Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

The satisfaction of pulling crabgrass August 5, 2021

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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Our side yard, dug up during water line replacement and before it was overgrown with mostly invasive crabgrass. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo June 2021.

AS I WRITE THIS EARLY WEDNESDAY afternoon, the civil defense siren blares. There’s no emergency, just a monthly routine testing of the system.

This time of day, after lunch, my energy dips. The wail of the siren interrupted my dozing off in the recliner while reading a book. It’s not often I fall asleep during the day, which is revealing in itself. I am tired because I’m not sleeping well. Lots on my mind. I tend to overthink. To ruminate. Uncertainty stresses me.

We’re all different personalities, different in the ways we handle whatever life throws at us. And that’s OK. Some of us are early risers, work best in the morning people while others are evening/night people. Nothing right or wrong about either. I’m up early, focusing on mental tasks in the morning.

Shortly I’m heading outside to pull crabgrass, a job I started last evening and which I found incredibly satisfying, even if labor intensive and sometimes difficult. To dislodge those strong roots from the soil and then toss the clump empowered me. I felt like I was ridding our yard of an unwanted invader. And I was.

Since the digging of our yard and replacement of a water line in June, the crabgrass has had plenty of time to take hold. I was happy just to see green again rather than bare earth as we await the right time to sod or seed in this drought. Randy informed me that the crabgrass needs to go. He wants to use chemicals. I don’t. Thus I am willing to pull weeds, although, in the end, he may still need to apply a weedkiller.

This isn’t about who’s right and who’s wrong, but about eventually solving a problem. About different approaches. About trying and evaluating. And, for me, about satisfaction that comes from doing something with my hands. Touching the soil. Reconnecting with the land. Remembering all the summers I pulled weeds from the family garden and cockleburrs and thistles from my dad’s soybean fields. We didn’t use chemicals back then to eradicate weeds.

But farming has changed. The world has changed. Life has changed. Yet, the satisfaction of pulling weeds by hand has not changed. Not for me.

© Copyright 2021 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


14 Responses to “The satisfaction of pulling crabgrass”

  1. I can identify with unwanted plants. We have asian stilt grass everywhere and I am trying a solution of vinegar, salt and Dawn to help get rid of it. Not sure if it will work but I am giving it a go since we have a lake I don’t want to contaminate with chemicals either. I am not a fan of pulling weeds at all so I am going this route . Good luck!

    • I spent several hours pulling crabgrass yesterday afternoon. I made progress, but a lot remains to be pulled. The yard is looking much bigger to me now. Upon arriving home from work and seeing the windrows of crabgrass drying on the driveway, Randy questioned my plan. I’m determined at this point, although my body is hurting.

  2. Vivian Heltemes Says:

    Therapy. Weed pulling is therapeutic with no cost! That’s what Jerry tells me!

    • Jerry is right. I was out weeding this morning. Interestingly enough, two guys (Jim and Dana) stopped to chat and encourage me in my efforts. Yesterday Keith stopped and offered his encouragement. So nice to get that support.

  3. Valerie Says:

    Good for you Audrey. I was going to suggest pulling weeds in my garden next, but sounds like you’re getting tired and sore…understandably. It’s a lot of work!

  4. Bernadette Arlene Thomasy Says:

    Like you, Audrey, I think I inherited the weed pulling gene. When I am out walking, I often stop to pull weeds. I had my work cut out for me in my local park this summer. The groundskeepers were not taking care of flower beds. It kills me to see beautiful day lily plants suffocated by crab grass, sow thistles and many more weeds. I’ve tried to keep up with the weeds on daily walks, but they got too far ahead of me. I’ve had supportive comments, too, but no helpers! Weed pulling is satisfying but as you know, hard work. I’m pulling for you!

  5. Don’t give in to chemicals! I don’t like crabgrass either but I hate the chemicals that industry sold to all of us to solve the issue thus polluting the environment. A good rotor tiller and a rake will go a good job too without chemicals. Also think of your grandkids, they might play on that ground…ok off my bio friendly soapbox. Maybe I should be there helping pull some of those too.😊

    • Stand on your bio soapbox all you want, Paula. I feel the same. I’m making progress on the crabgrass removal. The advice I’m getting from Average Joes who have stopped to talk to me (yes!) is that I’m doing the right thing. And the next step, once the crabgrass is pulled, is to rototill. If you were in Minnesota, I would certainly welcome your help. Anyone who is fully vaccinated is welcome to join me in my yard for crabgrass removal and conversation.

  6. Jackie Hemmer Says:

    I absolutely LOVE pulling weeds, especially when you can get root and all.

    • There’s satisfaction in that, isn’t there? With the crabgrass, I need to get out the entire root. It’s getting to be a lot to try and remove and I’m not sure I will accomplish my goal of pulling all that invasive grass.

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