Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Thistle ops

It was a pretty and interesting morning in Kimball. Pardon the sailor talk. Bad habit. Well, a habit anyway...


And here's part of what yesterday looked and sounded like...

Too much babble in this one, not enough good info. I wouldn't watch it...


So the war on thistle. There are three kinds of thistle needing control. Canada thistle, scotch thistle, and musk thistle. All three are invasive and prolific. They are foreign, non-native plants and therefore don't run afoul of the control mechanisms nature has in place here to keep native plants in balanced homeostasis. Because they aren't bothered by nature's control techniques they tend to run rampant and can spread wildly, completely disrupting the ecosystem and throwing everything out of balance, including our efforts to work with nature to harvest grass with cattle and thereby generate income.

Fortunately for us, there are certain things we blighted ape-lizards can do to keep the invaders in check. It takes time, effort, and money, but that's just part of the deal, something you have to do if you choose to walk this ranching path in this part of the world.

What it comes down to is mechanical control to prevent seed development -- mowing and/or digging.

It also requires chemical control through proper and timely herbicide application.
Bachelors always mix herbicide in the kitchen.

In 2019 when my Dad was dying I didn't get any mechanical control done, and I did no spraying. This was following a year in which I did mechanical and some spraying. So the thistle won in 2019, and I had a hell of a lot of digging to do in 2020.

And I did a lot of digging and mowing, but not as much as was required. I missed a lot in the south googie pasture. In my defense I was falling in love and my mind wasn't right. Then things went terribly wrong and my mind went even further south.

So now the thistle seed bank has been enriched in the south googie pasture and it'll take some additional digging and spraying next year. But that's okay, it's nowhere near out of control.

Today, or at least in the very near future, I need to finish treating invasive thistle infestations with herbicide. Specifically with Milestone.


Daily dose of kid cuteness. Playdough with Uncle Drew!


From the batshit crazy file -- At the funeral home I was offered the opportunity to have a lock of Allie's hair. I wanted nothing to do with such a thing. I can't say why, it just felt wrong somehow.

She had such beautiful hair.

One evening she wanted me to trim her locks by a few inches. She insisted, really, but also made it clear that I couldn't mess it up. I had to be precise. So after she showered she handed me a pair of high-dollar scissors and told me to get it done and done correctly. I was shakin' like a dog shittin' peach pits. She made me take before and after pictures so she'd know whether to kill me or not. I survived, and got thoroughly, smilingly, and lovingly hugged. What a great memory.

Over the last several weeks, however, as I've been washing her clothes, I continue to come across strands of her hair. These I've collected and I plan to keep them. Crazy? No, batshit crazy.
Sweater lint included
Sweaters capture a lot of hair

What's the difference? I don't know for sure, but it feels like this -- the hairs I've been finding in her clothes were from a living Allie. The offered lock of hair was not. Does that make any sense?

Well, try this on for size. I also have and plan to keep some of her ashes. Those came from a dead Allie. What's the difference? I don't know. I also don't know if I'll actually keep them for long. I think they belong in a place she loved and understood far better than anyone except possibly me. We'll see.

It seems as if enduring this loss isn't a very rational process.

Batshit crazy.


Something happened in the night. I got the best sleep I've had since August 10. Real sleep. I awoke feeling refreshed. I also awoke being somehow more okay. I can't describe the feeling very well, just a sense that I'm going to be alright. My first conscious thought on waking was of my Alexzandra and the cold fact of her death. But for the first time that thought was wrapped in the feeling of love and okayness. That's as close as I can come. Yesterday morning, and all the mornings since she died, there was really only a sense of profound loss when I woke. Also a profound lack of interest in going on without her physical presence in my world. Meh. This morning the bedroom was filled with Allie's presence; the very air was thick with her presence. With her soothing presence. With the palpable touch of her presence. She was truly making it okay. Perhaps I'm finally listening to her rather than to myself. Whatever, I feel enough better to be grateful for the betterness and to look at the day ahead with hope and even a tiny quantity of zest.

Thank you Sweetheart. I love you. I love all of you, always and forever.


On to thistle destruction!

But it was too windy to spray. So I went on a hike. Maybe tomorrow the spray gods will smile on me. That's what the forecast looks like.

These canyons are endlessly fascinating.

A touch of regret.

Pretty autumn flower. Subtribe Machaerantherinae I believe. One of the fall-blooming asters.

And with no spraying to be done I received a surprisingly timely email from a reader, pointing me toward a possible treatment for canada thistle. Can a Nebraska Rancher sign up? Sorry, no. Coloradans only, which makes sense. Also, we have to legalize weed first (sorry, I thought that was funny). So, does Nebraska have a similar program? Doesn't look like it, but I haven't checked everything and everywhere. We'll see.

And now it's time to get sweaters off the clothesline.

Be well and embrace the blessings of liberty.


  1. Great video of the High Plains in Fall, Shaun!

    I'd say we had a bumper group of weeds this year, but as this was only or second summer here, I don't have much data to go on! Just seem to remember the yards the dog and I stroll past were weed-free the summer here, and overgrown this summer. And geez....just realized last week that we've been here three years now. Guess when you feel you "fit" in a place the time just goes flowing along.

    The "Milestone" almost looks like it might be OK on lawns, but then I looked it up. Hmmm...not something I'd want around our grandson. I keep the Roundup and 2,4-D in a secure out-of-reach place from the Little Ones, along my automotive stuff like solvents and fluids.

    I understand perfectly about your feelings towards the "offered" lock of hair, and the other. Makes sense to me, anyway. My wife has the ashes of her first husband. Felt strange to pick it up and move it, but I respect her feelings about him.

    Keep strong, my friend. God is watching over you and The Littles.

    1. It's enormously pretty here in the fall but you have to look for much of the beauty -- it doesn't get served up in great swaths of color the way it does elsewhere. Still the tiniest thing like the aster above contains a universe of beauty when looked at.

      Many of the herbicides are potentially toxic. They are very useful but you want to know how they work and why you want to use them and then use them carefully. It's a a matter of using the right tool for the job rather than using a hammer for everything. We're fortunate to have figured out how to give nature an assist but we also don't want to get in her way very much. We can't hurt her, but we can sure accidentally or stupidly shoot ourselves in the foot!

      A lot of this profound grief thinking makes perfect sense in my heart but not in my reasoning, rational mind. I'm okay with that. The whole thing is coupled with the reality that I've changed so much as a human being. Allie changed me in a profound way, and her death has changed me even more. None of it is "bad" change, it's just hard change. But it's part of livin', and I believe that livin' in the real world is the place for me.

      God is indeed watching over us and blessing us in amazing ways.

      Thanks so much drjim.

  2. PA,
    I'm glad you got some good sleep and that things are starting to turn around a bit. Keep your chin up, I'm sure there are ups and downs still ahead, but we're praying for you.

    Hang in there or as some jackass Texan keeps sayin' "Never give up, Never surrender!"

    1. Thanks very much juvat.

      Yep, plenty of ups and downs ahead, it's all part of the whole life thing.

      And your saying is condensed wisdom. It's a great approach.👍

      Thanks again my friend.