Tobin

With all the upheaval and change going on in my career field it wasn’t the time to spend money, on anything, and it probably wouldn’t be for the next decade. I finally had land. 2 acres. It seemed, gardening would be more accessible to me than it was in the apartments i had lived in. But, it wasn’t. One couldn’t just garden in the middle of the wilderness the way one could on an apartment balcony or patio. There were issues and roadblocks that had to be addressed first. The main reason one couldn’t just begin gardening in the yard were the thousands of grasshoppers that inhabited the land. In the summer, one could walk through the yard and find wolf spiders scurrying and grasshoppers jumping out of the way with each foot step. They were everywhere and they were hungry little devils. They ate anything they could reach. They left young trees bare of all their leaves. They were annoyingly good climbers. The only thing that seemed to slow them down was diatomaceous earth. I bought it by the bucket-full and sprinkled it on all the fruit tree leaves, but it was an endless battle as the wind would blow it off and the grasshoppers would set upon the trees and do their worst until i sprinkled more. I hated them. I was secretly glad Cashew liked to eat them for extra protein. However, she took one for an occasional snack. It was not like she was effectively making a dent in the overall population…which the plants wouldn’t have minded. There was one farmer that grew hay for livestock but everyone else around me seemed to have a greenhouse. I knew why. It was the only way to keep the grasshoppers out! So a green house was a must. It couldn’t be just any old zip-up plastic green house though. The deer tended to eat what was readily accessible in the yard but i didn’t imagine they would roll a greenhouse on its side or tear the see-through plastic to get the contents. It was the wild hogs that i was worried about. They were so destructive as it was, i figured a flimsy plastic cover over some plastic shelves in the yard would certainly be noticed and raided were i to erect such a thing in the area the hogs were frequenting. Also, there was the question of pollination. There would have to be an opening for the bees to find the flowers or there would be no point in gardening. I had tried years before and the veggies that managed to result from my paint brush pollination were weak and little and they often fell off the plant shortly after forming if they formed at all. So many flowers bloomed and died without producing a vegetable. I was no substitute for a bee with my little paint brush. They had pollen on them from thousands of different plants and knew just how to deposit it right where it should be. Some of the hard plastic greenhouse structures had skylights that could be opened and angled for air flow (and create an entry point for bees). They were super expensive and required one to construct them with power tools and instruction sheets, and probably multiple people. I did not have a mailbox and a greenhouse would not fit in a P.O. box. So i would have to have it delivered to the tractor supply store in town, then rent a pickup for the day, haul the box out to the property, return the pickup, and fetch my car from the lot before they locked it for the night. The financial cost of the greenhouse and the logistics of getting it to the property were enough to make one’s head swim but after it would have made it to the property and friends would have helped me assemble it, the rocky soil meant i would have to build raised beds inside the green house to grow anything. Because of my hundreds of termites and carpenter ant colonies, instead of using wood, i had decided to build brick raised beds. Unfortunately, bricks were not dirt cheap either. Then, on top of all the aforementioned complications and expenses, i recently learned that the bees in my area were africanized. I knew they were not fuzzy like the docile little honey bees that had lived in my apartment wall in san antonio. They were also a bit longer than the short stubby fuzzy honey bees i was used to. Other than that, they looked similar but they behaved completely differently. The honey bees i was used to sometimes mistook me for a flower depending on my perfume, laundry detergent, or shampoo scents. However, they would land on me, look for pollen, find none, and take off. They weren’t angry and it wasn’t personal. They were just looking for pollen. The bees i encountered on my property in the hill country were aggressive. They would fly in a zig zag pattern. They were quick and they would follow me no matter how far i ran. I could run clear to the other side of the property, turn round, and they were still in pursuit. The only way i knew to get rid of them was run past something they would be more interested in than me. I kept a rather smelly compost pile with bits of veg and fruit sticking out of the dirt. I knew if i ran there and kept going the bee would likely stop on it and i would be free of him. Otherwise, i had to run to the house and stay in it for 10 minutes before trying to come out again, because the bee would wait me out, buzzing round the porch to see if i emerged. I never stepped on one or threw anything at it or wandered too close to a hive. They were just naturally angry and these bees would chase people without any provocation. On warm days i liked to wash dishes in the yard. That was a process. The moment i opened the dish soap bottle the bees descended upon me in groups of 1 to 5. They would zig zag through the grass flying low and coming towards me, hit my shirt, buzz around my head…i ran like **** screaming, “Shit, bees!” every time. Off i went to the compost pile. Eventually i would get wise and make a little spot of soap in the grass so i could run past that and shake off the angry bees when they came for me. I thought it was weird that the bees were so aggressive and chasey chasey while i was hanging laundry, washing dishes, playing with the dogs, mowing grass, or trimming trees. If i cut wood or ran a power drill in the yard they came in groups of 10 to 15 and were super pissed about it. However, i didn’t connect the dots until my mother called them “africanized bees”. Then i began reading articles online. Apparently some bees from africa had gotten loose in south america and infiltrated colonies of honey bees and these super aggressive angry bees were the hybrid result that was taking over the world. I frowned. How was i going to use super angry bees to pollinate my vegetables? Two sayings came to mind. “There’s no use in crying over spilled milk.” And “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” So i began to look into the cost of a full-body bee-keeping suit. So, to recap, gardening would only require a hard plastic green house with sky lights, a rented pick-up truck, lottery money, bricks, potting soil, a bee-keeping suit, and people to assist in assembly. I bought a succulent. His name is Tobin.

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