Kitchen Garden Guides

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Willing Workers and a Little Ingenuity

It was a nice mild afternoon so I thought it would be good to get started on preparing an area for planting out some of my citrus, once the frosts have passed for this year. A beautiful, old willow tree had fallen over about a year ago and turned what was a shady part of the garden into a very sunny part.

The area has been totally neglected ever since so I took to it with my mattock, with the warm sun on my back. All the grass and weeds were being tossed over the fence for the chooks and they were pretty happy about that. It was quite hard work and as I rested on my mattock for a rest, I watched the chooks digging and scratching at the goodies I had tossed at them.

Then I had an idea. How about I get the chooks out here doing the work for me! How silly, I thought, for me to be doing all the work and throwing weeds, grass and lumps of good soil over the fence when, with a little ingenuity, I could put the chooks to work instead.

Off I went to the farthest corner of my acre where, in the dark recesses of an old shed lived a pile of star pickets rolled up with miles of 1.8m  high chicken wire, given to me recently by a friend leaving the state. Perfect! After quite some effort I was not sure this was such a good use of my limited time! However, I was determined to get the job done and the chooks working for me so, after a lot of swearing and heaving I managed to untangle 2 good long lengths and drag them to the desired site.

Trying to erect a fence already partly assembled and then rolled up, on uneven ground, alone is a challenge! While holding a star picket already joined to the fencing wire with one hand and my trusty mallet in the other, the rest of the 7m roll of wire and pickets wants desperately to lie down and threatens to pull it all down into a tangled mess, taking out one of my eyes at the same time.

Patience is not one of my strengths! However, on the chook yard side of the fence the weeds I had tossed over earlier were already disappearing under those well worked chicken legs and beaks and I could imagine the ease with which they would turn my patch of thick, overgrown greenery into eggs and fertilised soil. After getting down to just my t-shirt, unravelling what seemed like 100m of wire mesh, hammering in pickets that seemed very oddly spaced and dealing with an uneven slope it was finally done.

Lastly I cut a hole in the bottom of the chook fence and called the girls through. The first one to take to a new scenario is always the big brown chook and she made those noises a chook makes when she finds treasure. Immediately all the others came running and soon I was sitting outside the fence having coffee, watching the workers.

In a few weeks I will have a new garden area….. as long as the fence holds up and the chooks don’t work the soil so much they end up going under the fence and outside, digging up parts of the garden that should not be dug!

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