Gardening and Fire Ants

Fire ants are a fact of life in Texas and many other southern areas of the country. I have been bitten more times than I can count, and usually a dozen or two bites at a time. They sting for a little bit, then they itch for a while and the next day they are just another spot on my hands or feet. I accept the fact that I am going to get bitten on a regular basis and they do not bother me long. I have toughened up to their bites. And their poison only makes me tougher the next time they get hold of me.

Now Ellen, on the other hand is a city gal. She has never had so many critters trying to hurt her. I am tough meat to most critters, but Ellen is a sweet and tender target for most. Not only the fire ants, but mosquitos, biting flies, wasps and most other small biting critters which are so numerous in the swamp are a constant concern for Ellen. She is soft and sweet and I even like to take a nibble on her from time to time myself.

A few days before our trip to Florida and then on to Costa Rica, Ellen was working in her garden. We have separate gardens. I gave her my small plot, which is plenty big enough for what she wants to grow, and I made a much larger garden for myself for what I want to produce. I grow the things which take more room like potatoes, corn, green beans, etc. which happen to be the garden things I like most.

Anyway, Ellen was working in her garden and some fire ants decided to make a nest in her bag of mulch. She was spreading the mulch around some of her plants and before she knew it, the ants were all over her hands. They bit her good on both hands. The hands are probably the worst place to get bitten by fire ants. First of all, you use your hands constantly. Next, the bites tend to make the hands swell more than other places on your body and they tend to heal up the slowest. Ellen’s hands, especially her left hand, puffed up like a balloon. She is left handed like me, and this made the bites more debilitating for her. She doctored and doctored her hands for several days. They were quite painful for two days, then just uncomfortable for a few days more. They were then unsightly for a few days after that, but she used some makeup to cover up the blemishes. We headed for Florida for a few days and the wounds healed up nicely while there. By the time we headed for Costa Rica, she was mostly over the ordeal. Another lesson learned by my sweet little city slicker.

Ellen and I are from two different worlds. We get along splendidly and are a good match for each other. I could not live in the city, but Ellen lived on a farm for a few years and loves the country. I am glad she decided to move to my swamp, but the adjustment for this city gal to the wildlife may take her a lifetime to get accustomed to. She will toughen up some over time, but I like the fact that she is soft and tender. I’m glad she’s here. She is happy here too. I do my best to make certain of that.