The day after mowing and trimming the entire property i noticed my entire belly button was red and swollen. The area around it was crusted with an orange tinted dried liquid. It looked like someone had rubbed me down with iodine in preparation for a medical procedure. I thought, “well that’s a weird reaction to a mosquito bite.” As time passed, the bite got weirder. It would fill back up with fluid and then pop again, coating my belly button once more with orange liquid. I started keeping tabs on it and noted when it filled up like a balloon. As i popped it once again, i wondered if it was an ant bite and not a mosquito bite. It wasn’t until the following day, when i had come home from work and stopped what i was doing to go to the bathroom, that i realized what had bitten me. As i pulled down my drawers, swollen red bumps ran the length of my underwear line on each side. I yanked my drawers off and threw them in the washer machine. I threw everything in the washer machine, including the sheets, the blanket, and the pillow cases from the bed. I ran the water in the shower as hot as it would go and stepped in. I soaped up vigorously and scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed until the water was ice cold and there wasn’t any more point. I rinsed and grabbed a towel. I threw on a t shirt and some pj pants that i didnt care about and flew out the door and off the porch screaming, “i know why we’re itchy!!!!”
The poor dogs were absolutely bewildered as i ran about the yard, gathering the shampoo and the bath cup from the tool shed screaming, “chiggers! Chiggers! It’s chiggers! Of course!” The poor dogs had been scratching relentlessly even though they had taken their monthly flea and heart worm medicine already. i had thought maybe they were having a reaction to the oak pollen. I now knew that i was wrong. The bath tub was in the shed full of chicken poop. There was no time to sterilize it. I began taking the lock off the spigot on the side of the well house. It was 90 degrees out. The dogs would have baths under the spigot in the yard. I covered, and i do mean covered, those dogs in soap from snout to tail. They were so sudsy you could have mistook them for clouds. Sili was first because i knew she would actually cooperate. She did for the most part. Once i got her bathed and rinsed i put her in the house so she wouldn’t roll. Then it was Cashew’s turn. As an aussie, she was pure muscle and she fought me the whole way through. No way was she having a bath man, no way. After several rants about killing the chiggers and not shredding my last piece of sanity, a half hour of colorful language, pleading to cooperate, and a ****-ton of exercise holding that dog still, Cashew was also bathed and rinsed. I carried her to the house, aware that she would roll in the dirt on the way to the porch if i gave her an ounce of freedom to do so. Then i stripped off my wet clothes and put those in the washing machine too.
We were all super itchy and we finally knew why. i then broke it to the dogs that it was my neglecting of the landscape that allowed the chiggers to get to such a state.
Sili tried to take everybody’s mind off the itching with kisses. I had two wet, sweet-smelling dogs and we were all going to stay indoors for a few hours until they were dry.