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Monday, March 23, 2015

The Quiet Life--Ha!

Last week was deceptively laborious. We went down to Casa South...again. This time to meet with a new realtor and an appraiser. 

We had other jobs to do there too. Greg had to replace a gas pipe. That was simple enough until his foot caught on a water pipe and busted it. More work.

Meanwhile I was dragging brush and starting fires. Only the brush pile wouldn't light. Didn't light the week before either. The 29th time was the charm though. I managed to do a good clean up on the half acre behind the house. Now I have to work on the other five acres.

The house, I'm happy to say is immaculate. The woods on the other hand are almost impenetrable in some spots. I wouldn't have bothered with it except for the fact that we have three very dead and humongous trees that HAVE to come down. Two are over power lines and one was over a neighbor's house.

I've had my share of homestead related adventures, but I have to admit that cutting down 100 foot pine trees is one of my least favorite jobs. It scares the bejeezus out of me. 

When a tree that big comes down the earth actually shakes underneath your feet and the ground feels like it's going to swallow you whole. It's not the BOOM that scares me though, it's the trip down.

Greg is magnificent at felling trees where they need to drop, but all the engineering in the world can backfire if cables fail or Mother Nature strikes up a wind at the wrong time. Not knowing which way the tree is going to fall is the scariest few seconds of all. 

This tree was in the middle of our woods but thirty feet from the fence line over our neighbor's house. It had to go, but it was going to be tricky. It took all morning to prep for this job.

Ordinarily we'd use a tractor to pull cable attached to the tree, but most of our equipment is at Casa North so we were left using a power puller, an unimpressive little device that does a big job with a bit of muscle. I was the muscle.

Greg did all his cuts. When he was on his final cut he told me to start ratcheting in the cable as fast as I could. I can't tell you what went wrong, but the cable slipped off the ratchet and went slack over the tree at the most critical moment of all. We watched from different spots as the giant tree teetered on the cut base.

God must've took pity on us because no wind came up and the tree reseated itself. We reattached the cable to the machine. This time when I ratcheted on the power puller it took the tree all the way down--right where Greg had elected.

It was awesome, and scary, and a huge relief. I made my way over to the downed tree to take a picture of Greg with his conquest when I started to hear buzzing.

That wasn't good. 

I scanned the area but couldn't see anything. The buzzing got louder. 

Now, I have been stung by all manner of things, and I knew enough to walk away, but it was too late. The more I walked, the more I heard buzzing. They had locked on to me and one was in my hair.

Greg came after me and got the one in my hair, but it had already stung me. Fortunately, it was a honey bee. Of all the bee or wasp stings you can get, honey bees are the least dangerous. Six days later, I still have the lump on my head, but the pain is gone.

It turned out there was a hive in the dead tree about thirty feet up. When it came down, it destroyed their hive (honey splattered everywhere) and they were all kinds of mad. I can't blame them, but it was either their home or my neighbor's home.

That wasn't the end of my trauma. After the bee incident, I was dragging brush and somehow disturbed a fire ant hill. My left leg looks like a topographical map of India. It was pretty painful for a couple of days, but that too has subsided.

All in all, a trying week.

I've got design work piling up so I'm glad to be home for a while. It's much safer designing covers than it is cutting down trees, evading bees, or smashing killer fire ants.

Much safer.

Have you ever been stung by anything? Yellow jackets and scorpions are the most painful, but the brown recluse bite I got once was probably the most dangerous. That one sent me to the doctor.

I must've chosen the wrong kind of retirement. I'm pretty sure I didn't sign up for precarious and spine-tingling.

Oh, for the quiet life. 


Mike Keyton said...

You're an idiot! God Bless you. Hope your week is a quiet one

Maria Zannini said...

Mike: You're just now realizing this?

Jackie Burris said...

Maria we have hired people to cut down trees as we have no equipment for it, except the two trees my husband cut down below our usable property which he promptly attached a rope to and we used his Dodge pickup to pull up over the 6-8 feet of dirt that borders the back end of our yard before it drops off next to the neighbors fence line.

Scary does not begin to describe how it felt to watch him work on those trees, cannot help nor move fast and it was nerve wracking!

