Weatherford Democrat

Lifestyles

January 11, 2008

Man uses tractor to crush cactus

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.

Text Only
Lifestyles
  • 0720 soc hudson engagement.jpg Hudson, Elswick to unite in marriage

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Peach Food Winners - at award ceremony.jpg 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.

    July 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rev. Stephen Schmidt 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.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0706 loc first united methodist pastor.jpg 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.

    July 5, 2014 1 Photo

  • Marlysia Earls 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. 

    July 5, 2014 1 Photo

  • Airman Ryan R. Powell Powell graduates basic training

    Air Force Airman Ryan R. Powell graduated from basic military training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, San Antonio, Texas.

    July 5, 2014 1 Photo

  • Terry Ellis.jpg 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. 

    June 29, 2014 3 Photos

  • PTS guys.jpg 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. 

    June 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • 0629 loc TCA scholar athlete.jpg 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. 

    June 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Michelle Elise Bond 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.

    June 22, 2014 1 Photo

Must Read
Top News
House Ads
AP Video
US Airlines Cancel Israel Flights Obama Signs Workforce Training Law Crash Victims' Remains Reach Ukraine-held City Diplomatic Push Intensifies to End War in Gaza Obama Offers Condolences at Dutch Embassy Cat Fans Lap Up Feline Film Festival Raw: Lawmakers Scuffle in Ukraine's Parliament The Rock Finds His Inner 'Hercules' Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die Raw: MH17 Passenger Remains in Kharkiv, Ukraine Raw: Israel Hits Gaza Targets, Destroys Mosques ShowBiz Minute: Hoffman, Oberst, Box Office WWII Vet Gets Medals, 70 Years Late Raw: Israel Bombs Multiple Targets in Gaza Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks From Space Station Widow: Jury Sent Big Tobacco a $23B Message New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts UN Security Council Calls for MH 17 Crash Probe Obama Bestows Medal of Honor on NH Veteran