Spring in Northeast Texas is unpredictable. It can be early. It can be late. It can last a few weeks or sometimes a couple of months. But since Texas is known for unpredictable weather and really hot summers, hope may be the only thing springing eternal at Wildabout Ranch.
This is the fifth post since I started the Wildabout Ranch blog last fall and the first post of 2017. That means I went all winter without posting. To the friends who encouraged me to continue I apologize for taking such a long blog break but also say thank you for your expressions of support. It was a very busy winter and I will follow this post with some highlights of our first winter at Wildabout Ranch. But let me take a moment to share something that happened February 18 of this year. It had been unseasonably warm that week and we had been working hard in anticipation of the eventual arrival of spring, still over a month away by the calendar. While taking a rest break on the Vista Deck I looked up to see the most beautiful creature on the corner of the roof. It was a Luna moth. I knew nothing about them and sat intrigued by its unique majesty and size. Lime green with eye-spot patterns on the wings and one of the largest in North America, this moth had emerged from its cocoon hours before and was drying its wet wings. We learned that later it would spend the rest of its short 7-day life without food, spending all of its brief time flying for the sole purpose of finding a mate. Think about it. At least for this creature, never eats as an adult and spends all of its time, resources, and energy to create a legacy for one more generation.
Scene One Take One
Fast forward six weeks and at least two things are certain for now: that moth is long gone and old man winter has left town on the train, and it is High Noon. That means lush green growth everywhere. Trees, flowers, fruits and veggies, herbs, grasses, weeds. And then there’s my old iritating nemisis: poison ivy. Although I liked Batman as a kid, I was much more impressed and inspired by the heros of the old Westerns. So let me set this up. I’m marshal Will Kane (I know, its hard to imagine me as Gary Cooper). The peaceloving Amy Fowler will be played by my lovely wife and beautiful princess, like Grace Kelly, and who is truly a “Quaker” when it comes to anything environmentally toxic. Then there’s Frank Miller and his gang, played each spring by the Toxicodendron Radicans. Sounds like an intergalatic grunge band from the 2880’s. It seems like those badboys were behind bars not that long ago and now they’re back in town with a vengeance. Do you see where this is going? The wedding bells of spring just started to ring and the Poison Ivy gang rides into town and takes over the wooded pathways and pastured trails we enjoy here at the ranch.
Do not forsake me oh my darlin’
Today is the day for a showdown and off-the-shelf industrial toxic herbicides are not an option at Wildabout Ranch. So T. Radicans … meet 30% vinegar, salt, and a little liquid dishwashing soap. I’m not joking around when I say be careful when working with this stuff. I’m talking protective safety glasses, gloves, and extreme caution when handling and applying a highly acidic solution. There’s a lot of different views expressed on the internet about this approach but we have a serious infestation each year and need to take some serious measures to address. Most advice says this approach will only work on new, young leaves after the older stuff had been cutback or removed. In anticipation of spring growth we ordered the 30% vinegar earlier in the year.
The Waiting Game
So here’s the plan. After I post this, I will start the process of elimination on the 100 yard long, twenty feet wide pathway that leads down to Lake Greta, the half acre pond north of the house. That should take about an hour our so. Then after I have finished and cleaned everything up I plan on coming back into the house, popping a bowl of popcorn, melting some butter, opening a couple of Dr Peppers made with Pure Cane Sugar, and seeing if I can find a good Western to watch on Hulu or Netflex. Who knows, maybe I’ll get lucky and get to spend the evening with Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly. As for the results of my attempt to clean up “the town”, you’ll have to wait for a future post to see if I get to throw down my Tin Star and once again hike down the peaceful winding paths and trails here at Wildabout Ranch. You might even think you hear me saying … How lucky do you feel T. Radicans? Go ahead, make my day! … as I spray. Wait that’s not the right lines. That’s from another one of my good-guy bad-guy favorites!