First time stung was by a yellow jacket in my head, as a teen we had a tree in front yard and nest was disturbed somehow and the insects blamed me.

Fire ants are also a problem here, luckily it has been awhile since gotten bit by any but when we first moved in was bitten by a baby scorpion when furniture was delivered and the guys scared the scorpion into the house. Why I was stupid enough to try and kill it wearing sandals I will never know but will never try that again!

Maria Zannini said...

Jackie: Even if I didn't do anything, it would scare me to watch one of those big trees come down.

And don't even get me started on scorpions.

I think they hurt more than yellow jackets, but they're easier to kill. At least they don't fly. Thank God!

Stacy McKitrick said...

What's a quiet life? Living in an apartment? :)

I've only been stung once, when I was around 10. My sister yelled there was a bee on my neck and I smacked it. Don't know if it stung me before the smack or if my smack caused it to sting. Nowadays if someone yells there's a bee on me, I'll yell back at them to get it off.

Author R. Mac Wheeler said...

I name you Paul and Paulette.

Angela Brown said...

Wow is all I can say!

Are you sure you signed up for retirement because none of this sounds like a quiet lazy day relaxing in the hot tub or enjoying cruise #5 of the year.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

It is scary bringing down trees. My brother is a lumberjack and he had his leg shattered once.
I've been stung lots of times but nothing too bad.
I got bit by fire ants when I visited my sister in Mississippi. It hurts!
I'd say you had a rough few days.

Rebekah Loper said...

Man, I feel bad for the bees, poor things. And too bad you couldn't snag some of that honey!

And ick, fire ants! Hope you're recovering from those bites quickly!

I've never had a fire ant bite, fortunately, but the last writing retreat I went on, I was attacked by little bitty nasty ants in my bed. I dreamed I was being bitten all night long, and in the morning it turned out there was a reason for it. Fortunately, those bites only stung and itched for a few days and then they were gone.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Hmm, I want an active and fulfilling retirement but I'm not up for precarious. Spine-tingling, maybe. :)

Glad you're feeling better!

Diane Carlisle said...

I have a dead tree on the other side of my privacy fence. I'm just waiting for it to fall over and into my pool or even my roof!

Sarah Ahiers said...

that tree felling sounds terrifying.
Luckily in MN all we have are bees, hornets and wasps. No scorpions or venemous spiders or venemous snakes (well, we have a rare rattler, but it may actually be gone from the state)

But I've been stung by yellow jackets and wasps. Not fun.
At least yours was just a honey bee. Even though those hurt, you can't even really be that made at them

Sandra Almazan said...

The first year my husband and I dated, we went for a picnic in early October while the weather was still good. We brought along some Mountain Dew, and the bees liked it. In fact, they liked it so much a bee landed on my husband's lips. Luckily, he was able to keep very still so he didn't get stung. We sacrificed an open can of Dew to the bees so they would leave us alone after that.

Darke Conteur said...

Oh, you have my sympathies on the stings. I was stung by a yellowjacket years ago. It was riding on my ponytail and I didn't notice or hear it. When I sat down, it moved down my neck. When I slapped it away, it got me a bit in the neck, but really good when it landed on my leg. I still have a small white mark where it stung.

Husband took down a couple trees on our property. The one was growing into a pile of hydro lines and he got a bit of a shock. He's damn lucky.

Maria Zannini said...

Stacy: I don't know. I remember apartment neighbors that were pretty lively. No, wait. That was me. :)

Maria Zannini said...

Mac: Now all we need is a blue ox named Babe. :)

Maria Zannini said...

Angela: I know! I want my cruise. Or at least a few days doing absolutely nothing.

I was robbed!

Maria Zannini said...

Susan: Tell your brother he must have nerves of steel.

That is one scary job. I'm sorry he got hurt. I can't even imagine how painful that must be.

Re: fire ants
They're all over the South. I heard they hitched a ride from Australia.

Guess they wanted to see the world.

Maria Zannini said...

Rebekah: I felt bad for the bees. At least they can always rebuild.

As for the honey...I refused to go back to the scene of the crime. One sting was enough.

Maria Zannini said...

Madeline: There are days when I feel I take my life in my own hands.

A few boring days every once in a while would not hurt my feelings.


