Powell County, Montana: Dandelion Spring (Taraxacum officinale)

Here in Deer Lodge, Montana, the county seat for Powell County, spring 2019 is owned by the mighty dandelion, Taraxacum officinale. In my back yard, at least, that is undeniably true. There are multiple reasons for this profusion of yellow, green, and–after the flowers have gone to dandelion fluff seed–grayish white.

1. I love dandelions. It doesn’t do me a lot of good. I still have to mow them as flat as possible in order to fit in with the rest of the neighborhood. Which I will do.

2. Poisons worry me. Supposedly, herbicides won’t harm our local cats, birds, or other small creatures, but we all know about that word “supposedly.” During my first year as a commercial casualty underwriter for a major insurance company in its Spokane, Washington, branch office, I inherited a file on a central Washington farmer we insured. There was a horrifying claim in with the rest of the paperwork. A ten year old boy had gone traipsing through a sizeable wheat field, not long after the field had been sprayed for weeds. He dropped dead before he got to the other side. Autopsy revealed that the herbicide had penetrated his skin in sufficient amounts to kill him stone cold dead on the spot.

The chemical companies don’t mention things like that in their advertising. Oh, sure, they’ve got federally required warning labels on there now, but how many of us read them? Or take them seriously?

Anyway, I’m hesitant to spray.

3. Dumb lawnmower won’t start. It’s a Honda, nearly new–had the same problem last year when brand new, ended up mowing the lawn (not a huge lawn, either) maybe four times, total, in between trips to the small engine shop in town. The problem? The automotatic choke system. At best, the mower cuts great when it’s running, but shut it down even once after first start and forget about it. Then sit for a winter and now it won’t even fire. Dynamite to share, anybody? Back in the day, manual chokes worked just fine unless you got carried away through ignorance or inattention and flooded the carburetor. The new systems supposedly know better than mere human beings. Yeah, right. I’ve got three vehicles in the driveway: The 1998 van-type (Class B) motorhome used for Arizona runs, my beloved 1996 GMC Sierra pickup truck, and the vintage 1970 Chevy Impala. The Impala had an electric choke but I insisted on manual when changing brands last summer. Most of the time, all three vehicles start well. In subzero weather, the manual choke Chevy beats the other two hands down. My point? Laziness rules, no new ones without automatic chokes, gr-r-r-r!

Rant complete. Will be consulting with our local ACE Hardware folks tomorrow. In the meantime, how about some Dandelion Spring photos? Might was well take a few pics before a working mower goes to work.

These are weeds? Not in my book! Nothing prettier than dandelions for those with the eyes to see.

The early bee gets the pollen. This was the only bee I saw in the entire yard.

Pansies? Petunias? Betcha Becky will set me straight….

There’s another reason I’m hesitant to poison the lovely dandelions. Namely, without them, that back lawn is pretty cotton-picking sparse, at least over much of the area. There are, admittedly, a few spots filled in with “real grass,” but…. I was out of state for a couple of weeks, too. Gave the ‘lions lots of time to go to seed. As a child, did you enjoy the pastime of blowing dandelion seed fluff to the winds? No? Too bad. Beats device addiction by a mile.

Real live actual grass, who knew?

Dandelion fluff, ready for puffing to the wind.

Harvey Cat, another lover of Dandelion Spring.

Okay, one more trio of photos and we’ll wrap this up. I need to get to bed so I can get up early and go find a dandelion murder machine that actually works.

Dandelion Field of Dreams.

Humans love gold, right? Doesn’t get much more golden than this, right? Therefore, humans love dandelions. Debate logic.

Harvey agrees.

And a happy Taraxacum officinale to you, too.

