The Stone Soup Lab
Remember the old folk tale about stone soup? A hungry traveler comes to a village. Asking for food, he finds none. He decides that he will make stone soup, and with great ceremony sets up a boiling cauldron of water with a stone in it. Intrigued, the villagers one by one bring a few additions to the soup, until they have assembled a fine stew on which everyone feasts. It's a wonderful story of cooperation and making do with bits and snippets that are laying about. I've had a similar experience at work lately.
This is the room where we have been breeding our endangered butterflies. The photo was taken on February 27th. We had a lot of success last year, but the situation is far from ideal. One of the significant problems is the carpeted floor. Carpeting is a great place to harbor mold and bacterial spores, which can devastate growing caterpillars. We had a bit of grant money that could help the situation, and decided to rip up the carpeting and have a poured epoxy floor installed. That was the entire extent of the original plan.
Here's the new floor. Doesn't it look great? Robin, our intern, mentioned that she had a bunch of paint with mold inhibitors that would go well with the floor. That was great news, especially the mold inhibitors part. But we were just getting started.
One of our facilities staff mentioned that just behind the far wall were water lines and a drainpipe. There was a recently decommissioned stainless steel sink in the Museum kitchen upstairs. Would we like it installed in the room? My jaw dropped. Sinks in the Museum are a very precious commodity, and it's generally both difficult and extremely costly to have one installed. This is something that it would have never even occurred to me to wish for here. Cost to us: $0.
The room got painted and the sink got installed in less than 2 weeks. We were able to get some new wire shelving (easy to disinfect) and moved into the new lab about a week and a half ago.
We aren't completely done. The other side of the wall behind the wire shelves is a public corridor in the Museum. We will eventually have a window installed in the wall so that visitors can watch the endangered species breeding activities. Last week, the refrigerator with the regal fritallary caterpillars got transferred into the lab, and our caterpillars moved into their new home.
Stone soup, anyone?