*Now before you commence to reading about this latest experience at the ranch, I suggest you avoid sipping a beverage at the same time. It might prevent an unfortunate spewing of that beverage from your mouth (and maybe your nose) due to uncontrollable laughter.
Working around a ranch we encounter all kinds of critters – mostly good (like me) but sometimes bad. As I’ve said before, the Missus loves just about all of us. She stops her car in the middle of the road to help a wayward turtle and I’ve seen her pick up a worm off the pavement after a rain to get it back into the grass and take a barn mousie into the woods. Of course nobody likes ticks, skeeters and bad snakes but she’ll come plum unglued at the sight of a cockroach. Not too much phases Pop. He figures the best way to get rid of a pesky wasp nest (within reach) is to grab it with a gloved hand, squash ‘em, and it’s done. The occasional moccasin or rattler usually gets dispatched with a machete or snake shot.
But the other day Pop and I got whipped during what was anything but a fair fight. This is what happened.
Pop noticed that one of the big propane tanks was gettin’ kinda low and would need an annual refill before long. So we commenced to clearing a few low hanging tree branches and a bit of brush that had grown nearby so the service man could easily access the tank. While Pop was lopping a branch, danged if something didn’t sting me on the butt and at nearly the same time get him in the eye. Yep, in the eye! I hauled outta there while Pop was swingin’ his cap and managed to snatch the offending insect that had eventually managed to get its stinger into his lower eyelid. We both had that “What the heck just happened?” look on our faces when we went crashing into the house with Pop hollerin’ to the Missus to get him some ice. He pulled the stinger outta his eyelid and after a few minutes figured out that there hadn’t been much of an injection since the swelling was minimal so we went back out to finish the job. I’m gonna tell you right now, that was just pure dumbness.
So there we were, lookin’ around for any more stingin’ critters and Pop saw ‘em. There was a thumb size hole in the ground where a nest of yellow jackets had taken up residence. Pop got a can of that super propelled, expensive wasp spray from the Missus and shot a fair dose into the hole. It foamed up real good and we figure that was that. Thinking the war was over, we went back to lopping. We were wrong. That was just the end of the first battle. Pop was dragging another branch into the woods when all hell broke loose. I mean that literally. Ya see, I think that Satan himself created yellow jackets and every once in a while he just cuts a swarm loose on folks just to watch what’s gonna happen. Well he must’ve been laughing his tail off at us because we put on a show.
Next thing I know we’re sprinting towards the house again and Pop has those dang things all over him. Lucky for me they mostly zeroed in on him and they were stingin’ like crazy. They must’ve attacked for a couple of minutes. The Missus had peeked out the front door (ain’t no way she was lettin’ us in yet) and hollered at Pop to get his overalls and Tshirt off while he was doin’ the weirdest dance I ever saw. He was sayin’ some of those, what he calls Marine words, swipin’ those little bastards off his skin and stripping down to his skivvies at the same time. I bet you didn’t know that a yellow jacket can latch on to you and sting multiple times. They were still stingin’ his britches after he got ‘em off. Well, by the time that battle was over, the score was 36 to not many. Pop squashed a few but they tore him up. There he stood in front of the house wearing nothin’ but drawers, boot socks, and a really aggravated look on his face. As the chaos subsided we realized that, while we thought we’d beaten those yellow jackets, we had badly underestimated their ability to retaliate.
Pop had welts all over his torso plus a few on his face, upper lip, neck and one ear. The Missus stopped counting at 36. After a dose of Benadryl and a leftover painkiller from his back surgery, he and the Missus called their doctor to see if they ought to do anything else. Except for goin’ to the ER, they just suggested making sure he didn’t have an allergic reaction to all those dadgum stings. He kept breathing okay and realized he was just gonna have to wait out the pain. After a while the meds took some effect and with the aid of a little whisky, Pop made it to sleep. I shook off the poison I got pretty quickly but it took Pop a few days to get all that venom outta his system. I reckon that many stings woulda killed an average man. Pop said he’s just too ornery.
You might like to know that the shot of wasp spray eventually either killed the nest or caused the survivors to take up residence elsewhere ‘cause we went back yesterday to confirm they were gone and finish the job. The battle of Rocky Creek was over. We’d won but at a terrible cost. Like The Duke was quoted as sayin’ “If you’re gonna be dumb, you’ve gotta be tough.” We were definitely dumb.