Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Backyard Project: How Long Does it Take to Build a Deer Fence?

The line of the fence is marked out.
Fence post holes are dug into the soil and drilled where there is rock.

Metal posts are cut to length.

The posts are cemented in place in the holes.

Branches and shrubs need to be removed or cut back in places.

The supervisor checks the width of one of the gates in the fence.

Heavy gauge wire mesh is tied to the fence posts.

In the steeper areas, it is more of a challenge to get the wire in place. Skirts are tied to the bottom where there are dips in the ground.
Cross bracing is added at the corners.

The supervisor checks one of 4 gates in the fence.

A temporary fence between the house and the studio is erected. After the new conservatory has been built and it is linked to the studio with a more decorative cedar fence the temporary fence will have done its job and be taken down.
The last job was to Bambi-proof the fence. I went around the whole perimeter inside and out and stacked all of the rocks and stones I could find along the bottom of the fence where there were small gaps. We are coming up to Bambi season. I didn't want a baby deer to squeeze under the fence then the mother to go crazy trying to rescue her offspring. I want to avoid someone getting hurt or something getting damaged.
Ron and I also strung heavy fishing line from tree to tree, about knee height over well-trodden deer paths. The idea is to deflect the deer from their established routes before they get to the fence. They walk into the line and feel it at their knees. Not being able to see what it is that they feel they turn back and take a different path. It is going to be interesting to see how long it takes for the deer to establish new grazing paths in the areas we have not fenced.
How long does it take to build a deer fence?
It depends on the terrain and how long the fence is.
This deer fence took the team a month to construct.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Fencing Donnington Food Forest

The dear deer are wondering what is happening. 
They are creatures of habit and their foraging paths are being disrupted. They are confused.

The Nordic Fencing team is doing an excellent job.

Cutting pipe to length.
The fence needs to be 8 feet high to keep these agile jumping deer outside.

An impressive array of specialised shovels, diggers, and other tools is carried on the back of the truck.

The back of the truck tray has an ingenious concrete making set up.

They are able to make a small batch of concrete, tip it into a wheelbarrow or bucket then carry it to the fence post hole for filling. This method results in minimal disturbance of the forest underground. We really appreciate the care they are all taking.

This looks like a graffiti artists kit but it is what a fencer uses to mark post locations.
The fencing project continues and we see the progress being made each day. It is getting closer to the day when I will be able to plant something and wake up in the morning to find it is still there.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Backyard Project and Work in the Studio

Ron and Nordic Fencing team leader, Mat, plan the location of the deer fence along the south boundary.

Nathan is digging trenches for irrigation pipes.

The main pipe will be located under the path going around the pergola and arbor. If there is ever a problem with the pipe it can be dug up without disturbing any garden beds.

Meanwhile, I am collecting leaf skeletons from under the tulip trees.

The damp conditions are ideal for the soft parts of the leaf to rot away leaving the leaf skeleton in tact.

After washing and laying the leaves out to dry...

...I am sewing them onto an embroidered afternoon tea cloth that spent a year or so outside wrapped around a tree trunk. I have been adding leaves to this cloth for the past couple of years. The repair of the decayed cloth with darned leaves speaks of how leaves fall to nourish and repair the soil, the skin of the earth. I will keep adding to the cloth for another season or so to demonstrate how soil building is a long term continual process.
The work is called, 'Earth Repair.'

The hyacinths are blooming in the studio bed. There is such a lovely smell as I come and go from the Green Shed.
Now that the winter rains have eased we can continue with the Backyard Project tasks

Monday, May 16, 2016

Back Yard Project: Fences and Mulches

It was an exciting day when the Nordic Fencing team arrived to begin building the deer fence. Over the 6 years we have lived here the deer population has exploded. The deer eat every new shoot that comes out of the ground preventing all plant succession happening in the forest. I had given up buying plants because it was like laying out a buffet for them. They are particularly hungry in the spring and eat everything, the whole plant, not just a nibble like they used to.
We took our time making the decision about a deer fence because we didn't like the idea of being fenced in.

