5th Appendage  (2011)  by Mary

Did you hear them screaming? That was Todd's subject in an April e-mail, with the opening line saying, "I killed several thousand thistles today." He had just tilled under portions of the lower pasture that were too thick with new thistles to hand remove. He also told me that he and Nancy had walked side by side, digging out thistles in other parts of the lower field and around the edges. Another e-mail said, "I counted them, and think I've dug, by hand, over 2000 thistles since you were here." 

Larry and I will never forget that first summer, when we removed by hand, thistles the size of bushes and taller than our heads. The second summer came with a tractor and the ability to keep them mowed, although we were too busy to give them our full attention. This season, a full scale war is being waged with the goal of "not a thistle bloom allowed to mature." 

Larry says that I grew a fifth appendage along the way. It started the first summer when I determined that no thistle was going to grow in the house yard. Weeds and dandelions were one thing, but thistles would not be allowed. So, each weekend, I picked up my favorite spade, walked the yard, and ventured a little farther. Before long, I had quite an area to patrol, and could easily spot a tiny thistle just peeking out of the ground. It never failed that if I didn't have my spade, I would see one, so I took it everywhere.

We don't go to the farm as often now, but I still do thistle patrol in those same areas when I can. Finding fewer and fewer each time, my strategy is working, and I feel relief knowing there is the same determination in the fields.  

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