I’m a country girl.
I love being outdoors. I don’t mind getting dirty. I don’t get queasy at the sight of blood or guts. I’m not afraid to scoop manure, no matter how foul it may smell. But… nothing sends me into orbit like the mention of TICKS! Hearing the word just makes me feel itchy all over. A wave of nausea comes over me when I hear Brad Paisley’s song about checking someone else for ticks – eew! Repulsive.
The Webster’s dictionary defines ticks as “any of a superfamily (Ixodoidea) of bloodsucking acarid arachnids that are larger than the related mites, attach themselves to warm-blooded vertebrates to feed, and include important vectors of infectious diseases.” Just reading that made me gag a little bit.
I didn’t become a deranged person about ticks overnight. It’s been a process.
When I was pregnant with my fourth child, my husband had a mystery illness. He would wake up in the middle of the night and have a raging fever and aching joints. I thought he was having anxiety about a new baby. I would give him an ibuprofen and his symptoms would disappear.
This went on for about a month before he decided he was dying. He went to see his physician. After a simple blood test, we learned he had Rocky Mountain Spotted Tick Fever. Gross! It was wintertime by then and we couldn’t fathom when he’d last had a tick. After strong antibiotics and probiotics, he was back from the dead. Our baby came and all was well with the world.
Every spring I hear people say the same thing.
“It’s gonna be a bad year for ticks!” And every year it really does seem to be a little bit worse. I get my defenses up early. Monthly tick prevention medicine is put on the dogs and cats.
Lemony smelling grass gets planted in the flower beds near the house. I also keep an apocalyptic supply of tick spray at both ends of our house, in the farm truck and in the RTV. (Sigh) just when I think I’ve got my bases covered!
Our children love to play outside. We camp. We walk tall grass checking fences. We have animals roaming in the woods. I cover, spray, wash and “tick-check” my kids constantly. The little buggers still get by me. Last fall, the kids walked up the hillside to play with the neighbors one afternoon before I could spray them down. They took the quickest route through the tallest grass between our two properties. They came home covered from head-to-toe in the teeniest, nastiest mess of seed ticks I had ever seen in my life. As I stripped them down and checked all their nooks and crannies, I was bawling, but most were too small. I lost count of how many there were. I ran a bath and put bleach in the water to get them off of the kids’ little bodies.
The bites afterward were a grim reminder of how something so small can turn me into a certifiably crazy mom. By the following weekend my husband and our neighbor burned the entire hillside to get rid of the revolting bugs.
Before I sat down to write this, I was googling more remedies for tick prevention. I’ve pulled at least 10 ticks off various family members in the last month, including myself. The war is on. What do you do to get rid of ticks, neighbor?


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