and plants that in turn nourish dozens more. Each incoming and outgoing tide churns the water, shifts the current and alters the scenery. Wildlife is more at home here than humans. But you can kayak in and take a peek on a Black River Outdoors salt marsh tour.

The tours set off from Huntington Beach State Park in Pawleys Island, South Carolina, the seat of the Hammock Coast that stretches between Myrtle Beach and Charleston. Each outing is different since weather, time of day, tide level, season and the whims of wildlife all factor into each experience. However, there is one sure bet: You’ll get close to nature.

Salt--Marsh--Paddlers-CREDIT-Black-River-OutdoorsIn Good Company 
Another sure thing: It’s best to kayak the marsh with a guide. It’s too easy to get lost in the tall grasses, plus there are tides and currents to navigate. Black River Outdoors offers a variety of themed tours in different ecosystems, and it’s more interesting to share a few hours with someone who knows the area.

“The caliber of our guides is a big thing,” says Richard Laurent, owner. “Guides Paul Laurent and Mandy Johnson have deep knowledge of the salt marsh ecosystem as well as local facts, trivia, anecdotes, history and legends. We know the ecosystem, history and social aspects of the area, so we give a pretty well-rounded tour.”

Richard maintains a fleet of 100 kayaks for kayakers of all skill levels. “We test a lot of boats. We’ve found that normally a 12-foot kayak is the sweet spot: It will go straight easily and will turn easily. A shorter boat is swirly and a longer boat takes better skill,” he says.

Depending on wind and waves, the amount of exertion needed to paddle the salt marsh shifts in intensity throughout the tour. Longer tours break for a walk about halfway through. “Most people are not comfortable sitting in a kayak for four straight hours,” says Richard.For the Birds

On such a walk on a recent tour, Paul pulls out some high-caliber birdwatching equipment. His binoculars and scope zoom in for a closer look at birds soaring overhead and floating on the sea. 

“There’s a northern gannet,” says Paul, stepping aside to allow kayakers to peer through the scope. Northern gannets are large white birds (adults weigh about seven pounds) with black-tipped wings and butter-yellow heads. They are excellent divers that can plunge from heights of 130 feet to 72 feet deep into the sea and swim even deeper in pursuit of fish. It’s rare to see one so close to land.

On birding tours kayakers can see 50 to 100 species of birds, depending on the time of year. The South Carolina Hammock Coast hosts migrating arctic and tropical birds in addition to its residents. “Huntington Beach is kind of a birding mecca,” says Richard. “It is considered by many to be the best birding site on the East Coast.” On its website, Black River Outdoors lists more than 100 birds spotted during tours including bald eagles, woodpeckers, sandpipers, plovers, ducks, geese, loons, gulls, terns, herons, egrets, raptors and others.

“The neat thing about the birding tour is that you go through many different ecosystems: fresh water lagoon, brackish water lagoon, salt marsh, jetty beach and maritime forest,” says Richard. “You see so much variety because different birds are in each of those ecosystems. It’s really like five tours in one.” 

Mandy points to a little brown bird. “That’s a saltmarsh sparrow,” she says. “That’s one for your life list.” She explains that serious birders keep a tally of all the bird species they’ve identified in their lifetime, and this sparrow is rarer and more special than others since it’s limited to salt marshes along the Atlantic and upper Gulf coasts.

When the kayakers float around a bend, they inadvertently spook white egrets and blue herons to wing overhead. A pink bird remains standing in the water, eating. “That’s a roseate spoonbill,” says Mandy. “Another one for your life list.” The pink roseate spoonbill looks like an imaginative combination of a flamingo and pelican, with a rounded beak and jerky stride.

Tours at low tide and high tide have different moods, revealing different creatures. Think jelly fish, hermit crabs, blue crabs, snails, clusters of oysters spitting streams of water into the air, a sea turtle and a dolphin. Each guide can rattle off facts about every creature encountered. Mandy also gives in-depth, more-interesting-than-it-sounds lessons on marsh grass. Paul shares local legends and lore.

