Saturday, June 11, 2005

The Gauntlet Is Thrown

And so it goes, another lovely weekend in early summer.

Except that I have declared war.

Our yard, or grounds, or land or Lil' Patch O' Heaven (sorry, had to throw that one in, just evil), is about 8 acres of Wisconsin pasture. The area around the house, presumably where everything was bulldozed bare 8 years ago for the building of the house, was planted with lawn-grass. The rest of the grassland that is the back and side former pastureland is a mixture of various prairie grasses. At least I call it prairie grass, as it is a mix of vigorous grasses that, if left to its own devices, grows to about 3 feet high. One actually has tiny yellow flowers coming out of the grass seeds. Clover abounds, as do dandelions, turning the whole damn area first a lovely solid yellow, then a frightening white, as you realize that over a billion dandelion seeds are being released to fly free to your carefully tilled and de-weeded patch of garden. But this is mere annoyance. A brief irritation, not to be mentioned, save to the internet. It's the Others that have invaded, obtaining more than a toehold in my beloved future arboretum.

The damn thistles.

Last year, in some sort of hallucinatory haze, I remember thinking, "Gosh, there are a lot of thistles. And look how tall and prickly they are. And so vigorous. And scary. Good thing there are not so horribly many of them. Only a few thousand. A mere piddling number. I will let them be and admire the ugly purple flowers and let them breed. Yes. Breeding. Good."

There is no other explanation. I was brainwashed.

But like the person who has had the glamour revealed, I will be putty in their hands no more. I will eradicate every sandal-spearing one of them.

Sadly, we live in a place where our water comes from our own well. Dug on our own land. A water source that will be defiled, adding extra heads and taking quality-of-life years from our offspring, should we use chemical or nuclear (ahem) solutions. That leaves the old fashioned way of human-(me)-with-a-shovel. Actually I have 2 shovels stashed within easy grabbing, under the deck, just in case one mysteriously disappears and ends up under a car tire or in the fire pit. I hear the thistles have connections with organized crime, as brokered by the innocent looking wild roses. Sure, they look pretty but have you ever tried to cross one?

My plan of attack is simple: First, prevent every single one from going to seed. Fortunately, as they can't seed until they are 3-5 feet tall, depending on the branch of the thistle family, I have some warning and they can't do it overnight, unlike the blighted dandelions. Second, me and my trusty spades will dig up each and every one of the one billion of them. I figure at a rate of 50 a day, I will toss the last one with a hearty cry of "Bye-bye thistle! Ahar!" (Sara joins me in this yell, and I feel that the pirate ending to the cheer is heartening in the face of such odds) at the age of 97.

So there you have it. The peaceful country.

An old and dear friend back in the Portland days once described a dream where the morning glory they were trying to eradicate were growing in through the attic and throttling them in their sleep. I look on this as simple home defense. This year, our yard. Heaven forbid, next year the house?

No. I am armed with shovel and know how to use it. I am also looking into the benefits of obtaining a blowtorch. If pressed, it should keep them at bay long enough to reach the garage where the weed wacker and mower are. Provided they haven't been disabled first. The wild roses may have been forming an alliance with the spiders. You never know.

Time to go.

I need to draft a treaty with the barn swallows. If I promise 2 lawn mowings a week, with full access to all banquet of creepy-crawlies such mowings reveal, I figure we have a natural ally. (Seriously, as soon as Charles fires up the mower, they swoop from the barn and follow him like he was the Messiah.)

Wish me well, and if you don't hear from me for over a week, send funeral flowers. Just know I went down fighting. Bury the spades at my sides and leather gardening gloves on my hands.



Blogger CarpeDM said...

My God, woman, you sure can write. This was hilarious. You amaze me and make me giggle.

I am not a gardening person, something that drives my mother insane. Most of my mother's side of the family are fairly big in the gardening circuit (one of them owned this huge garden in Wisconsin that people would come and visit), my great-aunt Rosalie won tons of awards at the State Fair, etc.

I, however, do not have a green thumb. I kill plants quite easily and once had a pot of mums commit suicide to get away from me (seriously. It dove off of the landing of the stairs). I was also viciously attacked by a cactus and still have the scars from it.

I'll stick to tree hugging instead of trying to raise plants. Except for the aloe plant Beth's mom gave me that I have not yet killed.

3:16 AM  
Blogger Diana said...

Dana- For some reason, I do not do so well with house plants, I think because they require watering at intervals. I had a plant die on me (from flourishing to last leaf rotting away) in 6 days. I have even killed aloe plants (2). Strangely, though, I have a tuberous begonia (not those ugly wax begonias, she says, snottily) that is many years old and, though it looks frail, still blooms. I think it talks in cranky little-old-man voice and refuses to die just so it can grouse at me.

8:09 AM  
Blogger The Lioness said...

Plants used to die on me as well, now they die at the claws and tiny teeth of Tripod, the Cat From Hell. A good thing she cdirrups and licks my nose or she'd be out, I tell you, out!

