Bugs, Bites & Bruises

rose bushI have to tell you, it’s been one heck of a week. I won’t burden you with the adverse details but I will tell you about the 1000 calamities and challenges.

It all started with a last minute call for help. You see, about this time of year I get a lot of calls from people who got busy over the summer and neglected their home gardens.

I’m not talking about just a few weeds that have taken over a flower bed or two. This late in the season spells horrific body-sized monsters that any normal person would keel over at first sight. Let me explain:

  • 5 foot high thistle that loves to bite
  • Seeding dandelions so thick that you cannot see the ground from once it came
  • Climbing rose bushes so out of control that the trellis have fallen into the abyss
  • Quackgrass, a chameleon that hides among your favorite flowers pretending to be the next bloom
  • Choke Weed intertwined with all the perennials, so tight that you can almost hear the plant suffocating
  • Common Mullein when left to thrive, has at least a 3 foot root system that is dreadful to get out of the ground

There you have it, weed monster challenges that I elatedly accept. I love gardens, plants, herbs and being outdoors.
So here I was with a new client that desperately needed my help. Yes, he has overgrown climbing rose bushes that were pulling the trellises out of the ground. He also has numerous weeds, both low growing fiends and 5 foot high beasts.

german shepard with tongue outAbout an hour into the job the clients’ cousin shows up with her 7 month old German Shepard. I tell you, this pup was big and full of rambunctious energy. The dog Sierra would not let me be. Don’t get me wrong, I love animals. However, I was digging 2- 3 foot holes for stakes in clay/rock soil to give the trellises support.

It seemed that every time I tried to put the shovel into the earth, Sierra would try to take hold of it with her teeth. Well, I did accidentally bash the shovel into Sierra’s mouth. She ran up to me unexpectedly and tried grabbing the tool. But it didn’t phase her one bit.

At long last I got the stakes into the ground. Now it was time to tie the humongous roses to the trellis and stakes. With scissors in hand and the twine at my feet, I set to work positioning the bushes. I no sooner got the roses situated where I needed them (mind you, I was holding them in place with one hand and my knee propped against the base, and no gloves). I reach down to grab the twine and it’s nowhere to be found. You guessed it, Sierra hijacked the twine.

Running after this big puppy was a challenge. Of course Sierra thought it was a game. But I refused to play (remember, I am on the clock). After a small tug, Sierra let lose her vise grip and released. Well, this playful pup of a giant continued playing ‘catch me if you can’ with the twine. She was like the gingerbread man, laughing and smiling all the way until I caught up numerous times.

gingerbread man hanging from treeI continued working, while Sierra was anxiously involved with my every move. She is such a curious and playful sort. As I was engrossed in my work I suddenly felt something inside my sock. Whatever it was, this ‘thing’ started biting me hard.

And along came Sierra.

She decided that my antics and scrimmaging was all a game. In fact, she refused to leave me alone; all the while I was trying to get to whatever was attacking me. I then decided to take off running so I could get away from Sierra and remove the gnawing culprit. So here I was, running through the lawn trying to grab my ankle with a rambunctious dog jumping at my side. I finally collapsed beside Sierra’s owner so I could take my shoe off as the bug continued to bite me. Thank goodness Sierra was now maintained.

Although I didn’t see the bug, it felt like a wasp that was gnawing continuously instead of stinging. Ouch! I was finally able to take off my shoe to have a look. There was a huge bite about the size of the tip of a pencil. I was grateful that my day was almost done. Soon after the ordeal I headed home to nurture my wound.

Once at home I grabbed a fresh comfrey leaf and squished it to release the medicinal oils. I then applied the herb to a band aid so that I had a healing compress for my wound. The next day I removed my poultice; there was not a mark or discoloration to be found! Oh, the miracle of comfrey.

The Next Days Challenge

wolf spiderGood grief, I feel like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz…. lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Another day of bug confrontations!

I have a client that is tucked away in Montana horse country. It’s an 8 bedroom home with a picturesque view of the mountains in all directions. This home is immaculate with little clutter even with 4 young kids.

My job is to help organize. I was going about my habitual obligations in one of the kid’s bedroom. I was mindlessly picking up the toys when I saw something on the floor scurry past me. It was within arm’s reach! I must confess that my eyes aren’t as good as they used to be. But right in front of me I could see a huge hobo spider! Keep in mind that I do not have a fear of spiders. In truth, I used to gently pick them up with a tissue and carry them outside. That is, until I moved back to Montana. I am really starting to hate spiders!

Mt first place here, I had an invasion of Wolf spiders. Never in my life have I had a spider turn around and decide to attack me. Spiders always run away when you try to catch them. Not Wolf spiders. They are big and very aggressive. Their bite is poisonous but not lethal. I have heard the bit is Very painful. Sometimes the Wolf spider is considered dangerous to humans because they bite freely if provoked e.g. trying to pick it up to place outside. Oh, did I mention that females reach 22-35 millimeters in body length (that’s .86 to 1.38 inches). Their leg-span is even greater still.

Okay, back to Hobos. The next place I lived at had an infestation of Hobo spiders. The house had been vacant for about two years. In the meantime the Hobos found a home. I set spider traps out everywhere and I swear that we caught 15+ Hobos in each trap for the first three or four days. The only room that did not have Hobos was my bedroom. I decided to spray a natural bug repellent around my windows and door. I have a special hot pepper concoction that I make. It worked! Fore all who are interested, I will post a recipe soon!

hobo spiderWhat’s so horrid about Hobos? They are very poisonous. Hobo venom can do a lot of damage. The bite is initially painless but the poison rots the skin from the inside out (necrosis). The bite takes a lot of time to heal and there can be scarring. Ghastly!

So to have a Hobo spider within arm’s reach can make the heart jump a few times. I immediately killed the spider then called my client to give her a heads up. I really hate killing any type of creature, but dang!

My week ended with a mellow hush and fall breeze. That is, except for an occasional startle when anything brushes up against me. Of course it’s for fear of a spider. And yes, I’ve often brushed of spiders who try to have me for lunch.

A few wise words in closing:

Keep on going, and the chances are that you will stumble on something, perhaps when you are least expecting it. I never heard of anyone ever stumbling on something sitting down.

― Charles F. Kettering

Until we meet again!


Picture credit

German Shepard:PKMousie via photopin cc
Hobo spider: ~Dezz~ via photopin cc
Close up of hobo spider: backpackphotography via photopin cc
Gingerbread man hanging from tree: DanielJPHadley via photopin cc
Rose bush: Eric Kilby via photopin cc
Wolf spider: e_monk via photopin cc


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