There used to be a good bramble hedge between us and the farmland to the south, but the man who leases the field -- we call him Chemical Ali -- tells me that glyphosate herbicide is "so safe you can drink it -- my son is a biochemist** and he says so."
So I now avoid the surviving blackberries that grow just past their deceased hedge-mates on the edge of the mutant soybean desert. Where the hedge is thicker, the ones on our side are okay.
I'm managing these acres as a blackberry meadow.
Berries are borne on two-year-old canes -- the thorny shoot forms from the root runners during one growing season, flowers and fruits the following year, then dries out and forms the dead tangle that catches your arms and legs and eyeballs as you try to pick fruit for the ensuing years. It also allows bigger shrubs and noxious plants such as multiflora and poison ivy to take over, and can hold funk in wet years, contributing to mold and rot that damages plants and ruins berries.
So I am mowing 1/3 of the reserve portion of the south pasture every year -- in late fall or winter, when I get to it and no critters are eating it or nesting in it.
This is the first year the practice has borne fruit. And how.
Despite drought conditions, the crop this year is vigorous. Plenty for us, for the birds, the Pope, our friends.
So we hosted an impromptu Blackberry Day on Sunday. About sixteen people and six dogs went pasture-picking.
Yes, during berry season, everyone eats berries and poops seeds. (Thanks to Scott Jackson, AMRG teammate, for catching Sophia on his phone.)