Sunday, September 21, 2014


It's Time to Explain the Title of This Blog

When Joanna and I were discussing the beginning of this Blog, she asked me what I wanted to call it.  My immediate response was:  SAGEBRUSH, SANDHILLS, GRASSBURRS AND GOATHEADS.  Then she suggested we use:  So this one I assume you can understand.  But the first one, I wonder how many have understood what I've meant.

SAGEBRUSH:  It's probably not hard to know the meaning, especially if you know I grew up in Southwest Oklahoma.  That farm was a mile long, north to south and stopped at the Red River dividing Oklahoma from Texas.  The north half was good farm land and the south half was sand hills, largely covered with Sagebrush.  The farm was a half mile wide.  The west edge was along a country road.  The east side was divided from Mr. White's farm by a four wire, barbed wire fence.

Most of my days after school,  included the chore of riding Old Silver to the pasture and bring the cattle home for milking.  Silver was our small black and white Shetland pony.  He was the perfect pony for a boy with an after school chore of bringing in the cows.  That trip led from the barn yard to a lane about an eighth mile south to the farm pond where the cattle came, usually about 4:30 or 5:00 for a drink.  Beyond that was the 160 acres of pasture.  It consisted of undulating sand hills covered with grasses, spring and summer flowers, large amounts of sagebrush and trees of various kinds in different places throughout the pasture.

I always saddled Silver when I rode him.  I sure didn't trust to falling off in the pasture that had coveys of quails to flush up and make him run unexpectedly or pitch me off.  We had more than our share of rattlesnakes and I didn't want to be left high and dry, walking through the grasses and sagebrush.
SANDHILLS:  They made it difficult to know where the cows were.  The hills were different heights with valleys between.  There was a row of them on the level of the farm land and below that the land dropped off to the river another quarter mile to the south.  There were two rows of varying heights in the lower pasture crossing also from west to east.  So if the cows hadn't come to the water pond, then it might be a half hour or more before I found them.  Milking just had to wait.

GRASSBURRS:  That's a different story.  Grass is not just grass.  There are so many different kinds of grass.  And this nasty grass burr is no friend of man, or boy, at all.  In fact, grass burrs are not even friendly to girls.  Betty was the girl who lived over  the barbed wire fence to the east.  She was picking cotton with us one season when she reached for a burr of cotton, but her glove snagged a grass burr and with the other glove on she couldn't pick it out.  She took off her glove and those little burrs have something like a fish hook on each of many little stickers reaching out to suck you in.  Finally she stuck the gloved burr into her teeth to pull it free.  That's the moment pain attacked.  One of those many little prongs reached beyond her teeth and pierced her tongue.  We all cringed in pain.  I still don't remember how or who got the grass burr out of her tongue.  Those clumps of grass burrs grew just where you didn't expect them.  They stuck to your pant leg or your sock.  They were just an awful mess to deal with.

GOATHEADS:  Those were another kind of sticker waiting for the bear foot boy with checks of tan to come bounding across the hard packed yard.  And then without warning the sharp pain pierced through the summer toughened sole of your foot.  Your were instantly on all fours pulling out that tiny explosion of pain that brought you to your knees.  Goat heads grew on a vine that ran flat along the ground.  They had tiny leaves and pretty little flowers.  Each flower produced a seed pod, or rather a clump of pods that were gathered together in a kind of fruit that falls apart into five nutlets or burs.    Each had two very sharp stickers extending out about an eighth of an inch or long enough to puncture bicycle tires.  So each segment looked like a goats head with his two little horns ready to gore you "to the bone."

One time when Daddy was about fifteen years old, he and Papa had been cutting those vines in an area of their pasture that was somewhat dry.  Other weeds hadn't been growing there and in a bit of unusual rain, the goat head vines had taken hold and grew to eight or ten feet across.  So they had cut and piled them to burn after they had time to dry up.  After they were dry, the leaves fellow off and a bed of red ants in the area began to carry the little two horned seeds to their den.  The seeds were a little too large to go down the hole into the den.  So, wisely the ants carried the goat heads away from their hole and dropped them.  But industrously they picked up new ones which also had to be moved away again.

The red ant queens were beginning to grow wings and fly away to build new dens.  So Daddy came bounding along the path from the cotton field where he'd been hoeing, toward the barn to start evening chores.  Being an observant young man he knew those ant queens needed to be stomped before they started too many more ant holes.  So with brawn and might he leaped into the center of the ant hill.  He came down onto a foot full of those awful goat heads.  There was nothing to do but crawl on hands and knees out of the fifteen foot circle of pain.

For those experiences and more I have named my blog: Sagebrush, Sandhills, Grassburrs and Goatheads.


  1. I like your title and I can "see" the sagebrush, sandhills, grassburrs and goatheads just looking at the title, but maybe a real pictures would be of interest to some. Your description is great.

  2. Good title and you did good describing it. I well remember the pain of all of those, including the rattlesnake and they all hurt!
    Thank you for remembering and writing your childhood memories.