My parent’s property, that is, the property on which Nev-R-Dun Farm resides, has an annual house termite inspection by a company that… inspects for termites. This has been going on as long as I can remember. Every year, an inspector comes to the property, looks in the basement and around the house for signs of termites and other damaging insects, then, as they do every year, they give an assessment of “no damage” and leave. That is, until this year…
I must pause here to explain why such inspections have been deemed necessary. A long time ago, in fact I barely remember the incident… In fact, I sort of remember remembering the incident, the old farm house actually had termites. And the part that I barely remember is that an extermination crew worked at the farm and drilled through the tremendous concrete of the front porch in order to give “breathing room” to the hundred plus year old beams in the house’s basement, which lie deeply buried behind the concrete, but allowed… and this is absolutely crucial to this entry… moisture to collect around the old wooden beams, which termites love to devour…WHEN WET. Whoever thought a colossal concrete front porch was a great idea, obviously did not realize the moisture damage that would LEAD to the termites.
I am leading this entry by the way, because termites just don’t “happen”, but I will get back to that. Anyway, that was 1976. The bicentennial celebration of our country happened that year, and I was six soon to be seven years old. Hence the reason that memory is not so clear. I have no idea what chemicals were used to kill those pests, but since that was about 37 years ago, chances are the chemicals have faded… thankfully… I hope…
So, every year, an inspector comes out to the old farm house to look for signs of insect damage that might cause structural harm to the abode. And like I mentioned above, every year they inspect and find no damage… until this year… Actually that is not true, that is the damage part... I guess I should just relay the story.
A month or so ago, the inspector showed up at the farm house. I was not aware of his arrival. Lori and I were working on the harvest, and as luck would have it, my brother, Jerry, was at the farm and he met the inspector instead of me. Once again, these inspections are routine. The inspector looks for insect damage… sees none… and moves on. Until this year…
While Lori and I were washing and sorting salad mix on the back porch of the house, I heard a bit of commotion, but could not discern what it was. Soon enough, I could hear my brother’s voice talking to someone. I spied around the corner of the house and saw an older gentleman dressed in the bug-ridding company’s attire. He looked to be in his sixties at least, and my thought left it at that. However, my expectation of them arriving on the back porch was delayed. It seemed the older man became mesmerized by a bin of fennel we had sitting around the corner.
He asked what it was and studied it for a long time. Then, the inspection continued. He saw Lori and I sorting and cleaning the salad mix. “Is this how you make it organic?” was one of the questions he asked. Seriously. That is what he asked. And I will pause.
A great part of my exasperation over the event focused on here… is ignorance…simple, straight and true lack of knowledge on the issue at hand. While the elderly gent could be ignorant enough to assume the mere washing of lettuce makes it organic, that person of supposed knowledge on termites ultimately knew ONE way in which to deal with such pests. Poisons!
What followed should be considered a comedy, if so much more was not at stake than a mere termite inspection. As I followed the movements of my brother and the “old” man, it struck me that that inspection was the longest by far I had ever witnessed. Either the “old” man was bored and was “killing” time, or something more was at stake. More was at stake, but I learned this later on. I figured the inspection would eventually end, and the merry old fool would go on his way. That was not to be.
A couple of days later, I noticed his car in the driveway and saw that he was talking to my father inside the house. Now my father is no spring chicken either. He will be eighty this year. And while he is not by any means incapable of action or decision making, he is from the “old school” that does not realize that chemicals and such are not only harmful, but completely not necessary. (I realize I may sound extreme in that analysis, but time will reveal the accuracy of my assessment… should we survive long enough that is. But I digress.)
Later that day, my father informed me that I would receive a phone call from the “old” inspector to set up a day to “treat” our non-existent termite situation. I was also informed that my mother and father were going away on vacation for a while.
Egads! What had that “old” inspector fool talked my father into? (And I warn you now that the following is quite a roller coaster of events.) From my perspective as an organic farmer, I had many issues. Quite obviously, any chemical treatment could very well jeopardize the integrity of my operation… and that was absolutely unacceptable! But I had no idea what kind of “treatment” was involved…
The next day, my brother appeared and I questioned him on the “old” inspector’s actions a few days before. Apparently, as soon as the “old” inspector met my brother at the inspection, he asserted that it has been well over thirty years since the property had been treated for termites and it was well overdue. The “old” man searched and searched for signs of termites… and found some ants under a bin lying beside the house and explained that that could be part of a termite colony… ALTHOUGH there were no signs inside the house. As he stated to my brother, that whole side of the house could be teetering from termite damage… even though there was no evidence of termites!
