Well now, y'all folks have heard about all sorts of critters we encounter out here on the Texas prairie, but are you familiar with a critter as small and rambunctious as the chigger? Naw, it ain't no bull or coyote, but these tiny critters sure do pack a punch.
Got word recently that a friend of mine, Harold who lives a couple of acres over, was being plagued by these teeny red mites. Now for those of you who've been spared from having them itchy encounters, chiggers are devilishly small critters that feed on the skin, leaving a person itching like they've been rolling in a patch of nettles.
Harold was one bottle down of calamine lotion and didn't know how to stop these ruthless mites. So he calls me in a frenzy and says, "Jack, I need the cowboy solution to this itchy nightmare." I chuckle at this and sign off for the day, donning my cowboy hat and heading over to his ranch, my faithful ranch dog Trigger at my side.
We get to Harold's and he's worse for wear, itching and cursing like a sailor at these invisible foes. Now remember, I've got myself nine kiddos and dealing with chiggers is part and parcel of living on this prairie-land.
First off, I tell Harold to take a hot shower, scrubbing every inch of his skin. Most folks don't realize, chiggers ain't burrowing under the skin, they're fancying themselves a feast on top. Cleansing the skin can wash the majority of them pesky critters off.
Next, we get to treating the yard. Chiggers love them some tall grasses and moist woodland. Harold's yard was a chigger paradise. We mowed down the grass, dried up the moist spots, and maybe introduced a few chickens – them birds aren't big fans of chiggers and are happy to help rid the yard of them.
The day waned into twilight, as I shared tales of old cowboy wisdom and chigger chases with Harold over a satisfying cup of herbal tea, hoping to ease his 'itchy agony'. As we stared at the sprawling Texas twilight from his porch, I felt a sense of peace and satisfaction. Helping out a fellow rancher in dealing with a critter as tiny and frustrating as the chigger reminded me, once again, of the adventure of our rustic lives out on the Texas prairie.
Remember folks, life's ain't always about the sweeping tales of bravery or running with wild mustangs. Sometimes, it's about the small battles we fight, even if it's an itchy encounter with the chigger, that reminds us of the beauty and peculiarity of this cowboy life.
Until next time, this is Cowboy Jack, signing off with an itchy tale and a heart full of satisfaction!