So I walked down toward the creek bottom today to see if any of the wild plums were ripe. A few were, and I took the photo above before picking the subject and eating it. These sweet fruits are bite-sized, like large cherries. They're a treat, to be sure, but as Wild Horse Havard used to say, they come at a terrible price.
There are all manner of biting, sticking, stinging things down in the creek bottom. I don't mind the snakes and bull nettles -- they won't get you if you watch where you're going and avoid them. But the mosquitoes are horrible enough to make a person crazy. There were hundreds of them, maybe thousands. They lie in wait in cool, sheltered areas -- the very places where wild plum trees grow. [the plum trees here are Prunus angustifolia, also known as Chickasaw Plum. They can grow well in full sun or partial shade. They tend to form dense thickets]
Even though I had applied insect repellent before going down to the creek bottom, the terrible buzzing creatures coated my skin, biting even through my clothing. I hoped I would not catch some terrible disease from them. I would have done almost anything to be rid of them: coated my skin with stinking mud, worn a heavy coat (even if it put me in danger of passing out from the heat) ... I almost would have been willing to rub something truly toxic on my skin, such as kerosene. I left quickly, but my tormentors followed me, even up the hill and into the sun and wind, buzzing around the leeward side of my body. It was mid-day, mind you, not early morning or late afternoon.
There are also grasshoppers -- thousands of them, I'm sure, maybe 100's of thousands. The chickens eat a few but barely make a dent in their numbers. They are destroying many of the things I hold dear, such as the Saturn peaches and ears of sweet corn.
I am trying not to be depressed. When I lived up the hill at Altamira, there were few mosquitoes or grasshoppers, but there were other problems, such as packs of javelinas, and our only source of water was a pond which would dry up to a big mud puddle in drought years. Life is never easy for long.
To end on a bright note, though, there are many grapes growing on the wild vines, and even though the grasshoppers have eaten the leaves off the potato plants, there are already many potatoes under the ground. I have not planted any southern peas yet. I'm wondering if it will even be worthwhile. I don't think the hoppers like the leaves much, but they'll eat the young pea pods.
Also, the countryside is beautiful, and the mosquitoes aren't bad except in the creek bottoms and densely shaded places.