Sunset hitting the hills above Superior, AZ amidst a snowstorm. Photo by Ollie Gordon.

Written by Mel Elbert, Wild Stew Field Crew Member.

Let me tell you the tale of the crew at Arnett Creek
Alas, you will not get the full story but just a little peek.

The group met on Wednesday morning as we usually do
But this week there were two new members there to join the crew!

The usual suspects Dexter, Chloe and Ollie knew the Arnett routine,
As they are seasoned members of the Wild Arizona Team.

For Bradley and Mel this was their first time out on a project,
And let me tell you – more of these experiences I would like to collect!

The first day was warm, and after making camp among cholla and cow pies.
We went for a hike to identify the invasive plants. To see them with our own eyes.

Two targets were spotted, one we did prefer.
The first, Sahara mustard. The second, cocklebur!

Sahara mustard. Wow. There was a ton to be found.
And the only way to battle it was by crawling on the ground.

Most days the crew picked rosettes out by the root.
It sounds pretty boring, but it was truly a hoot!

While we picked we discussed topics big and small,
About our lives, values, movies, and music – but that is not all!

We played creative games to make us laugh and test our knowledge.
A stand-out was naming Arizona towns – not something you learn in college!

17 acres of Sahara mustard plants met their demise.
Our crew of 5 pressed “delete” on their lives.

Common cocklebur, the other invasive offender,
Is truly a plant does not easily surrender!

The burs feel like velcro and attach to everything in sight.
Shoelaces, animal fur, and clothing – it knows how to travel right.

Such skilled transportation allows the plant to spread far and wide.
Throughout the week it was spotted on many a crew members’ backside.

But the joy of the bur came out for us in many ways.
Especially on the cold, wet and frozen ground days.

The burs stick together and easily take the form of a ball,
Which makes them simple to gather, for if you roll it around you can get a big haul.

Quickly on our crew a competition formed
For who could make the biggest ball. But soon this transformed!

A new goal was established, we soon made a plan.
To create the world’s first Cockleman!

With quartz eyes, a hat, and a cute carrot nose,
The only thing missing was a sweet pair of clothes.

But upon further reflection, the group had to agree
The Cockleman seemed to be a bit lonely!

Since there were plenty of cockleburs we decided that maybe,
We should make our cockleman a partner, and a baby!

A Cockle family formed, and joy filled Telegraph Canyon!
Strangers and crew alike had deep appreciation for our cocklebur companion.

The crew carried out 24 trash bags of cocklebur seeds,
Removing them from 4 acres, these were good deeds!

It was a sad moment to say goodbye to our cocklebur friends,
We had to send them to the incinerator in Superior without making amends.

Overall, one could say that despite the cold mornings,
Represented by National Weather Service hard freeze warnings,

The group had a blast, we killed invasive foes.
AND got to wear every piece of our clothes!

Snow-covered mountains around the Arnett Creek area. Photo by Ollie Gordon.