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7 things to include in your summer survival kit

mosquito
VARMINTS, CRITTERS AND PESTS: If the spring was any indication, it could be a "buggy" summer. Be prepared!
Get ready for the growing season and long summer ahead in style.

Winter is long gone. Even the midway point for spring is in the rear-view mirror, if you count seasons like climatologists do. Summer is approaching quickly. Are you ready?

Here are seven "must-have" items for a pickup truck for the summer. You may want to add more items and make your own list.

1. Insect repellent, and lots of it! We were working around the barn in late February. “Hey, Mr. Bechman, I just killed a mosquito,” one of the FFA students shouted to me. Yeah, right, mosquitoes don’t come out in February.

Ouch! A big sucker drilled right into my arm! If mosquitoes were out in February, what will they be like in June? You may want to buy insect repellent by the case.

2. Wasp and hornet spray — in the economy pack. We went through six cans last summer, and I didn’t buy the first one until June. I flipped up the lid on the switch box to turn on fans for the ewes, and there were wasps hovering on a small nest. Being allergic, I grabbed a can of wasp spray and doused them quickly. I wonder if wasp and hornet spray is cheaper by the dozen?

3. Plenty of sunscreen. I sunburn easily, so I keep a tube of sunscreen in the garage and another in the car. A farmer tan is one thing, but when your lips and ear lobes swell up from too much sun too quickly, it’s not fun. I’ll spread on the suntan lotion.

4. Several bottles of ready-to-use glyphosate spray. The dandelions were out by mid-April. And they were not only out — they went from yellow to ugly white and shedding seed within a day or two. If the dandelions came on early, you better be ready for weeds soon. Little ragweeds become big ragweeds in a hurry. Grass figures out how to grow through gravel in the barn lot better than it grows some places in my yard. A few squirts of a glyphosate mix will take care of those rascals.

5. Air conditioning — if it doesn’t work, fix it! This likely won’t be a summer you want to spend without air conditioning. If you suddenly recall the air conditioning wasn’t working too well at the end of last summer, maybe you better have a mechanic check it out. If you don't remember, the first 90-plus-degree day will remind you.

When my wife and I were first married, we bought a new car. We didn’t get air conditioning — to save money. And it was a black car, to boot. What where we thinking? (Hint: We weren’t!)

6. Floppy hat. So what if people make fun of you? It’s better than getting skin cancer. There is likely no truth to the rumor that a doctor invented baseball caps so he would have a plentiful supply of patients with skin problems. But it’s a fact that baseball-style caps don’t provide protection from the sun to your ears or your neck.

7. Tums, Tylenol and some water so you can take the Tylenol. It will rain too much, or not enough, or not at all. It will be too warm or too cool or downright hot.

Diseases will show up right when you think crops are home-free. Deer will eat plants along the woods. There will be one headache and gut-wrenching moment after another. It’s called farming. And most farmers wouldn’t have it any other way — just be prepared!

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