Sunday, January 22, 2017

First Tick Removal Of 2017

Recent warm days found me wanting to be outside working on something.  Frozen ground placed some limits on reasonable choices.  We have a sizable flat meadow that has been ignored for years.  Goldenrod and milkweed are now the dominant plants.  A few Japanese honeysuckles and conservation roses also dot the field.  Last year a process of reclamation was started.  I believe that the goldenrod will soon give up if it is mowed several times a year.  The milkweed will likely persist but that is fine with us since we like to help Monarch butterflies.  The second honeysuckle was cut off flush with the ground.  That was my outside work for the past two fabulous days.  I also slowly drive my truck across the previously unmowed area.   Truck tires flatten last season's weeds.  They also safely roll over small woodchuck burrows and protruding stones.  The stones will be levered out and the burrows filled.  So far these precautions have made possible safe mowing.  A surprise was waiting at the end of a truck pass.  High up in one of the white pines I saw this!

At first glance, I thought that this might be a humming bird nest.  That idea was quickly cast aside since the nest is far too large to have been built by a humming bird.  The tan base was likely a larger bird's nest last summer.  The white fluff is milkweed silk.  Mice frequently line their winter quarters with this.  It must have required a huge number of trips to find and carry this much up the tree.  Just thinking about it makes my mouth feel like I am chewing cotton.  Becky had to see this so I drove front to get her.

I usually do not drive on the area near the pines but to take a good picture of the nest I had to back the truck up close to the tree and climb into the bed of the truck to get my picture.   Waist high dead plants surround the trees.  This is where Becky walked to look at the nest and to avoid being hit by a truck moving in reverse.   Later, before bed, she found a very much alive tick attached to her calf.  We were stunned.  Our careful tick checks do not usually start until warmer weather.  Wrong again.   We have a pair of high quality tweezers whose jaws are at an angle to the handle.  This allows a fair sized section of tweezer to rest on the surface of the skin.  From that position it is a simple matter to close the jaws of the tweezers on the mouth parts of the tick.  No bodily fluids are pinched from the tick and it is pulled free completely intact. Since she could see the wretched thing but could not reach it, I had to remove it for her.  January and another tick season is already underway.  Yuck!

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