Lately it seems that all I can think about is weeds. They’re everywhere at our place right now. The blissful few weeks of steady rain we had has brought them out with a vengeance.
Two of our smaller paddocks have become a sea of stinging nettles. There are nettles as far as the eye can see, coming up halfway up my shins right now. I’m not sure what I should do with them. The optimist in me says that I should harvest them, cook them, make them into nettle tea to fertilise the veggie patch, compost the tips, dry them and feed them to the chooks and the cattle. The pessimist in me says to just get rid of them as fast as possible and by whatever means necessary.
The problem is that we have such a vast ocean of nettles that using them as food, fertilizer, compost activator, or animal feed will barely make a dent in the amount we have. And even if we did all these things (and lived on nettle soup for a year) we’d still have to dig up the roots to get rid of them for good anyway.
And then that would leave bare earth in the paddock, which would mean it would be vulnerable to the next kind of weed that wanted to go there, so we’d need to sow some other seeds in that paddock quick smart to prevent the nettles from coming back or from inviting another weed infestation in there.
And if I did harvest them for cattle feed, what’s the least back-breaking way of doing it? It seems that a scythe is the best kind of tool for this sort of job, but I don’t have one. I know I’d seem like a funny-looking grim reaper standing out in a paddock harvesting nettles on my own with a scythe.
I do have a secret fascination with scythes. It seems like a very meditative sort of task, to stand out in a quiet field listening to a gentle swish, swish, swish as you slice the long grass step by step. I found this video, and it looks like the reaper (is that the right word?… sounds too creepy) is dancing as he does his work.
Of course, I don’t have a scythe, but we do have O’s big kickass whipper snipper, but I can barely lift that thing. And I’d have to wear ear protection and I’d probably end up hurting my back again.
Looks like it may have to go on the long list of jobs waiting for O’s attention.
O wants to get more goats. Our first try at being goat herds didn’t end well, as the goats kept escaping and eating a neighbour’s apple trees. O says it will be different this time (famous last words?) as those goats were wild and were next to impossible for him to catch when they ran away. Our next goats would be kids, so they can be hand reared and accustomed to human company. More to the point, he says that the fences are more secure now so they wouldn’t be able to escape.
I’ve heard mixed reports of how well goats take to stinging nettles. Some say they love it, others say they don’t touch it. It would be pretty annoying for us to go through all the hassle of getting the goats only to find that they turned up their noses at the nettles.
So I’ve been spending all this time thinking about nettles… and I haven’t even got started on the blackberry that threatens to take over our front garden. Donkeys maybe?!