Monday, July 19, 2010


There’s no glory in it; perhaps the notion shouldn’t even occur. Not that duty doesn’t sometime lead toward that assessment by others; so there is none when no one is witness, and certainly not when it is an uphill battle, no end in sight.

I’ve seen two Cinnabar Moths this year. That is far short of the norm. Beautiful little winged things, deep red-orange and black, they are also known as Tansy Moths, for they are given to lay their eggs on said plants. The eggs hatch into equally stunning yellow and black caterpillars. These then crawl around on the flowers of the tansy (a.k.a. ragwort), munching away and rendering that particular plant seedless for the annual scattering.

I mow a path around the perimeter of the back seven acres. I do this so when DW takes the dog for a long walk back there, she doesn’t have to traipse through what can get to be very tall grasses. I did that mowing yesterday after a few weeks lapse. Usually it is DW that takes the dog on such walks as part of their exercise regimen. I will accompany them from time to time, yet most often I leave it to the dog to keep up with a younger woman with a considerably longer inseam than what I have. Yet, sometimes it falls to me to do the walk, just the dog and me. One such time was about three days ago. While good for the heart, the walk was not necessarily good for my morale, for the otherwise wonderful panorama was spoiled by a plethora of tansy.

Even though mowed three weeks prior, tansy was blooming on the path, which may not be as surprising as I am making it out to be. However, I had taken the dog for her walk just a few days prior (or so it seemed) and at that time I pulled as much tansy as I could see and was rather pleased with the dearth, which I took to be evidence of a fairly good job of pulling and spraying the year before. So, when I mowed the path again yesterday, and I saw tansy scattered throughout the field, much of it flowering, I made it today’s priority. 

I took the dog with me. I did not count the plants. We started with what plants lay along the path, and then moved out into the field, crisscrossing through the tall grass a few times so as to find as many large and small plants as we could. By the time we were finished, the old dog was giving me the eye, for I don’t suppose she had ever a workout like the one I had just given her. So, instead of heading toward the house through the grass, we headed for the east side of the field and that closest to the path.

I should have taken my camera with me. Or, perhaps not, for it would have been awkward to have it around my neck as I pulled and heaved. Yet, even if I were to take a walk with the camera now, unencumbered by dog or duty, it would not be to photograph a job well done, but rather illustrate the hopelessness of the battle, for the neighbors to the east do not practice a similar diligence. For that matter, nor do the neighbors to the west.

No, no valor here. And I did not see a single caterpillar. Just had to tell someone.

Addendum: Perhaps it's too late for this, the bulk of visitors having moved on. Thought of while writing, but forgotten for some reason: Tansy, like Scotch Broom, is toxic to livestock, In that we don't have any such four-legged grazers, my efforts are more symbolic.


TenMile said...

You kill them: you're near neighbors do not; you're rancher friends afar thank you.

The thistle is noxious and Ks Law requires land owners big and small to eradicate the critter.

It took a law - rather than knowledge and understanding.

bastinptc said...

Thistles are next.