Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘Asian beetle

All Hands

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It’s that season when the fields come alive with humans and machines. A call must go out for all hands and able bodies for harvesting before the weather messes things up significantly. On my way home on Tuesday I came upon a batch of pickup trucks and workers busy in the fields around the corner from our driveway.

They were gobbling up soybeans and filling the big truck and trailer. It always seems odd to see such a big rig driven into the dirt fields. I don’t understand how they avoid getting stuck.

These fields are so devoid of attention all summer long, it’s startling to suddenly see them become such a hub of activity.

Our house experiences a burst of activity of its own when the soybeans fields are cut down. Suddenly our back doors become the new gathering place for Asian beetles.

The bugs were enjoying the warm sunshine around the backside of our house around the doors to the deck. I know that because I was back there, too.

Cyndie and I did a little more work replacing boards on the deck while the weather was still accommodating.

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We were all hands on deck. Hah!

Now we hunker down for a few days of expected rain and even the first falling snow of the season. The deck project goes on hold until the next dry day shows up. Our bodies will be happy to have a break. I have done so much kneeling lately, I feel like a little kid on the floor playing with my Matchbox car collection.

Thank goodness I’m noticing my knees because that means my back hasn’t been grabbing attention. Knock on deck boards (wood) that my lower back has not flared up from all the leaning over for long periods of time.

What? Me superstitious?

Sending love to my lower back…

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Written by johnwhays

October 10, 2019 at 6:00 am

More Weather

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Weather was the center of attention on the ranch again yesterday afternoon. During my hour drive home from work, I heard the announcement that our county was included in a tornado watch until 11:00 p.m. I checked the radar when I got home and found there was nothing to indicate a storm was imminent.

During the short time I was catching up on my daily reading on a handful of web sites, the radar screen rapidly changed from nothing of interest to “better take cover soon!”

That came up really fast. In the image, there is a marker indicating our home, southeast of River Falls. I figured there was plenty of time before the main event would get here, so I stepped outside to see what it looked like in real life.

The change in atmosphere from when I left the workplace to when I walked out the door to look at the sky was remarkable. The dew point temperature had soared to a tropical 70° (F). The air temperature was in the high 70s.

I don’t know how much the sudden return of warmth might have contributed, but yesterday also happened to mark the return of our annual Asian beetle infestation. It is striking how specifically the environment changes in a single day, going from nothing at all, to thousands of bugs swarming all at once.

Somewhere nearby, a soybean crop has been harvested from the field, triggering the mass migration of beetles to some source of water and shelter.

Getting out in the air provided a feeling that there was more than enough fuel for a rip-roaring thunderstorm, but the reality I encountered didn’t look bad at all yet.

It was actually a serene scene of calm horses in front of a backdrop of fall colors in the trees. Low clouds were sweeping by at a pretty good clip, mostly obscuring the higher and darker wall of the approaching storm.

A short while later, while we were eating dinner, the sky opened up to dump an inch of rain in a relatively short-lived outburst. Oddly, there was little in the way of lightning and thunder. Maybe it was moving by too fast. The sky turned a little green, but that was probably more a function of the low angle of the setting sun than it was the measure of threat from the storm.

It didn’t even blow that hard during the peak. That actually came later. Once the storm had passed, the sky cleared, stars shined bright, and strong gusting winds blew in to fill the void.

It was just another day where the weather served up the equivalence of several days of action –or several seasons even– all in a single afternoon.

We measure that in WPMs around here. That is, Weather Per Minute.

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Written by johnwhays

October 4, 2018 at 6:00 am

Foreign Object

with 4 comments

I don’t really feel like telling this story. I’d rather that the memory of it just go away. It was unpleasant, to say the least, but it’s just the kind of experience that I would write about, so here goes nothing…

Sunday night, after a scrumptious dinner that Cyndie’s mom prepared, we were enjoying her fresh-baked apple crisp for dessert by the fireplace. After my very last bite, I took a refreshing swig from my cup of ice water.

My favorite drink in the whole wide world is water. I gained a huge amount of respect for drinking water after experiencing a kidney stone some thirty years ago. I move through phases of drinking water with, or without ice. Lately, I have been preferring it with ice. I like to let the ice get soft and when the water is gone, slowly consume the pieces, one after another.

I took in a few ice chunks with that swig of water after my apple crisp, and was letting them crumble under the weight of my teeth. That is when I noticed an unpleasant taste. For a second, I was reminded of a time I bit into banana bread that hadn’t been mixed thoroughly before baking, and having hit on an unfortunately large pocket of undissolved baking soda. I hate when that happens. Kids, don’t forget to mix in the baking soda really well.

I wondered if this could have happened with the apple crisp I just enjoyed. This is how the brain works. My brain, anyway. Maybe I’m a little slow. I then wondered —and keep in mind, this is all in a span of a couple of microseconds— could a piece of rotting food or an infected tooth have just come loose in my mouth?

Then, among the remaining honey-combed ice crumbles tumbling between my teeth, my tongue found a foreign object. In way less than a microsecond, my brain conjured an image that matched what my tongue was feeling, and my fingers jumped to extrication mode, plucking the foreign object from my mouth and throwing it on the empty plate setting on the end table beside me.

I didn’t want to look. I didn’t want to know what I suspected just happened, had really happened. From a distance, I could see what was on my plate.

Ladybugs, or Asian Ladybird Beetles, make a strong showing around our house in the fall. For the most part, we just tolerate their presence. Our home is a rather dry place in the winter and the beetles tend to die of dehydration when they get inside. However, there are always a few hardy ones that survive and make a general nuisance of themselves.

Quite possibly, this now-deceased trouble maker thought he had found a way to stay hydrated and alive. I’m really sorry to say that I unknowingly squashed that plan.

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Written by johnwhays

November 25, 2014 at 7:00 am