Friday, 13 February 2015

A Simple Fencing Job

The 5 geese are allowed on the front lawn now. 
More fencing for us. We decide to run a length of sheep wire along the inside of the new post and rail fence up the drive and around the front lawn. You may recall that this lawn was fenced in with post and rail because neither of us wanted to sit on the 'terrace' out front looking at green high tensile barbed wire, sheep wire and standard de-barked farm-field style fence posts. The post and rail, though, is good for adult sheep which are tall, large-bodied beasties, but would not stop the geese or the baby lambs, who can just dip down on their hunkers and shimmy under the bottom rail.

Rather too much pork belly for we two, but it does lovely
cold left overs. Cous cous salad accompanies.
The answer, in these parts at least is to staple a run of non-high-tensile (i.e. cheaper!) sheep wire along the inside. Not being green (it's just 'galvanised' colour) it dulls down and fades from view but it has the 6 inch square mesh format which can stop lambs, geese and even Westies. The smaller chickens seem to be able to slip through with a bit of a wriggle and a wrestle of the wings. They could also fly over if they only thought about it but one thing we've found with chickens is that if they can see through a fence and then butt up against it and feel it at ground level, then a 3-4 foot fence will stop them. Give them an opaque barrier like a wall or a wooden fence, and they will try the flying thing and find that they can 'hop' over a 6 feet tall barrier with ease. Our Sussex Ponte hens are regularly to be seen on the 6 foot wall of the cattle race and we have pictures of one up on the roof ridge of the goose-house (ten feet up?)

Liz's new baby.
With the post and rail shored up we have been able to mix and match the grazing arrangements a bit. The poor old geese have nearly exhausted the grass in the orchard. "There's not a pick left", as Bob would say, so we have been able to shepherd them round to the lawn for some good, longer stuff to fill their bellies, all be it watching them closely in case they decided to annihilate my precious crocusses. They didn't. The next day we had them in the East Field and the ewes and lamb were let loose into the lawn 'paddock'. The lamb, in particular, seemed to enjoy this.

Bramble-bashing by the veg patch.
Regular readers will know that I have recently savaged the hedge along the east side of this, the hedge which grows from the top of a long-buried stone wall. We now have a steep-sided, 2 foot tall bank with some 2 feet tall, 2 inch diameter, gnarly hawthorn (etc) trunks sticking out of the top. The lamb thinks this is adventure playground stuff - he goes spronging up and over, or weaves along the top like a small boy balancing along the top of a brick wall, while his Mum and Aunt fill their bellies on the lawn grass. We have also seen him challenging his Aunt, 'Little John' style stopping her from coming over the bank by hopping into the way to block her progress. We feel a bit sorry for him as he has no playmates (yet) but his Aunt seems to indulge him and play a bit, limited though she is by her own pregnant bulk. Next year we are determined to get all the lambing, should the lambing gods smile upon us, synchronised, so that the babies can grow up with little chums to play with, and give the Mums a break.

Other than that, we have been trying out the new toy, our brush cutter. We are delighted. It is light enough for Liz to manage it. but powerful enough to do the necessary amount of damage to the brambles, plantains, rushes and nettles (even the young ash and elder suckers). We 'learned it' a bit tentatively in the 'woods' by the drive but got well stuck in by the time we were thrashing along the bramble thicket next to the vegetable patch, tackling the former nettle patch by the muck heap and whacking the rushes at the bottom of the yard leading on to the rain water gulley.

A rooster given to us by a friend to kill
(she can't cope with necking them) gets it.
His name was 'Pineapple'. Are we allowed
to call the curry "Pineapple Chunks"?
We are confident that we will have a much tidier small holding this year and we are looking forward to attacking some new green nettles and Queen Anne's Lace (Cow Parsley) in the woods when they start, docks and rushes and ground elder. I used to enjoy swooping down upon them with the 'Old Father Time' scythe but you could only really use that on tall stuff, patches which were already shouting 'neglect' at any visitors.

We already know that in the bits of woodland where we can get the mower, grass starts to grow, and we love that rather 'Capability Brown' look of the grass and the trees, so we are wondering whether a strimmer used often enough under the trees would lead to a tidy, grassed look (with some planned sweet woodruff, Lady's Mantle, snowdrops, foxgloves, Pulmonaria and cyclamen) rather than the current nettles, ground elder and elder suckers. It might be less 'green' but it should, surely, look more 'deliberate'.


Care Towers said...

I like the sound of the "cleaned up", grassier landscape, Capability Brown style - interested to see if it works! Probs better for the geese, too?

Matt Care said...

We hope so, but the geese don't actually get to go in that bit.