Thistles continued:  by Larry

When we first looked at the farm, our real estate agent pointed at a green growth and asked if we knew what it was. Both of us recognized a thistle. Little did we know how familiar that weed was going to become. Apparently those thorny plants had been reproducing for years with no enemies - until we declared war. By the time we attacked, in the beginning of May, they had us badly outnumbered. Many had stalks 2" in diameter and well over six feet tall.

To start, digging them up seemed to be the best method, but that soon changed to using a corn knife and sickle as well. I actually bought a backpack sprayer and spray, but realized quickly it wasn't safe or practical, and we didn't want to put any chemicals on the land. Often, I would dig up the huge thistles - they were like small trees - and Mary would tuck one under each arm and drag them to the burn pile. In one area an old silage pit was close and we dumped or threw them in. Eventually, our only option, was to stack them in heaps in the field. There were times Mary and I were working 50 ft. apart and could not see each other. The end did not seem in sight. Next the thistles began going to seed. Thousands of tiny, white blooms floating around, looking for a place to grow. Oh, no. This was going to be an ongoing battle. We gained the upper hand, and then received help from the fall and winter. They would be back next year, but so would we, and hopefully with a tractor.

Quote: “Even the richest soil, if left uncultivated will produce the rankest weeds.”

~Leonardo da Vinci

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