Dorset Natural History Society asked for volunteers to cut ragwort on a farm in the Bridport area so off we went with Janna, our dog, and secateurs. We were greeted by the farmer: "I'm afraid you are the only ones to turn up, it's a very big field."
"I used to help," explained his wife "but working on such slopes has strained my ankles so I can only walk around the house and yard."
She was a pleasant person and we felt sorry for her and soon found out what she meant. There was this huge field well dotted with ragwort sloping down to the river. We started at the bottom covering first one patch then working up to the next. Our legs and backs ached. It was more tiring than we had thought. The ragwort was then put in neat heaps so that it could be easily collected later. The farmer was delighted and relieved and gave us a bunch of herbs to take home.
Later on, Ringwood Naturalists Association had an open day with a table full of exhibits. Reg had contributed a discarded wasps nest and some fossils and I put a jar of ragwort with a note to warn that cattle might eat it and appear fine after but it could accumulate in the body and eventually kill them. That is what we have been told.
One young onlooker read the notes and then looked at the flowers. He seemed quite worried. "I have just made wine with flowers like these," he said, "I thought they were coltsfoot." He went off to dispose of the wine and our secretary took notes so she could put a warning in the newsletter.