The Dirt:  Invasive Weeds, Old Equipment & Turning It Up

For those of you unfamiliar with the property we have here at Dirt On My Plate,  my husband and I purchased a farm that had been neglected for years.  In fact, the house sat empty for three long years as the owners on-and-off-again placed the farm up for sale.  

Twenty-five acres and three years, the ground collected what mother nature blew in.  Beyond the existing apple trees, rhubarb, apricots, raspberry and asparagus planted throughout the property, I doubt much else was cultivated.  Gardens just simply didn’t exist in the traditional sense.  A field?  Yes, there was one but it was jam packed with Canadian thistle and every other invasive weed known in this part of North Dakota.

My husband bookmarked 2017 as the summer he would gain control of the Canadian thistle.  Between hand pulling and spraying for thistle in the main yard we were noticing a marked improvement.  However, this work would all be for nought if he didn’t also control the 8-acre field plot.  It alone generated so much seed a North Dakota breeze could reinfect the rest of our 25 acres in no time.

Early spring started with a spur of the moment call to a farmer who was out spraying a neighboring field.  Although I didn’t want to be involved with anything associated with Monsanto’s Roundup, I knew there was no other way to tackle such a large spectrum of weed overgrowth.  We could have burned the field but relentless winds and severely dry weather made it impossible.

Onward we went.  My husband repeatedly cut the field so reemerging thistle could not head out.   Reapplication of chemical was placed on the field a few weeks later in an effort to erradicate everything.  For the most part, it worked.

While we were waiting for the weeds to die back my husband pulled an old cultivator frame out of our shelterbelt.  Trees had grown around the frame and mice had taken up residence.  Shanks were missing, hoses and tires rotted, but the frame itself was sturdy.  

In an effort to save some money, he wanted to put this Graham Hoeme cultivator back to work on the farm.  Hours of banging hammers and late nights in the workshop kept him busy.  My husband placed wanted ads on local classified sites trying to track down the missing parts.  It took a while, but in the end his persistence paid off.

To most, this is a very antiquated piece of equipment .  In all honesty, it is.  The fact remains that heavy, old farm equipment is built to last.  This cultivator was heavy-duty, simple and relatively cheap to repair.  It would serve our 8-acre field well.

Secretly, I think my husband was super excited and eager to try out his new toy.  He worked past dark, testing out his repaired cultivator.  

I wasn’t able to view the results until the next morning.  What I saw was impressive!  Half of our field was now looking farm worthy as promising agricultural ventures sprang to life in my mind.  This wonderful man of mine had done it!

Next spring I have no doubt that Canadian thistle seed will once again sprout up.  As with most things concerning farming, it is always two steps forward and one step backward.  Progress, although slow, is still progress.  


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