Thanks for the suggestions about goats. I had thought of that, but our 'lovely' neighbour vetoed that one. Complained they would smell - well compared to the stink of his cigerettes they would be fragrance personified - he's a right royal pain in the a..., only tolerates the hens because they are no where near our shared boundary. Even complained our cats kept walking across his shed roof and looking in his sitting room. Trouble is, this is a suburban area and many residents are real townies (city folk I guess is the US equivilent). According to my mother-in-law, cows are wild animals - you get the idea!
We are prepared to put in the hard work and get our back garden back to something resembling a back garden. However we do have to put up with neighbours, this time directly below us, who cannot mend a hole in the fence and their ****** dog keeps escaping. On it's last 'adventure' it murdered our sweet little Australorp hen, Alice. It's been escaping for at least 4 years and is not the nicest natured animal I have ever met. (I volunteer at an animal sanctuary with feral cats, so don't back down from much with 4 legs, this animal meant serious business when I tried to catch it to get it off the road). Our hen breeder suggested a 12-bore shotgun, an idea but one both the neighbours and Police would have 40 fits at, I considered 2 very bad temered ganders. Will be settling for strands of electric wires going through the new hedging I intend to plant. (Even out vet suggested an air-rifle, but thes neighbours, yet again would be an issue).
I'm seriously considering a joint attack on the mares tail, using a systemic herbicide (much against my better judgement) and masses of thick black plastic. Apart from not looking pretty, there would be little the neighbours could moan about. I have tried to get an electric brushcutter for the bramble, but they only seem to come using either petrol or a battery, both of which are too heavy for me to cope with. Unfortunately a drunken driver left me with damage to not only my back and legs but also to the nerves in my neck and arms, so weight of things is a bit of an issue. What do you all think about using systemic herbicides? I feel very uncomfortable about using it, but we do have quite a large area to clear. In England a quarter of an acre garden in a suburban area is a massive garden. These days, gardens coming with new build homes are about the size of a postage stamp, so we are lucky to have this size garden.
Over here, it seems that animals are not available to be rented out for land clearing for instance. If they were I'd be after a couple of pigs later on to plough up a veggie patch for me!