Our Rural Roots

One Dandy of a Scheme

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Dandelions may be a sure sign of summer, but for me, the pretty yellow blooms are also a yearly reminder of one of my Gran’s grand schemes.

Several years ago, my father, husband and I were scouting a new ram prospect in Iowa. Surveying the barnyard, I began to notice an abundance of dandelions.

“Do you have trouble keeping the sheep from eating these?” I asked innocently. The Iowa farmer looked momentarily confused and said his sheep were allowed to eat their fill.

“No, they are poisonous to sheep,” I cried. Dad and my husband instantly informed me my facts were false all the while giving me the “quit talking before you embarrass the family” stare.

When we got back to the pickup, I immediately called my brother and put him on speaker. The conversation went as follows:

Me: “Tell me about dandelions and sheep.”

Brother: “They’re poisonous.”

Me: “See, I told you!”

Dad: “Where did you guys get this idea?”

Brother and Me: “Gran told us, and that’s why every summer we had to pick all the dandelions from her yard.”

At this point, Dad was laughing so hard he had to pull the pickup over. Gran had employed a dandy but very useful fib. Dandelions are actually not poisonous to sheep.

Turns out, Gran just did not want to deal with the weeds or see them go to seed. If she could convince a couple of farm kids that those yellow flowers would kill sheep, her work removing them was as good as done. Who knows, maybe she also figured it was a good way to keep us out of mischief.

As miffed as I was at having the wool pulled over my eyes for more than 30 years, I couldn’t help but secretly admire her tactics--and tuck that little trick away in my back pocket for my own kids.

Tiffany Dowell Lashmet balances farm, children and a career in ag law from the Texas Panhandle. Follow her blog at littlehousebiglifetx.wordpress.com and her on Twitter at @TiffDowell.


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