Diana dahling, YOU SCARY! Them poor thistles. Are they the same as milk thistles? Milk thistle does wonders for liver afflictions, dolphins have been saved by it. Seriously. (Dolphins kidneys look like grapes, did you know that? Finnicky little buggers.)

I hope the alien attack is thwarted but not too soon since you MUST blog some more abt it. Let it not be said I'm not empathetic. I take it Colin has finished greying you up by now?

8:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stout Heart, Piffle-Head!!! The Popster is on the way just itching for a fight.


1:06 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

Johnny- There are at least a half dozen different kinds of thistles, maybe more. I have heard of the benefits of milk thistles on liver ailments. Perhaps some eager white-coated lab fellows (academic "fellows", not necessarily male "fellows", although they could be both, but not implying anything sexist here, no-siree-bob)want to come and harvest my crop? Maybe they would pay me? Grape kidneys. How cool.

Dad- The 2nd shovel awaits.

9:23 AM  
Anonymous Stacy Moe said...

You go, girl! My husband would approve of your pirate themed attack on the evil ones taking over the land. You are much more thoughtful than I am though, I would whip out the Round-Up and launch an "Agent Orange" style chemical attack! Of course, there is that whole clean-drinking water thing...guess Round-Up flavored water wouldn't be too good.

2:33 PM  
Blogger Rozanne said...

Thistles are one of the most terrifying weeds to be dealt with. Forget the shovels. Get a weed torch and wilt them to death!! (
Bonus: I'm told that men suddenly develop a keen interest in gardening once they see one of these babies.

5:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recommend a peace treaty. Perhaps a small patch of land dedicated to the glory of the thistle? Maybe sacrifice a bagpipe? Have Charles wear a kilt for week?

Please, just give peas a chance.

(sorry...couldn't resist)


6:04 PM  
Anonymous Kismet said...

Thistles, ick. Can't count the number of times I've been 'bitten'.
But I'll bet you'll prevail!


11:58 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

Stace- Yeah, while it may have some sort of medicinal value against nose warts or maybe even bestows superpowers, I am a bit leery of acting as a Round-Up guinea pig. Plus, who knows what would happen to any thistles who survived. Would they develop limbs, like the brooms in Fantasia? Not a good thought.

Rozanne- Oooooh! Look at that baby. Do you have one? Does it set everything else on fire? (How could it not? Is there some schmoe, behind the guy in the photo who raining down firey death on the weeds, with a large firehose?) Does it kill the whole thing, tap root and all? The price is not bad, especially as we have a dolly to tote the cannister around on. More personal info, if you have it!

Dearest cousin Zoomie- If they were agreeable to a peace treaty, I would be glad to sign on and even hold the Brotherhood Reception and photo-op afterward. Alas, I find that world domination is their single-minded goal. Hey! Perhaps there is some sort of blender-grinder weapon that I could bore down and get the tap roots, though, sort of like "visualizing whorled peas". (The family love of puns rears its ugly head, yet again.)

Kismet- Thanks for the vote of confidence. I will think of you when the battle seems too much for me.

8:27 AM  
Blogger Mojavi said...

Ok so has it been a week? If yes I will send Purple thistle funeral flowers :)
Hmmm is there a natural weed killer you could use, somehow I see your yard full of little divets :)

4:22 PM  
Blogger Rozanne said...

I'm afraid I have no personal experience with the Weed Dragon or any of its relatives.

I read about it on the GardenWeb forum. I believe that the idea is *not* to set the weeds on fire, but to just, you know, kill all their cells with the heat of the thing. I would bet that tap roots live on.

There were stories of men, can of Schlitz in one hand weed torch in the other setting all sorts of things on fire (accidentally, of course). So, seriously, I don't really recommend them. I think they're an expensive toy and a poor use of whatever resource (propane?) that fuels them.

I do, however, recommend going to and doing a search on weed torch--I guarantee you will be entertained.

9:21 PM  
Blogger CarpeDM said...

Wait. I can use a blow torch like thingy on weeds? Cool. I want one. Not sure what I'll do with it in my apartment but hey, it could come in handy...

Diana, if you buy one, I will come over to use it. I certainly can be trusted with power tools. I am quite safety orientated. Really. It's not like my sister has forbidden me from ever using anything in the power tool genre again. That would just be silly.

And I think I have another post in mind...why I am not allowed to use power tools.

12:46 AM  
Blogger Diana said...

Mojavi- Nope, nope, still alive. If you need to send thistles, please make sure they are horribly mangled and place them at my feet.

Rozanne- Oh, too bad! I had such hopes of hearing of your travails. POerhaps we should send one to Jamies crazy yard-freak neighbor, although it sounds like no weed would dare to grow in his yard. I will check out the web site.

Dana- Yes, please, power tool stories. I love power tool stories. Well, make that: I love your stories and think your power tool stories would not be blood baths. All the ones I know involve loss of body parts or deep wounds requiring extensive suturing and such.

8:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you ever seen Asparagus this BIG
They grow up to 15in long and 2in wide.
gardening supply

8:19 PM  

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