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Buzz Off Stinkin' Willie!

It's that time of year when the Question begins to filter into your knowing...."Is it still summer or are we about to dive into fall?" Unlike much of the US, it's been very temperate here this summer. Recently we've had downpours followed by a few days of high temperatures. It has not really felt like summer for a while now. And, despite the relative mildness, I've seen a steady decrease in egg production from my heritage Delawares. My maple trees have been turning yellow and dropping their leaves. And, dare I say it- I heard a flock of Canada Geese 40 or so strong- buzz right over the turkeys who rightly raised a ruckus watching the large flock overhead.

It's also the time of year when many wildflowers start to bloom. This is another opportunity for us to take a look around and see what's actually on our land. And friends, it ain't all good.

I'd like to ask you to make a commitment in the next few weeks to keeping an eye out for a particularly bad character. I draw your attention to "Tansy Ragwort" otherwise known as Stinking Willie (Senecio Jacobea). The plants contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which are toxic to humans and livestock when ingested. It's bad news- and it requires your attention because the stuff spreads.

You might ask yourself- "What do I care? I don't have any animals that are in that pasture." Well, your neighbor next door would greatly appreciate a measure of stewardship here. Case in point- about a 1/2 mile away a fella has an entire field of white daisies. He mows a little path through them. I'm sure he thinks they're pretty. But, each year we've had more daisies in our hay. At some point, we'll have to do something. Now, it's not toxic to animals- but if I want it off our land I'm really going to have to spray- and I'd like not to. Tansy ragwort is another matter though. Each year, animals are lost to that plant- and I simply can't let it get a foothold on our property. Driving around our area I see Stinking Willie in full bloom.....and I cringe. So would you please keep an eye out on your own patch and if you see it, pull it and get it off your land? Don't let it go to seed.

Recent years have brought an up-swing in public awareness of the plight of native animal species. I think we inherently know that it's not a good idea to release a Burmese Python into the Florida everglades. Such behavior has decimated native bird, reptile and snake populations. But what about plants? Do we pay attention to those plants in our garden and for those that are invasive, make an effort to keep them in check? Of special note- pampas grasses, English ivy, oxalis and butterfly bush. I see these in local garden centers every year and a giant "NO!!!" erupts inside my brain. These may look cool, but they will spread. Look them up on line and you will find words like "management" and "containment" and "eradication".

Just as you consider the fruit and veg you put on your table- or how the meat you're consuming has been raised- please also consider what we place in our flowerbeds. A little forethought will make a great difference down the road- for all of us.

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