Poison Ivy Problem

Summer brings thunderstorms. Thunderstorms bring the wind. Wind knocks down trees. This one was dead but alive with a large poison ivy vine and landed in the road.

poison ivy blocks road

Grape and poison ivy vines kill trees by smothering them under a canopy of their leaves. The dead trunk can stand for years then suddenly snap as this one did dropping the poison ivy vine into the road.

Our neighbor’s opinion was to call the county road crew to come down and push this mess off the road. I didn’t agree for two reasons. One is that I don’t want the road crew down here looking and wondering about returning with the brush cutter. Another is that goats eat and seem to like poison ivy.

That left the problem of getting the poison ivy from the road to the goats.

One solution would be to let the goats out along the road. They like this idea and browse on everything. It is a wonderful holiday for them.

goats eat poison ivy

In past years my goats have been allowed to graze along the road. They love the chance for such as outing.

My considerations were the storm threat, the loss to goats of other plants I want to photograph, the time spent watching the herd, the nuisance of trying to get the herd to go where I wanted and traffic.

The other solution was to cut up the vines and dump them over the fence or drag them around to the barn lot. I chose this one.

Poison ivy can cause a nasty rash with swelling, itching and misery. I was proposing cutting this stuff up and handling it. Recipe for trouble?

While doing interviews for Goat Games I spoke with Anita Henderson. She was sensitive to poison ivy until she got goats, fed them poison ivy and drank the milk.

I do cut and pull the vines other times and rarely get a case. However, I take precautions. The first thing I did was put on a long sleeved shirt.

poison ivy leaf

Poison ivy has three leaflets forming each leaf. Other plants such as blackberries do too. But only poison ivy has the shape and texture shown here.

Next was to avoid the leaves. The oil that causes the reactions is mostly in the leaves. This was a big, old vine with two inch diameter stems. These are not very oily. When pulling smaller vines I pull the root runners, not the leaves.

poison ivy vine

Poison ivy vines get two or three inches thick with scattered bits of bard on them.

Branch by branch I cut the vine apart. Each branch was dragged off holding onto the branch, not the cut end with the sap, and far from the leaves.

It did take some time but finally the road was clear except for a few leaves and seeds scattered around. The goats were munching on the leaves, cat briars and grape vine leave.

poison ivy berries

Young poison ivy vines put out flower clusters that turn into berry clusters. These green berries would turn white when mature.

Did I get poison ivy? I didn’t get a case from clearing the road. Instead I got it the way I often do. A cat came up in the lap with oil on her fur transferring to my forearm.

What do I do about it? I soap down with Ivory or lye soap, scrub the affected area with a brush and rinse. I do this after working around poison ivy and when I find that tale tell itch starting after holding a cat.