Wednesday, February 29th 2018
Cool and Cloudy
Waxing gibbous in Leo

We are creating a new garden area for this year on the South-facing slope in our yard. We have some trouble with the local wildlife, mostly deer and woodchucks, and so the garden area must be fenced. We are also fencing it for another reason, so we can turn our birds loose into it to kill the bugs and weeds for us and leave it appropriately desolate and barren and ready for our young plants, which we'll be adding in May. Nothing strips a land bare of plant and animal life while leaving the soil ready and willing to support a fresh new batch quite like a voracious flock of ducks, chickens and geese. This is an experiment though, so we'll see how it works out.

Here, Ninjagirl and Firestar demonstrate their land-clearing method.

About 1/3 of the designated site was home to a compost pile last year. Our compost consists mainly of straw, newspaper and cardboard that has been peed and pooped on by various animals, but also includes a great deal of kitchen waste. Last fall, we dug a compost pit in the orchard area to use through the winter. It is easier to use a pit than to manage a pile in the winter, I believe and this has worked well for us before. The year before our compost pit became a garden bed in the front after it was filled and buried again and it worked out quite well. This year's pit will feed the trees.

Back to the fence.

We decided on coated wire fencing and good old fashioned metal T-posts for this fence. It's in the back so aesthetics are not an issue. We want something that will last as long as we want it to, but won't be a pain to move if we feel like it. It needed to hold in the birds, but didn't need to hold out predators, as they will only be in that area in pleasant weather during the day when there is someone around to provide minimal, or absent-minded supervision. i.e. to come running if we hear the geese putting up a ruckus. (This is why we have geese.)

We got 50 feet of fencing that was five feet high, and 10 posts that were six feet high. What we really needed was 100 feet of fencing and 20 posts, but I only have $100 per week cash budget and I had to save some money for groceries. Luckily, we have a pretty decent food stash and all I needed to buy was potatoes, cheese and milk this week, so we spent $75 on half our fence. This Friday, we will buy the other half of the fence. I think I only need to buy toilet paper, baking powder and flour this week and we'll be alright. Unfortunately, it looks like snow again this weekend, so it might be some time before we have the chance to finish the fence and that is disappointing. I wanted the birds to be working on that area asap. But we'll see. Maybe it'll be okay.

The nice thing about T-posts is that you don't have to dig a hole for them. If you've got decently soft ground, you just stick them in and use your boot to push down the "T". BUT, if you have uneven ground, like we do, you end up with an uneven fence at the bottom and that can mean gaps. So, even though we didn't have to dig post holes, we still had to dig a little trench along the bottom and that's what we did. So the bottom of our fencing is buried about 3 inches underground. This will not keep out burrowing an digging animals, but it will prevent gaps that allow animals to just push their way through and it looks much neater.

So, the first thing to do is to make a little trench all around the perimeter of the fenced-area-to-be. We really just turned up the sod. Maybe 3 to 6 inches deep. Then put in your posts about five feet apart. Just shove em down and step them in. Next we took the fencing and tucked the wires into the little hookidoos that were on the T-posts. We had to use a screw driver to wedge some of them open and then a hammer to close them back around the fence wires. We would prefer to have used a pair of pliers for this, but we did not have any that were big enough. Anyhow, here's a picture to kind of give you an idea. After everything is done, we will be further securing the fence with some wire or zip ties.


After everything was attached, I used a very specialized tool, a wooden block, to hammer the posts more firmly into the ground and we filled in our trenches. Hopefully, weather-permitting, we will repeat this process on Saturday and get the fence completed and have the birds tilling this weekend.


As you can see, the birds are already very interested in this area and eager to help out clearing it because there used to be a delicious compost pile there, so there's lots of worms and grubs and other exciting treasures to be dug up there.


In other news: Lovely Rita is due to kindle on March 5th. Sugar is still broody and Ninjagirl gave me a stern talking to about the state of her nest box, and how Sugar's is much better, so I am going to have to make her a new nest box that is, according to her specifications, more elevated and more enclosed than the one she has now, i.e. more like Sugar's. She also showed me that her nest box tilts forward slightly when she walks into it. I spent some time working on fixing this, but haven't manages to find a good solution to it yet. I will have my eyes open when I'm at Family Farm and Home on Friday.

Also, my foot, which is prone to plantar fasciitis, hurts like a bitch.

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