Cactus farming

So there are three giant clumps of cactus plants next to the driveway when you first enter the property. The cacti look a little sickish.

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So I decided that, while I had no adult supervision yesterday, I was going to try and prune the cacti.

The first order of business was to learn about cacti. So I turned to the Great and Powerful Oz, I mean Google, to ask about cacti. I found a web page that informed me that these cacti have a fungus, and that I could prune this cactus to rid it of the diseased parts. I also learned that I could take the new blooms or shoots or whatever and put them on top of the ground and they would take root and become their own cactus plants. I also learned that cactus bits are compostable, so I conferred with Sunshine and Mr. B via phone to decide where we might want to locate the garden and a compost bin.

So with all my research done, I got some work gloves, my wagon, a shovel, some post-hole diggers, and a pair of BBQ tongs and waded in. Don’t ask me why I grabbed BBQ tongs, I could not tell you to save my life. I guess I thought I would be able to use them to pick up the cacti parts.

Using my handy shovel, I proceeded to dig out all of the dead and rotting bits of cactus that were hidden underneath that thick jungle of cactus bits you see above. I also used the shovel to whack off the dead and dying bits that hadn’t fallen off yet. I did attempt to use the BBQ tongs to pick them up and transfer them to the wagon, but that didn’t work–the cacti bits were too big and heavy for the tongs and I couldn’t pick them up. One of the whacked bits of cactus fell into a place that my shovel wouldn’t easily reach. It looked dead, no visible cactus spikes or anything, so I grabbed it and threw it into the wagon.

Let me tell you how that worked out for me.

A teensy tiny teeny weeny itty bitty little cactus spike about one third the thickness of a human hair went through my glove and into my finger. It hurt. And I couldn’t find it to pull it out. I stood there in the bright sunlight, staring at my finger like some toddler who has just discovered the finger fits into the nose, trying desperately to find the wee bit of cactus that was causing me so much pain. I finally caught sight of it in the sun and managed to remove it from my finger and proceeded to work at the cactus clump some more.

At some point, I dropped the shovel into a clump of cacti bits and would up with many many cactus spikes protruding from the rubber sleeve condom type thingy that goes over the end of the shovel. The BBQ tongs came in very handy for removing the spikes, so at least I wasn’t a complete idiot for adding them to my tool set for the job

I whacked away and chopped and pruned and dug for a couple of hours.

All was going well until I was working at a giant stalk that was all dead looking and started whacking away at it with the axe.

No, I didn’t shop off my own foot or anything. I didn’t fall into the cactus.

The fucking metal head of the axe flew off and landed under part of the cactus. It took me 20 minutes of digging at it with the shovel and post hole diggers to get the stupid axe head to a place where I could possibly reach it without getting filled with cactus sticker things. So I reached in and delicately pulled it out. SUCCESS! I was unharmed!

Until I went to throw the axe head toward the wagon and realized that I had a stupid cactus sticker about one third the size of a human hair stuck through my shirt poking me in my abs.

I got it out and went inside to take a nap.

Well, I wasn’t able to sleep, so I sat for a while and got my breathing back to normal (COPD sucks ass), and went back outside to at least clean up my mess of tools and cactus parts. As I cleaned up the debris, I realized that I could NOT let the lack of an axe defeat me, and proceeded to work through the other two clumps of cactus as well as I could using only a shovel. Thank heaven the other two clumps don’t look as infected with fungus as the first one.

I managed to get some of the outer dead bits off of the other two clumps, and did a fair job of digging out the dead bits from underneath them.

I neglected to take after pictures of the other two clumps, but here is my progress report on the first one.

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Once Sunshine gets back home, I’ll get him to help me figure out a way to finish what I started.

final note: some of the dead and rotting cactus bits had turned into some sort of jelly. Which Mollie proceeded to roll in. She must really think she has died and gone to hell what with all the baths she has taken lately.

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