I learned an interesting fact the other day from visiting one of my favorite bloggers, Carson at The 7MSN Ranch. Actually, I always learn interesting facts from Carson, especially as she’s about 15 years ahead of me in this City to Ranch transition. Unlike my Dubya Style Ranching (defined as a having the trappings of a ranch except no livestock but terriers), Carson has a real ranch in, as she describes it, Seven Miles South of Nowhere, New Mexico. You want livestock? She’s not only got livestock, but the most personality-forward livestock this side of the set of Babe. As an added bonus, most of them are named after iconic country singers. There are the goats, Willie and Waylon (the latter now sadly deceased), Lyle and Hank the Horses, George and Alan the Burros (named after Strait and Jackson for you non-country fans), and Wynonna the Pig. There were some chickens called The Dixie Chicks, but they aren’t talked about much these days. Carson’s now veering off to naming conventions from the great Western novel, Lonesome Dove, hence Deets the Barn Cat. Smooch the Dog, deserved a name of her own devising.
Anyway, back to that interesting factoid. Have you ever wondered why the West, with millions and millions more acres of tick-infested grasslands, doesn’t have the same or higher incidence of Lyme Disease as the built-up East Coast? Okay, I wonder about these things.
Apparently, when ticks are young. Really young and about the size of a pinhead, their host of choice is the Western Fence Lizard. But when they draw in the blood of the lizard, an interesting thing happens. The tick’s blood is cleansed of the Lyme Disease spirochete (or whatever it is.) So when that tick then grows up and bites you, or your horse, or your terrier, it’s disgusting, but not as dangerous. (It’s all more scientifically explained here.)
Western Fence Lizards, in addition to hanging out on fences, absolutely love stone walls. Luckily, we’ve got loads of them. Yes, we went a little crazy with stone walls up here. Maybe because we have more stones than anything else on our property and we know a great father/son pair, Felix Jr. and Felix Sr., who build beautiful stone walls the traditional Mexican way. Now I’m realizing the stone walls are a health clinic as well as a Club Med for Western Fence Lizards. We’re talking a first line of defense in the prevention of Lyme Disease. I’ve never been so grateful for Oscar and Lucy’s general incompetence as hunters.
(In spite of the help of the hardest working lizards in show business, still be vigilant about tick bites. Work hard to prevent them and, if you get one, watch for the tell-tale signs of Lyme Disease.)
Oh, and Carson? Check out her site. Especially one of my favorite posts: the one where the herd takes on a pack of coyotes and kicks butt.
Above two photos Copyright Linda Carson at The 7MSN Ranch.