Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Drivel - hitch hikers

I didn't know if I should classify this as drivel, or the hazards of farming. Regardless, every New Year around here sees an abundance of hitch hikers, a.k.a. -- vegetable ticks. Go walking in any pasture in my area and your clothes will quickly become clogged, no, overwhelmed and hidden from sight by the seeds of a pasture legume called desmodium (beggar lice, tick trefoil, tick clover). I have two varieties of desmodium in my pastures, a smooth vine and a hairy, sticky vine. Both produce abundant hitch hikers. Both produce masses of tangled vines if not grazed down. Livestock love this legume. Bees love it too, making an awesome honey. 

My shorts and socks were assaulted during a very short walk to check on a goat. I went perhaps 60 feet total and accumulated hundreds of vegetable ticks. 

In the past when I've had to walk further, my clothes had become so congested that the color barely shows through. Getting the buggahs off can be a tedious task. Running clothes through the washer doesn't remove them. Hand picking can take hours. A friend showed me a nifty trick 

Take a smooth bladed knife, preferably not too sharp, and scrape off the seeds by holding the blade at an angle. They come off quickly and cleanly. This trick works best when you're still wearing the clothes and when you can stretch the cloth tight at the loose spots, 

In about a minute I had most the hitch hikers removed. Rather than throw the seeds away, I collected them and planted them in a bare spot in the pasture. As I said, the livestock loves the stuff. My goal is to have my sheep pastures with about 20% desmodium. Even if it gets eaten down to the ground, the vine will resprout. 

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