The Dreadful Cactus Wind

So, the wife and children units were off doing activities last Saturday while I stayed at home to catch up on some fall yard work.

We have very large eaves, and nothing really grows there since they don’t get water. The previous owner planted some kind of weird prickly pear cactus (I don’t know the exact variety,) but it grows like a weed, and has kind of taken over the area. It just makes these big thin green ovals, and beautiful flowers every August. Then the big ovals sprout new ovals and it just keeps growing on top of itself.

Anyway, it was a huge mess, so I needed to trim it back and clean it out to a civilized level. I got the wheelbarrow, a shovel and a pitchfork. I broke up the top layers with the shovel and loaded them into the wheelbarrow and then started digging down. As I went, the old dead cactus became dry husks and then dusty shells and then just dust.

I got a big shovel full of this dust and went to toss it in the wheelbarrow right when the wind came up and blew it all back on me. The moment I moved, I knew I had a big problem. While the cactuses had desiccated and died, the needles remained. There were possibly billions of nearly invisible ultra sharp needles covering my arms and face, and down my shirt. For the most part the needles were not sticking into me, but with every slight movement it seemed that a thousand or so would embed themselves.

I froze. I was trapped by the dreadful cactus wind.

“The wind blew it on me,” I reasoned. “Perhaps it will blow it off.”

So, I stood there, eyes closed, motionless, and I waited for the wind to blow me. That turned out to be as likely as Giselle Bundchen suddenly appearing for the same purpose. The sweat and oils in my skin were like a magnet. The wind would not blow it off. Cactus dust sticks.

I tried jumping up and down while keeping the rest of my body perfectly motionless. That strategy might have shaken a few hundred thousand needles or so, a mere drop in the bucket.

I formed an alternative strategy. As carefully as I could, I stripped naked thereby shedding myself of the billions of near microscopic needles covering my clothes.

Statistically, this was a success as it got rid of approximately 99% of the cactus dust and needles, and I only embedded 50,000 or so in my body in the process. I went upstairs and showered attempting to wash off the rest. This was a mistake as it merely distributed the remaining loose needles to other parts of my body previously unexposed.

Drying off, I learned a further horrible secret. The 50,000 or so needles sticking in my body was a gross understatement. I could only feel 50,000. There were many many more that were stuck in such a way that you did no feel them… until something touched them.

Now, in the past I had gotten stuck in a minor way by these cactuses, and I learned that the best way to remove the needles was to scrape a sharp blade, razorlike across the skin. It would catch the nearly invisible needles and lift them out.

I got my trusty super sharp camp knife, an for the next hour I shaved my entire body. Once all the long hairs were gone, I broke out the Gillette Mach 3 and did it again. This process removed perhaps 99% of the embedded needles, leaving several hundred to a thousand of the "stealth"needles (the kind you don’t feel until you touch them) left in me.

Now, four days later I am still encountering and removing them. I have found cactus needles in places that should never ever get stuck with a needle: my nipples, my kibbles and bits, my ears and eyelids.

What a nightmare.

It was this morning though that the Great Idea came to me.

I could weaponize this!

Let’s say your an evil businessman polluting the world, or what have you when suddenly a bunch of protestors show up and start interfering. All you have to do is go upwind and toss a handful of my cactus dust into the air.

Protest over.

Is your girlfriend/boyfriend being unfaithful? Just sprinkle a pinch of my cactus dust in their underwear drawer.

Troublesome tenants won’t vacate? The court system too expensive? A few ounces in the ventilation system should do the trick.

I could make a fortune. If only Billy Mays were still with us.

I have cubic meters of this stuff in my front yard. Who wants some? $20 bucks for a small baggie.

Nice. I can almost visualize a tiny little ‘Yipe!’ sign.

Yeah, I learned prayer didn’t work at 13 also…


Watch out, a weapon of mass punishment may be growing in your own backyard!

This will never work! It will severely undercut into my shredded-fiberglass-insulation-blowgun business.

That sounds horrible! I once picked up a prickly pear fruit (tuna) not realizing that even though it appeared free of needles, it was covered in nearly microscopic ones. Could you try covering yourself with Elmer’s glue or Silly Putty to pull out the remaining needles? Crazy idea but it might work!

Earlier thread on this subject: How To Remove Micro Splinters from Your Hands?

Two doper glochid victims in one week! A cacti conspiracy may be afoot! Time to wrap yourself in duct tape or take a bath in depilatory wax?

Nature just doesn’t like you, does it Scylla? It’s always something with you.

Glad you’re doing better.

I seem to remember that prickly pear cactus is edible. Try googling up some recipes…

You should leave them embedded in your body. They’ll absorb all the harmful radiation.

My mom had one of these cacti. Probably still does in some corner of the house. I hated it. It was in a 50 pound pot that was so heavy that you had to use both arms to lift it. This meant that you could not avoid needle rash when mom wanted it rotated 16 degrees so that she could see the fruit or flower better. But the rash on my arms was worth it. To mom. Because it wasn’t her arms.

I had a prickly pear for a few years until I realized what a freaking nightmare they were. Like you said they leave little needles all over, even if you don’t contact the plant. I got rid of every last trace of them finally and wouldn’t have one for any reason again.

At least you didn’t get any in your eye.