How to deal with tumbleweeds
You might think that we have too much time on our hands but the tumbleweed are a part of our very existence. When you live in a rural area where the tumbleweeds outnumber people, it is important to learn to live with them
The Santa Ana winds are here. The field across the street is alive with movement. It's tumbleweed season. The tumbleweed wars have started.
We are armed with pitchforks, rakes and gloves. This is our battle plan.
When the wind blows, the tumbleweeds across the street start moving. Yesterday, they blew into the fences of the houses across the field. If the wind shifts, they will blow into our yards. This is where it gets fun.
We need a pitchfork and a rake. Tumbleweeds have thorns. Even the baby green ones can hurt you. We check with our immediate neighbors first. One elderly neighbor could not get out of her driveway. They had blown into the fence and were piled 6 feet high ad 3 feet deep. She called in panic. Armed with a rake and a pitchfork, we came to her rescue but we had to dig ourselves out first.
Now the main part of the war begins. We are not allowed to burn them and the wind is blowing anyway. So we carry them back out to the field. With all the neighbors on the street doing it, it begins to look like a tumbleweed wall. On the other side of the field, they are doing the same. Now, it's up to the wind.
Here comes the wind. Which way will they go? Today, they are blowing down the middle of the street towards the new houses and getting stuck under their cars. One point for us. If the tumbleweeds blow all the way across the field into the neighbors fence, we get 2 additional points. We lose points if they blow back into our fence and we have to move them across the street again.
We play this every time the wind blows since there is no cure for tumbleweeds. Someone once suggested that we stack them and burn them. This is Southern California and we don't burn anything here. Tumbleweeds burn fast and hot, sending embers into the air. So we just let them be. Eventually they break down, creating next years crop.
They are cunning little devils. They can climb a six-foot fence. The first two or three form the first layer. The others continue to form layers until they have reached the height of the fence. One they have breached the top, they just roll up and invade the yard.
Another great game to play is dodge tumbleweed. Actually, this is more fun to watch than to play.
When the wind blows, the tumbleweeds wait for an unsuspecting driver. As the driver gets closer, the tumbleweed aims for the car. Some drivers swerve to avoid them and some just bite the bullet and hit them. If the driver hits them, they explode and fly everywhere.
We try to decide if the driver will opt to dodge or take the chance on hitting them. As luck would have it, sometimes the tumbleweed gets stuck under the car and is dragged for miles. On very windy days, you can pass many cars dragging tumbleweeds. This is the goal of every tumbleweed. This way, as pieces break off, they can replant wherever they happen to be. Each little piece becomes a seed which allows the tumbleweed wars to continue into the next year. It's us against them and they always win.
Tumbleweeds are not entirely useless
There are some uses for tumbleweeds. In an area like ours that is snow challenged, we can compete with others for making snowmen. Please read the complete guide on How to make a tumbleweed snowman. Check out the links for growing your own seed, buying tumbleweeds or the kit for the whole snowman. If you are somewhere that is snow challenged, you too can have the winter decoration of your dreams.
We live with tumbleweeds so we deal with them with humor. If I were really desperate, I guess I could sell them on eBay.
Did I forget to mention that my favorite song as a child was "Tumbling Tumbleweeds" by the Sons of the Pioneers? Is this Karma?