A Nest for All Seasons A Nest for All Seasons: The Battle of Weedland -- Fiskars Giveaway!

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30 June 2016

The Battle of Weedland -- Fiskars Giveaway!

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Normal weeds are a pain, but poison weeds are AWFUL.  The main culprit here is poison ivy and it is EVERYWHERE on our property.  As a result of the home sitting in foreclosure for several years before we bought it and then just barely maintained while we spent a year in Puerto Rico, we have a problem.  Our kids could no longer romp through the woods without brushing up against the stuff, so we needed a plan quick.

Can you ID the poison ivy here?  LEAVES of THREE!

Battling Poison Ivy with Fiskars Tools and Suffolk Sheep at Stonecrest
This is just one "before" with tons of poison ivy hiding in and around the desired foundation plants
We tried spraying, but it just doesn't work on such a large scale and pulling by hand was so risky.

 The solution?  Sheep and Axes.

Battling Poison Ivy with Fiskars Tools and Suffolk Sheep at Stonecrest

Don't look away!  There's a giveaway!

Battling Poison Ivy with Fiskars Tools and Suffolk Sheep at Stonecrest  Hatchet

To be fair, "axes" is a pretty strong word.  These new tools by Fiskars are actually more of a clearing tool than a chopping tool. The tool in the first picture is called a machete axe, the photo above is a hatchet  and the photo below is the billhook. (There is also a billhook saw in between the smaller two and a true machete in this line of tools). Fiskars sent these tools for me to test and review in the garden and is giving away a collection to one lucky Nest for All Seasons reader!

Battling Poison Ivy with Fiskars Tools and Suffolk Sheep at Stonecrest  Billhook

"Why is it called a Billhook?"

Good question!  I wondered too, so I researched a bit and the older, traditional billhooks have a much more gentle curve to them. When looked at from the side, they look like the "bill" of a bird. The hook part is self-explanatory. These tooks were used in farming, and then later utilized in battle as makeshift spearheads. More info HERE.

I pictured these tools as being full on axes that could chop through small branches, but they didn't really work for that task as I imagined. Instead of an up and down "chopping" motion, I learned a swift side to side WHACK is where they really shined. The machete axe was particularly good at giving plants a little "haircut" to tidy them up. I love this sharp bladed tool as an option when I don't want to break out power tools.

Battling Poison Ivy with Fiskars Tools and Suffolk Sheep at Stonecrest

  I also REALLY liked the sharp, curved blade interior.  Look at that edge!

Battling Poison Ivy with Fiskars Tools and Suffolk Sheep at Stonecrest

Each of these tools has that curve and it is the one feature I found most helpful in battling the ivy. Instead of trying to rip down ivy from old, established trees, I used the little hook to slip behind ivy roots and cut them low on the tree trunk to kill the poison ivy. It will take months for it to shrivel and die, but the other option is yanking down miles of poison ivy and that is no option at all.

That little hook is also really helpful for making very quick work of thicker palm stems, spent Iris blooms, small woody weeds, etc. You can hold the plant with one hand, snip with one motion and then toss the weeds into a waiting wheelbarrow.

Battling Poison Ivy with Fiskars Tools and Suffolk Sheep at Stonecrest

 The billhook curved edge works really well for sharp and even cuts in bunches.  
The daffodil leaves are really starting to yellow up and look bad in the garden, so they received a 2 second chop as well:

Battling Poison Ivy with Fiskars Tools and Suffolk Sheep at Stonecrest
Battling Poison Ivy with Fiskars Tools and Suffolk Sheep at Stonecrest  Daffodil Leaves

Note: Remember that daffodil leaves need to stay aboveground and attached to photosynthesize energy for next year, 
but by the time they are yellowed like this, that process is basically complete and they can be cut back if desired.


The next part of our poison ivy (and other less-threatening weeds) plan included two new members of the backyard barnyard.
 Meet Murtaugh and Lady Mae (alternately referred to by their nicknames Theon and June).

Meet Lady Mae - AKA June (We have a hard time picking just one name...)

June not only eats grain out of our hands, but now comes to me for greens and just to be curious :)

June is a girl and Theon is a wether (castrated male - sorry Theon). Without castration, Theon would have become a ram and a ram is too aggressive for our little backyard needs. He is still a little skittish (understandably), while June has started to come towards us now simply out of curiosity.

Theon -- He doesn't like me yet!
These are Suffolk lambs that will grow quite a bit larger, produce a shorter light colored wool and will eat 3% of their weight EVERY DAY in weeds. We are mainly utilizing the sheep for their eating abilities, but I will also experiment with the wool a bit and try out some new crafting ideas next year. One of the most exciting things about these little lambs is their love for poison ivy. When we move them to a new grazing area, they go for the poison ivy FIRST. It is utterly amazing.

The only thing that they will NOT eat thus far is a new-to-me plant called 'Oregon Grape'.
 A beneficial plant for humans with shiny, holly-like leaves and blue berries is a no-no in sheep diets apparently :)

Oregon Grape drying from the rafters in the kitchen -- I hope to dry many herbs this summer and fall!
NOW it is time for what you have been waiting for -- the GIVEAWAY!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Courtenay@Creek Line House Thursday, June 30, 2016  

OK, so first of all, I had no idea that sheep could eat poison ivy! Amazing! Like, seriously amazing! Luckily, we don't have any poison ivy, but I'm still going to keep sheep in mind for my future gardening plans! Second of all, I'm definitely entering your giveaway! I could use those axes for some of my giant thistles! Not all of them because they're kind of pretty, but any that are in the way are getting the ax! Literally.

Amy Renea Friday, July 01, 2016  

I KNOW, right? I always heard about goats eating poison ivy, but am a little afraid of how bullheaded and mischievous goats are. I was happily pleased with how the sheep went right for the ivy :) (English ivy is a favorite of theirs too, but we want to keep some of that) Anywho -- hope you win Court! Thistle can be BRUTAL!

Amy Anderson Thursday, July 07, 2016  

Definitely poison ivy! Those tools look cool!

Mary Beth Thursday, July 07, 2016  

Definitely poison ivy! A few years ago I had it so bad that my eyes were swelled shut...I was a crying miserable mess!

Hydrangea Hippo - Jennifer Priest Sunday, July 10, 2016  

That axe looks crazy but seeing you use it. I can see so many I'd use that around my yard. Thank you for the demo!!!

Kathy Monday, July 11, 2016  

Horsetail is the bane of my gardening existence. It was imported with a load of manure and I've spent countless hours trying to root it out.

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