(This is not a funny story…a warning story on dangers of infection)
alan skeoch
May 2018
“Marjorie, I love springtime when  our slice of the world  turns green…bursting green in all shades.”
“Rhubarb is in season Alan…in the back field.”
“You pick it while I try to get the tractor started to plow, OK?”
“Is the back field plowed?”
“Nope, couldn’t do the plowing last fall…tractor wouldn’t start…dirt in the sediment bowl.”
“I can get to the rhubarb through the weeds, no problem.”
“Maybe make a Rhubarb pie?  Love that.”
“Depends  on the amount of rhubarb back there.”
And that is how the day began…anticipation of a  rhubarb pie.

“Nice red  Rhubarb thrusting up among the weed  growth.”
“Any sign of deer in the back field?”
“Saw lots  of deer tracks, yes.”
“Nice to know they survived the winter.”
“I guess they don’t like  rhubarb for it is never eaten…leaves are toxic…stems  are sweet.”
“Alan,  I found  four black dots on my leg…could they be ticks?  Apparently  lots  of ticks around…deer ticks.”
“What did you do about it?”
“Scrubbed my skin…the black  dots were under the skin…cut my way to them.  Could they be ticks?”
“Did you keep the little specks?”
“N0, they just dropped  off”
“What did you do to the wound?”
“Lathered cut with Hydrogen peroxide…burned the skin, I think…looks awful.”
“If those specks were ticks they never had  a chance to latch on and  suck  blood, right?”
‘Not sure, but the wound is open and seems infected…red spreading.”
“What do you want to do?”
“Go to the hospital, I think.”
So we spent the evening and early morning of May 14/15. 2018 at Mississauga Hospital where a doctor
drew a large oblong circle around the infection and prescribed some heavy antibiotics.  Certainly a bad
infection but we could not be  sure if black legged ticks had…shudder…done the damage…better  safe than sorry…
Marjorie  got the specks early…tiny …got them, if indeed they were ticks…got them before they began
to suck blood.  Of course  the specks could just be specks of dirt.  We could  not be sure.  Infection
set in and that was for sure.
A New Tick-Borne Parasite That Invades Red Blood Cells ...Fleas, Ticks and Mosquitos
Ticks  hang on blades of grass waiting for a red blooded host to pass by.  Just takes an instant for their
sharp little legs to grab hold.   Deer, dogs, sheep, even snakes are possible hosts…as  are human beings.
Once  they take hold  and start to dig their gut expands as it fills with blood.  No pain…no warning.
Eventually the tick is satiated and drops off.  Blood  fed female ticks then start the life cycle again.
These pictures of ticks were not taken by us…the full blown tick below was NOT on Marjorie.
“We will send  a nurse around to change the dressing every three days.  Maybe you should also get a dose of antibiotics
via an IV system.  Necessary if the infection gets  worse.”
“Will a  nurse come to our house?”
“Yes, tomorrow, but first a kit will arrive by parcel post.”
“Beautiful early spring day when all is green and laced with fog.”

Marjorie’s terror came suddenly…Were those specks, tiny black specks,…were they those blood  sucking devils called  black  legged ticks?  We never knew the answer.


Two nurses arrived the next day with special  dressings to inhibit infection.  By then the infection had reduced somewhat but it was still there.
“You alerted us early.  The infection seems under  control.”
“Marjorie, I must plow that field.  If ticks are present I want to bury them.”
“Then do it…stop talking about it.”
“Tractor won’t go.”
“Too old, Alan…you said it was  new in  1953, that’s 65 years  ago.”
“Not as  old  as ticks…”
“How long have ticks been around?”
“90 million years according to the Internet.:’
Our International W6 tractor sits in the field as immobile as the rock in the foreground.
Then Andrew arrived with something new…a cultivator that fitted on to the Bobcat.
He did  all this  in less  than one hour…a smooth seed bed .
I  wonder if drag plows can cry?   Mine seems to be crying or is it me?
“Damn Killjoy.  For half a century I have spent a few days  pulling this ring on my drag plow…raising and  lowering the moldboards with a delicious soul satisfying mechanical noise each time.  Takes  me a day to plow
this  tiny field.   Andrew  did  the whole field in an hour in spite of the stones..   Now in the twinkling of an eye all the machines  I have gathered  over my lifetime are obsolete pieces of  scrap iron.
Progress  is not a pretty thing.   I suppose any ticks present  would agree with me since they are now buried in shallow graves..But Dead  ticks cannot speak.  Dead ticks tell no tales.  But who knows if they were there?
My pile of finishing harrows…designed to level the seed bed  after plowing…are now just field hazards for hikers.
The same goes for both versions of spring tooth harrows.  When I bought the big one on the right it took four men to load it onto my little trailer…nearly blew the
tires getting it here.  Now it is  being overgrown with creeping plants…nice for ticks.  Is that the bum of a deer in the upper corner?
“Marjorie, the rhubarb is easy to get now…no more weeds  with ticks…if, indeed, there were ticks  here.”
“Fine time to tell me, Alan, …now I’m taking heavy dose of antibiotics.”
“Is the infection any different?”
“Not as  bad…has  not gone beyond the marks the doctor put on my leg.”
“Not as red…but not pretty either.”
“The swamp looks beautiful today. Framed by low hanging branches  and new weed growth.”
“Somehow that is not comforting any more.”
“Alan, what about the dogs?”
“What about them, they are snoozing on the back porch.”
“Were they with you and Andrew in the back field?”
“Then, they have to be checked for ticks.”
“Roll over  Woody, let me look at your gut…clear … no ticks that I can see.”
“Wand  Faila?”
“Marjorie, the place is still enjoyable…trails and  swamps, fields and streams….”
“Easy for you to say, you are not on antibiotics.”
alan skeoch
May 2018
Note:  We are not sure that ticks caused the infection…but Toronto Star warned us this week that ticks have become a serous problem in Ontario.

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