Friday, May 13, 2011


Well, it's been a busy couple of weeks around here.  In addition to all the usual things, like work, gardening, keeping the house, tending to the chickens, and extracurricular activities, we've been beset by plagues.  I always thought that only happened in biblical times or in some third world country, but no.  We're in the middle of not one, but two unwelcome invasions.

It's the year of the Magicada here in NC, a 13 year cicada that apparently REALLY loved Pittsboro last time around.  It's known as The Great Southern Brood and it's a fitting name.  The periodical cicadas are really interesting, if for no other reason

than that they spend all but a few weeks of their 13 year life cycle underground and live for only a few weeks up above.  They began emerging here about 10 days ago or so and at first they weren't all that noticeable.  Then, one day, they were everywhere!  Their molted nymph shells can be found clinging to what seems like every leaf and tree trunk or forming a crunchy carpet under the trees.

Sidewalks and driveways are a war zone, strewn with bodies that were squashed underfoot or by car tires.  But, it's the sound that is most pervasive.  The males produce a high pitched whirring noise that is their mating call and when you are surrounded by millions of male cicadas looking for love it sounds as though an alien spaceship is hovering just overhead.  You can't escape the sound.  Even indoors with all the windows and doors closed, it's still there.  And, overlayed with the mating call is the response of the female cicada.  She clicks her wings to tell the males where she is.  The clicking would sound much like grasshoppers or crickets (without the chirping element), if you had hundreds of thousands of them in your backyard.  And they will land on you without a second thought - shudder.

But, as loud as they are, the cicadas are the more tolerable plague that is currently tormenting us.  Worse is the intestinal parasite that has decided to hang out here.  For more than two weeks now, one or more of the children has been ill.  Abdominal cramps and random vomiting have become the norm.  Evan's tally is most impressive, having thrown up in a restaurant dining room, the kitchen sink at a friend's house (thanks for being so cool about that, Kelley!), and for the win - in my parent's brand new car.  It was only 24 hours old.

Because we don't actually live in the middle ages, the most likely culprit for this bug was our well.  If ground water seeps into your well, you'll also get all the yucky stuff that comes along with it.  However, the health department tests of our water came back negative, so the mystery continues.  Even though my research into the parasite says chickens don't carry it, I'm planning to kick the birds off the porch this weekend so that I can soak the entire house in Purell.  The kids are on antibiotics also, so hopefully we'll win this round.

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