July 15, 2007

I’m laughing, because it’s funny, except, it’s not. My left foot has been stung twice in one week by bees. The first time it hurt like hell for about 5 hours, was fine for a day, and then itched worse than anything has ever itched for two days. I recall waking up at night scraping my foot across the carpet, anything to scratch the itch.

Then I got nailed again this Saturday morning while picking flowers for the Farmer’s Market. It hurt worse than ever, right away. Then it was basically fine until about 1 pm, when it started to hurt again. We had gone to see Harry Potter (best one yet!!) and by the time the film ended I wondered how I was getting back to the car, since it hurt too much to walk. I’m sure I made a spectacle trying to extricate myself from the theater as inconspicuously as possible. I have spent all my time since then with ice on my foot, and if I try to get up for more than about 15 minutes, I can’t walk. My foot is swollen so much that I can’t make out bones or tendons, and feels a lot like a liquid sac that is about to pop open. Luckily, this is still a good reaction to a bee sting; it beats the hell out of the people who can’t breathe. And while all this sounds rather dramatic, it is apparently a pretty typical response to a sting, just on the nasty end of the spectrum. I even spent hours reading about what one might do to help with the symptoms. I don’t know which one was more amusing, the suggestion to use meat tenderizer or the one involving toothpaste. (In case you’re wondering, ice is really about all that can be done, along with over the counter pain relievers). The thing that worries me is, that we have had an influx of (in my opinion) irresponsible beekeepers into the area. They think nothing of parking hundreds of hives on their properties, to hell with where those bees are supposed to go for forage or water. Where they do go are places like our gardens, that attract the bees. Too many bees a dozen times over compete for limited resources. It’s a lot like somone deciding to run 5,000 cattle on 10 acres and turning a blind eye to the cattle sort of wandering loose around the neighborhood, and then saying, "oh, was I supposed to buy hay and put out water troughs?". Also, I see more and more bees on flowers that aren’t acting right; I call them "tired bees". They act drunk, unable to go about their business, confused. I am pretty sure I owe my week of stings to bees of this kind, as I have spent years working among bees daily and never had this happen before. They have their own agenda, and if you don’t bother them, they just go about their business. However, my current condition equals lost work; I cannot function as a farmer if I can’t stay on my feet. And, I’m pretty sure I can’t go to work at the university tomorrow either unless the swelling goes down. I don’t have to walk as much at my day job, but I can’t function like this….One more sting and the Ag Commissioner may be getting a love letter….it won’t do any good but I’ll feel happy. Yeah, I know I can start wearing closed-toed shoes too, but that’s just going too far….we all have our lines in the sand. The latest batch of chicks hatched, it looks like another 7-8 viable chicks thus far. I am really thinking about getting a second incubator to do something about our 40% (on a good run) hatch rate. Well, at least our population will get a little boost, but not what it could have been. The nectarines, beans, okra and tomatoes are starting to ripen NOW. The nectarines will all have to be picked tomorrow and go into the refrigerator. Tree fruit is amazing, when it’s ready, it’s ALL ready. I wish I had the resources to do canning sometimes….but we’ll get there. Sales continue to go well for July. The heat, for our area, has been surprisingly even with a strange lack of really hot days. I’m not complaining, it has allowed me to get a lot more done than usual, but it is pretty different from most Julys that I recall. And, by the way, if you don’t like the prices of fresh produce and you’re tired of the cheapness and widespread availability of junk food, consider writing your senator or representative in Congress and giving your two cents about the upcoming Farm Bill. Should the sacred continuum of corn, cotton, soybeans, wheat, etc. continue to get all the federal subsidies while those who grow fresh fruit and nuts in our own state get zilch by way of assistance? Do it soon, there isn’t much time to weigh in on an issue that affects us all…..

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