Early summer bonus for bugs and tissue makers

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By Cheryl Steenerson

Has anyone else’s nose been running like a faucet? There has to be plenty of something in the air that’s not normally this powerful.
I don’t suffer from most allergies, but I have heard about the Ohio Valley crud. Maybe after 16 years here in Anderson County it finally caught me.
Whatever it is, the makers of Kleenex must be very happy.
The unusually warm weather has brought out all kinds of life. I actually saw a lightning bug last week. Things that normally bloom in the summer are coming out to compete with the spring bloomers. All of our flying pollinators must think we created a kind of food Disney World, just for them.
It makes me believe that we gardeners are going have to be extra vigilant this year when it comes to bug control. I have lots of garlic, onions and chamomile tea on hand, in addition to several containers of baby powder. The trick will be constant surveillance.
I was fortunate to have one entire week off from my library and tutoring jobs and spent it on the farm. It was heaven. Physical labor always makes me feel alive. I get to see my accomplishments over and over again, spurring me to do more. I fall into bed exhausted and happy. What more could you want from a vacation? OK, a maid might be nice.
Spending time on the farm, with the dogs, brings a lot of hilarity. Besides getting to run through the brush sniffing out critters, they get to run through the creek, as well. You have to laugh when you see a smiling, tail wagging Tiller, race up to you with a stick in her mouth.
I try to ignore the layers of stick tights and burrs on the dripping fur, since she’s obviously having a great time. She drops the stick at my feet and just as I bend down close, she gives herself a mighty shake. Guess she thinks the shower is needed.
I get plenty dirty doing my outside chores, but the dogs take getting dirty to a whole new level. I think they know that I always clean my carpets in the spring. Picture kids and a new mattress. Thankfully, both Spanky and Tiller are very good about baths.
I’ve stocked up on flea and tick shampoo and they’ve been getting yeast tablets since January. I’ve already pulled off ticks from them and me. Like I said, the bugs are plentiful this year and it’s not just because of a mild winter. It’s the early summer and all the food that’s available weeks ahead of normal time.
Last year, when the ticks got really bad, I started using Liberty for flea and tick control and it is the least poisonous stuff that I could find that still works. I also got lots of questions from readers regarding flea control. They would say that they bathed them with flea shampoo and they still had fleas.
Most folks know how to bath a dog, but you’d be surprised at how many never read the label on the shampoo. If they had read the label they would find that you have to keep the shampoo on the dog for five minutes.
Yes, five minutes can seem like two weeks when you’re bathing a dog, but you must find a way to keep them there and standing still. I just use praise and a lot of scratching to their favorite places.
In the house, vacuuming is your best solution. Vacuum every floor surface every day for two weeks and the fleas should be gone.  Of course, you need to treat the dogs first.
Now, go get some local honey, put a hanky in your back pocket and get out there. A tablespoon of honey every day will build up your tolerance to allergies. It takes about eight weeks to kick in, hence the hanky.
Actually, I think I’ll forget the hanky and just throw a roll of paper towels in the truck.  It’ll work for my faucet nose and the next time Tiller brings me a stick. Happy growing.

Cheryl Steenerson is a gardening columnist for The Anderson News.