From The Desk Of Bill Varga

Dyers Woad, ‘Isatis tinctoria’, cultivated plant gone bad? It isn’t all in a name. Now listed as an aggressive or even noxious weed, it was introduced to the intermountain west as an herb. A plant native to Central Asia, it was brought to the Americas as a cultivated plant as both the common and botanical name attest. Blue dye is extracted from the leaves of the plant in a lengthy fermentation process from which the odor is so bad, Queen Victoria forbade such activity to many miles from any of her residences! There are references to woad cultivation in early colonial Virginia, and yet not a weed there today! Our intermountain climate is the culprit. Aridity, alkaline soils, winter snows, hot sunny summers, it feels just like home halfway around the world. Has anyone considered a not so lengthy dye extraction process? The blue cloth was world class as exhibited by the British Royal Navy and Police ‘Bobbies’ in uniform. Indigotin is the same compound produced in both Dyers Woad and the indigo plant, but both have been replaced by synthetic dyes. Woad was also used medicinally for centuries by the Chinese. An herbal tea was used to treat colds and tonsillar ailments. Contrary to the negative brownish appearance, it was said to have a mildly sweet taste. So, why is it we plant a whole yard to lawn when we could have the entire place in a self-seeding, potentially money making yard full of woad? The definition of a weed is simply a plant out of place, but then someone once said the word weed came out of Gaelic Woad! Watch your step or the county weed supervisor may come knocking on your door.

This 80 year old woman was arrested for shoplifting in a supermarket.  When she went before the judge, he asked her, “What did you steal?”  She replied “A can of peaches.”  The judge then asked her why she had stolen the can of peaches and she replied that she was hungry.  The judge asked her how many peaches were in the can.  She replied that there were six.  The judge said, “Then I will give you six days in jail.” 

Before the judge could actually pronounce the punishment, the woman’s husband stood up and asked the judge if he could say something  judge said “What is it?”  The husband said, “She also stole a can of peas.”

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