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Thursday, July 9, 2015

Quilty Pleasures and Ranch Life: A Scrappy Trip With Thistles

It's been a while since I posted anything quilty because, well, I've been busy! But I've been working (somewhat) steadily on Bonnie Hunter's Scrappy Trips Around the World blocks whilst binge watching this season's Orphan Black. I restarted my unfinished scrappy trip quilt thanks to Diana.

Diana, a Girl Scout, has been working on her Gold Project and sent out a call for Scrappy Trips blocks. She wants to make 16 quilts (actually, it's going to be more than that) and gift them to kids who have aged out of the foster care system. The Chicken River Modern Quilters and another group of quilters at ThreadBear, my local quilt shop, spent some time making blocks to send to Diana. All this scrappy tripping inspired me to find a box of blocks already completed and finish this baby up!

Only four blocks remaining for a queen sized quilt. Then it's time for assembly.

So what's been making me so busy? Thistles! Scottish Thistles! We've been out and about on the ranch chopping these invasive, noxious, non-native weeds. Actually, Tom chops.

These thistles are biennials, which means they live for two years, first as a rosette baby and the next year as a flowering nuisance that can reseed itself many times over. They will take over a whole area and although cattle might eat the babies, they will not eat the mature ones, crowding out anything nutritious growing there.  So Tom is chopping both, trying to dig up the rosette babies, roots and all and chopping down the ticking time bombs which are the thistles in their flower stage.

Here's what the flowering Scottish thistles look like:

We've been chopping for a couple weeks now and it's touch and go as to whether we will get them all before they start reseeding.

My job is to gather up the chopped down flower thistles and toss them into the Ranger.

Here are my grabbers because those suckers are evil! I bought them years ago to collect leaves and then for pine needles. Tom suggested using them for the thistles which was a wizard idea.

 We both wear snake chaps because there have been too many close encounters with rattlesnakes to take chances.

 Using the grabbers and sometimes the garden fork for big piles, I throw them into the Ranger and dump them where there will be a big bonfire when they dry out. (Why do I have a sneaking hunch that even though they will be burned, we will find a thistle forest next spring?)

So far we've collected seven loads of these nasty fellers (Scotland's national flower). As I drove this load back to the dumping area, I spotted so many more growing in our field.

And so it goes. (thanks, kurt)


  1. OMG...You are something else...

  2. Gads, what a chore! Who knew living in Paradise could be so labor intensive, right? ;-) We have a number of noxious, invasive weeds here, but nothing quite as nasty looking as that. One of our local experts launches a campaign every year against cheat grass, which can really take over. What I fight most is foxtails, which can look beautiful when they are young, but have awful, burrowing heads that especially love to attach to socks, or cat fur. Yech!

  3. With all the rain, I bet there is a bumper crop of thistles and therefore more work this year! Your fields look so lovely and green.

  4. Noxious weeds! Love keeping up with your adventures.


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