I’ve written before, in What happens at the PV this time of year, about our current tumbleweed problem. My parents lived in this house from the time I was born until last year, when we Blakes moved in, so I’ve got a few decades under my belt when I say I’ve never seen tumbleweeds like we have this year. Sure, I guess there’ve always been a few tumbleweeds around… but 2017 is kinda turning into a tumbleweed phenomenon. Combined with the droughty conditions around here, it’s starting to feel eerily reminiscent of photographs from the Dirty Thirties.
All summer long the tumbleweeds blew down the coulees from the dryland fields on the bench above us, catching on our yard fence and in corners in the horse pens and the feedlot. The kids and I burned many a tumbleweed in the trash barrels this summer, trying to stay ahead of the onslaught one day at a time — and we were able to do just that without too much effort.
But then, one night last week, the wind kicked it up a notch and blew all night from the northwest, and we woke up to this problem:
(Forgive the clutter in our yard — we recently had some drawers rebuilt and have yet to haul the old ones off, and the Rubbermaid tubs on the sidewalk are full of hand-me-down clothes I need to sort through, and for some reason the kids have been digging a hole right there next to the front steps. Do these things happen to anyone else?)
Anyhow, that same night the wind deposited this pile in the southeast corner of the yard:
Honestly, though I may have previously considered myself a tumbleweed warrior with a summer of experience to my credit, I wasn’t sure what to do about these tumbleweeds. This didn’t seem like the sort of problem the kids and I could pack off and incinerate one weed at a time. This seemed more like a project for a tractor. I try to keep the yard around our house tidy, but the Year of the Tumbleweeds is definitely challenging my want-to.
For a couple days I ignored the problem. And then, this past weekend, I suddenly knew what to do: throw a birthday party!
Asher turned 7 years old on Sunday (can you believe it?), and he got to choose between a big party with friends at our house OR a night in a hotel with our family. He chose the big party — because, of course, more presents that way! So on Saturday night we hosted 37 guests at a big bash; 20 of the guests were under age 14.
What do kids (and, to be truthful, most adults) really love?
(Beau thinks I should share this photo because it’s interesting in that it appears as though our 4-year-old daughter, Emi, is on fire. The facts are, of course, that I was using the twilight setting, which has a prolonged exposure, on the camera, and Emi was passing between the camera and the fire as the photo was developing. [Not sure I have any of my technical lingo right there, but what the heck.] I think the resulting photo is a little unsettling, but again, Beau thinks it’s interesting.)
The thing about the bonfire is this: we tricked the kids into clearing our yard and the yard fence of all (okay, most) of the tumbleweeds — they hauled them to the fire and threw them on and thought they were having a grand old time!
So if you have a tumbleweed problem, the solution is to employ a kid army… and pay them with cake.
Happy birthday, Little Man!
© Tami Blake
PS: The wind blew the night after the party and brought in a few more tumbleweeds. But the situation, thank goodness, is not as dire as it was before the party.