"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


Blackberry blooms in front of the barns

Blackberries are the least of my weed problems. As far as weeds go, blackberries are not so bad; they provide delicious fruit in abundance, and they provide nutritious browse for my goats. Yes, they were threatening to take over the entire pasture before I got goats, but now they are just holding their own. Much more problematic are the many many other weeds that vie for real estate on my little farm. If the lady from the noxious weed board were to walk my pastures (well, first she's need a machete and hip-waders) she'd probably faint into a patch of Scotch Thistle.
Poison Hemlock

I really dislike this stuff. It's seriously poisonous, poisonous enough to pose a real hazard to animals and small children; it spreads like wildfire; it's hard, backaching work to try to pull it out by the roots, it stinks horribly and gives me hives, and if all that weren't enough, it grows in inaccessible places, like in the middle of thistle patches and along the fence line amongst the concrete rubble from the old barn. Every time I go wage a battle against the poison hemlock, I come back scratched, red, bumpy, itchy, and limping. I may eventually need to call in the cavalry: Roundup.

Bull Thistle, one of the million kinds of thistle that are collectively trying to kill me.

I never knew there were so many kinds of thistle. Scotch Thistle, Holy Thistle, Bull Thistle, Milk Thistle; I've got them all. There are two things that all kinds of thistle have in common: lovely purple flowers, and a tendency for their spines to penetrate the skin, dig in, and never, ever, ever come out.
Dock, maybe? It started out small.

This plant is five feet tall and five feet wide. Even when it is only six inches tall, it's impossible to pull up. It loves my garden, shoulders up to the plants I like and shades them.
Whatever this stuff is, I hate it.

Yeah, yeah, the flowers are pretty. I think it's purple loosestrife. That's one of the "dirty dozen" on the county noxious weed board website.

Then there are these big, leafy spikes which sprout up all over the place, get to be about four feet tall, and have both tiny little hairy spines that prickle and stinky, latex-y sap like a dandelion. About two-thirds of the time, they pull up relatively easily, but then just when you've got a groove going, and are starting to think, hey this isn't too bad, I might be able to clear a nice little patch today, you come across one that has apparently sent its tap-root to Tibet. Low back pain for three days. I'd put up a picture, but I can't figure out how without removing all the pictures and starting this whole post over.

And these aren't even half my weeds. I also have a large swath of creeping buttercup (also poisonous to livestock), great tangled mats of shotweed, a quarter-acre patch of something that looks like desert Dandelion and might be some sort of milkweed, and many many more. I like biodiversity, don't get me wrong. I'm sure that my weeds harbor an abundance of life (I know they harbor an abundance of nasty bug life). I bet my weeds could support triple the number of goats that I currently have. If I could cultivate (no pun intended) a relaxed attitude about my weeds, maybe they wouldn't bother me so much. But I can't; they are too much for me. They are overpowering. They are a little scary. I want to be able to move about my own property without being poked, scratched, eaten, and poisoned. The weeds will not crowd me out, damnit!


Gataki Moroulaki said...

Your last flower picture, grows very big. We have 5 of them and aren't really hazardous to other plants. They produce great flowers and are home to different kinds of bird species, once fully grown!