Blackberries Beware!

I got a new toy today.  There were a lot of jokes at the feed store about my new method for decapitating chickens, but in fact, this toy is a serious piece of equipment.  With this thing, I have a fighting chance of keeping the blackberries at bay.  Maybe even the hawthorns.

Meet my new Husqvarna 545 FX forestry saw.


Weighs about 18 lbs empty.  You should see the harness, it has it’s own instruction manual.  (well, kind of).  The harness will make this large cutter possible for me to use for longer periods.  It will handle blackberries, hawthorns, small trees, tall grass, and broom.  Not as entertaining as getting goats, which were highly recommended, but will do the job in my limited time off.

This is a thing of beauty.  I can’t wait to get going with it.

Thistles and blackberries…and a rooster


This wall mosaic is in the museum at the site of Ancient Corinth in Greece – it was found on the site and restored to what you see here. It’s quite large, about 2 m square.

The picture above is for my friend Petkid…we saw a lot of Roman mosaics a couple of years ago in Greece and Italy, but this was my favourite – because of the rooster, of course!  Don’t you think he could be an ancestor of Rusty?

Blackberries and thistles you ask?  Yes, indeed…

Thistles first.  I got to try out my new machete  today.  Wow.  I did two large patches in one hour – normally those two patches take me 2 days solid with secateurs.  And it was fun – kind of – in a swashbuckling sort of way.  My Mum used to use a machete on thistles too, but I didn’t really know where to shop for one, so had been doing without.  Until a little while ago when I was in buying feed.  I love my little feed store.  First off, it’s family owned and operated.  Second, it’s like the feed stores of my childhood – dusty, dim, stuff stacked to the ceiling, and probably more out of sight than in.  If I want something other than feed, therefore, I’ve learned to just ask – because there is no way I’ll find it by browsing.

So, there I was at the counter, waiting my turn to order feed, and the fellow in front of me probably belongs to the tree service truck I’m parked next to.  He asks for some Felco pruners they had ordered in for him, and then asks if they carry machetes – and sure enough they do – a selection – in a back room.  She brings a few out for him to see, and he tests blades and weights and discusses a little, then decides not to get one.  But having listened and learned, I jump right in and say I’ll buy the 22″ one.  So for the huge sum of almost $10.00, I got done 2 days work in 1 hour.  Burned no gas, maybe a few calories, and the only upkeep will be to sharpen the blade once in a while.  Cool.

Blackberries:  One of the side plans involved in getting the pigs was that they would be helpful digging up blackberry roots.  Which, as it turns out, they are really good at.  If you get rid of the above ground part of the plant for them first, though.  You know how they say potatoes are a “cleaning” crop? And it turns out that it’s not the potatoes that work some kind of natural trick on the weeds, but the fact that you hoe them so often when you’re hilling that the ground gets cleaned of weeds?  Well, pigs cleaning out blackberries is much like that.  If you want pigs to work over a patch for you, you have to enclose it with fence of some sort (electric in my case).  To do that, you have to be able to get to the places you want to place posts, and the grass/plants below the wire have to be low enough not to short the fence.  The pigs cannot do this for you.

So, of course, since I’d saved almost 2 days labour on thistles, I had time on my hands to start prepping for the pigs new “patch”.  The machete is not so good here, so I was in there with my secateurs and gloves, long sleeves, etc.  It was a warm day, and I worked up a good sweat, and caught myself watching the pigs wallowing almost with envy at one point when I paused for a breather.  However, I got it done, ready to put up fence tomorrow.

You might have noticed from all this that I don’t have a weed whacker.  True.  I could use one.  We used to have an electric one left over from our city days, but it doesn’t cut anything thicker than a piece of thread nowadays.  I’ve made do over the years with garden shears, my hands, even the secateurs, but if I’m going to be moving electric fence with any frequency, I’m really going to need a more efficient way of prepping where the fence line is going.   Plus I’d like something that is adaptable, perhaps with the option to switch to a brush cutting blade or something.  Anyone got a favourite brand, model or a recommendation?  Second hand?  New?

Burn, baby, burn


raw material

Believe it or not, I’m still here…though you’d never know it from this blog.


We’re not doing a whole lot of farming stuff just now, though we should be – the list of projects and “need to do” stuff is endless – but life is full in other areas, and while the weather was miserable, we were happily putting off the projects.


they look like ships in line astern…

In February, both kids earned some money by hacking blackberries which grow rampant around the place. Huge mounds of bramble began to accumulate, so in early March, during Spring break, we hauled the piles to the field and the older daughter and I burned them. Burning rules locally require a fire no more than a cubic meter (equivalent to a yard), not to mention only Thursday, Friday or Saturday before noon.  So one person stayed by the fire and added to it from the piles, while the other hauled more piles in from around the property. We had a perfect burn day, just a light breeze, and the piles were dry enough that we burned the entire shebang in one hour. No petroleum used to start the fire by the way, just a few matches and two paper feed bags, unlike my neighbour who seems categorically unable to start a fire without that exciting and somewhat dangerous “whoooof” of gasoline soaked starter material.


I had my laparoscopic gall bladder surgery last week.  Yippee!!  I’m walking wounded at this point, still unable to lift anything heavier than the cat, which pretty much rules out feed sacks, full laundry baskets, wheelbarrows, etc.  On the other hand, I’m eating all sorts of delicious things again, which is a real joy. And the family have taken the most wonderful care of me, so that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my lazy convalescence, being waited on hand and foot, reading sappy novels and dozing in the sun after lunch.  I thought such behaviour couldn’t ever be boring, but I’ve found I prefer it in short bursts, so have begun getting back into the household routine, trying not to see too much of what needs doing outside that I most definitely will have to wait on for a while – fenceposts, digging, clipping and hauling, mulching, cleaning out…still, as someone said the other day, it will all be there when I’m allowed to lift stuff again.  Indeed.


From heavy weather jacket to t shirt in 1 hour. Thanks, kiddo!