It's true that the countryside we see is there because it's been grazed and fertilized by livestock for thousand of years. My dad used to say it only takes 3 months for a vegetable garden to become fully overgrown with weeds. Likewise pasture would soon become overgrown with scrub and brambles and other weeds if it wasn't grazed.
When we were young ("Shine on you crazy diamond") the Irish farmers would grow ("set") a field of vegetables and grow hay the following year. So the fields never got the chance to go wild. Last year I bought six heifer calves and they never did much grazing. We made silage in some of the fields. But a lot of seem to be getting invaded with rushes (always a problem), Furze (Gorse) and brambles.
The cattle like to eat the blackberry leaves. It's supposed to be a fine tonic for them. I am going to top some of the brambles with the tractor and topper if the fields become dry again. Last year myself and number one son cleared around 3 of the fields with the mini digger and I piked the brambles and grass and other weeds into the dumper. There are a lot of high banks("lockers") that are too dangerous to remove them this way.
So I have come up with a few options:
1. Get a couple of nanny goats again. They do a fine job browse grazing and eating the leaves. But you have to tether them and they are always getting tangled around the brambles.
2. Pay somebody with a sprayer and quad to kill the brambles with a weedkiller like "roundup". I don't like using weedkillers because you don't know what it does to to the soil. I don't like the idea of paying either. I have heard they charge around 25 Euros an hour plus weedkiller.
3. Get some hand shears from Lidl and cut them back and use the Azada to dig their roots out.
4. Get the petrol strimmer and put the brush cutter blade on it and spend hours cutting them back.
5: Buy more cattle to graze more tightly. Calf prices are lightning at the moment. I will probably make good money when I sell my heifers in late summer. But they will cost me a king's ransom to replace them. I have heard of Friesian heifer calves being sold for 400 Euros. Two week old at that. I only paid 200 a piece last year for mine. So I don't think I will be increasing my herd size.
6. Get some farm volunteers to come and stay in the old farmhouse for a working holiday clearing the brambles? We would give 2 of them free board and lodgings and a few cans of Newcastle Brown ale at the end of the day.? Free (working) holiday on the Sheeps Head Peninsula in Ireland?
What do you do to combat brambles? If you have and suggestions please let me know. Preferably organic methods. Thanks.