Did you know that the national flower of Scotland is the thistle? Noooo…..
My husband has been doing research on his family history and has traced his ancestry to a town in Scotland. This past Spring, we visited Edinburgh, spending most of our time at Edinburgh Castle. Such fascinating history! Now that we’ve discovered the town my husband’s ancestors came from, we hope to go there next year.
While there, we realized that the national flower of Scotland is the thistle. Thistles are a pesky weed that we fight on our farm! I guess the thistle is very persistent, and so are the Scottish people! We want to be persistent in all we do and encourage our children in that way.
So, this year, we pulled out as many shovels as we could find so that everyone had their weapon! Each family member was given a certain section of our farm and had to dig up every thistle they could find, no matter how big or small.
The plan was to start in one corner of our section and dig up every thistle in a row across the area. Then we would proceed on to the next row. When we look behind us, we should see no thistles!
The technique: stab your shovel down into the dirt, a few inches away from the plant, then dig down, getting hopefully under the root. Take that shovelful of weed and dirt and dump it to the side. Pick up the plant by the root (wearing gloves, as thistles have painful prickles). Shake the dirt off, throw the thistle into a spot where you will put all the thistles (later all the thistle piles are collected in the tractor bucket to be dumped in a huge pile that will be burned). Shovel the displaced dirt into the hole you have created, and then tamp it down. On to the next thistle!
I am OCD, and I found it helpful to count my thistles as I dug them. In a three-day period, I dug 1,180 plants! Some were very miniscule, and some were monstrous!
It was interesting to watch how each family member tackled the problem. Some of them would not follow the rules but want to do things their way (hmmm…. sounds like a song…). They would sharply stab the shovel right close to the plant and flick it out of the ground. Of course, this way would leave the root in the ground! Or they would dig a thistle here, wander over there, dig another one over there, and wander back to here. If they had looked behind them, they would see patches of thistles!
In a previous year, one family member decided that the fastest way to rid their designated patch of thistles was to mow it! Sure, their patch quickly looked nice while the rest of us were sweating and struggling with thistles. But this year? That patch was my area! So, I had lots of work! This person saved themselves time and work but made more for the next person.
In the process of digging thistles, I see many life lessons: 1) Do a thorough job so that when you are done, you can look back and you don’t have to go back and do anything over. 2) Do your job well, and don’t make work for other people by your laziness or shortcuts. 3) Be diligent in the small things so that the small things don’t become big things!
While digging thistles has taught us many life lessons, we’ve discovered an easier (hopefully) way to combat them…a high potency vinegar! This will be a natural way to treat the problem without harming the environment. Because of its strength, we must be careful and wear gloves, and only spray it on the thistle, as it will kill everything! We’ll see if this new treatment works, and there might be some new lessons learned with this new method.