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when leeches attack

July 25, 2013

Our newest project at the farm is a dock for the pond in our back yard.  It was launched last week, a magnificent 8′ cedar square atop four pink plastic barrels.  The barrels formerly contained cow teat wash at a dairy ranch.

While our friend Lee was in a kayak positioning the float, I noticed a leech attached to one of the barrels.  It was easy to spot, being shiny black on pastel.  The next day I saw another one on the office floor.  It likely hitched a ride into the house on our dog Slinkee, who had to do a lot of swimming to supervise our construction.

It might have been the same one.  It fit the general description: the aforementioned shininess and blackness, amorphous build and male/female (they’re hermaphroditic).Image

It seemed docile and compliant when I slipped some paper under it.  But, as every zookeeper knows, I shouldn’t have let my guard down.  He/she (let’s call it “Pat”) semi-suddenly uncoiled and lunged at me.


Imagine my quasi-panic as I slowly backed away, trying to maintain eye contact.  I’m not sure if leeches even have eyes, so I focused on Pat’s top four fused segments, which contain the mouth and the first of 32 brains.

It’s the mouth I really had to worry about anyway.  If Pat had bitten me, he/she could have really clamped down.  Three blades slice a “Y”-shaped incision into which an anesthetic and an anticoagulant are secreted.  Pat could have then lunched at her/his leisure.

I can’t overstate the stickability of leeches.  Remember that Pat or a family member was crawling vertically on wet plastic in the pond.  I held Pat over the toilet stool waiting for her/him to unstick.


It took awhile.


After plenty of prompting, Pat took the porcelain plunge.  I bid her/him a bon voyage with the most appropriate thing I could think of: “So long, sucker!”

  1. Patricia Neeland permalink
    July 25, 2013 7:48 pm

    Why the name Pat?

    • Anonymous permalink
      July 25, 2013 9:05 pm

      “So long, sucker!” Nice one, Allen! Very good.

      • July 26, 2013 11:03 am

        Thank you. I’ve been waiting a long time to work that one into the blog.

    • July 26, 2013 11:02 am

      I was trying to think up a unisex name to make the joke work, and remembered the character “Pat” from Saturday Night Live. Pat was an androgynous nerd, as played by Julia Sweeney. By no means did I mean to impugn the lovely name “Patricia”.

  2. Gordon Raley permalink
    July 26, 2013 6:58 am

    And conspiracy theorists have totally missed how Pat and her ilk assassinated our first President…

    • July 26, 2013 11:04 am

      Give Glenn Beck time, Gordie. He’s been super busy.

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