Saturday, November 4, 2023

Brambles and Briars Are Back


I'm just back to the farm after half the summer and half the fall away working on a new book.  Once again I’ve depended upon good friends to tend to all the work that's needed to keep the woods and pond from being overrun by invasive species.

The culprits massed along the waters edge.

I love doing that sort of work, but this year that wasn't possible, so I once more asked a friend, a former New Jersey state forest fire fighter to help me out. To understand Bob, think Smokey the Bear, in physical vision as well as in dedication.  Nor does he wear much more than Smokey even in the harshest of winters. Perhaps because his last name is Wolff--for real!

Smokey prepared to do battle.

I’ve always known Bob to have a quick wit, but he's also a natural writer.  I just received this (unsolicited) report from him on what he’s been doing at the farm and it had me laughing out loud.

It also got me to thinking about how two others who've done work on my property also possess uncanny facility with the written word.  One, who's long mowed my fields in summer and plowed the driveway in winter, contributes to a national landscape magazine, and the other, who worked on restoring my barn, is a renaissance man possessing an uncanny grasp of local history.

The road less plowed.
The barn not fallen.

Perhaps it’s something in the water?  Maybe I should change the name of the place from “Tsoris Springs Christmas Tree Farm and Bagelry” to “Literary Springs?”

But for now I think I’ll just once again share Bob’s prose gem titled, “Brambles and Briars”…and in the process give you some idea of the sort of fun I’m missing out on in trekking along the writers’ trail. Here goes:

The enemy's armaments.

Hi from Northwest New Jersey.  Just wanted to let you know I started the eradication project on your farm.  You have a plethora of things with thorns growing there.

I am still licking my wounds after two days.  Not only is the autumn/Russian olive thorny—maybe you have both—but the multiflora, floribunda rose, and barberry are challenging too.

I got rained out today, but I worked Monday 10:30-18:30, eight hours, after riding my bike four miles to the farm after dropping off my car in town for repairs, and Tuesday I rode my bike three miles from home to town to pick up my car, worked 10:00-13:30, three and a half hours, and then picked up my son from school.  

The bow saw may not be effective for cutting larger dead wood, but for this project it is invaluable, so are the lopping shears.  My neighbor gave me a handsaw with large teeth that also works well.  The only expense so far has been for a disposable camera to document the project for your forester and the tax assessor.

Your forester is going to wonder where the 3-5' Norway spruces came from.  They were struggling to survive under all that brush.  Two large piles have accumulated in the field so far.

The good news is no problems so far with bears, bees or ticks, although I did lose my shoe down a groundhog hole on Monday.  

The only strange thing is now when I travel around town I see the fields, on the edge of streams, everywhere...autumn olive.  It mocks me, growing faster than I can cut it, gobbling up more and more otherwise productive ground. Help me!   Bye for now.

I agree, “Bye for now.”


Jeff's Upcoming Events;


Friday, 17 November 2023 @ 11AM




SUNSHINE NOIR panel @ Kjarval venue

with Philip Gwynne Jones, Lexie Elliott, and Jackie Collins


  1. Ah, the joy (and jabs) of maintaining one's living space.

  2. You are fortunate indeed to have such competent friends and helpers. Lovely place you've got there.

    1. I thank my lucky stars every day for such friends.

  3. The shoe down the groundhog hole part is my favorite.

  4. Is that the barn where the rabid raccoon met his demise?

    1. Yes, but inside the barn proper. The photo is of the stables and cow barn side.

  5. love this, but there's a horror story lurking--not only the possibility of bears, bees and ticks but the super villain Autumn Olive who appears everywhere armed with thorns!