We’ve been lucky so far. We’ve lived here for seven years, and in that time neither of us has had a tick bite. We’ve seen a couple, and last year one of the cats had a tick. (We frisk and comb them regularly, to check.)

I get peevish about this. When I was growing up, in Southwestern Ontario, we didn’t have ticks. We didn’t have ticks in the far North of Michigan, either. I remember that we visited friends in Indiana when I was eight or nine, and our parents warned us that Indiana had chiggers and ticks. We were disgusted! (and that’s from kids raised in the shadow of all manner of biting and blood-sucking pests, mosquitoes, black flies, deer flies, horse flies, stable flies, and even leaches!)

Now we have ticks. Up until this year, we saw a total of three ticks. This year, the place is crawling with them. And it’s not just my childhood revulsion in play, ticks can give you Lyme Disease. So I feel fully entitled in my revulsion. I don’t know why we’ve seen this invasion. Is it climate change? Is it deer overpopulation?

Admittedly, the type of work we are doing right now makes us sitting ducks for ticks. We’re planting trees, which means we spend time on the ground, in the forest, and on the open grassy areas. And we have property that is awash in deer. (That’s why we need the tree cages.) Deer carry ticks. Deer sleep in the soft needle bedding under evergreen trees. We’re harvesting needles for mulch around the baby trees. So we’ve been beefing up our tick protocols.

After we saw the first tick in the house, we decided that we should remove our outerwear in the basement, before coming up into the house. After we saw the second tick, we decided that all outerwear needed to be removed, outdoors, and thoroughly shaken out, before being brought in to the basement, to be stored.

After we saw the third tick, we researched, and found that six minutes in a hot dryer would kill any hitchhikers, and that became the rule. But, even before we could do that, we saw the next tick on the bathroom wall–who, apparently rode in on my hair (and, thankfully, I brushed it immediately after coming in.) Now, we also have a hats-on-outdoors rule. Plus, we’re stripping outside at the basement door for tick inspection and apparel treatment. I’m sure this would be amusing, if the neighbors could see us.

I can hardly wait until the trees are in…so we can start on the garden.