Sunday, September 20, 2009

Danger, Danger Will Robinson!

We never expected the drama that the Farmer would find himself in yesterday, but our story will serve as a warning to those of you who work outside in the fall.

Years ago we planted some Scotch Pines along the eastern edge of our property, to serve as a barrier to the roadway. The trees grew very fast and we were happy with the buffer that they provided against the sound of any road traffic. Unfortunately they were attacked a couple years ago by something called Zimmerman Pine Moth.

When we noticed that one of the trees was obviously dying, we called a tree guy into to take a look. To our dismay we found that by the time you notice something is wrong, it's too late. The trees died, like dominoes they fell to the destruction. Luckily the tree man was able to save one lone tree on the end of the row.

They stood on the edge of the road, now the color of shiny copper pennies. I envisioned them being set ablaze by a lightning strike. Not only were they a blight to the eye, they were appearing quite dangerous to me. They needed to be taken down but I was not comfortable with the thought of the Farmer attacking them with a chain saw. We called the tree guy back to cut them down and grind the stumps. This turned out to be quite expensive, but it needed to be done. The removal of the trees left large holes in the ground and piles of dirt around the edges.

Yesterday, at my suggestion, the Farmer trudged out to the roadway to tackle the job. The first hole was back filled and he started on the second. I visited him at his job site and joked I should get him a Bobcat for his birthday. I walked back to the house and worked in my studio.

Thirty minutes later I hear him in the house, screaming something at the top of his lungs. Clearly there was something terribly wrong.

He had been working at the site where the second tree had been removed, loosening up the dirt at the edges and tossing int back in the hole. His foot rested on the spade and he gave it a push with his weight. He lifted the dirt, turned and it fell from the shovel into the hole. At this point he turned back to a sight that his eyes and brain could not comprehend. Rising from the ground in the spot he'd just placed his shovel, was a dark column shooting up from the soil. What could that possibly be? His mind raced and soon they were upon him..........


Thousands of them swarmed, an angry dangerous mob attacked. Down went the shovel and off in a flash went the Farmer, trying to put as much space between him and the yellow jacket mob. He stumbled and caught himself but lost his eyeglasses as he lurched across the grass. The yellow jackets were literally attaching themselves to his clothing and unbeknownst to him, they can sting more than once.

As he ran into the garage he wildly shed clothing, leaving a trail as he fled into the relative safety of the kitchen. That's when he started screaming, "Get the dogs out..... get the dogs out of here".

The poor doggies (only 6 pounds each) were in danger of being stung. Upstairs in my studio I had no idea of the drama unfolding in my kitchen. I ran down to find the Farmer hopping around in his underwear, the dogs yelping and at least thirty angry yellow jackets dive bombing all of us.

Our son grabbed the dogs and hid them in the office. We went to work spray and smashing the villains, getting stung in the process. Our son quickly shifted into his nursing student mode, checking the Farmer for sign of shock.

"Does your throat fell constricted? Is your tongue swelling?" Luckily, we were all fine, including the dogs. We were left to deal with very painful bites. The situation could have been so much worse, deadly in fact.

My mind raced to remember all the you-can-survive-anything TV shows I'd watched over the years. I can't remember what you should do in this situation. Running is the only think I can think of but had the Farmer actually fallen when he stumbled, the outcome would have been quite different.

I did some research on the web to find that it's yellow jackets that make their nests in the ground. Fall is the most dangerous time because those nests have grown to huge proportions and the insects become very aggressive.

Please be careful if you're digging in the dirt in the fall. You might just come upon more than you bargained for.


Leslie T. said...

OH MY GOSH! I can't imagine the pain! I have been stung by (one) wasp, once in my life, and thought I was going to die from the pain. I can't imagine being stung multiple times!!!
I'm glad that everyone is okay, and I hope that you all heal up quickly!

Laura said...

Not to worry you more, but in our area swarms of killer bees have attacked people working in their yard, and they have died.

My father lost two dogs from bee attacks.

I have called an exterminator before to check for bees-

Two things I now do:

I keep an epipen (SP?) by the back door in a desk drawer so we can inject ourselves if we get stung -my father now says to have a can of wasp spray nearby when working. The wasp spray won't work completely, but it may eliminate some while you are running.

You were very lucky (blessed).


martina said...

I had wasps/yellow jackets build a nest above the back porch roof. We treated the area with Raid. I was barefoot and didn't see one on the porch floor. They can still sting and my toe hurt for three days! A thick paste of baking soda and water will help intense pain right after a sting. Have EpiPens on hand if you have a known allergic reaction to bee stings. Glad you guys are all okay.

chocolatechic said...

Oh...I am so glad that you are ok, and it wasn't worse.

Thirkellgirl said...

Oh no! Dh has encountered a ground nest a couple times but never had that close of a call. I'm so glad the Farmer's ok. (Is somebody going to go spray the ground nest?)

Kitty said...

Yikes! We discovered ground bees in our yard last month. Our son was home doing the mowing for us and got stung--only once, thankfully. He ran over their hole in the ground with the mower and got them stirred up. We tried drowning them out, spraying them, but so far they haven't moved on.

Hope all of you are OK and I'm glad that it wasn't any worse!

FineLine Antiques said...

Hey there.. I have followed your blog off and on for awhile. I am a resident of Batavia and friends with Michelle of Good Gracious cakes....well now that you know who I am, I was wondering if you could share with me the name of the "tree guy" you called. I have been trying to find a tree doc and have had no luck. do you mind sharing?

FineLine Antiques said...

by the way thanks for your words of caution... i feel just horrible for your husband and family.. i cannot imagine getting stung multiple times.. i got stung by one early this summer and was such a baby I cried alot that day and off and on for a day or two later....OUCH!! take care - all of you

Stuck on Sunflowers said...

Oh no. Poor farmer. I am glad you and the family are OK. This summer at the Tuck (our Michigan second home) we had a bee attack too. My daughter was walking across the back deck while the dog (a boxer) was walking down the deck stairs. Poor Chief start yelping and ran down the stairs right into the picnic table. I was standing in the yard and looked up at Michelle. She started screaming as a swarm of bees started to attack her. She began ripping off her clothes and running into the house. We grabbed the grandkids (one seriously allergic to bee stings) and ran the other way. Poor Michelle was stung more than 10 times and ended up at the emergency care center. The dog was stung multiple times too. Those bees are deadly!!!!!

LDF said...

Oh! my! I'm SO allergic to yellow jackets, so had it been me ... (shudder). I'm glad you're all ok. I had friends with 2 year old twins move into a new home up here in NW Canada, and the twins discovered a ground nest. It was brutal!
I was quite surprised about your Scotch pines dying. We're experiencing major pine tree dieback up here from Mountain Pine Beetle ... hundreds and hundreds of acres of russet-red dead trees. Nature at its cruelest.

Karen Deborah said...

Thank you Lord God for sparing this mans' life. Thank you for sparing the animals and thank you that he did not fall. You are the great deliverer.

manker said...

yowie.. thanx for the "leg up".. since wood chopping season begins here pretty quick