"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Mulch rescue

The one thing about having totally free range chickens is that they can play havoc to your best laid plans.
Mulch mess - thanks chickens!!
Take the mulching that we're doing to try and preserve water / assist the plants / veggies / fruit trees to thrive in adverse heat (global warming) conditions and be productive.  The chickens delight in scattering that mulch as far and as wide as they can.

Nope - that doesn't suit me at all!

So, I asked RMan if he could build me a mulch protector.

First things first though, in tidying up the mulch mess, and removing some weeds / grass, around the beds we came across this little fellow.
About 1.5 - 2 feet long - with quite a scary "V"
marking on it's head.  A brown house snake.
Initially, we were a tad concerned, because the single row of scales underneath of the snake seemed to imply that it was poisonous, but it was confirmed as a non-poisonous brown house snake - that delights in eating frogs and mice!
We were told that a single row of scales
below a snake indicates that it is poisonous.
Thank goodness that proved to be an
incorrect theory ;)
It's a pity it was dispatched before we could find out that it wasn't a threat to us, but was, in fact, a very helpful fellow.  But, too late to cry over spilt milk / a deceased snake lol
Thank goodness for the table saw
 that RMan scored from the auction back in 2011
But, I digress - to get back to the mulch protector.

My request to RMan involved him pulling out his table saw which he scored from that auction all those years ago.  I have to say it certainly has come in handy round the property :)
RMan chopping up the 3.0mtr long droppers
Then we grabbed a whole bunch of spare "droppers" (3.0 mtr long lengths of alien vegetation a.k.a. Black Wattle branches / young trunks) which we had in storage for just such an occasion.

With a cut here, and a cut there, plus a whole bunch more, we ended up with this...
Literally within 15 minutes of completing these
 mulch protectors, the chickens arrived to
 confirm that it would work :)
... a mulch protector :)

It involved thumping one middle and two end "posts" into the ground in order to use them as supports for the horizontal cross posts - of which there are two at the front and two at the back.
All it took to make was 10 - 12 X 3mtr long
 "droppers", 3 X support posts,  4 X cross posts,
 umpteen  short vertical posts, and exactly 6 screws
Between the horizontal cross posts we inserted a whole bunch of 300mm high vertical posts which will act as the mulch protector "fence". 
It looks quite cute - and goes with all the other
 wood we have requisitioned for whatever use
Not quite a white picket fence (which we didn't want) but it certainly does the trick!

As for the fruit trees - as they are part of our "food" production, they are going to get some extra special treatment.  More on that in September when it happens...


  1. Looks beautiful...much nicer than a white picket fence!. Plus it serves a real purpose.

    1. Marlin - I agree - and it is fulfilling it's requirements more than adequately :) White picket fences have their place, but our smallholding is not the spot for any of them. Apart from anything else, the upkeep in our harsh climate would be horrendous.

  2. I have been reading Sherry's "Deep Winter" and "Shatter" again, for about the umpteenth time. I have about decided to pen my chickens up as a result. I don't worry about getting the eggs and I hope the dogs eat the eggs before they hatch right now. But in different circumstances, I might need the eggs. The two books have good instructions for building a hen house and chicken run. I think I ought to do it before I need to and can't get the necessary materials.

    To bad about the snake. I used to kill them all on sight, as I detest snakes. But my daughter convinced me to stop if they were not poisonous. You were right not to take any chances, though.

    My wife had this place looking like a botanical garden by 1998. She loves flowers. But in 1999 I got chickens, and they essentially wiped out the flowers completely in short order.

    1. Harry - Penning up your chickens will make egg hunting / retrieval much easier ;) As you say, when push comes to shove, having easy access to eggs places you in a better position all round.

      Hopefully when the chickens aren't creating the havoc that is their wont, perhaps you wife's garden can flourish again? How did her foray back into veggie growing go this year, or was her absence to help your daughter detrimental to the outcome?

    2. The plus side to penning chickens is the manure for the garden is all in one place. scooped up and composted, will make the most amazing growing medium for flowers and veggies!

    3. Sol - I already get a fair wack of chicken manure from their overnight roosting spot - which gets added to the alpaca poo - and it all gets worked into my veggie beds :)

  3. That looks fantastic, those chooks are busted, that's for sure. I'm so envious of your wattle. The agri sells wimpy stokkies, but the wind just laughs at those. Appreciate your advice on where to buy nice strong long sticks like that.

    1. pqsa - Thanks - we're happy too. See if you can find out who is "working for water" in your area. They are normally keen to make a "little extra" ;) Tell them what length you require. We paid R2.00 / 3.0mtr dropper.

    2. Since we've got the endless river, must be a local "working for water", I'll ask around. Thanks for that.

  4. That is a really excellent way of keeping the mulch in. we will need something like that here, we bought on the top of the hill on purpose but it does mean we are open to the full force of the wind. We hope to have stone walls and then have trees on the inside of the walls, with the stone wall helping they trees should grow stronger before they reach the top of the wall and will help further as a wind break. Your idea has given me further ideas. With willow whips that grow quickly here.

    1. Sol - The wind is another reason for this little fence. In summer we have a hectic hot south easter wind which blows over the beds / fruit trees and dries out the soil even quicker than necessary. That wind (and the chickens) is why the fruit trees are going to be getting "extra special treatment" - more to follow next month :D

      Oh, I wish we had willows here - would love to do some willow weaving...

  5. that looks so nice! It just fits in so nicely with everything else.

    1. 1st Man - Thanks. Yeah, a white picket fence would just not have fitted in ;)

  6. Quick comment. something on you blog freezes my browser, but I'm reading!

    1. Leigh - Thanks for the heads up - dunno what it could be...? I haven't heard anyone else has that problem either. I wonder why you're experiencing that, nothing has changed on my blog, nor on the side bar.

  7. The little fence looks really good. I look forward to hearing about the fruit trees

    1. Chickpea - Thanks. Hmmm, the fruit trees - won't be quite as eco-friendly, except in the retention mulch, and, more importantly water (and thus the hopeful good production of fruit... ;)


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