Round-up drips slowly from the inverted quart container, the unscrewed top in my other hand, the last drops landing on shiny green leaves of the poison ivy encroaching on my garden. The itching rash on my legs indicated it’s also encroached on my own bed via the feet of my two kitties, who hunt at night in the poison ivy, entwined with vines of Virginia creeper and Vinca major. Kitty jumps on bed, I sit on bed, and bingo–I have a nasty reaction. I’ve nearly emptied my second bottle of witch hazel, which is the only “itch killer” nearly as good as very hot water in the shower. I have experience with this–I catch poison ivy easily. We got sheep and an Angora goat fifteen years ago to eradicate the nasty vine, and they had done so. Now, however, the sheep are aging, and the forest is returning, reaching out toward our garden and house.
I toss the empty container on the grass, walk around the yellow pine trunk into the perennial bed of my garden, and gaze in awe at the amount of honeysuckle enveloping my azalea. Rounding the 2-foot-diameter pine tree I can see that the honeysuckIe’s crushing vines choke my shrub. Since my sheep love to eat honeysuckle, I always leave some vines growing on the bush. Also I love the perfume of the blooms in spring. A few snips and I unwrap the twisting vines from the stems of one side of my azalea, bundle them up as I harvest them, and walk down the pasture to the barn where the sheep restlessly await this picnic. Deborah and Suzie” baa” impatiently demanding their treat. Black stands in front of the fan, enjoying the breeze while he waits. Can they really smell the treat I’m gathering for them from 200 feet away? They seem to know a treat is coming, as they call to me, and pace back and forth in the barnyard.