With the dry weather we've had this month, our pastures are browning--but they are thistle free.
For a decade, I've been battling the pants-piercing, skin-stabbing thistle. This is one tough, painful weed, and the horses and sheep want nothing to do with it.
On my drives through the country, I've seen this thistle take over a pasture, and I'm determined not to let it take over ours.
When it first appeared, my first defense was regular mowing. The thistles came back fuller and stronger than ever.
Next, I tried spraying them with a solution of vinegar, water and dish detergent.
The thistles returned, and I upped the ante with Round-Up, a chemical I try to avoid using. Again, the thistles wilted, browned, and later returned.
The problem, I realized, was that it was hard to coat the entire plant with the chemicals.
So a few years ago, I changed tactics and got out the shovel.
Every month I walk the 11 acres of pastures and dig up thistles. Last year there were fewer thistles, and this year, the number dwindled again. On my walk this weekend, I only found a dozen thistle plants. Maybe, just maybe, the shovel is the answer.