Talkin’ about grass, dude.

Posted: January 23, 2016 in Musings, Nature
Tags: , , , , ,

Yesterday I flew from the land of frozen grass to the land of the desert, where grass comes at a water price, a price becoming higher and higher each year. The type of grass popular in Colorado these days comes at a high price as well.

But I want you to think of “grass” and “high” in a different way. When the hardy pioneers emerged from the forests of the east into the middle part of the US, they were greeted by a sea of grass, but not the grass of our manicured lawns or even the grass of the unkempt lawns of abandoned homes.

If you’ve read the Little House books, you’ll remember that Ma and Pa worried about the girls getting lost on a prairie without trees.  How can this be?  As you read Joel Salatin’s words, try to imagine grass of this type as far as the eye, if it were up high enough, could see.  It’s an awesome image, awesome in the true sense of the word.

For example, when I say “grass,” most people associate that word, in its first sense, with lawns. And yet that is a paltry, uninformed notion of grass. Artificially planted and maintained two-inch turf grass is a far cry from the grass I’m talking about. I’m talking about native prairies, and Little House on the Prairie, where Ma and Pa Ingalls feared Laura would become lost if she went out of the house. The University of Nebraska still maintains an acre or two of this grass in Lincoln. It’s twelve feet tall with stems more than half an inch thick. The first Europeans into Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley wrote letter home describing grasses that could be tied in a knot above the horse’s saddle.

“Folks, This Ain’t Normal”, Joel Salatin

Can you wrap your mind around grass so high an entire NBA team could be unobserved in it? To me, it’s a mind-boggling thought. I hope some day to get to Lincoln to see this grass.  (Of course as a former Nebraska resident, I’d love to see a Cornhuskers football game, too, but seeing the grass is much more likely!)

By the way, if you’ve never read anything by Joel Salatin, you’ve missed out on an incredible experience. Look for his books and read one right away!   Joel and his family operate Polyface Farms in Virginia:

Polyface, Inc. is a family owned, multi-generational, pasture-based, beyond organic, local-market farm and informational outreach in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.
(From their website)

For now, I leave you with the mind picture of mile upon mile of grass waving above miles and miles of bison herds.  What a vision!


I’ll be offline most of the time for the next ten days.  Thanks for understanding if I don’t get to your blog quite as often.  Just doing posts and responding to comments will take most of my scanty online time.

  1. Have a good time :o) …my mom egg-sactly thought the way you mentioned… she is still the silly teenager she was once :o)))

  2. I lived the majority of my adult life in Kansas. When we would travel west in the late summer I remember the combines lined up to cut the wheat. They would march across the fields for miles. Awesome picture. 🙂

    • I grew up in Nebraska and if you go to the more western part of the state, it was like that as well. Where my grandparents farmed, there were more hills and trees, so you didn’t get that wide-open effect. You can still get the feel in Minnesota (and Kansas, too, I’m sure.)


  3. Allan G. Smorra says:

    Great visuals with this post, Janet, “…grass so high an entire NBA team could be unobserved in it?” I can hear the soundtrack to the old song by War, “Spill the Wine”, as I contemplate this vast forest of greenery.

  4. prior2001 says:

    He sounds like a great author and you are right – that kind of grass sounds exhilarating – oh and the farm sounds nice….

    However – side note -I happen to like the lawn grass – I think they should be more casual and less chemical treated – but aren’t they multi-purposeful? Like aren’t lawns this way because they keep dirt down and the height is less bug infested and all that? Esp with mosquitoes and tics, which love tall grass and I dunno – sometimes the patch of lawn we have is also a gift because we can have games and yard activities on god’s natural turf – hmmm

    • Don’t get me wrong. I love lawns, too, at least in places where grass is native and there’s enough moisture. In places like Phoenix, a lawn (or golf course!!) uses so much water, water that’s precious, that I’m not a fan. I also like the natural desert landscape. As for Salatin, try to get hold of one of his books. I like “The Sheer Ecstasy of Being a Lunatic Farmer”, “Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal: War Stories From the Local Food Front”, and “Folks, This Ain’t Normal: A Farmer’s Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World.”


      • prior2001 says:

        Oh those are some great titles Janet! Keep u posted if I get my hands on a book! I have heard some scary stuff about golf courses – so I know what u mean – and you are also so right with arid places – like we watched a program on Nevada and Las Vegas and wow – but even in places like Virginia – where it is so green and lush – many gardeners get native plants and xeriscape – and now that u mention it I like those kind of yards more than the 2 inch green grass –

      • Native plants are a good choice from an environmental point of view. But there are so many beautiful plants! I think it’s a good idea to check the needs of the plant vs. your area when choosing them.

    • pommepal says:

      Keeping lawns short around houses over here means you can see the snakes!!!

  5. Just to hear you mention Little House on The Prairie made me smile! I have the DVD’s and my children love the show too! You inspired a nice memory. Thanks for that. Huge hugs to you and Bill and family. ❤

  6. Dan Antion says:

    That’s an impressive vision. Grass as it should be as opposed to manicured patches of green.

  7. pommepal says:

    Over here in the outback we have Mitchell grass plains, not as high as your astoundingly tall grass. I think because we don’t get the amount of rain. But it is an awesome sight rippling in the wind,

  8. dyule2014 says: