Blue Earth, Minnesota
Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Yeah! we got a good nights sleep and managed to get to the office for 7.45am. 

Diane woke up with her bites aching, itching and stinging. What we originally thought were mosquito bites turned out to be Chigger bites. We were told that they are non-flying insects that like to get underneath tight fitting clothes as they like something to press against when they bury their heads underneath your skin to extract blood... EEK! Once bitten the spots turn bright red and look like blood poisoning. Not a pretty sight! Chiggers are a microscopic arahcnid.
Have a look at the photo. On the left is about 4-5 square inches of Diane's leg. Her legs and arms were covered. On the right is a picture of the creature responsible.

 These little devils are tiny creatures and create a huge amount of discomfort. When we first  got here we had concerns over snakes, bears, skunks etc but never expected these little devils.

We gathered our tools- large bean cans, buckets, sacks, clippers and a couple of tins of DEET spray ( but I think the mozzies are immune!). Today we visited 2 fields. Five of us travelled about 20 miles east of
Blue Earth
to pick a rare seed that only grows by the swamp near the interstate highway. Mike, Ngoc, Andy, Diane, Bill and me are all in the van for the drive. Bill joined us picking seed. As we made our way through the long grasses Bill told me how he got into farming. Hard to believe he was an insurance salesman for 20 years  before doing this!

There was a nice breeze coming across the fields today. It kept the mosquitoes away and gave us a breathe of fresh air. The temperatures were still high though, but bareable. As we continued through the long grass it began to lightly rain and Bill decided it was time to attend to prior commitments he said he had arranged. 

Now, I was not suspicious in the slightest here Bill, but I always had stuff to do in bad weather when I was in charge  too... hehehe!

The rain passed us by within a couple of minutes after Bill left, which really got Diane in a tiz! It had taken her so long to get her plastic poncho out of its pack and after nearly suffocating herself and fighting to get it on, the rain had stopped and it  instantly became too warm to wear it.

There are many different species of dragon fly here. They are about 3 to 6 inches in length. I have managed to take photos of the small golden ones but can't get any of the bigger ones because they are always just passing by. The orange ones look like they are waiting to see what the weather weather does before taking flight. The weatherman this morning took great delight in telling viewers that there were going to be huge storms and possible tornadoes......again!

I took a couple of pictures of the large trucks today as we are at the side of the Interstate. I bet thats a great job in this country, the roads are so long and wide.
 

I worked with Andy searching through the long grass for our seed and had some very interesting conversations. Andy told me that since he moved to Blue Earth from Vietnam he has enjoyed his life here. He also told me that he spends quite a lot of money buying and selling shares and that he has lost thousands of dollars but has also made loads too. Andy has bought into the American Dream. He tells so many more stories about how much money he makes, spends and invests as this is a measure of worth and social status in Vietnamese culture. I think this is the only Vietnamese trait he still holds on to- everything must be richer, bigger, costlier, longer- speaking of longer, he told me he has " a long dick"!!!!!!!! Then tells me " I pee like a dog" and shows us all the tube tied around his ankle attached to a bag from his bladder.  Andy also told me that he owns a cafe/restaurant on Main Street, Blue Earth- but it's closed at the moment due to he and his wife having to attend hospital appointments.
Andy pointed out a 5 litre white bottle at the side of the road. " Don't touch!" he said, pointing at it.
I looked puzzled.
"Mexicans come in the back of trucks to work and pee in them... throw them out everywhere!" he said smiling. This made me laugh. I realised that we had passed quite a few of these bottles along this roadside. He told me that the field we were working along was a regular route for "Mexicans, with no papers."

Andy is  quite a character and for a 77 year old man and is full of vigour and energy. I hope to be as mobile as Andy at that age!

After break we head out to our next field. When we arrive there is already a group of teenagers with their heads down and backs bent in the already blistering sun. We find where we are working and use buckets to sit on. The ground is covered in the seeds we are after and having a job where you can sit down is rare, so we made the most of it.

While we are picking away, Mike starts to talk about family his family history mixed with Norwegian and German influences. H e tells me about how his grandparents had to change the family name during WWII to make sure that there were no  repercussions with the locals. I enjoy the chats I have with Mike, he is very appreciative about different cultures and enjoys sharing stories.

Bill came out again this afternoon and gave Diane a special cream or her Chigger bites. She started applying it straight away and you could see the relief on her face as it cooled the red lumps.

After a couple of hours work, Jason decided it was time for everyone to go home early as the sun was way too warm to be out in. Although the work is very labour intensive Jason and Bill appreciate how the weather can influence the health of everyone working outside. It's a shame that the same thought never applied to some of the construction companies I previously worked for back home in the UK!

Tonight, before bed the sky turned amazing shades of blue, orange, yellow, red and the dreaded green that Jason warned me about- even though this was during a storm warning nothing ever came of it...PHEW!

 

 

Chiggers are a microscopic arahcnid

 

 DSCF1637.jpg picture by Bibblerspics

 

 

 

 DSCF1638.jpg picture by Bibblerspics

 

 Many diiferent insects inhabit the fields

 

 DSCF1654.jpg picture by Bibblerspics

 

 DSCF1657.jpg picture by Bibblerspics