One of the wonders of living in southeast Texas, which I still am amazed by, is the fact that if you aren’t making hay…you shred your pastures. Even after almost thirty years after coming from the Texas panhandle, where grass is a premium, mowing pastures boggles my mind. But we have had a lot of rain this year, so when my grass/weeds are almost as tall as my horse I knew that I needed to mow my pasture. You may think this is just a story about mowing, but this is a cautionary tale about the dangers of the giant pterodactyl killer bee (Gingantus Dinosaurus Apis Killus is the Latin, I think). And lest you think this isn’t about horses, if you have any amount of pasture…at some point you will need to mow it.
I had all kinds of tractor problems before I started, which leads to the fact that I am a mechanical idiot. I said it and I’m not afraid to admit it. Talk to me about a horse, or even a cow or lamb; I can speak semi-intelligently. Talk to me about anything mechanical, and my eyes will glaze over and I may even drool out of the corner of my mouth. If I can’t fix it with a set of jumper cables, we are in trouble!
But, I did finally get the tractor rolling and was busily shredding pastures most of the day. It was hot and I was really glad when I had finally gotten to the last little bit up around my round pen. To set the stage a little, we have a simple little bridge like thing that my daughter uses to teach her lambs to push. It is a 4x8 sheet of plywood screwed to 2x8’s. I have even used it to walk my colts over, so it is somewhat of an effective tool. Not so, on this day. I thought I would use the bucket of the tractor to get under the edge of it, lift a little and just push it out of the way while I mowed. Seemed simple enough and it worked just fine, to a point…
If you have ever used a shredder, you know there is all kinds a grass and brush flying around, so after mowing most of the day I was not paying much attention to what was flying around my head. When I picked the bridge up, and started to slide it out of the way, I suddenly noticed that the stuff flying around my head had suddenly increased. Still I was oblivious to my imminent danger. All of the sudden somebody shot me in the back of my arm. That’s when I noticed some giant prehistoric pterodactyl sized bees boiling out from underneath the bridge. As the second one hit my hand and ripped a hunk a flesh out of it, I realized I no longer wanted to be on the tractor. But the tractor was still moving in low first gear, so I knew I had a responsibility to shut it off. It was at the moment that wanted to turn off the tractor that I noticed that my hand was moving in the same gear as tractor (I had never noticed how slow I was before). The pterodactyl bees were now pinging me with all of the ferocity of pack of velociraptors. I finally bailed off the tractor and immediately broke out my ninja moves as my first line of defense. I started karate chopping and high kicking in an attempt to fight off the pack of giant bees. At some point I realized that my karate skills were not helping in the least bit. So the next line of defense was kicked in and I started running away from the tractor, all the while flailing…er karate chopping, the bees into oblivion. I ran toward the house and covered the hundred yards in near Olympic speed, all the while waving my arms around and doing my best to distract the bees by shouting at them (as everybody knows, shouting at bees will distract them). There were only about four pterodactyl bees that could match my speed, so we had a showdown at the gate. I fought them to a bloody draw right there at the pasture gate and I am going to claim victory because they cannot dispute it.
|Actual Size may have been larger!|
I knew that I’d been stung a bunch of times, so I thought it was prudent to get in the house and take an antihistamine. My sprint from the barn area had caused me to run just a little short of oxygen, so I was sucking oxygen like a dying cow when I burst into the house. My poor bride must have thought I was crazy, but she was trooper and killed the last three bees that had made into the house with me. She said that she thought I had cut my foot off with the shredder or something…not just a few little bees. Obviously she had killed the baby bees, because the ones that I fought at the barn were of a much, much larger variety.As I close, I will just say…be careful out there, it that time of year. Whether it’s snakes or giant pterodactyl bees; whether you’re on a horse or a on a tractor, pay attention to what’s going on around you.