Lambsquarter weed reigns in the pasture

Published 9:14 am Thursday, September 17, 2015

Out in the cow pasture Saturday morning, I didn’t worry at all about Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, the ups and downs of the stock market, the Syrian refugee crisis in Europe or the illegal aliens trooping across the Mexican border into our country. Neither President Obama nor Vladimir Putin crossed my mind. I didn��t think about the latest Hollywood romance.

My worry was lambsquarter.

For four years I have been fighting weeds in my dad’s pasture as sort of a memorial to him. He hated weeds and enlisted me as a draftee in his small army when I was a boy. My brother and I were assigned weeding duty. With hoes in hand we journeyed about the pastures digging up thistles, burdock and a host of other weeds.

I absolutely hated it.

Now I find it the most relaxing thing I can do. There are no worries out in the pasture when I’m hunting for weeds. This is therapy on the cheap. Like Tom Sawyer with his bucket of whitewash, I’m thinking of offering sessions for those who want to leave their worries behind and fight weeds.

I have subdued the thistles. Nearly wiped out burdock, curly dock and dog fennel. I have pulled thousands of pigweed plants by the roots, braving their thorny stems. I have sprayed hairy vetch and pokeberry. I have fought Johnsongrass and chickweed and plantain and a gloriously named plant called Virginia pepperweed.

The pasture was looking pretty good. The big weeds were largely gone.  Sure, there are thousands of small horse nettles, and I haven’t had much luck with them. But I was feeling pretty good about the pasture until a new enemy emerged a few weeks ago: lambsquarter.

The name is nice. Supposedly, the tender leaves make a tasty salad in the spring, but the plants seem to be on steroids. They are growing like crazy, some head-high and bushy.

On Saturday morning with my hoe, I attacked, destroying hundreds of them. By noon I dragged to the car and went home exhausted. Hundreds remained.

Watching college football games that afternoon proved to be another less physical form of therapy.

• • • • •

Football season is always greeted with some apprehension by this Western Carolina University alum. When I was at Cullowhee, the Catamounts were a force among small colleges. That hasn’t been the case in recent years. On Saturday, we lost to The Citadel.

Perhaps that’s why Elizabeth and I have adopted our Robert’s team, the University of Oklahoma, with such enthusiasm. We may not have diplomas from OU, but we did send them money for four years. That gives us ownership. It also gives Saturday afternoons a whole new purpose. The Sooners are often on TV. And they boast a historically powerful football program.

On Saturday, the Sooners played in Knoxville against the University of Tennessee. The Vols quickly jumped out front 17-0. Oklahoma’s offense was listless for three quarters, trailing 17-3. The prospects looked dismal.

Suddenly, the fortunes changed. Oklahoma scored two touchdowns in the waning minutes to force overtime and then won in double overtime. We welcomed football season’s return.

• • • • •

Oh, the honor … Some clever posting on Facebook this week has bestowed Mocksville with the honor of being the “Most Redneck Town in North Carolina.” The site suggests Mocksville has more gun shops and more bait stores than any other town per capita. Clemmons ranked 120th.

There may be some way to spin that ranking into an honor of sorts. And so it goes …

— Dwight Sparks