Southwest Kansas resident Linda Katz, is earning thousands of dollars selling tumbleweed that she finds outside her house, to people all over the country and all over the world.
The whole thing started as a joke. Linda, wishing to learn how to set up a website, created one with a fictitiousname "Prairie Tumbleweed Farm", and what she thought was a fictitious product - tumbleweed. She priced them according to size: $15 for a small, $20 for a medium and $25 for a large.
To her surprise, real orders started to come in. At first she thought they would stop after the first one or two, but after 13 years she is beginning to realize that it is a real business.
Her customers range from NASA, who used it for its MARS Rover project, to everybody's favorite purple dinosaur, Barney. Even Hollywood came calling - it was Linda's tumbleweed that starred in Johnny Depp's movie Neverland.
A tangle of dry, thin branches, tumbleweed originates from plants and shrubs that break away from their roots and are driven by wind as a light rolling mass. As they roll, they disperse seeds, typically numbering as many as 250,000 per plant. The most common tumbleweeds in the US are known as Salsola or Roman Thistle, which are like small shrubs and grow in flat, often-dry areas.
Check out Linda's website at www.prairietumbleweedfarm.com. She sure has come up with a lot of uses for this dried-up shrub!