Here’s one of the first and best! Enjoy!
Here’s one of the first and best! Enjoy!
Most of you think that this is a page for women by women. Sure, it can be. I am definitely a woman! But we work and play with and around men also. In fact, we have a following that is strictly male and they are The Honorary Members of Chicks with Ticks. They even have their own logo! That’s right – they rock. We love our men!
Anyway – Tyler, my field partner for the day, and I were headed down south to Grasshopper Slough. Nothing special about that, except that we LOVE Grasshopper Slough. It’s on private land that is maintained about as well as any conservationist could ask, even though it’s a working cattle ranch – we love the way they alternate fields, manage forestry, and generally have a love of the land. It makes our job easier.
We got to the stream and it was about 2 feet deep. Now, I had been coming to this spot on this stream for years….mostly alone. I had Tyler today which is sweet because he is like my ninja man….studies budhism, meditates, is smiley, and an amazing friend. We got to the stream bank and I put my junk down where I always do. Then…something wasn’t right.
I told Ty (yeah – sometimes I call him Ty) that something wasn’t right. I scanned the area and make sure nothing is gonna eat us and then go about my business. I felt like I was being watched. I’ll tell ya it really creeped me out because there are some very large gators upstream from our site. Anyway, I laughed it off and then asked Ty if he minded being my ninja guardian and walk through the water to the gauge with me – which is sooooo not me because the water is only 2 feet deep and I go there all the time alone. Silly girl.
So, he remarked that was weird but that he would, of course – after all he is my ninja guardian. And he did. We came back with the logger (measures the level of the stream) and I sat on that bank and just looked at that 18 foot wide, 2 foot deep brown tannic stream and thought that I was crazy for feeling the way I did. I was being unreasonable. I told Ty I was being girlie! So, we did our thing and left.
We returned a week later to the same spot to do the same thing. I felt the same way. I might have even felt a bit worse. Something was there. I told Ty that I thought it might be a turtle or otter and I was just sensitive. We started work and I continually scanned the stream (spotted) as Ty went into the stream to measure flow. I still felt uncomfortable. I can’t explain it. I asked Ty to be careful.
I turned to scan the stream one more time. I saw something in the deeper pool just upstream of our site. I couldn’t say what it was so I asked Ty to stay out of the water until I could identify it. This is one of my safety protocols! I hoped to see a large fish or piece of wood floating. I turned away to set up planning to figure it out once I was finished.
I started opening my laptop and setting up the equipment as usual. For some reason, I looked back over my shoulder at the stream just where I had seen the “something”. Headed straight for Ty was a huge gator. It was moving fast and even making a wake. I bent back and grabbed a stick as I yelled to Ty, “Gator, big gator, out of the water!” I splashed the stick around and the gator turned toward me and slowed.
Oh my. At this point, I have to tell you how bad it was. Ty was supposed to be out of the water, right, because I asked him to. Instead, he was bent over pulling grass so he could use the doplar equipment we use to measure flow. This meant that his head was at the surface of the water and the gator was about 5 feet away when I spotted her. You can imagine how we both felt. Now Ty is on the other side of that stream. We had to get him back on the side with me and the truck with a gator in the middle! I tell you what. That gator was every bit of 9 feet and the stream only 18 feet across.
That gator followed us as we walked up and down the stream trying to find a good place for Ty to cross. It snapped at anything we threw. We decided that the marsh upstream was our best bet as I could swamp the truck halfway and at least he wouldn’t be stranded, just the truck would be. He hiked down and I drove. I didn’t see Ty. He didn’t come. I started to panic. I had driven the truck deep into the mucky maidencane marsh. I climbed out the window and stood on top of the truck. Where the hell was he?
I didn’t see him for what seemed like forever. All of the sudden, I see a figure in white (Ty) crouched down sneaking through the grass. Well, let me tell you, he looked like gator bait all bent over and easy to eat. I yelled for him to make himself big and run to the truck. I realized how close we had come when he collapsed in the bed of the truck next to me.
We laid there for a long time cursing and reliving the moment he almost got eaten. We still relive it. It was the most intense experience I had ever had and it changed me for a long time – changed us for a long time. Hell, it even changed the way we worked for a long time. I was afraid. Afraid that every pool had a gator in it ready to eat my field partners. I had never been afraid. Wary, cautious, yes, but not afraid.
That feeling passed, at least mostly. I still think about it when I stand next to that creek. The gator? Oh, a trapper came back a few weeks later and shot it after he roped it. He said the gator didn’t act right. He though it was crazy. I don’t know much about that – I only know that its not there anymore.
I only know that I haven’t felt that same feeling I felt the week before the gator almost ate Tyler! I do get that feeling every now and then at other sites. Sometimes it’s everything I can do to make myself go where I need to go. Sometimes, I don’t go at all.
You hear about sixth sense. You talk about intuition. I trust mine. Sometimes I look into that murky water and think I am going somewhere I know I shouldn’t go. I am entering a world that doesn’t belong to me. I am intruding. Most days I know I will be forgiven. I know I can pass without paying a toll. Some days I wonder when my time will run out.
