Organic homesteading takes a great deal of work. As other bloggers note, the weeds are killers. I am sharing a simple story in the life of homesteader drama, and what you can do about it.
On our farm we are trying to out wrangle a forever neglected fruit orchard we’ve inherited. A gem, you say. Indeed, we think. We have two inch thick old grape vines (concord and mascadine), six huge old apple trees, peaca tree, a peach tree, a pear tree and tons of black raspberries along with way too many blackberries. There are also about 20 blue berry bushes. Wow. Yes, that’s what I thought.
However, this massive entanglement of briars and barbs is insane. Embedded deep in the fiberous monstrosity of honeysuckle and thorns, I see the old grape trellis now rotted and broken, nearly buried completely under this menagerie of chaos.
All the other vines, bushes and fruit trees were equally ‘messed up’.
Well, wouldn’t you have it that my wonderful husband, full of motivation while I was resting today, took the clippers to clean up the chaos. Upon my awaking, I checked on his work as he was clearly working hard at clearing and cleaning.
To my shock, he had completely, AND I MEAN COMPLETELY, cut down my ENTIRE black raspberry hedge: all of it. While he was standing there proud, I was trying not to scream.
Yes, this is life on the farm. When you work this close to others (spouse and kids) and you communicate often, when the communication breaks down (as in “geez honey, you didn’t put the orange tape on that row”)…..well, it’s life on the farm. (I didn’t think I NEEDED TO MARK the raspberry row after saying ten times, “DONT CUT THE RASPBERRIES AT ALL, JUST THE BLACK BERRIES OVER THERE”.)
Was I livid about the raspberries? You bet. Did I blow up and say, “why the heck did you ignore the last ten times I said KEEP THE RASPBERRIES!”, of course I did. I am thinking he doesn’t listen and we can’t team. He’s thinking, I want to please and I thought I was getting her garden fixed up for her.
Having to spend about an hour stewing quietly in the office so as not to shred him more than he did to my raspberry patch, I tried to calm down.
SO WHAT DO YOU DO ON A HOMESTEAD NOW? Well, all I can say is the best thing for the 1000s of times this experience will hit your homestead is to do research.
I have been on the internet for the last two hours researching:
- Can raspberries survive if you mow them down?
- How to bring rasberries back to life?
I will post over spring and summer how this goes so you all know, but here’s what I have found. It is NOT common to mow down raspberries, but indeed some do. Apparently, in Canada and the northern US a few farmers mow down their raspberries as long as it is a key time in winter after nutrients have moved throughout the plant but before any buds have started. You will have the plants come back, but based on the length of your season you may not see fruit in the first season. If you have a long growing season, you will. Mowing in fact is a good way to clear back totally crazed bushes. It can strengthen the plants and remove molds and mildews that are problematic. You want to make sure you remove all the debris and burn it elsewhere. But, allegedly, this all can IMPROVE the plants.
So, now I will go upstairs, calm my husband who is now completely distressed and inform him of what I learned on the internet. We will agree that going forward he’ll listen better. I’ll agree to not share details of pruning when his mind is elsewhere (so he can actually store our dialogue), we’ll agree to work together moving forward if there are questions on something, then we’ll proceed to run this very interesting experiment to see if you can in fact mow down your entire raspberry hedge and revive it.
I didn’t really need ANOTHER project on the farm, as there are so many already. But, alas…..this is farming/homesteading/doing things by hand. So, we have yet another adventure in learning ahead in how to save our raspberries. We will keep you posted on how this experiment goes. If it works it may well be very valuable in helping others reclaim their own berry briars of chaos and convert them into a more accessible, productive and friendly briar patch on your homestead.
Now here is the irony ~ ‘reclaim briars of chaos’ and ‘convert to more accessible, productive and friendly’ — you read that and realize mangled up raspberries is like poor communication. Cutting the raspberries is like broken communication. Conversion of bad communicating into ‘accessible, productive and friendly’…..is what the power of patience and learning how to talk/share, can achieve. So, how’s that for a 2016 wake up call folks. Clean up your raspberry patch is now code word for — improve communication — so fruits can bare on the stems through time. What a perfect parable. (parable – (noun) a simple story illustrating a moral or religious lesson.)
God Bless and have a very productive spring of 2016.