Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Killer Brambles

We have 40 acres.   Most of what we have is woods.  About 15 acres around the house had been cleared and used for grazing cattle for about 100 years, so when we got it it needed a rest and to let the ecosystems recover.  Little blue stem [grass] and vernonia altissima [ironweed] do not an ecosystem make.   It was exciting to see things come back.  

Until they started attacking. 

The brambles came back in a big way - in patches that go on and on - full of canes 8 feet tall and an inch in diameter made of some sort of whippy ropey steel.   And they have attitude.  Apparently 10 acres of brambles is kind of bossy.    They don't appreciate being cut down with a chainsaw and hauled away with a pitchfork.   For the record, I wouldn't either, I guess.    They don't like being mowed either - they fight back.   I was going to post a photo, but decided not to because 10 acres of brambles is just too scary and this is a G rated blog. 

So after Eric cut the brambles with the chainsaw, it was my job to gather them up a bit and pull them down so he could get in further to cut more.    In theory. 

The first batch came out OK, but then when I turned around to head off toward the ravine where we're dumping them piling them gently, dragging the brambles behind me, one of the tips whipped around and impaled itself in my sleeve.    Undaunted, I forged onward to edge of the ravine and when I pulled the pile around me to dump pile it gently in the ravine, more tips whipped around and got me. 

They got me on the sleeve, in the hair, and all over my pants, and I was wearing sweats and a long sleeved t-shirt.    Do you know what brambles do when they come into contact with knit?    Let me tell you, it was ugly.  In about 10 seconds [one for every acre of brambles] I was completely entangled by the pile I was dragging  coaxing politely [with the pitchfork] to the edge of the ravine where we're dumping them piling them gently.

I couldn't get out by myself.   Every time I moved one way to get one off, another one got me.   And I heard them threatening K2, too.   In the interest of full disclosure, I must confess that I said bad words.   Really bad words.   But I won't tell you which ones because this is a G rated blog.   I barely escaped with my life -- and my clothes.   Seriously.   It was touch and go.   No pun intended.  

Then I handed the rake and pitchfork to Eric and went inside.   I prefer to fight brambles fully armored [in denim with helmet and goggles] and riding the mower. 

Just wait until this summer.  I'll show those brambles who's boss when it's jelly time. 


  1. Dang, man. I wish you'd filmed this. Sounds like a ripping adventure. (terrible pun intended.) :)

  2. I found that if you just cut off the tops they consider it a pruning and come back stronger than over. I have spent about the last five years digging up roots and runners and last year was the first year the edge of the woods wasn't completely dangerous. Of course I am coping with a fifty foot treeline and not ten acres. A few years ago I had been working with the thorn bushes and they caught me...Several days later I had to take Michael to the doctor for his annual bout of "poison ivy in the eyes and must have cortisone NOW" I leaned back against the wall and my head hurt every time it touched the wall.. I finally started digging around and pulled a full thorn from my scalp!

    You might get some "Burn out" or "Poison Ivy" weed killer from Worm's Way and try to treat the roots and maybe you won't have to dig. You might be able to concoct your own - mixtures of clove oil and vinegar. It's even working on my Canada Thistle, the next evil invader we are facing!

  3. Not sure that it will work for brambles, but an old fashioned way to get rid of poison oak, since the store bought stuff doesn't work, is good old rock salt like you would use on the sidewalks for ice..put on the root and it kills it and it doesn't poison the rest of the plant life, gives it some salt, but not poison. Maybe you could try it on a small section.


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