wasp

It's not quite here yet, but it feels close. And the warm days of spring always brings with it those forms of life we human folk could live quite well without.

Using a sensible approach to dealing with both low and high forms of life requires reasonableness, tempered with sanity.

If sanity takes a backseat occasionally, well, so be it.

On one hot summer evening a grandchild came shrieking into the house, yowling about being stung by a bee. And soon I was being grilled as to why I had sent them down to the raspberry patch when I had to know there were so many yellow jackets in there!

I was guilty in the eyes of the head cook, and with no chance at all to defend myself, of several forms of child abuse and various and sundry other heinous crimes.

Under the accusing stare of the grandmother, a solution had to be conceived ... and quick.

Nearly all grandkids think grandpas walk on water, so this was an easy one to fix. Retrieving the Sears 500 shop vac from the basement, along with a couple thousand feet of extension cord, I set forth to do battle with the wasps.

I had unforeseen company.

After about 45 minutes of sucking at the leaves and fruit, a large number of wasps had taken residence inside the shop vac.

All was well, and I was proud of myself for my wisdom. But a sudden loud screech behind me gave lie to that false thought. I turned in time to see the child running, halfway back to grandma.

It seemed the kid had lifted the lid of the shop vac, “just to see the bees, Grandpa!” with predictable results.

Once again I was a guilty of mistreating the dear grandchildren and I was invited to go be alone somewhere. Near the doghouse.

In it, if you don't mind.

Stink bugs are in all probability the nastiest of our summer bugs. Not only do they get into every crack, crevice and cranny, they have a real attitude. They perch with their nose in the air, as if to say, I’m here, so lump it!

Dealing with these obnoxious critters is a challenge. They seem impervious to most bug sprays. Birds will not touch them and chickens turn up their beaks at the repulsive things.

Well, if ya can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Unless a good use can be found for them.

A stink bug just naturally smells bad, but if it’s swatted, it will release a vile blue gel that will smear all over everything and reek with eye-watering ferocity.

Watching a sleeping kid swatting at a bug crawling along their hair line has to rank right up there with the whip cream in the face trick. And as a caring grandpa, it's essential to teach the teenage grandkids such wonderful tricks.

skunk

And you have a wonderful alibi when the squealing starts, especially if you’re nowhere near the scene of the crime!

The absolute king of summer pests has to be Mephitis mephitis, the striped skunk. Commonly called Pepe le Pew, polecat or just plain skunk, they beat all the bugs for malodorous and foul odors.

They are small, but most all critters leave them alone, no matter how mean or tough they are. Smart people know to give them wide berth.

But not all of us are so blessed.

My chicken house once became a smorgasbord for one of them, and a skunk will always return to a sure source of food. This bugger would eat every egg in the hen house.

Since I was feeding the chickens in return for eggs, I was being robbed blind by this low-life skunk and I wasn't having any of it.

War was declared.

Opening the hen house door one morning, I was greeted by Mr. Skunk. He was sitting in a nest just a pretty as you please, with egg dripping down his nose. Sending an older child to the house to fetch the 12 gauge, I kept watch through an open window.

Pepe seemed totally oblivious to me, just munching one egg after another. He knew not what wrath was about to descend on him.

With the shot gun delivered, I slowly open the hen house door, pointed the barrel, pulled the trigger and sent Mr. Skunk to his heavenly rewards.

That was really the wrong thing to have done.

When a skunk expires, all his smelly stuff is released. For the better part of two years, that nest area smelled of skunk.

I had also momentarily forgotten the effect a shot gun blast would have on wall of a chicken coop. There is still a four-inch hole behind that nest.

The grandchildren are forever asking me why that hole is in the wall of the chicken house.

Makes for all sorts of giggles when they hear how it happened.

Those Were the Days

Columnist

Mike Ashby is a lifelong Boundary County resident who writes about how life here used to be in the good old days and about the wonderful people who make this area the wonderful place it is!

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