The design of the fence incorporates the buildings - my studio and the house acting as barriers to the deer entering the fenced area. We have placed the fence so it can't be seen (much) from the house.

This is Mike doing the hard job of digging holes for the posts.

He uses a manual digger, but not this one because it is Matt's, and so named.
The fencing team is very good about the minimal disturbance of the forest vegetation and understand we are fencing to protect the forest.

Meanwhile, the green manure crop is sprouting and covering the bare soil in the rock garden beds.

We got a delivery of straw bails to use as a mulch to cover the soil after the green manure crop is dug into the soil. We don't want hay because that introduces grass seeds to the garden beds. In the forest ecosystem, we are working to eliminate bacteria supported grasses and encouraging fungal dominant soils.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Cutting Down Trees - a Safety Issue

We called in Evergreen Tree Service once  it was pointed out we had 2 leaning trees north and near the house. Their roots were being lifted out of the ground. They were a safety hazard.
This is Cam suiting up with his tree climbing gear and chainsaw.

And up he goes using his spurs to dig into the trunk.
You can see here the angle of one of the trees. It is rubbing on and probably being supported by the Maple tree beside it.

This is Tyler, the ground man. Here he is making sure Cam's belay line is not tangled in the branches that fall down after being cut.

This is Gord making the tree into a wildlife tree after cutting all but about 20 feet down. He has roughed up the top to allow rain to penetrate and accelerate the decay process.

Gord bucking the logs i.e. cutting the log into lengths that will fit in the fireplace. They will be split and stored for a couple of years before being burnt in the fireplace. Some of the logs will be cut into rounds to make paths around garden beds in the backyard.

Tyler has been on the job only a few weeks. Here he gets a lesson from Gord on how to buck.

Watching the tree felling was an exciting way to spend the morning. I learnt a new vocabulary. Now we will keep an eye on the remainder of the trunks to see if they get visited by the pileated woodpeckers who are the first bird species to open up a tree to other creatures.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Backyard Project - Drainage

Drainage for the Gravel Bed garden
Sammy explains to Ron how the French drain will work.
Sammy Kent, owner of Pacific Ecoscapes is our general contractor for the landscaping.

The river channel in the Gravel Bed garden is dug out. No more swimming pool.

Laura and Mat put down a layer of sandy growing medium.

The river channel is lined with a porous cloth before being filled with rocks.

The porous cloth is pegged down on top of the growing medium.

Sammy cuts and places the first lot of log rounds for the paths between and around the hugelkultur beds.

A layer of compost rich soil is added to the rock garden beds.

In the meantime, I am in the studio blocking a shawl I knit for my cousin.
The back yard is a busy place.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Backyard Project - Soil Building

Stabilising the bare soil on a slope with jute coffee sacks that will eventually rot down. This stops the impact of raindrops eroding and compacting the soil.

Laura adds wheat chaff to the rock garden beds to build up the organic matter in the soil.

Wheat chaff, spring fern prunings and paper all go in the mix. We are aiming to support a wide range of microorganisms in the soil. Before any planting, it will never be easier to build up the soil.

Laura and Mat level out a path across Gunilla's Garden and cover it with cardboard and waste paper. 
Several times a year heavy hoses are dragged across the ground to fill the fuel tanks so it is sensible to make a path through the bed.

The path is covered with fresh Douglas-fir wood chips.
In season, the path will be inoculated with mushroom spores to make a mushroom bed. It is a perfect spot for it under the shade of a large Douglas-fir tree.

Daughter Elizabeth came for a weekend visit. She inspects her 'feather-shaped' hugelkultur bed.

When asked what themed ecosystem she would like on her 'feather,' she said, "Plants that support birds." Of course. Now I need to go research and plan the ecsosytstem - something I really enjoy doing.