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If only money grew on kudzu

POSTED: August 31, 2008 5:01 a.m.

The network morning shows only have news for about the first 30 minutes. From that point on they launch into everything from how to cure a hangnail to picking a couple to have a wedding on a New York street corner.

When that happens, I tune over to something more intellectual - a rerun of "The Beverly Hillbillies."

What a great show. Jed Clampett, a poor mountaineer who barely kept his family fed, went out one day with a shotgun and shot into the ground - and what comes up but oil.

The show was on TV from 1962 to 1971, and Jed wore the same outfit the whole time. A suede jacket and matching hat, a pair of jeans held up by a rope, a T-shirt and a pair of brogans.

When he dressed up, Jed wore the same suit all nine years.

The story was so good. Jed strikes it rich and folks in the hills, most of whom had never gone past Bugtussle, suggested Jed and his family, which was a bit dysfunctional, needed to go to California.

They loaded up a broken-down old truck and moved to Beverly Hills.

I think I like the show so much because I see myself in it.

Like Jed, I tend to wear the same thing every day. Bear in mind it's not the exact same outfit, but I'm usually found in pair of khaki slacks and a golf shirt.

I drive a beat up old car, an SUV to be exact.

And now, like Jed, I may be on the verge of making a fortune in energy.

Somebody sent me some information about several researchers who have found that kudzu can be converted into ethanol.

If kudzu can become fuel, you may be reading the work of the next energy magnate. For five years, I have been engaged in a battle against kudzu. I have mowed, sprayed, cut and done about everything imaginable to get rid of my fine crop of kudzu.

It is mean stuff.

Just when I think I'm winning, the kudzu fights back. Several times, I thought I was getting the upper hand, but bear in mind this is kudzu. This stuff has done more damage in the South than William T. Sherman.

Kudzu was a gift to us from the Japanese. They introduced it at the World's Fair in 1880 and we embraced it as a cure for erosion.

I'm not convinced it can cure anything.

When I think about going to the fair, I think about spun sugar on a stick, better known as cotton candy.

I hope none of my ancestors went to the 1880 World's Fair and came home with a little kudzu.

But now, if I can turn my very healthy crop into fuel, I'm ready to start harvesting. I don't know if you squeeze, beat or chop kudzu to make it into fuel, but I'll figure that out.

By this time next year, we may yet have sold off enough kudzu to build us a "cee-ment pond."

If you're a guru on turning kudzu into fuel, have your people call my people. Better yet, just call me direct. If you call on a Saturday, I might be out in hand-to-vine combat with kudzu. I'll call you back.


Harris Blackwood is community editor of The Times. His columns appear Sundays and only in the print edition on Wednesdays.



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