Well, it’s official. The first batch of Chicks with Ticks gear is available online. The brand has been a part of my life for over four years now. You can’t imagine how amazing it is to see it become a reality! From a hokey hand made t-shirt to wear in the field to a full line of gear and flare, I am so excited.
My challenge is still on – first person to post a photo of them wearing REAL Chicks with Ticks logo gear from our online store wins Lemon Drop Shots from me – that’s right! Come on you guys….get some Chicks On!!!
Don’t feel left out boys…..Guys Love Chicks with Ticks gear is available with more coming soon!
So, John was wildly busy. Kristen and Jacque are awaiting his instructions….”what is it we are supposed to do?” we said. Well, I will tell you right now, those of you who know us personally know this – we don’t wait around!! We are take charge kind of gals. We decided to start going to these remote sites, and decided we would figure it all out in the field. How hard could it be? We had maps!
After all, we knew what it was we were supposed to gather. We knew where (ha) and we knew we were behind schedule already. So off we went into the Florida wilderness to collect stream data and begin a five year adventure of a lifetime. In the beginning, it was our job!
I have to stop and admit – at this point in the story – things will be posted here as Adventures….but in reality, they weren’t all adventures. Just like an edited show, some content won’t make it here. There were days that you will never hear about. There were tears you will never see shed, laughter you won’t hear ringing in the forest, and fear you won’t smell as we sweat – we left a lot of ourselves out there for some other brave person to find. I can’t make you feel the way we felt standing there, scratched to hell and cursing. I don’t have the courage to type words that came from our hearts and souls. Instead, friends, I will give you a taste of the beauty and laughter two strangers found out there in the middle of nowhere.
And it all starts right here. It starts on this blog born from a loss so personal that no one will ever understand. The pain of losing a part of myself is what sparked this blog. You see, in the beginning, it sounded like a job we would enjoy….but in the end, well, in the end we found out what the price is for being truly happy in your work. Trust me, I have paid the price.
Enough of that – let’s start the Adventures!!!
I have had the most amazing experience. All Chicks live to share what we love with others. It’s just natural that I should want to share my sharing with all those out there so – here goes….
I received a call from the dance studio owner where our daughter goes to afterschool. She was frantic. Her 12 year old daughter had chosen a science project and needed to find and identify 25 native tree species – BY THE MORNING!!! She immediately thought of me as she is very familiar with my muddy snake boots, spidery hair, and general smell from the field when I come to pick up our daughter. She knows what it is I do and felt I was the person for the job.
We jumped in the expedition and began our expedition!! Off to find 25 tree species, collect perfect leaves, and teach said future Chick to identify them!
We hiked through bidens, ceasarweed, mud, maidencane and general weeds. We pulled branches, braved mosquitoes, and sweated. I waded in a local swamp for pop ash. We collected, I taught, we collected, she marked the list, it was four Chicks on a Sunday adventure! We collected and taught until she had everything she needed to complete the project ON HER OWN!!
Her mother then turned to me….and said….”That was amazing. Do you still want to do this for a living when you grow up?” and she said “More than ever now.” I was thrilled – you can only imagine my smile. I want you all to know that my daughter had tagged along on this adventure – smiling and sweating right alongside me just like always – only in shorts and little black babydoll shoes!
Sounds like a great afternoon huh? It got better!! Yes – her mother then informed me THAT THIS WAS HER DAUGHTER’S FIRST TIME WALKING IN THE WOODS!!!! Let me tell you all that I have never felt so good!! This young woman had already chosen a path into the muddy, buggy, crazy world of Chicks With Ticks – she knew she wanted to be out there – BEFORE EVER HAVING DONE IT!
Let’s all raise our beers to the two young woman and grown woman who joined me in the forests and wetlands that brought one more Chick to the family! I have never been more proud to be a Chick With Ticks!!!
That’s right, we care! We want to know what you want to see from us before we start running at the mouth about our crazy five year adventure. We have documented most of our journeys, have stories that will make you laugh and cry, and have seen some things no one else will ever see.
Find yourself nodding as if you could do the same? Then DO IT!!! Go to the Stories Page and give us all ya got baby….post away! We know we aren’t the only crazy idiots to walk into the swamp and live to tell about it. We can’t wait to hear your adventures.
That’s right! Social media is the place to be. Who better to be there than the Chicks With Ticks.
Those of you who have already bitten the bullet and joined me here will soon know something the world has yet to learn….CWT will soon have their very own precious logo!
A bad ass local artist is sitting in a coffee shop right now waiting for me to show up and help him refine the “look” we want to project to the world.
It won’t be long before every stinking baby, every dog, every bad ass Chick is wearing CWT brand. That’s right!
Women can do anything – duh! We have already proven we can!
Please join us in the expression of our adventurous, wild, crazy, entirely out of control – world of women!