Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Memories of Purple and Green

There were two things we watched for as kids running around the farm barefoot.....cow pies and thistles.

Our cow tank, where we watered the cows with spring water, was close to our house yard, so it was easy to wash off the green squish from the cow pies.  The thistle thorns were another story.  I remember plopping down on the ground and picking the thorns out of my feet, hoping none of them would require a needle to be removed.  There was something just awful when mom held my foot with a needle in her hand.

Bull thistle?
.....or a look alike?
The other day we drove by this purple weed that looks like the bull thistles daddy used to cut down in the pasture with a long-handled scythe.  Sometimes I tagged along with him, watching him whack off the thistles so they didn't spread.  Another reason he did this was so our family of cattle didn't get thorns stuck in their noses.  Bottom line, thistles were a menace to the 1950's farmer.

Was it a bull thistle, or a look alike?  I'm not sure.  My knee-jerk reaction was to stop and chop the darned thing down, but instead I snapped a picture.  There's something else interesting about this picture....something else that we don't see a whole lot of anymore.....the farm fence.  Most farmers don't raise a sensible herd of cattle anymore that can freely roam the pastures.  Nowadays cattle are kept inside huge facilities, where they're treated like mechanical milk makers. There used to be nothing sweeter than seeing twenty content cows lying down in the pasture after noon, calmly chewing their cuds, soaking in the summer sunshine.  It gave our world a sense of peace and well-being, anyway it did to me.

Farmer using a scythe
It must sound silly that I'd get excited over a prickly weed.  City dwellers may think I'm a little on the low-to-empty side, but years ago we dealt with even our weeds one-on-one.  Every inch of our farm needed nurturing, and nurturing it got.  Some things needed whacking and others needed watering.  Life was so different.  Lawns and ditches weren't manicured.  If our house yard was mowed, that was it.  Time was better spent tending to the things that mattered....the things that helped our family of  four survive.

Sadly, now days one would be hard-pressed to walk a farm and have to worry about a cow pie or a thistle.  That's sad for the little girl whose feet knew both so well.