by Pettus Read
One hot summer day, a very stately Texan climbed into the passenger seat of an old rusty pickup truck belonging to his East Tennessee cousin. The Tennessee farmer and the west Texas rancher were headed out to take a look around at what was growing on the Tennessee hillside farm that the farmer was very proud to call his own. From the very beginning the great size of Texas was expounded upon by the rancher to the total "fed-upness" of the Tennessee farmer.
As the truck passed a field of Jersey dairy heifers the bold Texan asked, "What are those?"
The Tennessee farmer replied very proudly, "Those are the best Jersey
replacement dairy heifers you will find east of the Mississippi River. Their production history will be second to none."
"Why we have deer on my ranch bigger than those under-fed things," the Texan said as he puffed on a huge cigar.
The truck now passed a large lake located between two beautiful green valleys that would be the envy of any good farmer. "What kind of fish do you have in that little mud hole," the Texan said with a snicker.
"That's my lake that provides water for our entire herd and has some of the largest bass you have ever seen. In fact, the state record was caught in that lake," the Tennessee farmer said as he now tried to out do his cousin.
"Well, if that is all you can do, you need to build something larger," Cousin Tex said. "If you were in Texas you would have to fill it in due to it being a mosquito hazard."
The Tennessee farmer had just about had all that he could take when just as he made a turn onto the farm's dirt road he had to stop for a large snapping turtle sitting in the middle of the road. The turtle was a big one and about as mean looking as anything you had ever seen."What in the world is that?" the Texan said somewhat in a shocked manner.
The Tennessee farmer now saw his chance to win the "whose story is
bigger" contest and said, "Oh, don't worry about that. You act like you have never seen a Tennessee tick before."
With the current hot and dry weather we are having, Tennessee ticks may not have the chance to grow as large as the one the Tennessee farmer showed to his Texas cousin, but they are really hungry about now and looking for a meal. Tall grass and weeds are prime places to encounter their presence, so try to remain in paths, lanes, and clearings. Yards can be kept clear of these unwanted visitors by mowing weekly, but with the drought still in full throttle, mowing has not been an issue this summer.
Another group of pests without legs that are gaining a lot of attention these warm days is poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac. I have never experienced their itchiness and seem not to be allergic to urushiol oil, the sticky, resin-like substance found inside the plants. But, I do respect them and try to avoid handling them unless I have on gloves and long sleeves.
In a recent report from Bayer Advanced, a business group of Bayer CropScience LP and part of the Bayer AG family, they say that half the U.S. population is allergic to urushiol oil. But, they also say it's not just the allergy to urushiol that's a problem -- it's how potent it is.
Their release says it only takes 1 billionth of a gram of the oil to cause a rash. That's not much oil to cause the distress that comes from it getting on your skin.
One trip in the forest could cause 500 people to itch from the amount that would fit on the head of a pin. And, urushiol oil can stay active on any surface for up to five years, even on dead plants.
The Bayer group says you can take control of poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac, before they take over your yard and farms by keeping your lawn and fence line clear and trimmed, and cut back the undesirable plants to ground level every time you see green growth.There is also a Bayer Advanced Brush Killer Plus Concentrate that is a chemical alternative that kills the brush down to the roots so they won't come back. I have tried it and it does work. Some other brush killers kill back the vines, but don't kill the roots. Before you know it, you're back spraying again.
It even controls kudzu. If it will kill kudzu, the plant that ate the South, it will surely help get rid of the itchy stuff as well.
Avoid the Tennessee ticks, kill out the plants that contain urushiol and enjoy an itch free summer. Itching often comes at the most inopportune times and in the strangest places.