Since I have to be “on deck and running” as soon as the Maintenance guys are gone June 1, they started my pay last Thursday. Now I need to learn everything about how this school functions “behind the front” as soon as possible.
Strangely, my real interests lie in how the grounds look to the public. There is SO much to do to beautify this dust-ridden campus. One of the major things is getting rid of the tumble weed that collects everywhere that there is a wall or tree or bush to impede its progress across the plains.
Of course the ideal would be to prevent its growth everywhere on our 80 acres. But then, what holds the sandy soil in place? There seems to be sand blowing in the air all the time. There would be even more if the natural weeds were not holding much of it in place.
If all the flat or nearly flat land could be planted with alfalfa or even a hardy prairie grass. The school has three wells on the property, and there is plenty of water. We just don’t have the staff do do it.A planting could hold the soil in place and feed the horses. Which brings up another subject. Horsemanship, Pottery and welding is taught here, but no other animal husbandry or skills that would be useful on the Nation. It seems like they should be having the kids raise sheep or goats, also, since a lot of the Nation’s industry is weaving. Perhaps that will come in time.
When the Principal first asked me to come here to volunteer, he wanted me to try to get the greenhouses functioning again. Over and over I have returned to the concept of Aquaponics. I’m not sure how long the school has been without a garden, but the weeds have pretty much taken over the area. One of the teachers used one of the 5 greenhouses last Spring, but everything had been harvested or died by the time I got here in June. There appears to have been about ½ acre under cultivation the last time the garden was used. The school has ribbons for produce entered in the Navajo County Fair for several years, so it was prosperous at one time.
The landscaping and looks of the grounds is only ONE of the major needs here. Another one that should be high on the list is the rundown condition of the staff housing. Many of the homes are in need of exterior paint. There is peeling paint and warping wood everywhere one looks on campus. There are a lot of shingles missing after we had a 70 mph wind storm a month or so ago.The weather here is brutal on wood and composition roofing. Most of the school buildings have been roofed with metal, but the homes should be also.
There are quite a few volunteer groups that come each year, but most of the work is expended on the more glamorous projects, i.e. the school plant. One group actually spent a lot of time landscaping around the administration building. It looks good, but it wasn’t completed. So, there’s more work for me or someone on the maintenance crew… when we get one.
Today, on my day off, I prepared a nursery bed and planted 30+ Lombardy Poplar trees in containers, to be planted later by volunteer groups. I plan to put them around the corrals and riding areas for windbreaks. About 40 Globe Willows will go in around campus for shade. I’m also preparing a Frisbee Golf course on Campus Commons to give the kids something to do in their free time.
What do you think? Is this enough to keep me busy and out of trouble until I die, or what?