Tag Archives: fencing

Sunday musings August 17, 2014

This is the first Sunday in 6 weeks that I could be lazy.  The first Sunday where I didn’t have to arise by 7 a.m. prepare breakfast for Grandson #1 and supervise a math worksheet and a writing assignment then encourage him to practice his guitar and his Kung Fu forms.

I was tired last night.  I drove for 5 hours and once home alone as Hubby was out on his BBH riding, I turned on the Solar Charger that I installed just before leaving to charge the electric fence.  Reluctantly I touched the fence at the farthest point from the charger and nothing.  It is a 12V impulse charger, so I should have felt a zing every few seconds, nothing.  Again I read the manual.  I had attached everything correctly, but I had tried to run the wire in two directions from the charger to give me a better place to put the gate without having to bury the wire in PVC pipe below the gate.  Assuming that to be my problem, I disconnected everything and determined that the gate was just going to have to be where the charger is mounted on a wooden post and rewired the fence in a continuous two strand loop from charger to gate opening.  When I turned the charger back on, still no zing.  In walking around the perimeter, I realized that the wire was touching the welded wire fence of the auxiliary chicken pen and must be grounding itself.  That corrected and the charger on, I did indeed get shocked on both sides of the gate opening.  Now I need a third gate and a second non conductive post to hang the gate for our convenience.  The garden and chicken pens are within an electric force field.  It won’t keep the bunnies out, but it should keep the neighborhood dogs and coyotes out of the chickens and the deer out of the garden.

Once that was complete, a walk around just to enjoy the beautiful afternoon, I discovered …

IMG_0133

The apple and Asian Pear trees are only three years old, so I stripped most of the flowers from them this spring to give them another year to establish.  I left a few flowers on one apple tree and the larger Asian Pear tree and was delighted to find 4 apples (one was badly pecked so I gave it to the chickens) and 8 Asian Pears.  I ate one pear standing right at the unsprayed tree, Tossed the two tiny malformed ones to the chickens.  Our first tree fruit.  The peaches produced small hard peaches that all oozed sap.  I assume they were attacked by something.  I will have to do some research as I won’t use pesticide spray on my fruit, near my vegetable garden and the chickens.

Once I was finally moving this morning, after dog and chicken chores, and enjoying a bowl of homemade granola with coconut milk and a cup of coffee, I hauled the lawn mower out to cut the area inside the electric fence that is not vegetable garden, compost bins or chicken pen and also the grass inside the auxiliary chicken pen as there are no chickens in it right now and the grass was getting quite tall.

Later we must make a Tractor Supply run for dog and chick feed and perhaps to purchase the gate.  I can get our neighbor to help me hang it this week.  As I was mowing the area above my garden, I realized how much slope the yard has between the area that Son #1 and wife had established as the upper garden and where my vegetable garden is with the compost bins in between.  As we are going to remove the compost bins and just leave me a compost pile, I think we will have to terrace that area making a 4 tiered garden as we expand the garden and berry patch back up the slope.  It has been nice having the space this year for the pumpkins, winter squash and sweet potatoes.  It will be nice to have more space for summer squash and cucumbers to spread out, a place to again plant potatoes which we haven’t done in a couple of years and more room to spread out the tomatoes and peppers so they aren’t quite so crowded.  Since I have started using the heavy spoiled hay mulch system this year, there has been much less weeding to do.

Planning continues as our little mountain farm evolves.  Life is an adventure!

 

It’s Finally Done

Last night as the sun went down and the evening cooled, the edge of the garden, the empty chicken pen, and between the T posts that son and I set two and a half weeks ago were mowed in preparation for finally finishing the job that he and I started, I worked on and quit.

We had a couple of places that we couldn’t pound a T post in but they were going to only hold polybraided electric fence wire.  I did get the fencing up on the second chicken pen, the one that will be used for meat birds and culls, surrounding the chicken tractor which is too heavy for me to move daily and will serve as the coop for those birds.  I still haven’t reinforced the hardware cloth that the dog tore free from the frame, but I won’t have chicks until mid August and even then, they will be in the brooder for 5 to 6 weeks, so I still have time.  A week or so ago, I started putting the insulators on the T posts outside the welded wire fence and realized that I needed longer ones for the posts that also had fencing on them and stopped.  Grandson and I bought the longer insulators, but they have just been sitting on the workbench taunting me each time I walked by.  Brown Dog hasn’t been back, so I wasn’t in too big a hurry.

During the time that we were setting posts, our haying neighbor came down with a half bale of hay that was in the baler and he was done haying for the season, so he dropped it outside my garden for me to use as mulch.  Grandson attacked it with a fiberglass stake and spread it over a rather wide section of back lawn.  This morning before it got too hot, I decided that I better put it in the garden where it would smother weeds instead of all over the yard where it was smothering grass.  That proved to be a hefty task, pulling it back into a usable stack with the pitchfork and hauling fork after fork into the garden.  I also finally installed the longer insulators and realized that the corners were going to be a problem as the insulators only fit in one direction on the posts.