Kaity-(guide)-CREDIT-Black-River-OutdoorsCreatures Great and Small
While the two- and four-hour salt marsh tours rank as the company’s most popular, other options include sunrise tours, full moon tours, history tours, fishing trips, cypress swamp tours and a Sandy Island tour.

In the cypress swamp, snakes, turtles and alligators are common sights. “We pick up non-venomous snakes and in 30 seconds or a minute they’re calm so we can hand them to interested guests,” says Richard. “Kids — and more importantly adults who think they’d never go near a snake — end up holding snakes. We’re trying to educate about the reality of wildlife not the mythology; we’re raised to be afraid of snakes. This is a wild animal. The true personality of the snake is that it will calm down and lay in arms if you’re gentle. Snakes think we’re warm squishy trees.”

Our guides’ favorite tour is the Sandy Island tour,” says Richard. “You go through a cool bog ecosystem with wild orchids, wild iris and carnivorous plants. We land and take a 45-minute walk. There’s a very well-hidden path, and depending on rain, there can be several inches of water compressing down the mud. Every time I convince people to wade through it they’ve all thanked me afterwards.”

After all, communing with nature does tend to inspire feelings of thankfulness.

Cypress--Swamp--Paddlers-CREDIT-Black-River-OutdoorsIf You Go

What: Black River Outdoors salt marsh tours:

  • Cypress Swamp Eco-Tour (2- or 4-hour available year-round in the mornings)
  • Huntington Beach Salt Marsh Eco-Tour (2- or 4-hour available year-round in the mornings; 2-hour evening tours available mid-April through September)
  • Sandy Island Eco-Tour (4- or 6-hour; available year-round in the mornings)
  • Georgetown Harbor History Tour (2-hour evening)
  • Huntington Beach Birding Tour (6-hour kayaking & walking)
  • Full Moon Eco-Tour (4-hour; available once a month in the evening)
  • Kayak Fishing Trips (4-hours)

When: Year-round; tour times vary

sunset-CREDIT-Black-River-OutdoorsWhere: South Carolina’s Hammock Coast

How Much: Eco-, history, birding and full moon tour prices are $40 per person for 2-hour, $60 per person for 4-hour, and $80 per person for 6-hour tours ($35/$45/$60 for children age 12 and younger). Fishing trips are $125 per person for groups of two or three; private fishing is $150. Group discounts available, prices subject to change. Reservations required. Tours often sell out. 

More Info: (843) 546-4840 or blackriveroutdoors.com 

By Hope S. Philbrick

Strawberry Fields Forever

People
Strawberry Fields Forever

Photography by Addie Strozier

The unusually warm winter weather, followed by a cold snap in early spring, was no match for this local strawberry farmer. 

For many local residents, one of the most anticipated announcements that spring officially has sprung is sighting the Gurosik’s Berry Plantation tents at strategic locations in the area. 

This year, the roadside markets appeared even earlier than usual when the weather pushed up strawberry season by several weeks. And thanks to fickle Mother Nature, those delicious red berries – homegrown in Edgefield County, South Carolina by Marilyn and Clyde Gurosik (pronounced Jer-OH-sik) – received an extra dose of TLC. 

“We had the worst freeze in history in this area in March. It was even worse than the Easter freeze in April of 2007,” says Clyde. “This freeze put that one to shame because things were so advanced. January and February were so warm, so the fruit bloomed early.”

Strawberry Fields Forever

Gurosik’s Berry Plantation owner Clyde Gurosik

Put on Ice 
For six straight days in March, Clyde worked in 22-hour cycles to save the strawberries. When early morning temperatures plunged below the freezing mark for three days, he covered the strawberries with thermal row covers, which are like thermal blankets, to hold in the ground temperature.

“The ground temperature is significantly warmer, so if you can cap it and hold it down, you can create an igloo where you can get six degrees of additional temperature,” he says.

