Are you familiar with brambles? They are like a rosebush on steroids, with evil hooked thorns and whippy, long vines that dearly love to wrap around your legs/arms/body/face/etc. And they love to grow in thick, impossible to penetrate bramble FORESTS. Even after you cut one down, they are still game for a fight (see what happened to Mike’s eye last year). So. How does one rid themselves of the evil that is brambles? You tell me. Here’s what we’ve tried thus far.
Now, everyone will tell you…get goats, they’ll eat anything.
Well, here’s the thing, while mainly true…it doesn’t always work out in practice. Our 4 little Nigerian Dwarf goats did fairly well against the green, younger brambles, but it was definitely not their preferred eating.
Since our property has been neglected for quite a few years, we have brambles, wild blackberry canes and lots of little saplings. The goats chose the saplings and blackberry canes over the brambles any chance they got.
And, I don’t blame them.
Now, the idea was to forced rotationally graze them so they HAD to choose the brambles.
Enter our goat issues, which I’ve already discussed (see why goats are banned from our farm). So the rotational graze method was a nonstarter for us, due to fencing/cost issues.
Instead, we kept them in Goat Lock Down at night, and let them out during the day to free range.
I admit, I was probably a little softhearted here, and some would say if I kept them in their bramble pen full time, they would have eaten more of it. But, I had a hard time keeping them in there without hay, and WITH hay, they just sat on their little chubby goat butts and ate expensive hay all day.
Side note: Goes without saying, I hope, that when the goats were free ranging during the daytime, they were NOT battling brambles. They were either trying to get into the chicken food, trying to jump on the car, running around the yurt deck (or, when we had sheep, taking everyone on a nice jaunt to the neighbor’s compost pile…ever see a white sheep after she ate beet peels?)
With all that said, they did knock down the younger brambles in one of their pens pretty well.
Check it out, pre-goats, this pen was chock full of brambles. After a month of little goat lips munching, this is what it looked like.
We moved their t-post, welded wire pen every month or so which was A LOT of work, and since that fence style isn’t really meant to be moved that often (or at all), it started breaking in places.
Didn’t help that goats LOVE to rub on fence. So, get woven wire fence if you’re going permanent. It’s more expensive, but way, way worth it pretty early on.
The other issue was, the entire farm is on a south facing hill, so it was nearly impossible to get wire fencing to lay flat along the bottom.
Enter lots of firewood, extra t-posts and anything else we could lay our hands on to keep the goats from wiggling out under the fence. The other issue, is since this property has been let go, there are a lot of OLD brambles on it.
Goats won’t touch that, or at least ours never did. In our experience, if forced into it, they would only eat the young brambles.
So, yes, with the right set of circumstances, goats do REALLY well against brambles (young growth, not old).
With that knowledge, if I had tons of $$$, I would fence this entire property, bring in meat goats and just run them on the bramble areas till it was knocked all the way down.
But, sigh, I don’t have $$$ to spend on nice fencing, so for us, goats didn’t work.
That’s what we’re using now, and lemme tell ya, who needs a gym when there are brambles to whack?
Yes, you should definitely come prepared in armor (legs, feet, arms, and face/eyes), but it does get the job done. We’ve used a machete, branch loppers and a battery powered brush eater thing.
My biggest issue, is it still leaves tons of broken brambles underfoot, which is how Mike’s eye injury happened.
I suppose we could rake that thorny mess up, and make a broken bramble pile?
Oooh, now that sounds like a fun job!
Next up in the war on brambles?
We’re thinking pigs. I know they won’t EAT the brambles, but perhaps they’ll knock them down to a more manageable level? And, side benefit..bacon!
Here’s one line we’ve opened up in the bramble forest for electric fence.
We’re on a wait list for some Tamworth feeder pigs (young weaned pigs, usually between 6-8 wks), and the sows (female pigs that have had piglets) should farrow (give birth) in March.
Fingers crossed, they have enough little piggies for us!!
1. Have you ever successfully dealt with brambles? How did you win?
2. Pig advice?