A few step-in posts solved the problem, setting the electric off the corner post by a couple of inches and placing a less sturdy post where we couldn’t pound in the T posts.  Wire is strung, charge is set.  Our dogs were wary of the electric when it surrounded the entire orchard and garden, but have gotten used to going over to “check on” the chickens since it has been down.  They are in for a shock, literally though mild, when they venture over now.  Hopefully, it will keep Brown Dog out as well, should he decide to revisit us.

Pens, Dogs, and Chooks

Yesterday the sky grayed and the wind picked up, cooling the afternoon enough to tackle the outdoor chores.  We had purchased a 50 foot roll of welded wire fencing on our way home from errands.  One of our only town businesses is a hardware store.  When we moved here, it was really aimed at farmers and was more a farm store.  The owner sold it to return to farming and the new owner changed the focus to a more traditional hardware store, I guess to compete with Lowes and Home Depot two towns over in Genericia (our eldest son’s name for it).  Unfortunately, he couldn’t complete and as he no longer drew the farmers, they went to Tractor Supply or Southern States two smaller towns over the opposite direction, he is going out of business.  We got the fencing for a discount.

Once the day cooled, I pounded in the remainder of the T posts, strung the welded wire fence, securing the meat/cull chick pen.  The chicken tractor still needs repair.  I started installing the T post insulators to string the electric fence, but realized that the welded wire fencing wasn’t tight enough and the 2″ insulators were not long enough to hold the electric wire away from the welded wire fence.  This morning, we bought a bag of 5″ insulators but as soon as we got home, the rains  started so the installation will have to wait for another day.  The rain was very necessary, so I can’t complain.  We have had a high percentage chance of rain for weeks, but have gotten almost no rain.

Hopefully these measures will make the chooks secure from the 4 legged predator that got the 3 birds last week.  With the freezer camp event on Friday, our egg production is way down, getting only one or two eggs a day until the new girls start laying.

wpid-20140709_195008.jpg

A pen beside a pen and real gates.  “Got treats?”

Sunday Thankfulness and Fun

After two days of hard work with eldest son, as a family we decided that today was going to be a fun day before they caught a 3 p.m. bus back to Vienna, VA, leaving their son, our eldest grandson, now 9 years old to spend most of the summer with us.  Summer care for him was both expensive and hard to come by but also difficult to fit with their schedule as our daughter in law leaves for her Art Camp teaching gig at 6:50 a.m. and returns to the house at about 5 p.m., our son leaves on his bicycle to ride to campus at 7 a.m. so that he can make the 45 minute bike commute and get a shower at the Aquatic Center to be at his desk by 8:30 and he doesn’t get off until 5 p.m. and has to make the 45 minute bike commute home.  We adore having grand-kids with us and love that we are trusted to keep him until mid August when the Art Camps are over and he and his mom will travel to Virginia Beach to spend a week or so with the other grandparents prior to school resuming for everyone.

For our fun day, we decided to hike to the Cascade Falls, a 2 mile uphill hike to a beautiful view followed by the return 2 mile hike back down to the car.  The hike included a swim in the icy water by son and grandson and an extensive trash pick up by all of us that we carried back down in my bag.  There were about 45 incoming freshmen from a local university that had hiked up and they seemed to be mostly responsibly for the trash.  I gently confronted the group about what we had collected and was met with denial that it wasn’t them, but when they got up and left, they failed to pick up several GatorAde bottles, a gallon water bottle and 25 zip lock bags along with granola bar wrappers, candy wrappers and other debris.  We collected all of that also and hauled it back down the trail to the trash cans at the parking lot, collecting additional wrappers on the way down.  It baffles me that they could be so inconsiderate and wonder where they thought their plastic, cellophane, and mylar was going to go.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Rhododendron season, these are traditional pink, but most of the ones we saw today were white.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The pile of debris we hauled down from that beautiful falls and stream.

While hiking down, I got a call from our neighbor asking if we saw his big brown dog, the chicken killer down here again.  Fortunately, I was a bad chicken keeper today and had left them cooped up when we left for our hike.  He apparently walked down looking for the dog and couldn’t find him.  Later he texted that the dog was in the house and we let the chickens out.