He kept a close watch on the 20 ice bath-calibrated thermometers scattered around his 100-acre farm, so he would know if he needed to turn on sprinklers to ice the plants and keep them warm. Yes, he iced the plants to keep them warm. “When those thermometers hit 32 degrees, you’re in trouble,” says Clyde.

When water is applied at the correct rate and changes from a liquid to ice, he explains, it gives off energy and acts like a giant gasoline heater.

“The encasement of the plants in ice is actually a protective measure,” says Clyde, who worked in thermonuclear weapons components management at Savannah River Site for almost 30 years. “It has to be done when there’s no wind. If you get any wind at all, you get evaporative cooling. It’s a touchy game when you can and can’t use water. We have 10 minutes to make a critical decision. It’s a laborious process. It takes a lot of energy, a lot of science.”

His efforts paid off because he was able to save his entire crop.

“It’s not like the old days when you put the seeds in the ground and watched them grow,” says Marilyn, a former music teacher who now handles marketing operations for the farm.

Strawberry Fields ForeverReturn to His Roots
While technology has changed some things since “the old days,” others have remained the same. Farming, for instance, is embedded in Clyde’s DNA. He grew up on a strawberry farm in Pennsylvania, and he has had his current farm since 1982. After he retired – or in his word, “transitioned” – from SRS in 2000, he became a fulltime farmer.

“My first memory is being in a bassinet on our porch while my parents were harvesting strawberries,” he says. “I wanted to go back to my roots and grow strawberries, but I didn’t plan on doing it on this scale.”

Through the years, the business has grown from one small U-Pick field to a thriving commercial retail and wholesale operation. The insane hours that he worked in March are nothing new for Clyde, however. He worked from 5 a.m. until 6 p.m. at SRS, and then went home and farmed until 11 p.m. He was up at 3 a.m. the next day to start the cycle all over again.

He also pays meticulous attention to detail. Clyde looked at 100 parcels of land before finding his farmland, which is located on the brink of the coastal plain and the piedmont. “Everything here was a forest,” he says. “There was not a field here.” The Gurosiks purchased their land in three sections after conducting extensive soil and water research.

Strawberry Fields ForeverThey also grow other crops including blackberries, sweet onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, asparagus, green beans and flowers. However, Clyde says of the land, “It’s specific for strawberries. That’s why we bought it. The sandy loam is good for berries, and the clay underneath holds in the micronutrients.”

They built irrigation ponds and seven separate pumping stations, and the 12 acres of strawberry fields are at different elevations, orientations and wind exposure to alter the start, peak and end of the season.

Farm workers plant 120,000 strawberry plants by hand in one day in the first week of October, then water them for seven to 10 days. To grow the berries, the farm has an investment of $15,000 per acre, which includes plants, fertilizer, soil fumigation, plastic, lime, drip hoses, micronutrients and labor costs.

“It has to be replaced every single year. Otherwise, the plants wouldn’t be clean,” says Clyde.

He says it takes 28 days from the time the plant blooms to the time it produces fruit, and each spring a 10-man crew arrives from Mexico to pick the strawberries. Clyde instructs the men to pick berries that are fully colored, with no green showing. The pickers rotate through the fields every three days to establish the berries’ sugar, flavor and micronutrient content.

“The minute you pick a strawberry, it will have its flavor and sugar content forever,” Clyde says. “It will turn red after you pick it, but it won’t get sweeter.”

Of course, for optimum quality control, he conducts his own taste tests in the strawberry fields as well. “If you picked a berry out of a field, I could tell by the taste which field it came from,” he says. “The fields have their own characteristics, like people. You can add nutrients to the soil, but you won’t change what God put there.”

