Chiggers and Ticks

The past few days have been much the same.  After completing our morning chores, we head out to look at property.  For the most part, we are underwhelmed.

Yesterday was the most interesting of our property-hunting days.  It started with a trip to a 126 acre piece just across the Arkansas/Missouri border.  The roads got progressively smaller until we were on a narrow rocky path cut through some dense woods.  Putting the Jeep in 4WD, we finally got to the property.  The Jeep could have made it up the steep path onto the property, but we decided to walk instead.  The property was generally pie-shaped. The edges followed two ridge lines while the center of the piece dropped into a deep hollow.  The land showed promise for hunting, but building a home in such a remote and rugged location would be a major headache.  So, after an hour of walking through dense woods and thick brush in 90 degree heat, we returned to the Jeep and spent the next 30 minutes picking ticks and chiggers out of our clothes.  Our shoes and socks were covered with the blood-sucking creatures.  Fortunately, we got to them before they got to us.  We had the hee-bee gee-bees the rest of the day.

Our next stop was a 10 acre piece near the town of Siloam Springs on the Arkansas/Oklahoma border.  We never really made it to the property location.  In all directions, all we could see was chicken ranches.  There was no way we would live in the middle of chicken ranches, not to mention the surrounding alfalfa fields that were fertilized with chicken waste.  I’ll leave it to the reader’s imagination what the area would small like on a hot, humid summer day.  (I suppose to the chicken ranchers and alfalfa farmers, the malodorous combination of chicken droppings and heat smelled like money.)

We then made the long drive south to the small town of Muldrow, Oklahoma, which is about 20 miles west of Fort Smith.  The country was mostly picturesque rolling hills.  About half the land was cleared for grazing and the other half was dense woods.  Obviously, the area was not particularly prosperous and some of the properties were downright trashy.

The property in Muldrow as for sale by the owners and at 4:00 PM we met the son on the property.  It was a pretty 35 acre piece that gently sloped down towards a year-round creek before steeply rising to a ridgeline.  It was a nice piece, but here’s the problem: the owners had all kinds of ‘stuff’ scattered around the property.  Old cars, a broken down bus, farm equipment, etc.  The outbuildings were crammed full of more ‘stuff’.  Their plan was to sell off 35 acres, but keep 15 acres for themselves.  We had visions of them moving their 35 acres of junk onto the 15 acres they planned to keep.  And, of course, the 15 acres is on the approach to the property.  It was a really nice property, but we decided to take a pass.  We had a close-but-no-cigar experience.

By this time we were hot, tired and hungry.  Unfortunately, we had to deal with a new load of chiggers and ticks before heading back.  Ugh!  The chiggers I can deal with, but the ticks give me the creeps.

For readers not familiar with chiggers, they are small, really small, insects that burrow into your skin.  They itch like crazy and cause oozing sores.  Their distinctive red color make them easy to spot again light clothing.  You generally pick them up while walking through brush or tall grass.

We decided to have dinner in town at one of the Chinese buffets.  Returning to the coach, the long, cool shower and change of clothes was very much appreciated.  We slept soundly.

Our dirty, vermin-infested clothes and shoes spent the night outside.  In the morning, the shoes were soaked in a five gallons of diluted Simple Green and the clothes were washed, bleached and dried on high heat for an hour.

So, what did we learn from this past week?  First of all, we suspected looking for a place to live would not be easy and our suspicions were confirmed.  Second, we’re beginning to rethink the idea of a large piece of property.  Finally, we need a better strategy to deal with chiggers and ticks.

However, we are undeterred and will keep looking.