By Fred Afflerbach
Temple Daily Telegram
TEMPLE (AP) — The prickly pear cactus has been a thorn in the cattleman’s side since the Mexican vaqueros began pushing their stock across the Rio Grande well over two centuries ago.
This invasive species chokes out native grasses with its aggressive root system that spreads horizontally, sending up new shoots. It sucks up rainwater before the moisture can soak in, or run off and fill reservoirs needed for watering stock. The noted author O. Henry called prickly pear a ‘‘demon plant’’ because it could live without soil, or water, in a sparse landscape.
Ranchers have sprayed it with chemicals, scraped it with bulldozers, and in times of drought used it for cattle feed by burning the spines with propane torches.
Fast forward to the 21st century and meet the Kactus Krusher, aka Dave Gross, riding a red 1954 Farmall tractor pulling an odd-looking train of cutting and crushing implements pulverizing the cacti into green mush.
Gross says with the outer hide broken open, the moisture leaches from the large leaves, or pads. Once the pads have completely dried out, they crunch under your feet, like walking on potato chips, before they decompose into the soil.
Temple resident Don Ringler bought rural property infested with prickly pear outside Salado several years ago. Gross treated about 80 acres that Ringler said was so thick with prickly pear he couldn’t walk through it. About two years after Gross finished a series of treatments, Ringler said it was amazing how both native plants and wildlife have thrived.
‘‘It’s not like traditional methods where you lose a lot of top soil,’’ Ringler said. ‘‘He cuts them out at the roots and smushes them so they dry out.’’
Bell County Agricultural Extension Agent Dirk Aaron said prickly pear is a big problem in parts of western Bell County, where carrying capacity for cattle can be as little as one head for 25 acres.
By Fred Afflerbach
- Hudson, Elswick to unite in marriage
Parker County Peach Food Contest winners
Several home cooks were crowned during Saturday’s Peach Food Contest, an outlet of the 30th Annual Parker County Peach Festival.
New pastor named to First United Methodist Weatherford
Rev. Stephen Schmidt has been named as senior pastor of First United Methodist Church, Weatherford. He previously served for 12 years at Grace United Methodist Church in Copperas Cove. In all, Rev. Schmidt has spent over 30 years as a Methodist minister.
FUMC honors retiring Rev. Glenn Jones
Glenn Jones, Senior Pastor of First United Methodist Church in Weatherford, has retired after serving the church for nine years. Rev. Jones received his call to serve 50 years ago and has served about 16 churches during his tenure.
Earls named state pageant finalist
Marlysia Earls is a Texas state finalist in the Junior Teen Division of the National American Miss Pageant to be held July 13 and 14 in Addison. If chosen, she will compete in the national competition held in Anaheim, California, in November. Marlysia will be starting her junior year at Weatherford High School in the fall.
Powell graduates basic training
Air Force Airman Ryan R. Powell graduated from basic military training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, San Antonio, Texas.
Weatherford Art Association June meeting
Local artist James Spurlock demonstrated to a packed house at the June Weatherford Art Association meeting last Monday. Spurlock demonstrated working with water mixable oils and completed a painting during the meeting.
Grace House gives second annual scholarship to four graduates
WEATHERFORD — Grace House has awarded the second annual Pure Truth Scholarship to four deserving Parker County graduates – Courtney Cox, graduate of Weatherford High School; Amy Garcia, graduate of Peaster High School; Dylan Burton, graduate of Millsap High School; and Mitchell Coker, graduate of Millsap High School. Twenty-two Parker County seniors applied for the character-based scholarship, which focuses on the students’ active role in being a change agent for their peers.
TCA CSAF scholar athlete
WILLOW PARK — The Christian Schools Athletic Fellowship recently selected Trinity Christian Academy’s Emma Quarles as a CSAF Junior High Scholar Athlete.
Bonds announce birth of daughter Michelle
Reed and Amanda Bond, of Little Elm, would like to announce the birth of their daughter, Michelle Elise Bond, on Sunday, May 18, 2014.
- More Lifestyles Headlines