Strawberry Fields Forever

Avia Edwards at Gurosik’s roadside stand on River Watch Parkway in Martinez

‘Touched by the Hand of God’
Because Clyde doesn’t harvest the berries until they are fully ripe, he sells them only at roadside markets. Columbia County locations include the corners of Furys Ferry and Mulliken roads, River Watch Parkway and Baston Road, and Lewiston, Columbia and Hereford Farm roads. Other area locations include the Augusta Market on the River, Wacky Wayne’s Fireworks off of Interstate 20 in North Augusta and the Aiken Bypass Market.

“It makes so many people happy,” says Marilyn. “They’re thrilled to get fresh berries.”

Many of the people that work at the tents are retirees who like to be active. All of them have outgoing personalities that represent the farm well, says Clyde. Avia Edwards has worked at the River Watch Parkway stand for five years. She is following in the footsteps of her mother, aunt and cousin, who have worked at the roadside markets.

“My favorite thing is seeing our regular customers every year,” Avia says. “The strawberries are so sweet and so pretty. The quality brings everybody back.” 

One of those regular customers is George Litchfield of Atlanta. The builder comes to the area every week, and he has been a loyal customer for 10 years. He usually buys about 10 gallons of strawberries at a time.

“All of my friends in Atlanta love the strawberries, so I buy some for them,” George says. “They’re great. They’re delicious. They’re fabulous. The ladies that sell them are fabulous.”

In addition to baskets full of berries, the tent is stocked with fresh vegetables, homemade breads and fritters, relish, chow-chow, cider, syrup, jam, honey and salsa. And in true Gurosik fashion, there typically are samples of berries available as well. “The best thing that sells is samples,” Clyde says. 

The U-Pick field at the farm on Briggs Road in North Augusta is open 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. – 6 p.m. Sunday. Field managers show people where to pick the berries, and the optimum picking technique is to twist and quickly snap the berry from the plant. 

“It’s more of a service to the public than a business now,” says Clyde. “I like to see happy people.” 

Strawberry Fields Forever

Marilyn and Clyde Gurosik

About 3,000 schoolchildren tour the farm annually as well. “The kids think strawberries grow on the shelves at Walmart,” Clyde says.

Every time Clyde and Marilyn think about slowing down, they reconsider because of their customers. “I don’t have to do this. I do this because I grew up doing it, and it’s a true contribution to the community,” Clyde says. “When the sun shines on a strawberry, it’s touched by the hand of God.” 

By Betsy Gilliland

Frenemies of Nature

Garden Scene
Frenemies of Nature

Photos courtesy of Steve Kyles and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources

Is the wildlife in your yard a joy or a nuisance? It all depends on your perspective – and what the furry little critters might be doing to your landscape. 

Warm weather is here, and with the rising mercury, people are eager to spend time outdoors. As a result, wild animals – and their handiwork – often are more visible as well.

“Summer is a fun time to be outside, and it’s fun to see animals do what they do,” says I.B. Parnell, a Georgia Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist. “It’s not necessarily something to be afraid of. It’s something neat to see.” 

Frenemies of NatureOf course, when these adorable animals start digging up your yard or eating your plants or harassing your pets, they might seem more like frenemies. “A lot of times the animal’s activity depends on the perception of the person,” says Parnell.

For most people, animals morph from friend to foe when their activities become invasive or destructive. Some of the species that most often create problems for homeowners include coyotes, foxes, deer, raccoons, possums, armadillos and snakes. For people who have ponds on their properties, beavers, Canada geese and alligators can make their presence known in unwelcome ways as well. 

Frenemies of NatureForaging for Food
While the state provides technical information, says Parnell, who works in the Thomson DNR office, the state and counties do not provide trapping services. However, he says the state handles sick or injured wildlife on an emergency basis.

Animals in suburban settings often pattern themselves after people, Parnell says, and they might roam around neighborhoods while people are at work. Oftentimes, wild animals venture into neighborhoods in search of food. 

“Once animals start associating food being near houses, you create a search pattern for them,” says Parnell. “If animals find food on one back porch, they’ll look for it on another.”

