A Cowboy’s Faith: Rains bring more intruders

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.Ample moisture is better than a drought. Yet with continuing downpours come forever increasing problems.

Of course, flooding is the horrific detriment with such extensive physical and financial losses.

Rainfall is essential for crop production if seed gets planted, doesn’t rot or wash away, and remaining growth cycle cooperates. All things considered, water at the right time in appropriate amounts is the biggest attributing factor to yields.

Grasslands are green, lush and already stirrup high on a stocky ranch horse with promise of ample grazing and hay. Enhanced conditions for desirable plants also have intruders growing at record pace. Every kind of weed imaginable is popping up out of nowhere.

The list is extensive but most apparent in recent days has been musk thistle abundancy. Big purple blooms blowing in the wind might seem pretty to lay people not realizing detriments of the noxious weed.

Right out the office window one five-foot-tall thistle glowed in the sunlight. Fortunately, the yard keeper sprayed poison, and the “pretty flower” wilted away. However, the sticky weeds are rampant not just on agriculture ground but everywhere.

Dozens of thistles blooming brilliantly were all around the arena fence at a recent horse show on state property. Evidently, managers don’t understand thistles are weeds that government regulations prohibit to the extent of fines if not controlled.

Musk thistles can definitely overtake productive soil, but dedicated unceasing management can reduce populations. With herbicide application or hand pulling, the weeds can be controlled, yet not eliminated. Even when fields are completely cleared of thistles one year, they are reseeded by wind and wildlife.

As bad as thistles are, other intruders are worse, multiplying faster without sufficiently effective control methods and products.

Sericea lespedeza and old world bluestem are relatively new among ranchers’ problems. Research is limited, but the pests look like they’re winning the battle. Very costly treatments aren’t that effective as populations often return, sometimes expanded.

Of course, “traditional” hedge and red cedar trees along with buckbrush, sumac and bindweed proliferate with rainfall abundance.

Interesting to reflect that these plants were not prominent a century ago, but seeding was recommended by conservationists. Planted in the name of good yet reproducing prolifically to become noxious.

Optimistically reminded of the promise, Ezekiel 36:35: “Weeds and thistles will be destroyed so lands will thrive again.”


030615-franksmug2Frank J. Buchman is a lifelong rancher from Alta Vista, a lifetime newspaper writer, syndicated national ag writer and a radio marketing consultant. He writes a weekly column to share A Cowboy’s Faith.


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