Happy Spring Everyone!
The trees are budding, the grass is greening up, the lake has been open for weeks…in fact…the lake lost all of the ice on March 17th….the earliest we’ve seen since 1980 the year we bought our place on Six Mile Lake. Thankfully, there has been minimal flooding and, so far, we haven’t had the torrential rainstorms we’ve had in years past. However, the weather has gone hot, cold, hot, cold and doesn’t seem to be able to make up it’s mind whether warm weather is here to stay. But one fact we know for sure…the black flies, those little black bugs that swarm your face and get under your clothes and drill a visible hole in your skin surrounded by red swelling that itches like crazy, will be out in droves for the next four weeks. Unless the wind is blowing, which keeps them at bay somewhat, those of us who spend time outside wear head nets and long sleeves and long pants, minimizing skin exposure. Mercifully, by the time Memorial Day rolls around these biting miserable pests have exhausted their life cycle until next Spring when they emerge to torment us again.
With open waters comes the return of our waterfowl. We have seen merganzers, mallards, wood ducks, goldeneye, four mute swans, a pair of loons and, of course, Canada geese. In fact, we had to pull a loon platform that the Canada geese had decided to nest on. One of the most frequent questions I get as President is how to keep the geese off of lawns and waterfronts. We have used a mini water cannon hooked to a hose with an electric eye called ‘The Scarecrow’ which works like a charm on both geese and neighbors!!! Some residents use fishing line strung along the waterfront that they say the geese won’t cross, still others use a product called ‘Repels All’ which is a granular product that contains coyote or fox urine. I use this in my gardens to keep the rabbits and deer from eating my hostas and roses. I’ve also used ‘Repels All’ around the base of a small crabapple tree to keep the coons from raiding the blue jay nest in the tree. Another excellent product that I mix and use on my cedars, roses, and hostas is a liquid spray called ‘Deer Off’. I mix it, 3oz concentrate/21 oz water, in a spray bottle as it is too thick to be used in a tank sprayer. It smells like garlic and the furry animals including skunks and voles hate it. I have friends who trap skunks and either kill them or relocate them…trust me…if you are being invaded by skunks try the ‘Repels All” and the ‘Deer Off’. These products are not that expensive to buy, last for a couple of months once applied, and save so much aggravation that it’s worth it to always have these on hand. You can get them at any hardware store or big box store. For me, the operative word is ‘time’. I don’t have a lot of it so what I use has to be both ‘cost’ and ‘time’ effective.
Another option to keep the geese off of your front yard (your front yard is your lake frontage and your backyard is your road frontage) is to plant a rain garden or sunken natural garden along your shoreline. This not only discourages the ducks and geese from crossing your yard to the bird feeders but holds your frontage in place in times of high water levels and excessive wave action due to the boats and jet ski wakes that cause most of the severe erosion we are seeing along the shorelines. On the backside these natural plants will filter road runoff BEFORE it goes into the lake. FYI on Saturday, July 16th at 9am at the Pleasant Valley Free Methodist Church, our guest speaker will be Heidi Shaffer from the Antrim County Soil Conservation District, and she is putting together a special program, designed just for Six Mile Lake residents, on inspiring ways to create a natural garden for your lakefront. I hope you will plan on being there as this program will have a few surprises that I will keep you updated on.
Back to furry pests and another popular product, rat poison, used to kill rats, mice, and voles. I will never use this type of poison as the newer varieties don’t end with one dead animal but a secondary dead animal who may eat the dead or dying animal you just poisoned. Do your research before you buy any poisons to use around yourself, your children, or your pets and be mindful that the mouse you poisoned that died a horrible death may be the cause of a future dead owl or your beloved Fido. And don’t get me going on those inhumane ‘sticky traps’ where the animal dies a slow death stuck to piece of cardboard. A good old-fashioned mousetrap is much more humane and instantaneous but some people are squeamish about removing the dead mouse so I will tell you what has worked for years, without fail, for me. It’s called a bug bomb and it works on mice, squirrels, bats, or any furry creature that’s taken up residence in your attic or crawl space. Bug bombs are inexpensive and take about 5 seconds to set off. We have used these successfully over the years and our friends have used them to evict skunks from crawl spaces. Be sure and wait until night when the animals have gone out to forage for food, then set the bomb off, and leave or go outside yourself for a couple of hours, then air your house out when you come home. Not only will you have successfully evicted the squatters and saved yourself the expense of calling an exterminator, but your house will be relatively bug and spider free for a couple of months. Before we moved north permanently, we would put a bomb in our attic in the spring and again in the fall when we left to go back downstate, and we never had any issues with furry creatures that go bump in the night. They absolutely hate the smell of the bomb and very little of it makes it’s way into the house from the attic or crawl space if you close or cover the register vents.
I would also encourage you to check out the website ewg.org and search out products that are environmentally friendly. You may be surprised to find that some insect repellents, cleaning agents, shampoos, lotions, sunscreens, etc. actually are carcinogenic. Just because something is ‘natural’ doesn’t mean it is safe. All these chemicals end up in our water. I would also encourage you to dispose of old prescription drugs properly by taking them back to the pharmacy rather then flushing them down the toilet which goes into the septic tank which eventually drains into the yard and finally makes it’s way into the groundwater.
Some of you may be questioning why I am concerned with this topic when Six Mile Lake is being chemically treated for milfoil by PLM. I don’t think we’ll find many lakefront residents who will disagree that this was the right step to take in order to restore navigable waters to parts of Six Mile Lake. And that is the key here…only parts of Six Mile Lake are being treated…not the entire lake. Just so you know the SMLA Board of Directors appointed Kathy Batka as the liason to PLM last May and Kathy just posted the latest PLM treatment schedule on the website so check it out. Kathy and SMLA member, Michele Nerone, have also been attending both the ERCOL (and SNRE) meetings in Antrim County for many years on behalf of the SMLA and I would personally like to thank both of them for their time and efforts representing all of us who live here on Six Mile Lake.
If you have other ideas or solutions you would like to share on this topic please feel free to join the discussion. All of us are always looking for creative solutions that make our lives just a little bit easier.
The Six Mile Lake Association’s scheduled monthly meetings for 2016;
Saturday, June 11th- 9am Pleasant Valley Free Methodist Church
Breakfast Brunch and Welcome to the Summer!
-Please bring a dish to pass and your own table setting. We will have a short business meeting after breakfast and we should all be back home by 11:15 am.
Saturday, July 16th- 9am Pleasant Valley Free Methodist Church
Guest Speaker Heidi Shaffer- Antrim County Soil Conservation District
Topic: Rain Garden/Sunken Gardens and a surprise!!
Saturday, August 13th- 4:30 pm Echo Township Park
SMLA Annual Picnic
-Please bring a dish to pass and a nice used item you no longer want in a brown bag for a fun drawing.
Saturday, Sept 9th- 9am Pleasant Valley Free Methodist Church
Saturday, Oct 13th- 4:30pm Pleasant Valley Free Methodist Church
Chili Supper and Snowbird Send-off- Raia Black Chairperson
Sign up to bring chili/dessert/cornbread
Saturday Dec 10th- 5pm Blue Pelican Restaurant, Central Lake
SMLA Annual Christmas Party-Cherie Hogan Chairperson
If you are interested in heading up/signing up for a committee please contact any of the board members or text me at 231-676-9969.
Hope to see all of you soon!
Until next time….
Cherie Hogan, President