Frenemies of NatureExposed garbage is another food source for wildlife, and coyotes, foxes, possums and raccoons will look for food from the same sources. In addition, says Parnell, raccoons or possums might fight with dogs.

“If a raccoon is fighting with a pet dog, that can be an immediate threat,” he says. “It’s likely that the raccoon is sick or injured in some way.” The animal needs to be destroyed to test it for rabies, he says, but the head must be intact because that is the part of the body where county personnel test the animal for the virus.

Armadillos can cause problems by digging in yards, and Parnell says they are difficult to catch because they don’t respond well to baits. He says people can use a wooden trap or a seasoned trap to catch them. (A seasoned trap has the scent of an armadillo because one already has been captured in it.) Parnell recommends that people use logs or wood to build a funnel into the trap.

Frenemies of Nature“Armadillos are not protected by law. They can be trapped or shot any time,” he says. “You can do it yourself, or you can hire a nuisance wildlife contractor to do it for you.”

“Although people are afraid of coyotes, Parnell says, there is no documented coyote attack of a child in Georgia. They will attack cats or small dogs, however.”

Parnell also emphasizes that “animals can only be relocated to another property with the landowner’s permission. For instance, people cannot trap animals and take them to Clarks Hill Lake without the permission of the Army Corps of Engineers.”

However, he adds, “If it’s causing you enough of a problem to catch it, it’s causing you enough of a problem to kill it.”

Parnell says his office gets a lot of calls about beavers, which chew on fruit tree to build dams, in neighborhood ponds. “There is no season for beavers. They can be taken year-round,” he says. 

According to Parnell, alligators under 4 feet long don’t mess with people. They eat frogs and snakes, he says, but a 6-foot alligator could be a threat to a small dog. People who have an alligator that is longer than 4 feet in their pond can call a nuisance trapper to have It removed. However, says Parnell, no one can ask to have an alligator removed from someone else’s pond.

Frenemies of NatureOh, Baby!
At this time of year, baby animals are more visible as well.

In early summer, for instance, baby foxes, which may have been in dens under outside sheds or in old stumps for a month or more, are big enough to come out and play. “It might be the first time people see them,” says Parnell. “The best thing to do is to chalk it up to something really cool to see and leave them alone.”

People also might find birds’ nests on the top of porch columns or in a wreath on their front door. “This is a temporary problem. The best thing to do is to let the young birds fledge. It generally takes two to three weeks,” says Parnell. “When the birds are gone, take down the nest. Or you can take it down before it has eggs in it.”

He also recommends that homeowners put something on top of columns to prevent birds from building a nest there. “An ounce of prevention goes a really long way,” he says.

Someone who sees a deer in a fenced yard might think that the animal is trapped, but it could have been put there to protect it from predators. Fawns also can be found under shrubs as well.

“People think the fawn has been abandoned, but that’s not the case. Does hide their fawns in the shrubs,” Parnell says. “Every three to six hours, the doe will come to the last place she fed the fawn and bleat so the fawn will go to her. Unless you see a dead doe next to the fawn, the best thing to do for that fawn is to leave it alone.”

For more information, call (706) 667-4672 or visit georgiawildlife.com/nuisancewildlife or georgiawildlife.com/hunting/game-management.

Frenemies of NatureDos and Don’ts to Control Nuisance Wildlife
Due to limited personnel, the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division cannot provide employees to remove nuisance animals from neighborhoods or private property. However, people can hire a nuisance wildlife trapping service to take care of a problem animal. Depending on the setting and type of nuisance, they can take care of a problem themselves or obtain a nuisance wildlife control permit to live trap, possess, transport and release certain nuisance wildlife in suitable habitats. I.B. Parnell, a Georgia Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist, also offers a number of dos and don’ts to keep wildlife from engaging in destructive behavior on personal or neighborhood properties. 

