Sunday, February 08, 2009

In the Pastures

We have started our annual battle with thistle. Honestly, I think thistle is pretty, but when your hayfield is inundated the beauty begins to fade. This year we are trying a clove oil spray early in the season, and will resort to digging and bagging, as is our usual, when it begins flowering.

Driving through the pasture on a tractor with a trailer sprayer full of Round-Up would be much easier, but farming organically doesn't allow such nonsense. The whole family walked and sprayed together. Sounds like torture, but really it was a lot of fun. The weather was nice and it felt good to be out of the house and doing something productive. The weed-killer smells like that old Clove Gum which is a lot better than that harsh chemical smell. Do they make that anymore? I haven't thought about that gum in a long, long time.

I quit chewing gum all together about a year ago. The artificial flavors, colors, and sweeteners (sugar-free varieties) left the smacking less palatable. I used to get great enjoyment out of gum. In fact, I frequently got carried away, masticating wildly, so I resorted to chewing gum in private at my mother's behest. More people should think about chewing gum privately. There is one incredibly cute college age girl in town who smacks like there is no tomorrow. I must be turning into my mother because that smacking drives me crazy. I can't help staring in awe as that gaping maw works that gum.

All that said, if I had a piece of that old fashioned clove gum that I haven't seen in years, I would probably pop it into my mouth, artificial junk and all.


Becky said...

I seem to remember reading about oil of clove as a toothache remedy in some old-timey books :).

Most of our thistles grown on the perimeter of our fields, and we've had very good luck swathing the outside round, just *before* the thistles bloom. The idea being that the plants are concentrating all the energy to the top of the plant and away from the root, so you are cutting it at a very vulnerable point. I also go about our yard, which is more of a meadow in most places, with garden snips and hand cut what thistles we have then.

Good luck!

zilla said...

Mmmm, Clove gum, and Beeman's, and Teaberry. Did you know Chuck Yeager was a Beeman's fan? I still see some of the "old fashioned" gums around.

When I was a kid, my sister and I were in the back seat of Grandma's car. She was taking us to lunch with her best friend, who didn't seem to like kids much. Of course we were smacking and popping our gum, amusing ourselves while the ladies chatted. Grandma's friend finally turned around and scolded us disgustedly, clouds of cigarette smoke wafting out of her mouth and nostrils as she spoke. Isn't that a nice memory?

I let a thistle grow in my garden one summer, just to see how tall it would get. Six feet! I know I don't have to describe to you the ordeal digging out a six-foot thistle is, even wearing leather gloves!

If the clove oil works on thistle, would it work on broadleaf weeds, too? Keep us posted!

Kate in NJ said...

I love the smell of cloves!
Good luck with your thistles!

Wisteria said...

The clove oil does seem to work, but not in the complete kill sense. We will keep at it on sunny days. Our thistle is right in the middle of the hay field. Our hope is to eliminate it or keep it low enough that when we cut and bale hay that we don't bale up a bunch of prickly stalks that will scatter seeds wherever we feed hay, Hay quality is all important.

Last year we dug out hundreds of super large thistle plants to bag and burn. Discomfort does not even begin to fully describe the process.