Babe’s field got its name from the fairly evil mule we had for a year or so back in the 2000’s. We got her because K had always been fascinated by mules and lonely George needed a buddy with a bit more personality than the tractor he had grown fond of.
But beautiful Babe didn’t last very long here in our muddy valley. Once we sized her up, realized how dangerous she was and attempted to reform her unsuccessfully (highly intelligent and a bad attitude too) we traded her, with full disclosure of her deviousness, to a family who just knew they could fix her. 🙄
We got the best of that trade, welcoming George’s old riding stable pal Cobra the big black Standardbred. We later heard Babe didn’t last long there either, going to a rescue farm who presumably could handle her. Cobra lasted here though, he spent his final years with us. ❤️
These days Roxy and Maria use Babe’s field; it’s just the right size for a couple of adorable hee haws. Lately though, Babe’s field has been looking pretty untidy. In their unending quest for buggy delights the chickens scratched heaps of wood chips over from the adjacent paddock, smothering whole patches of grass. The neighbour’s wild Siberian blackberry plantation mounted a successful border raid. And leftover branches from a fallen poplar lurk in the grass, waiting to turn ankles.
It was past time for a refurb, and I needed a project. Because, after all, everyone needs at least one and preferably a couple projects underway to keep life interesting, right?
So last weekend I raked up all the wood chunks, heaving them by the hayfork load back into the donkey’s winter paddock. Yesterday, suiting up in heavy leather gloves, long sleeves and eye protection, I entered into mortal combat with the blackberries.
Siberian blackberries have got to be the most nefarious invasive species in our muddy valley. Well armed with sharp thorns and springy vines, they meet every tug with an immediate counterattack that usually draws blood. They sneak up behind you and pounce, ripping and tearing at clothing and skin with their thorny little knives. I will never cease to be amazed by the fact that even though they move through the world much slower than me, they still regularly manage to gain the advantage, swallowing yards of ground, overwhelming fences and even rooting themselves in the middle of the creek bed in their attempts to dominate the landscape. How do they do it?
Blackberries produce heavy sprays of delicious juicy fruit each August, and we put bags of berries in the freezer every year, but since our whole neighbourhood is inundated with great patches of them, we can certainly do without blackberries taking over our muddy valley.
I managed to clear about thirty feet of fence line yesterday, and am heading out there again today for round two. Their fruiting is mostly finished now, so as I work my way down the line, I clip the last sad looking little bunches into a bucket for the chickens, and pile the vines into a heap that we will torch in November.
When I am finished, Babe’s field should be good for a year or two, but I know from experience that I will be out there again one of these days, at war with the Siberian intruders.
Unless I get a goat or two. They’ll eat anything. Hmmmm. I wonder…