Do:

  • Keep garbage in closed containers.
  • Keep lawns mowed low so rats and mice, which attract snakes, coyotes, bobcats and foxes, can’t hide in the grass.
  • Clean up any birdseed that falls out of a feeder and onto the ground because it attracts rodents at night.
  • To deter beavers from gnawing on trees, wrap the bases of trees in welding wire or paint the trees from ground level to a height of 4 feet with a mix of sand and exterior paint (8 ounces of sand for every quart of paint).
  • Trap or shoot armadillos, possums or raccoons, or hire a nuisance wildlife trapping service to do it.
  • Go through a neighborhood homeowners’ association to decide as a group if residents want Canada geese to stay or go. To rid a property of Canada geese, landowners can harvest them during the hunting season, which runs off and on from September until the end of January. They also can be removed by a nuisance removal service when they are unable to fly during synchronized molting season from mid-June until mid-July. They must be relocated at least 100 miles away.
  • Get a Canada goose nest destruction permit from the Fish & Wildlife Service.
  • Leave animals alone, particularly if they do not appear to be in distress.
  • Call a wildlife rehabilitator to help some animals such as a baby bird that has fallen out of a nest. Highland Animal Hospital in Augusta is the closest wildlife rehabilitator in the area.

Don’t:

  •  Leave attractants such as leftover pet food in your yard.
  • Leave cats out at night when they are more likely to be attacked by a coyote.
  • Put extra garbage out until the morning of pickup.
  • Let your children pick up small animals such as baby foxes, even though the baby animals might let them.
  • Leave piles of brush or limbs in your yard.
  • Feed Canada geese.
  • Try to raise baby animals on your own. They get acclimated to people and cannot be returned to the wild.

Magnificent Obsessions

In The Home
Photography by Haley Lamb

Photography by Haley Lamb

With rabbits and roosters, buffalo checks and bargains – with emphasis on the bargains – the décor in this home in The Locks reflects the warm, welcoming, French Country style of a Martinez family. 

Featuring sunny yellow walls, brightly painted furniture and whimsical accent pieces, the Martinez home of Kim and Steve Schultz in The Locks is the perfect setting for a nonstop parade of people – particularly little boys. Kim and Steve are the parents of 6-year-old Jack, and Steve’s three adult children from a previous marriage have blessed them with six grandsons that are near Jack in age.

“We always have a house full of little boys,” says Kim, “so we can’t be too high maintenance.”

Backyard-Sitting-AreaSavvy Shoppers
Through bargain hunting and DIY home projects, the Schultzes have been busy decorating their home, which was built in 1999, since they bought it a little more than a year ago. The original owner was a builder who included features such as heavy crown molding, columns, transom windows above the doorways and oak hardwood flooring in the construction.

“The guts of the house were good, but it needed to be updated,” says Kim, who knew she wanted the house as soon as she saw it.

They replaced light fixtures, door knobs and faucets, and Kim started creating a rustic, farmhouse look with French Country décor.

“The house has a classic look to it. That’s what I like,” she says. “I want my home to be warm and inviting. I want people to feel like they can kick their shoes off and be comfortable.”

Kitchen-2They kept the butcher block island in the sunny yellow kitchen. However, they replaced a ceiling fan above the island with a wire pendant light and added a matching light above the other end. The kitchen also features granite countertops and stainless steel appliances.

Arched windows surround either side of the corner sink, and rooster chandelier, which Kim found on the Augusta Online Yardsale Facebook page, hangs above the sink. A decorative rooster sits on the counter behind the sink, while more roosters hang on the walls or sit atop the cabinets.

A canvas of a rooster hangs on the wall in the adjoining breakfast area, where black-and-white buffalo check drapery panels stand out against the yellow walls. Kim also refinished a white chest in the breakfast area. “I like to refinish furniture,” she says.

Dining-Room-1The French Country décor extends into the dining room, which is connected to the kitchen by a swinging door with glass panes. While roosters strut their stuff in the kitchen, rabbits rule the roost in the dining room. “I’m slightly obsessed with rabbits,” says Kim. “I’ve always loved them.”

