Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

Yard work an exercise in futility; should I rent a cow?


July 22, 2014


QCS Managing Editor

For a guy who hates yard work, I always seem to end up with the biggest yard in the block, and by the time I’m done trying, dreading, then giving up on yard work, my yard becomes a monument to failed intentions.

Currently my lawn is threadbare, but the area I covered in gravel to avoid lawn maintenance undulates with amber waves of crabgrass, and the flat rocks I laid out to form an alternative patio in my back yard are crawling with weeds.

This year, I stopped trying to grow vegetables, which don’t grow in the dry adobe brick material that substitutes for soil in my yard, but the weeds are healthier than Jack La Lanne used to be.

Eastern New Mexico’s weeds are tough enough to shrug off drought, grazing and softball-size hail. I think they have little “Born to Kill” tattoos on their stalks, and they laugh as you try to pull them, and the goatheads add injury to the insult. I try to choke them out with general herbicide emblazoned with “Death to Chlorophyl” slogans and green skulls, and the weeds laugh even harder. Then they grow more in three days than my intended crops ever grew in a season.

After a month or two of this, I often end up opening the back door, gazing out hopelessly, then turning around and flipping on the TV to watch wannabe actors pretend to be spontaneous on “reality” programs. Even that is better than facing the little piece of urban decay that’s supposed to be my back yard. If it were any bigger, it might qualify for federal disaster aid.

I’ll still crank up the lawn mower and raise a cloud of red dust as I clip some of the stubborn weeds to uniform size, and zip through weed patches with a line trimmer, but that’s just to make it look less like no one cares, not convince anyone that a real gardener lives at my place.

I think there’s a reason why cattle ranching is the primary industry out here. It’s too tough to grow crops or clear land to any large scale, so the best thing to do with the intransigent plant life of Eastern New Mexico is let cows eat it.When you can see vistas of our region’s incorrigible vegetation, it can be breathtaking, but when it overtakes my yard, it’s just nerve-wracking.

I should be out doing something in the yard, but I think I’d rather take a drive through the mesas and see the weeds as they’re supposed to be seen. Or maybe rent a cow.

Steve Hansen is the managing editor at the Quay County Sun. He can be reached at [email protected]


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