All-Girl Army Attacks Thistles In Cow Pasture

Published 9:50 am Thursday, March 31, 2016

On spring break, the all-girl Army of Northern Virginia visited their Old General last week, and I led them on a bold assault across a Farmington cow pasture armed with a hoe.

The enemy: Thistles.

We only found three of the enemy lurking about, and Col. Cayden, 7, swiftly dug them up by the roots.

Thistle digging is part of the family genetic code, passed on from generation to generation. My father taught me. His father taught him, and so on back to Noah. Thistles crowd out grass in the pasture. My summer boyhood assignment on the farm was to dig thistles. I am skilled at the task.

With the enemy so quickly routed last week, we had to resort to digging curly dock and even some hapless dandelions to keep the army engaged. In war parlance, that would be collateral damage.

We marched to the applause of a braying donkey and the skittish looks of some black Angus calves and their wary mothers who edged close just in case we had feed. The grateful natives.

When one of the officers, Lt. Chloe, 4, asked to be carried, I knew it was time to retreat from the field.

Other more well-heeled grandfathers might have sprung for a trip to Disney World. Not me. I take the young chargers on a pasture safari to dig thistles and assorted weeds, jump the creek, check the bluebird boxes and dodge cow pies, especially the wet ones.

It was glorious. We stopped at McDonald’s on the way home. Cheeseburgers, plain. An army marches on its stomach.

They slept well that night.

• • • • •

The best place to meet old friends is in the church cemetery at Easter. I ran into Donald Riddle of Farmington on Saturday in the Macedonia Moravian Church cemetery. Like me, he was placing flowers on the graves of family. Donald was one of the early horse men of Davie County long before horses were a thing.

He may have another agriculture distinction: The first to plant fescue in Davie. Davie’s young extension agent Leo Williams said there was a new grass seed that showed a lot of promise. Something called fescue. It really caught on. Now everybody in the South plants it.

• • • • •

It was a beautiful Easter weekend except for some ill-timed rain that hurt attendance at various outdoor sunrise services. Temperatures were warm. The flowers were beautiful. Nurseries carefully timed their azaleas, geraniums, mums and others to bloom for the day.

• • • • •

The list of candidates for 13th district Congress is staggering: 17 Republicans and five Democrats. Some of the candidates don’t live in the district. It’s not required. Five are from Davie County — N.C. Sen. Andrew Brock, N.C. Rep. Julia Howard, Commissioner Dan Barrett, businessman Ted Budd and radio man Farren Shoaf.

This is one election in which voters absolutely have a choice — a lot of them. The district includes Davie, Davidson, Rowan, and part of Iredell and Guilford.

Three candidates are State House members; two are county commissioners. One is ex-CIA.  With that multitude, the candidates will have difficulty getting attention from the voters. But they won’t have much time. The primary is June 7.

— Dwight Sparks