Brambles are a real problem, especially in gardens that have been neglected, growing through shrubs, under hedges, between the cracks in broken concrete and brickwork.  When we moved into our smallholding we were cover in brambles over 6ft high and meters deep.

The speed bramble grows, combined with the painful thorns, meant the garden quickly become no go area.

Bramble shoots grow up to 8ft long, when the end of the shoots touch soil they root and send out more shoots quickly forming a dense thorny blackberry bush.

A single bramble shoot can soon become a bramble jungle and difficult to eradicate once established.

There isn’t a new miracle shortcut but it can be done. There are basically two ways to clear Bramble.

Cutting back and Digging out the roots (non chemical)

First cut back the Bramble stems to about 6″ high, this makes it easier to get to the roots. A Strimmers will save time but you will need a sharp saw for thicker stems.

Next dig out the bramble stump and the roots. It is really important to remove all of the root system, brambles will regenerate from well below soil level. Realistically its almost impossible to remove every bit of root, so you will need to keep an eye out for new growth and pull it up . Bramble will continue to produce new growth for ages and grows fast.

Correct Disposal of thorny bramble growth and roots is key, leaving it in a pile in a corner of the garden will just create another Bramble problem, because it roots wherever it touches soil. If it is just a bush or two, cut it into small pieces and rot it down in a plastic bin bag. When I’m clearing a large area I use a shredder and bag it to rot down, or preferably burn it.

Cutting and treating with Weed-killer (no digging)

Depending on the weed-killer you plan to use it should be applied in the growing season, from spring until autumn, the best and cheapest chemical weed-killer for treating bramble is glyphosate, read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

As I have described above, cut back all stems and runners to about 6in of the root, and clear it away and bag it to rot down or if you are clearing a large area of bramble burn it on site.

Then apply a suitable Glyphosate based weed-killer to the freshly-cut ends of the stems, thoroughly wetting them to ground level.
Glyposate based weed- killers are systemic, being taken down to the roots, killing the whole plant including the root system and is deactivated by contact with the soil.

You may have to repeat this process and at the very least keep an eye out for new growth and pull them up as soon as you see them.

It is hard work but the results are dramatic.

 

After a quick morning out, kids need fun in the half-term too, we returned to find Mae in labour.

After putting the other goats and kids into the paddock, we left Mae to have a little peace and quiet, expecting the labour to take hours yet.  OH NO, I was back in the barn within 5 minutes.

image

I got ready and within 30 seconds we had a new kid

image

 

Then things for scary.  I watched as Mae cleaned up the first kid and realised another one was following quickly behind, the delivery was easy but I noticed the new kid did not move.

I went over to it and quickly moved all the sack etc from around her face and still nothing.  I grabbed a handful of straw and rubbed it all over her, cleaned out her mouth and shock its head gently to clear its throat, it suddenly coughed and started a breath.  The relief was huge.

I am pleased to announce the new twin daughters of Mae, Nikita and Nina

image

Lets just say…………

 

 

……….it didn’t go well.

 

You really need a milking stand – I do not have one.  Calling one husband to build me one.

The stand needs to be able to hold the goat steady and confined and be high enough to allow the goat to be milked easy.  It needs to have a way to confine them and bribe them to keep still i.e food.

When we have decided on a design I will put the instructions and photos on here.

image

 

 

Oh no it’s castration time for little Norman.

Why castrate you may ask!!!

Imagine if you may a cute, adorable little boy kid, who is bought as a pet. As he grows his new owners notice a change in him, he becomes harder to handle, sometimes aggressive and he stinks!!!! (They urinate on themselves during breeding season and have scent glands that put out a nasty aroma)

Now they decide to keep him tied to a stake outside by himself. Not an ending I want for my kids.

Elastrator castration

Banding is the most common method to castrate their goats, I have chosen this method as it is quick, easy, bloodless and reliable. You put a small rubber band on the tool, and put the band over the testes close to the body, making sure both of them are under the band. The scrotum dries up and drops off in about 2 weeks apparently.

It went well, no problems to report. Make sure you have a helper holding the kid though.

Norman now won’t come anywhere near me 🙁

We have extended the pig enclosure to 3 times its original size, the pigs are in their element, more grass to plough and bugs to eat.

image

 

We have found that the 3 wire electric fence works best for our pigs, they have learnt to respect the wire very quickly.  The pig house is made out of 6 x 3 ft fence panels at the sides and a 4ft panel on front, with a corrugated slopping roof.  Works really well for our pigs and considering a ready made ark is over £450 we thought a cheaper option.

image

A decision we needed to make was floor or no floor on the pig ark.  We decided no floor as rodents can’t go underneath it, and we have a large deep bed of straw for them to snooze on.

 

 

 

 

A busy time is fast approaching here on the small holding, you can tell it is getting warmer as snowdrops are just beginning to grow.

We are trying to decide which vegetables to grow to feed the animals as well as us 🙂

The pigs are particularly fond of swede, carrots and other root veg, we have been told to grow Jerusalem artichokes and fodder beet as well.

We are planning to grow cabbage, peas, beans, sweetcorn, onions and garlic.  Tomatoes, strawberries and raspberries are also going in somewhere.

The pigs are currently ploughing our planting area nicely, fertilising it as they go.

Tomorrow we are extending the pig enclosure, giving them more grass to munch, and cleaning out the chicken hut.