April 2, 2015

by

Tom was an apprentice on Chico Basin Ranch from 2014-6.

The tumbleweeds had taken over. They stood several stories high. Thick enough to stop a tractor. The grove of trees where education and bird banding take place had been completely engulfed. It was easy for me to look at this giant mass and feel defeated. How do you return this impenetrable forest of tumbleweeds back into a beautiful area that everyone can enjoy once again? Many Hands.

That Saturday morning, community volunteers trickled in until we had a small army. I ran a tractor for eight hours gradually picking away at the mass. Two other tractors also put their own diesel power to work transporting the tumbleweeds away from the grove. In the pastures the tumbleweeds seem so weak and brittle, easily tromped over by my boots and horse. Watching my tractor wheels spin trying move a collection of them reminds me that in numbers, anything can be formidable. But so were we. The numerous volunteers and ranch staff used pitchforks and rakes to pull weeds away from the trees, allowing the tractors to sweep them up and push them away in larger clumps. They raked, pushed and grabbed. Despite what seemed like an endless project, we began to see a significant amount progress. Even isolated on the tractor all day, I could feel the camaraderie of smiles and conversation among the workers as we joined forces against our common enemy. We only made a dent, but we got done what needed to be done. That’s a good thing to sleep on.

Photography by Madeline Jorden