Maria Zannini said...

Diane: I hope you're not in the house when it does fall.

The good news is most insurance companies are really good about replacing/repairing things that were destroyed by "acts of God" --like dead tress.

Maria Zannini said...

Sarah: Aren't wasps the worst?! Every time I get stung by one of them I feel like I was bitch-slapped.

Re: bees
I didn't get mad at them. It was sheer dumb luck that their hive was in the dead tree. I just hope they took their queen and relocated.

Maria Zannini said...

Sandra: Any time we can do a little for the honey bees, it's a good thing. I'd donate a Dew to them too. I owe them one. :)

Maria Zannini said...

Darke: Those yellow jackets are murder! They're the worst of the bunch.

Re: Tim
Oh, wow! I'm glad he was all right. Now that's scary.

Jenny Schwartz said...

Scary stuff! Tall trees coming down give me the shudders. Being stung afterwards is totally unfair!

Maria Zannini said...

Jenny: True! Getting stung was kind like salting the wound.

betty said...

Ouch with your sting! I got stung once years ago with a yellow jacket I think that flew into the window of the van when I was driving. Didn't have an adverse reaction, which was a good thing.

Your experience with falling trees certainly is interesting!


Misha Gericke said...

Ooooh... horrible luck. I hope things go a bit smoother for you now.

Anonymous said...

Holy sh*t, lady! You are BRAVE!

Maria Zannini said...

Betty: I don't think there can be anything worse than being trapped in a car with a yellow jacket--unless you can suck it out a window.

I hate to kill bees and wasps because they do a lot of good, but yellow jackets are just mean-spirited.

Maria Zannini said...

Misha: Typical day. I just wish I had more atypical days. Ha!

Maria Zannini said...

Marlene: Hardly. Read Mike Keyton's comment. He had it right. :)

These things have to be done. I'm just sorry we're the ones who have to do them.

Barbara Ann Wright said...

I'm allergic to bee stings, and wasps are no picnic, either. I'll take the indoor jobs, thanks.

Lynn Viehl said...

The first day I moved into this house I went out to bring in the trash cans after pickup, curled my fingers around the handle and felt something burn me like an acetylene torch (and yeah, I know how that feels, too.) As I shrieked pretty much every word I never say unless it's in writing I saw a little spiny red and black catepillar drop to the ground and inch off. I've never had a more painful sting from anything.

I later identified it as a buck moth catepillar that had probably fallen out of our oak tree onto the trash can and hid in the recess of the handle. It left a two-inch-wide welt across all my fingers that didn't stop burning even after I pulled all the spines out (and if you ever get a sting from one of these critters, use scotch tape to pull out the spines to avoid reburning yourself.)

Maria Zannini said...

Lynn: Holy moley! I hope I never run into that. I didn't know caterpillars could have such painful bites--or in this case, stabs.

It sounds a lot like a scorpion sting. Worse. Pain. Ever.

Lynn Viehl said...

I couldn't believe how much it hurt, Maria -- and my pain threshold is really high. :(

I was thinking about your post today while we were doing some yard work and discovered we've been invaded by another pesky stinging catepillar of southern spring, the tussock moth. They're even trying to crawl onto our porch:

So no more walking under the oaks for me and the dogs for a couple weeks. :(

Maria Zannini said...

Lynn: I've never seen anything like the one you photographed, and now I hope I never do. Wikepedia describes them as 'important' defoliators of forests. Good thing Florida is semi-tropical.

We must have very mild caterpillars in Texas. Either that or I've been very lucky.

Maria Zannini said...

Barbara: You and my hubby both. It says a great deal about him that he was willing to risk getting stung to save me.

Raelyn Barclay said...

Sheez woman, if that's retirement you can keep it!

I think a wasp sting is the worst I've had, though those freakin' fire ants come in close for me as I think I'm allergic.

Scary was when a neighbor disturbed a wasp nest and one of the buggers landed on my baby's eyelid. Thankfully, I was able to grab the wasp body and fling it aside without either of us getting stung.

Maria Zannini said...

Raelyn: I would've been besides myself. That's like a scorpion too close to my dogs.

My mama-foo comes out and I get all Terminator. LOL.