6 thoughts on “Powell County, Montana: Dandelion Spring (Taraxacum officinale)

  1. Fortunately, my nasal allergies have limited my exposure to herbicides and pesticides, But I am still sensitive to smoke and chemical odors. Humanity certainly loves to poison itself and damage its environment through laziness.
    As for manual chokes, I’ve had my share of experiences flooding the engines of my cars, generators and chainsaws… 😉
    Of course, had you asked Tom Slider for help, I’m sure he would get your motor running smoothly in a jiffy! LOL

  2. Hm. I suppose Tom Slider might do that, but at his age I’m guessing he probably doesn’t care for automatic chokes much more than I do :+ I’d settle for you telling me how you got that emoticon to work. =)

    Decided today “The heck with it.” Grabbed the weed whacker–DeWalt 56 volt rechargeable electric–and wend to whacking. Just couldn’t make myself go buy another mower OR take this one back to the repair shop again. Got at least 1 1/2 hours of work out of the battery before it died. Recharging overnight. Got about 3/4 of the back yard done, which is by far the biggest portion of dandelion production. Counted it as exercise, too, so that was cool. Am estimating the weed whacker will require about 3 times the amount of time to get the job done, compared to a working mower, but it’s absolutely reliable and I can cut right down near the ground, so can stretch out the times between cuttings a bit. My “whacker pants”…wait, that sounded kind of nasty, let’s say my “weed whacker jeans” are resting comforting in the enclosed porch, hung over a railing, plastered green from the knees down….

  3. Those are pansies. I don’t have any this year, but I have petunias. Rodger is pretty good with fixing mowers and weedeaters. My weedeater is down right now, until we find a rebuild kit for the carburator. It is gas and runs along the ground with wheels. I wouldn’t want to hold Rodger’s up very long, it weighs a ton. I can cover just as much acreage with mine as he can,, but bought a riding mower instead.
    Thankfully, I do not have a lawn, just a bunch of field grass. I hate having to mow mine, and it needs it for the 2nd time this year. Growing slowly, but about 6 inches in the past 2 months. No, I don’t water it either.

  4. Thanks, Becky. I thought they were pansies but wasn’t certain. My weedeater “weighs a ton,” too, but I’ve got the handle adjusted now so it can rest a great deal of the weight (especially the heavy battery) along my hip rather than holding up much at all, and I’m able to almost relax the forward arm. I’d consider a riding mower but it would be a bit of overkill for what I have to mow here in the neighborhood.

    I’ll probably water some this year, but not yet. Still getting enough occasional rain to do the job anyway.

  5. Ghost, I love your dandelions! And your pansies. Please don’t put poison on your yard. No poison is pet/human safe. If no immediate effect is realized, remember that the earth soaks up that poison which ends up in the aquifer and eventually streams, rivers, and oceans.

    Just keep mowing your lovelies. They’re perennials, so they’ll come back again and again. Besides, apparently bumble bees like them. Bees are on the decline due to poisons and loss of habitat. Looks like your yard is doing what it can to perpetuate life.

    I wouldn’t change a thing.

  6. Thanks, Sha. Not to worry; I have no intention of poisoning the land, either the yard here in town or the acreage up at Holy Waters Ranch. Mowing only, like you say. I’ve not touched (even with the weedeater, the mower refusing to start) the pansies this year. When I took the photo you see on this page, there were only a few blooms. They came in later with a second burst that looked super-healthy.

    I’m quite aware of the earth soaking up the poisons, as you put it. Here’s a simple, organic (not chemical poison) example that nonetheless illustrates the point:

    During one two-year period (1997-1999) Pam and I lived in a small mobile home on a space rented from a rancher. It was a beautiful setting; except for the tornado threat (far enough east in South Dakota to be at some risk), I could have gladly lived there indefinitely…except for the well supplying the trailer, because that well was mere feet outside of a major barnyard corral fence. For most of the year, the water smelled fine. Not that we drank it; even then we were drinking bottled water. But for dishes, laundry, baths, toilet, etc….

    However, the two or three times or year when the rancher brought his herd into those corrals for one reason or another, the story was very different. Within hours of their arrival, the water would start smelling like cow manure for obvious reasons. He never held the herd in there for very long at a time–a few days at most–but while they were there, we postponed laundry and bathing as best we dared!

    The seepage from corral to well only had to cover maybe ten feet laterally.

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