It's a blessing that sometimes "big" projects aren't quite as large and evil as you fear they are going to be.
Although it was a pretty miserable job, I got everything cleared back from the fence and all the way around the chicken pen, all in about 3 1/2 hours. In spite of gloves, my hands are rather torn up from blackberry thorns and stinging nettles, but all in all it was not as horrible a task as I had expected.
Experimentally, I left a "hedge" of greenery (sans blackberries) as a sort of "privacy screen" towards the neighbors. If it immediately starts taking over again, we may have to rethink that. Ideally, I'd like to see us grow a row of raspberry bushes along that stretch, but I am just not convinced the soil is good enough, nor that there is even enough of it. Maybe it should be gooseberries-- they are still delicious, but do better with poor soil and little maintenance.
If you compare today's two photos to yesterday's, it gives a pretty good impression of the change of scenery.
I'm glad this all went relatively fast and with less hassle than I expected... which means we are still on track to be able to use some of the space this season. We do have a rather "late" growing season here... it takes a long time before it warms up in spring, but it tends to stay fairly sunny and dry into October.
Now I need to get back over on the "other side" of the garage and see if I can't get the rest of the side yard fully cleaned up before the end of the month. It may be too late to grow quite a few things, but at least the space will be ready... and maybe we can get some herbs started, at the very least.
I really do enjoy gardening, but it can be hard to find enough time when you also have to worry about the daily task of making a living. Not that I am complaining, mind you!