Thistles and blackberries…and a rooster

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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?