I woke up this morning like normal, took care of the normal morning business and filled my mug and proceeded to head out for work. As I am making my way to the truck I notice a large pick-up truck with a tank of toxic gick on the back blow past my house. I wondered out loud what was up with that and Ma tells me, yeah, there were quite a few guys along the ditches with back pack sprayers on when I took Fish Taco to work this morning.
I just about lost it then and there! After a long spring of watching a crop duster fly just to the east of OKA my nerves are just about shot. I mean what if that plane full of roundup develops a leak, what if the pilot decides to change routes and fly right over our heads one evening a and destroys all of our hard work? That’s a whole bunch of what if’n I know but it’s the thoughts that pass through my head while I am tending our little patch of earth. So with all this boiling over in my head I loaded up in the truck and headed out to find out what in the world they were up to. When I headed out I turned the opposite direction from the way the truck with the big tank went and when I saw the first guys in the ditch with the chemical backpacks and the sweat I decided I would see what they had to say about the matter. I first wondered out loud just who it was they were working for and they pointed to the house that they happened to be working in front of. I soon knew that neither spoke English but it wouldn’t have surprised me if the man in question was actually paying them to do what they do, after all he had a full on blacktop driveway installed not long ago. He lives on a dirt road, I guess I don’t get it. Anyway, I knew I wasn’t going to get anywhere with these guys and they weren’t the ones I needed to talk to anyhow. This goat farmer knew he needed to get a couple rungs higher if he was to get this issue resolved. That is when I decided to turn around, and I had almost gotten back to the house when I stopped the big truck with the tank in the back. He wore a smile and a shirt with a tag, hell, his truck had a tag, VVEC it said in bright orange letters on the back by the tank. This guy who was in charge proceeded to explain to me that they were spraying brush killer to keep brush and trees out of the power lines. The prospect of a crop duster flying over at 1000 ft and developing a leak suddenly seemed like the better option to me. I mean that’s only glyphosphate (RoundUp) with a half life of 30 days. Who knows what the stuff they were spraying from their backpacks is but I have to assume it’s way stronger since it’s intended to kill brush. What is brush anyhow? How would you define it? A quick google search will get you this:
Alright, back to the subject we were on, I was friendly but firm with this guy when I politely asked him not to spray anything on my property. I explained to him that I have an orchard and a garden and animals of all kinds and that since the wind was blowing no less that 15mph from the northwest that all of it would be right in the path of his over spray. When I was done with him I decided that I wasn’t absolutely convinced that he was not going to spray my place, even after we shook on it. Back to the house I went after a quick text message to my boss to let him know we had an emergency at the farm. I got back to the house to let Ma know she was going to have to keep an eye on the windows and to call if she saw them messing around. I made attempt to call VVEC offices, at first I didn’t think anyone would answer but She finally did. I say She because I have heard that same voice on the other end of the line for years when I call down there. She is about the only voice you will ever hear because no one and I mean NO ONE but Her will ever answer the phone down there. I kindly explain to Her that I needed to speak to the person who is in charge of the spraying crews and she obliged. Ring ring ring, voicemail, figures, hit zero and She answers the line again. I tell Her there was no answer and She lets me know She will try someone else, ring ring ring, voice mail. We did this no less than six times when she let me know that everyone was in a meeting and I finally told her the whole story and how their spray crew was about to mess with my future and that I needed a living human being on the line and now! She suddenly realized my urgency and got a lady on the phone who said that she would have someone call me back asap so with Ma manning the windows I headed out for work waiting for a ring back.
See, I welcomed them the last time they were out here to clear brush because they used a piece of equipment that looked a lot like a street sweeper that swung chains instead of the normal wire brush type of affair. This thing was kewl and very earth friendly compared to the Monsanto garbage they were slinging around today because when it was done beating the snot out of any vegetative matter it piled it all up on a nice big pile in my yard to use as mulch. It was fantastic and I would gladly welcome the crew from today, minus the backpack sprayers of course, they could bring that machine back out here at any time.
The guy called just as I sat at my desk and I explained my concerns. He acted like most around here, sort of an, it’s only brush killer kind of attitude. You know the type right? What is brush anyhow? He made it perfectly clear they they have the right to spray or cut anything they deem necessary if it falls within the easement around their poles and lines. I asked him about the neat machine they brought last time and he explained they they have to do that more often than if they just spray it in the first place. I explained to him that it wasn’t very earth friendly way of doing things being that the half life of brush killer is so long and he got kind of hot under the collar and loud at that point. Karma was definitely on my side this day because one of the last things he told me was that as long as the easements are kept clear there will never be a reason for them to spray anything on or around my property and that they definitely would not be spraying anything on OKA today. I can tell you this I will be handling the brush clearing on our place from this point forward. I might just plant the whole easement in comfrey, it doesn’t get very tall and I could sure use it. Back to my karma point when I came home today the county crews had already mowed the easement and I can assure you I will be handling it from today forward.
I have a question for you permaculture practitioners in the bunch. What would you plant as a barrier to prevent over spray of brush killer or any herbicide for that matter, from drifting over and killing your gardens? Help a brother out would ya?
Well, that’s about all I got, take it easy.