What a chemical salesman! How does one sell chemicals to rid customers of pests they do not have? FEAR!!! “Well, I cannot show you proof that there are termites… but they might be there…”
I have sped beyond the logic of this entry and I apologize. Nonetheless, I absolutely despise these… Enough!
Bluntly, the reality was this. The house had termites and the situation was eradicated in 1976. For some reason, despite all of the yearly inspections, the termite killing company dropped the ball on further chemical usage. And then, 37 years later, some “old” inspector shows up asserting that another chemical dosage is necessary or else… I guess… the house would disintegrate.
And precisely here is where such an approach toward termites hits the wall of logic for me… and knowledge. As I explained to my father later, termites do not just “appear”. There has to be the right environment for them to thrive. And the farmhouse did have that… back in 1976! That was corrected… and no sign of termites has arisen since. There are 37 years of evidence that the problem was fixed… and counting…
But the old inspector/chemical salesman needed his sale. He called and left a message for me on my cell phone sounding like the old feeble wise man he hoped to portray. I called him back and said I could not be there for the scheduled chemical application, which I couldn’t because I would be at the farmer’s market and to cancel the planned procedure altogether. “Really?” was his reply. I told him I thought the process was superfluous. He laughed. His façade of the feeble old wise inspector disintegrated. Essentially, it was not up to me to decide. It was up to my father. The slick snake felt assured that my father would still go ahead with the “treatment”.
He was right. Once my father returned home, he set up another “treatment” before I had time to talk with him about it. In order not to prolong this unnecessarily, I will jump to the next situation. I was without voice in the decision, and the only thing I could do was be present at the time that the company showed up to “treat” the non-existent termite situation.
On a Thursday afternoon, the termite “field” guys showed up. When they saw what had been ordered/sold to my father, they were in extreme dismay. The chemical procedure sold by the “old” inspector was almost impossible. It was the same procedure that was used in 1976, only instead of a concrete front porch, there was a concrete back porch, and pavers along the side of the house, along with multiple plantings of rhododendrons, etc., all of which needed to have either a trench dug around or drilled through to apply the “treatment”. The “field” guys apologized profusely that they just could not do what my father had paid them to do. Obviously, I was quite happy with the development. There would be no chemical treatment that day!
But the story goes on. I was told by the “field” guys that the inspectors were rather new to the company and simply did not understand what was involved in the processes. At one point, the exasperated leader of the crew stated that he needed to find out who the inspector was who sold the treatment. I told him the “old” man’s name. He raised his eyebrows and threw his arms in the air. It appeared that this situation was nothing new the “field” guys.
The situation did become more complex. If the intense treatment was not used, that is, the $900 dollar treatment my father paid for, there was another treatment that was much easier and less costly, but it would require a yearly visit and inspection that would amount to around $300 annually…
I will pause again. I have been present for at least the last ten years as the termite inspectors have visited the house, looked around, then quickly left since there was no termite evidence. It was only because of this latest “old” inspector that any of this nonsense even happened, who talked my father into a treatment, that the “field” guys could not perform… and WAS ABSOLUTELY NOT NECESSARY… and then, leads to a yearly “treatment”… WHICH WAS EQUALLY AS UNNECESSARY!!!
I will stop here. The “old” inspector again called my father to set up an appointment for treatment after the “field” guys left, and by that point my father had had enough and cancelled the entire thing. Despite the “old” inspector insisting that the “field” guys were wrong in their assessment, my father had grown tired of the situation… that and perhaps my constant assurance that it was COMPLETELY unnecessary.
So, thankfully, there will be no chemical termite treatment on the farm house. This has been quite an upsetting situation for me personally, beyond the impact on the farm. It is “old” school mentality based on unnecessary poisons. And I will leave this entry with a warning to anyone in the area who has an elderly home owner who “might” have termites. While I will not reveal the name of the company in question, I have told this story to a few people at this point, and they have guessed both the company and the “old” inspector. The entire situation is a sham. It is a rip-off. That inspector who acts like the “old” wise feeble friend is only out for money. Pass this one along!