Do you remember being intrigued by ants as a kid? They were usually associated with summer, picnics, ant farms, and that red and white checkered tablecloth. For me…not anymore. The intrigue is gone.
I love Saturdays. I took advantage of my husband’s solo trip to the lumber yard to give my dusty horses a much needed bath. Completing the task and holding the lead rope of the last horse in one hand, I stepped over the to the water faucet to roll up the water hose with the other hand. Within seconds I felt something…like tall blades of grass at my ankles. Weird. I’m not even standing in tall grass. A quick glance at my shoes revealed the unexpected….hundreds, maybe thousands, of tiny little red fire ants had swarmed onto my tennis shoes.
Fire ants. They have been in the U.S. since the 1930’s, coming to us via ships from Brazil. They build nests near water and have been known to take down small animals. This ain’t no picnic ant, people. These guys are tiny and if you see one, you may think it to be harmless. Don’t look away. Within seconds the rest of the army will join the attack. And the sting? That’s where the ant gets its name. You feel like you’re on fire. You’re safer holding a lighted match near a pile of dry wood drenched in gasoline than standing on a fire ant bed.
Jumping up and down didn’t shake them. I was still holding onto a horse, so I had to use my only free hand to wrangle the end of the water hose back into reach. I sprayed my feet which removed most of them. I swatted the tenacious ones crawling on up my legs and got the horse safely back to the pasture. Then I ran like I had never run before to the pool and jumped in up to my knees. I could not believe the pain.
Fire ants had tried to ruin my Saturday. Instead, they ruined my Sunday. I woke up with what looked like Poison Ivy on my hands and ankles. Oh yeah. It itched like Poison Ivy too.
***Sign on for more “Back at the Ranch” soon. Julie mentions she’s got quite a few entries on the back burner. Oops…I wrote “burner!” – Red Dirt Kelly