Out here on the farm, we have plenty of things to watch out for. In the 8 years that I have lived out here, I have seen black widow spiders, coyotes fighting in the backyard, a snapping turtle, chicken snakes, king snakes and one not so lucky rattlesnake that got its head chopped off by yours truly. We have to teach our children at an early age to be watchful for such dangers and how to recognize them. I think the message has sunk in because there has been more than one occasion when a child comes running inside the house yelling, "Snake! Snake!" I then stop everything I'm doing, turn off the stove, get off the phone, etc. and don my knee-high mud boots, grab the closest weapon (i.e. hoe or shovel) I can find and then slowly approach the enemy in the direction where the kids are pointing. 9 times out of 10 it is a black stick in the grass....the exception being the 9-ring rattler by my in-laws' driveway this summer.
My six year old, however, has recently encountered one of our worst enemies out here on the farm. This creature does not jump out and attack immediately, but rather lies sometimes unnoticeable until it is too late. The culprit....urushiol. Now, I first met urushiol about 8 years ago while helping my husband (fiance at the time) string a new barb wire fence. Of course, when I say "helping," I mean standing there and looking pretty while I hand him tools that I don't know the name of and watching him string and tighten the fence by himself. I really don't know what he would do without me.....except maybe get the correct tool the first time. Anyway, I suffered through the effects of urushiol for several weeks after that, and discovered that my wonderful husband is apparently immune to urushiol....lucky dog. Well now, our oldest child has also discovered urushiol, and apparently he is not immune.
Have you figured it out yet?? Scroll down for more....
For those you who don't have the vocabulary of my Uncle Charles, let me explain....urushiol = Poison Oak!
My son decided to help out his Nana by chopping down the weeds and tall grass in the ditch by her driveway....with a pair of pruning shears. I was actually pleased that he was working hard to be helpful to do something that no one had asked him to do. I'm sure being allowed to use the pruning shears was about all the motivation that he needed. He worked on it over the course of two days this past weekend, and the ditch looks much better. My son, however, is covered in a rash from head to toe! Behind his ears, on his face, neck, arms, stomach and sides, legs...and other places I won't mention here. I'm beginning to wonder if he was even wearing clothes while he was working! It never even crossed my mind that there might be poison oak or poison ivy. It wasn't close to the woods and just looked like tall grass to me, but he said that there were vines with five leaves on the plants (that's why we're going with poison oak rather than poison ivy). We've done the calamine lotion (which I don't think helps at all) and hot showers, but it looks like he will have to suffer through it for the long haul.
So, for anybody that comes to visit us, you've been warned. Beware of our lurking enemy....urushiol! This guy is bad news!