Archive for Thursday, June 3, 2004

War raging, lots of orange cats and gas

June 3, 2004

There's a war going on right here in Douglas County and you might not have even heard about it. This battle is going on all over, out of sight and out of mind of most.

But, believe me, it's being waged, tooth and nail. I've been at it more than a month myself. I've used several different weapons, to no avail, and I'm trying anything at this point.

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This is a nasty enemy. It creeps up where you least expect it and, yet, it's everywhere.

I'm not so sure why it's so bad, but the experts are saying this is a terrible year for it. I can attest to that. I've spent hours upon hours in the battlefield, in the trenches, and I've seen the enemy. Over and over, I've seen it. I'm seeing it everywhere now, even in my sleep.

I went to the heavy artillery this weekend. For the first time, too, shots were fired. The machetes and small caliber guns have been used in weeks previous, but this war is beyond that now. It's time for the big guns.

What is this insidious enemy? What is this war all about?

Thistle, that's what.

It's everywhere. You can see it at the city limits -- just waving its ugly purple heads. It's in most every field and if it's not stopped, it will be in them all.

I have spent countless hours on the four-wheeler with the spray gun. I've been through more than 100 gallons of the most bodacious weed spray already. It kills them dead, but you can't get them all. I've come back to one area that was sprayed twice and there are still more.

I've hacked them with my machete, I've cussed them with my very last breath before sundown, only to resume the next day cussing them with my very first.

The heavy artillery this weekend was the brush hog. For those who don't know what that is, it's an industrial strength mower run by the power take off on a tractor. It will annihilate almost anything. There's nothing like the thumping of a fallen tree limb that gets in the way.

That was fun. I was mowing pasture with it and when you come across a big bunch of thistle, you stop and lower the brush hog so it chews up thistle to nothing. It feels so good.

But that's just another weapon. It won't do the trick itself and is a stop-gap measure. I'm considering aerial spraying. Anyone got any of that "Agent Orange" stuff that made such a splash in the jungles of Vietnam? Or maybe just some napalm. That'd be nice.

Damn thistle.

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  • OK, time for a cat tale. There are "usually" about 10 cats on the farm. In October, the old orange cat, simply called Orange, died. But Little Eddy, an orange kitten, was still fairly new. But, he was on the wrong end of a dog on Thanksgiving and had to be buried, too.

So, we were out of orange cats. This spring, the people who had brought out Eddy, brought another orange kitten, who is now Tigger. Christina Madl's cat was having kittens, so I told her if there were any orange ones, we'd like to have one to play with Tigger. There were two brother orange kittens. And, their sister was so cute, we took all three. After much discussion, their names became Peter, Paul and Mary.

When the trip was made to pick up those three, another person, who will go nameless, was worried about a "boy" stray cat around her house. It was orange, so it was brought along, too. Well, once at the farm it was discovered that this boy was a girl -- and it was going to have kittens.

It did last night. They are under the porch, so we don't know how many of the kittens are orange. When it's figured out, I'll have an updated number of how many cats, orange and otherwise, that are around.

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  • I've had lots of comments on my gas-price column last week, so here's an update.

Friday is trash day and that's when I load the big truck up and take it to the end of the drive and unload. Down to half a tank in the beast, I decided to go ahead and go to town and fill it up.

Gas was "only" $1.99 a gallon, so I decided to stock up. I filled the empty tank and the half tank. I don't want to talk about what it cost.

But, in the interest of all of our standard of excellence math students out there, I figured it would make a good working problem and, like the teachers, I would do my part to incorporate math into other areas.

So, for the sake of math, let's say the gas tank is 15 gallons. It was half full with $1.30 gas. Another half tank at $1.99 gallon makes the full tank worth how much?

I'm not a mathematician, believe me. There's a standard reply in this business when numbers are used and that's "caution, journalist doing math." So, I will leave it to the students of the Baldwin school district to come up with the answer.

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