I have a little personal vendetta with ivy.
One of the first things I wanted to do when moving to our new home/land this past winter was to save the trees! So much of the land was overgrown and vines were climbing up many of the large, old trees. One weekend in December, I woke up with a renewed energy and purpose to save some trees. After coffee and internet research, I had a plan to attack the tree outside of my kitchen window.
Many hours later, I felt defeated with little progress. This tree was not only covered with english ivy, but incredibly thick vines intertwined throughout the tree! With each successful snip of a small vine, I found larger ones looming underneath. Calling in for reinforcements, I asked my husband for help. With vines larger in diameter than my arm, he had to use a chainsaw. I worried that he would damage the bark, but we had to remove several layers of this vine. By nightfall, I was satisfied that we did the best we could making a separation between vines circling the tree.
Days later, the ivy had it’s revenge on me as my arms screamed with an itchy, bubbling rash. Even with gloves and long sleeves, the poison ivy had reached my arms. Hidden between the green leaves of english ivy were hairy vines. I did not have experience with the winter version of this plant, but going forward, I was much wiser. After weeks of the rash spreading all over, I took a break from freeing trees from thick ivy. There had to be another way.
Although we had cut the water supply to the ivy and the leaves had died, we knew that spring would bring a whole new beast. Ivy roots extended well past the drip line of the tree and into other areas of the yard. By February, I had an idea. We wanted to bring heritage animals to our farm, so why not start with goats? It would be a win-win. We have more than enough ivy for a herd of goats! In April, we brought two Oberhasli bucklings, Captain and Leo, home to Belle Oaks. After completely falling in love with them not only for their ivy eating skills, but for their sweetness and adorableness (is that even a word?), we added two doelings, Lassen and Reef in June. Below, you can see Captain and Leo’s 48 hours of destruction.
Adding animals to our homestead brings our family so much joy, but nothing could have prepared us for the amount of work that they do. The tree outside my kitchen is being tended to by the goats so well that we plan to move them after 72 hours. This pecan tree will hopefully bounce back to life.
We anticipate the ivy to not go down without a fight, but we are ready this time. The current plan is to continue to rotate our animals, clean up the objects found beneath the vines, and leave this area better than we found it.
Are there other ways to kill ivy? Of course there are many opinions out there and we decided that this method is worth a shot. Time will tell if we completely eradicate the ivy and other invasive plants from our property.
With their bellies full, we know our goats are content and happy at the end of the day….and so are we!