This afternoon, we put our son and his wife on a bus home and we brought our grandson home with us.  He helped me extend the 4 foot fence up to 6 feet by putting a lighter weight garden fence secured with fiberglass poles to the top.  This will prevent the youngs from flying out and hopefully will discourage Brown Dog from getting in.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Spring productivity

A record, 3 days in a row of sunshine and temperatures that are late springlike and it is showing around the farm.  The grass is greening and by August I will wish it weren’t as I mow and mow, but it is a welcome sight.  The lilac leaves are bursting forth and the forsythia has a yellowish hint of flowers soon to come.  The peach trees have swelling buds as do the Asian pears.

wpid-20140402_082059.jpg

The beautiful weather has sparked the energy that the winter sapped and much as been accomplished.  The garage clean-up is about half done, the chicken run is complete except for the two wooden posts for the gate and I need the neighbor’s post driver for that, Jim and I hauled the chicken tractor over in front of the unused side of the compost bins and I erected fencing to create a pen for the cull birds this spring and the meat birds this fall.

wpid-20140402_131632.jpg

Between the coop and the compost bins there used to be two more compost bins that eldest son and I took down when we put the coop in place.  There was plenty of good compost still there so a tractor bucket full was moved to the garden and spread around.  My 4 x 4 wooden boxes in the garden are rotting away, so I pulled several of them out and will just revert to long 4′ wide rows.  After the scoop of compost was removed, I realized that the spot would be a perfect potato bed, so some raking to smooth the surface and try to level it some was done, then weeding and planting of peas.  The garden has a good healthy crop of garlic up, the grapes and all but one berry bush are leafing out and the peas are finally in the ground.  There is more weeding to do in preparation for planting in a few weeks, but after three days of work, I’m spent.

I’m cleaned up, vegging out until time to go pick up my car from the shop and go socialize and knit with my friends.

Life is an adventure on our mountain farm.

Spring Cleaning Day 2

On a farm, raising animals, spring cleaning doesn’t just include the house.  The house will wait for a rainy day.  Today, the babychicks had their first”outing” while I cleaned their brooder bin.

wpid-20140401_142516.jpg

 

They seemed to enjoy some time in the sun.  Since the daytime temperatures reached 78ºf and the bin is black, they were plenty warm.

The big chickens got their digs cleaned too.

wpid-20140401_152238.jpg

Forking out the old hay down to the composted layer below and adding it to the garden compost bin.

wpid-20140401_154143.jpg

A different use for the snow shovel, clearing the composted layer off the vinyl floor.

wpid-20140401_154629.jpg

And finally adding a thick layer of clean new hay to the coop and nesting boxes.  This is a guarantee that at least one chicken will lay her egg outside of the nesting boxes tomorrow by scooping out a hollow in one of the corners beneath the perches.  While the coop was empty, I evaluated how I am going to put a temporary wire and frame barrier inside to separate the chicks from the 3 hens that will be left in the coop once they are ready to be put outside.

The chicken tractor was dragged out of the garage, but not put in place yet, I need help to do that, and the deck furniture was returned to the deck, hoping that we will have more nice days to eat our dinner out there and no more white stuff to decorate the deck.  That was the extent of the cleaning today, but prior to those tasks, we went out and purchased a 100 foot roll of welded wire fencing, more posts and a gate.  The remainder of the day was spent replacing the cheap garden wire fence that I reused two weeks ago when I realized that 100 feet of welded wire fence was not enough to finish the job.  The pen is now much sturdier and will have a real gate as soon as our neighbor can come over with the post driver and set a wooden post upon which the gate will be hung.  It will be great to have a real gate into their pen.

I didn’t get the peas planted.  Tomorrow is supposed to be another gorgeous day so I will get the peas in the ground and with hubby’s help, move the chicken tractor to the location where the culls will be kept for a few weeks and I will erect a temporary pen with the garden fencing to contain them until freezer camp day.  The rest of the week is going to be wet, so perhaps I will finish the garage and start on the house.  I have to admit that deep cleaning the house is a task of frustration with two big dogs who reside inside.

Because Jim didn’t get home from his motorcycle ride until nearly 6 p.m. and I still wasn’t quite finished with the fence when he got home and since I had 3 chickens still on the outside of the newly completed run, I finished up, left two of the chicken out, hoping they would settle near the coop at dark and went out for dinner.  When we got home, both hens had flown over the fence and were safely cooped up with their buddies.

Life is an adventure on our mountain farm.

Productivity

The short spring of this weekend allowed Jim to take a 175 mile motorcycle ride.  While he was out enjoying the weather in a way he enjoys, I got to work outside, which I enjoy.  My chickens’ run expanded from 50 linear feet to 175 linear feet.  The main body of the run more than doubled and I created a 6 foot wide attached run that goes down one of the long sides of the garden.  My hope is that they will help keep the weeds and bugs down from that difficult to mow area.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The main body of the run now also provides a fence half way along one of the shorter sides of the garden and gives them access to a pile of old compost.  They spent a good portion of the afternoon dust bathing in that pile and digging for bugs.  I wonder how long it will take them to make this area barren of grass too.  Putting weeds from the garden will be a much shorter walk now.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After coming in totally worn out, I stopped and unpacked my new spinning wheel.  I was so glad to see that as a folding wheel, it came mostly assembled and already packed in its travel bag.  There was very little assembly to do and I was soon able to take it for a short spin with a bit of undyed Shetland wool.  There are 4 ounces of it to be spun, dyed and turned into something beautiful.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I love life on our mountain farm.