I relish my childhood memories with both sets of grandparents. We had wonderful family visits to Lexington, Missouri (paternal) and Freelandville, Indiana, (maternal) family farms. I can, and will, share many joyous stories about my memories of both of those times, but I had a big jolt in the last couple of days as I realized that I had been attacked and was suffering from Chiggers! Actually, our visiting helpmate – daughter Kate – found that she had been attacked as well! UGH!
So, I distinctly remember my maternal grandfather, Irvin Telligman, – “Grand Daddy” – coming in from a day at the farm and going directly into the basement where he would take a shower and change into clean overalls to make sure he had gotten rid of any ‘Chiggers’. The shower in the basement was the only one in the house. It was not a separate room but rather just a corner of the basement that had a concrete formed basin with a drain in the floor and exposed plumbing that allowed one the luxury of rinsing off the dirt of the farm. The walls and floor were just rough concrete. (Benefit…non-slip surface!!!) We were lucky that there was a plastic shower ‘curtain’ to pull for privacy even tho it didn’t really reach from side to side which was worrisome for me at the time. As children, we only took showers down there with the supervision of our mother but that usually meant a joint occupation of the space. Of course, I spent an inordinate amount of time worrying that there was a window in the upper wall of the space that broached this ‘privacy’ but I realize now that had their not been one, the only light source would have been a naked light bulb nearby but outside of the shower.
None of my worries were more than a child’s imagination. Altho there was a bathroom in the main floor of the house with a tub, IT was only used for the function of the toilet and the sink. I also remember that one didn’t flush the toilet willy-nilly, but waited until there was a reason more than just a little pee to pull the trip lever! So the basement shower was the only one we used. It was an unheated space since there was no enclosure and therefore one did not linger long. When “done” with the showering part (which we did quickly in order not to waste any water!) we would scatter to the ‘coal room’ about 20 feet away. It provided us with just a bit of privacy despite the joint occupancy with our mother. It was called the “coal” room since it was where the old coal furnace for the house was located and we had a bit of warmth there as we hurriedly dried off and put our clothes on.
It was in the coal room that I first encountered the idea of chiggers. Grand Daddy knew when he came in from a day at the farm (he was the town blacksmith and so spent half his day in both jobs) he needed to rid himself of the dreaded, itchy, Chiggers. As I remember, if he had any evidence of Chiggers he would douse the spots with rubbing alcohol that sat on a shelf there and we would be doused as well if we had ventured up the the farm with him. The concept has not changed since then. Chiggers still exist and I have proof! I did not have any last year so I’m wondering if they are out in force this year due to the rainy conditions. I think the only way to prevent them from biting is to shower off immediately after being out in the field unless one wants to be covered in DEET every time you venture outside. The rubbing alcohol is the cure-all only after the bite since it helps eliminate the chigger and dry up the skin invasion. Wanna see something gross? Go to the Wikipage and look at what Chiggers are all about! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trombiculidae
The other pest we are dealing with are the Japanese Beetles. Ugh! Luckily, this is not something that affects our bodies but the damage they do to our plants is terribly destructive. We are doing the best we can with buckets of soapy water which means when we find them on our plants, we knock them into a waiting container and figure that is one less to deal with. Arg!
The persistent, wet weather is keeping the harvest of some items to a minimum but has enhanced the harvest of others vegetables. I’d say our harvest this year is starting to reel from the effects of the rain as well as the cooler weather. The contrast between this year and last is remarkable! Recently, we have been picking lettuces, peppers, scallions, and summer squash for our dinners. Other items such as radishes, peas, spinach and bok choy are done for the summer but will be re-planted as fall crops. Here is a pic of a recent dinner.