Thursday, July 28, 2011

Weed Warfare

                To begin… this is a ruse. This is whimsically mischievous at heart! With that…
                As I was talking a few Saturday’s ago with Greg Thorne of Thorne Farm at the Downtown Westminster Farmer’s Market, I asked him if he had any need for Canadian thistle, and more specifically, Canadian thistle that was going to seed. He responded that he indeed had no need for any MORE Canadian thistle than that which was already present on his farm.
                Actually, that particular conversation started rather late at the market, after most of customers had departed and those of us farmers that remained discussed the work we needed to accomplish after that VERY EARLY market was over. I asked Greg what he needed to do, and his response was that he needed to mow the numerous acres of his farm. He did not ask what my most impending task was, but I proffered it any. “I need to do a harvest,” I said. “Oh yeah, what are you harvesting?” He replied. “Canadian thistle. You want any? I can dump about a ton on your land if you are interested.” Greg asserted the above, that he was certainly not interested, but that is when my mind began to spin… actually my mind always kind of spins, but on that particular thought, a nebulous web began to appear…
                Canadian thistle. Egad what a terrible plant that is! Forgive my belligerence at this point, BUT WILL THE CANADIANS PLEASE COME DOWN TO RECLAIM THEIR THISTLE, EH!!! We don’t want it! We don’t need it! Ugh, what a nuisance that plant is!
                But perhaps the reader is not aware of Canadian thistle. If that is the case, the reader should be very thankful… to… something, I guess, but I digress. Anyway, Canadian thistle is a plant that thrives in our region in areas that are not mowed regularly, such as a field of produce. The plant grows rapidly and is one of the first noxious weeds to go to seed. To top this, its root system is downright diabolical to an organic farmer. If one pulls one of those evil plants, first off, without delicate precision, gloves should definitely be worn, else the tiny prickly spines,(the reason it is considered a thistle), will linger in one’s fingers for a week! Nonetheless, having pulled such a plant out of a heavily composted organic field, inevitably, after removing the vertical root, often eight to ten inches in length, the horizontal root, which lingers on average twelve inches beneath the soil, still remains to produce the next “crop” of Canadian thistle. (This is difficult to envision without witnessing first hand, that is, without digging down the foot or more to see how the root system of that plant “networks”.  Canadian thistle plants are veritable covert terrorists to an organic farm!)
                But Canadian thistle is just ONE of the many noxious weeds that thrive in our environment. There are many others. Canadian thistle has been mentioned mostly for the fact that those plants have already gone to seed. Pig weed, rag weed, …weed, there are many to follow. All of those plants have thrived because they inevitably go to seed, so the next generation, having developed and reproduced in precisely THIS region, they are all the more adapted and thus ready to thrive!
                I mention all of this, because a whimsical idea appeared in my mind a few weeks ago, one that would mean nothing to a “conventional” type of farmer, that is, a farmer who readily uses chemical herbicides. It was quite humorous in my mind, and what led to the incubation period of this entry. And then… last Saturday…
                As usual, I was late getting up for the farmer’s market. Unfortunately, my clock is still wound by my long past bartending hours and waking up perky and fresh at 6am just ain’t going to happen. (This is mostly due to the fact that falling asleep before 1am is also a virtual impossibility.) So, I was again late setting up for the market, and as my wearied efforts set up my canopy and tables and set out the produce, I did not even notice my neighbor’s stand’s new addition. In fact, I did not notice until the first throng of customers came by, questioning as to the price of the organic veggies that I had not put out signs for… yet,  then the ensuing verbal exchanges, purchases, and monetary exchanges, etc. It was maybe 8:30 or so that I looked over to my neighbor’s stand to see how Greg and his wife, Kris, were faring, but… alas! All I saw was a shroud of white!
                Now to explain this a little, a small area of vegetation lies between Greg’s stand and mine that contains some type of low-growing evergreen bush, along with dead Canadian thistle as well. Now just how did that thistle die? Actually, I don’t want to know that answer. But this is just a diversion.
                The Thorne Farm stand is directly to the right of mine at the market. We are neighbors as though we were two houses separated by a small patch of green vegetation. How many years has it been? Six, seven? Give or take a few years? Of course we have not always been in the same spot at the market each year, but still… Neighbors are neighbors after all, and benevolent ones… or so I thought.
                And then that white barrier appeared between our two booths. (Actually, it was an attachment to Greg and Kris’ tent to block out the morning sun, which appears at such hours directly from my tent’s direction, BUT, ignore that reality if you wish to be able to consume the ensuing venom of this rant!) That white barrier appeared as a glaring sign. “We do not associate with your kind!” At least that was how I took it! After all of these years… for it to come to this!
                But what had it come to? All that I can think of is two actual home-owning neighbors, again separated by a small stretch of green growth between the houses. On any given day, the neighbors will see each other through the window and waive, say “Hi.”, “How’s it going?”, “What’s with the nectarine prices in South America these days?”, etc. And then,… AND THEN, the one neighbor not only shuts his window, BUT PULLS DOWN THE SHADES!!! “What is it I said?” would be the first thought, followed quickly by the second… “Those nasty, two-faced…”
                So, it has come to this, has it? Mr. Thorne? Or may I still call you “Greg” for short? Perhaps it has become His Almighty Lordship Gregory the First, or something along that line. Nonetheless, so be it. What had started as a nebulous, whimsical thought has developed into… WEED WARFARE!!!
                Yes, that is right, Mr. Thorne, weed warfare it is. I am completely aware that you will NEVER use chemical herbicides on your property. And since you have decided to shut your “seemingly benevolent” window on me, I will now revert to actions I never imagined I would stoop to. Since my own efforts are also organic, all of the organically grown Canadian thistle, wild lettuce, wild chicory, and oh, there are many, many more to come, such as golden rod that are rapidly going to seed, will be covertly dispersed throughout your land, whilst you are hidden behind your barricade! War it is! Again, I did not want to revert to this, but ALL of my future actions are the direct result of your…
                I cannot finish this rant. THIS HAS ALL BEEN MEANT AS A JOKE!!! Greg is one of the most well-meaning people I have ever met in my life. And as the date on the celestial calendar will have it, he will turn 60 years old on August 1. 60! What staying power! And to still be farming! Organically!!! There is a party to be thrown for him, to celebrate his 60th birthday, which I cannot make… because I have too much work to do, but nonetheless, HAPPY BIRTHDAY GREG!!! YOU DESERVE IT!!!

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