The décor includes rabbit candlesticks on the dining room table, a lamp with a rabbit base on a small chest with glass doors, a greenery-filled rabbit vase on the piano and a rabbit atop the china cabinet. The window treatments in the dining room feature gray-and-white buffalo check panels, and the chairs boast matching fabric. “I’m obsessed with buffalo checks, too,” Kim says.

She bought extra curtain panels so she could cover the chairs, and she made the floral arrangement on the dining room table. “If I can do it, I’m going to do it. I make all of my own floral arrangements and wreaths,” says Kim. “We do all of our own decorating. I have made curtains out of tablecloths before.”

The Schultzes bought the chest with glass doors when they got married 10 years ago. “We do a lot of shopping together. Steve always talks me out of things, and I always regret it,” says Kim. 

Not always, however. Kim bought a lot of her “rabbit things” at an old rustic hardware store when they were on their honeymoon in Clayton, Georgia. And in keeping with their happy-go-lucky, whimsical style, Kim says they even got married on an impulse.

“We had planned to go out of town for my birthday on March 4, and we got married on March 1 on a Thursday night at Partridge Inn,” she says. “It was a small wedding with our friends and family. We knew we wouldn’t have to fight for a venue. Nobody wants to get married on a Thursday night. We turned my birthday celebration into a honeymoon.”

Kim also turns to Pinterest for decorating ideas, such as the arched window mirror and shutters on the wall above the piano. 

Living-Room-3Repurpose and Refinish
The French Country décor – and Kim’s love for a good bargain – continues in the living room. She also found the leather couch on the Augusta Online Yardsale Facebook page – one of her favorite shopping spots. “I’m a bargain shopper bigtime,” says Kim.

Steve’s son refurbished a dresser, which belonged to Steve’s late ex-wife, and made it into a TV stand. The living room also includes a wood-burning fireplace, a ceiling fan and double doors to Steve’s office, which was supposed to be a formal living room. “He has to have one room in the house,” says Kim. “The rest of the rooms are mine.”

Steve, who works at SRS, has filled the office with golf memorabilia including a mirror with small golf clubs on the frame, a chair covered in golf-themed fabric and a golf-themed rug. A black distressed desk offers a striking contrast to white built-in bookcases.

Kim, a University Hospital nurse, often has a furniture refinishing project underway in the garage. However, she usually doesn’t get started until Jack has gone to bed and she has finished her homework for the online classes she is taking to earn an advanced nursing degree. She redid a chest in a guest bedroom, and she refinished Steve’s old desk for Jack’s room and painted it blue with chalk paint. “They say you should have something blue in every room,” says Kim.

Family-Room-ChestThe master bedroom features blue walls and a white trey ceiling. Furnishings include a sleigh bed and a roll top desk, which once belonged to Kim’s cousin. “I hate that desk, but Steve loves it,” says Kim. “He’s a packrat.”

Steve’s daughter embroidered the monogrammed pillowcases on the bed. “I love the bedroom. It’s probably one of my favorite rooms in the house,” says Kim. “Some people just use their room to sleep in, but I do not. I love to put on my PJs and watch TV in bed. Steve calls me ‘24’ because I could stay in bed 24 hours a day.”

During the summer months, however, the Schultzes spend most of their time by the saltwater pool in their backyard. “Steve’s children and grandchildren come over a lot,” says Kim. “We do everything as a family.”

Seating areas include a wood deck with a red umbrella table and University of Georgia memorabilia, which undoubtedly brings back fond memories for the couple. They first met while tailgating in Athens with mutual friends, but sparks didn’t fly until they tailgated with the same group at a Georgia-Florida game. “That’s when he charmed me,” says Kim.

PoolA gazebo covers wicker furniture with red cushions and a red and white rug, and they love the peace and quiet of their backyard sanctuary.

“When you’re out here,” Kim says, “you don’t realize that you’re in the middle of a closely built neighborhood.”

By Leigh Howard