This weekend was a re-org of the chicken run, so that we could fence off the path and get into the shed occasionally. I want to reclaim the vegetable bed so that I can plant in it and lay an irrigation system to the bed as well. I still have enough bits left over from the main veggie patch project (which is working exceptionally well I may say). The garden on that side has never grown so fast! Sure the rain helped, but the drip irrigation every few days from the tank and twice weekly from the mains as per our water restrictions have done wonders for the growth rate. I think it will survive any scorchers we get this year.
Anyway, back to the chicken run. I started by removing these three posts.
Yes, it is an old shot as you will see in a minute. I thought last week, that what is the point of having these three posts up against the fence when the new fence is just a high. So with my reuse hat on, I decided to dig them out and reuse them. This is one I prepared earlier.
Notice all of the attention the hole has created with our fine feathered friends. The ground is so rich in worms, they went absolutely crazy over all these tasty morsels. The soil is so moist from all that rain we have had lately down to at least 60cm which was as deep as the posts were in the ground. It took about 30 minutes to get these out and I though it would take much longer. A bit of digging, a bit of rocking and out they came. I knocked the quick set concrete block off of the bottom with the mattock without any problems (will have to think of a use for that concrete now). The photo was taken by Kim, my trusty, yet padawan construction worker. Her heart was really in it, but is still learning from the master jedi builder of all things green! I love to see her so excited about helping out.
With all the posts on the other side of the enclosure, I started digging the post holes with my trusty auger that I have had since we moved into the place, 9 years ago. I measured a 90cm span between posts to ensure that it all looked even as there were still 3 posts still in the ground where I needed them.
Notice the feathers in the background. This is Pippa, Poppy's sister. I dug a pilot hole out of shot, and this is her digging in it for worms.
She was having a ball. The soil and clay on this side of the chicken run was just as moist all the way down. Great place to store water if you ask me! Anyway, we got all three post holes dug. It was time for a rest, and a quick trip to the hardware store for two bags of quickset concrete to set the posts. As I am going to hang a picket gate off of one the posts I had to make sure that it was firmly in the ground.
With Kim as my height guide, I levelled the posts on the vertical, and then, after a quick measure between the posts, I started to pour the dry quickset into the first hole with post in the ground. Kim had spirit level in hand to check if the posts were level on the horizontal all around whilst I poured in the water to set the mix. It sets in about 15 minutes, but you can't bang any nails into the posts until the next day. With the chickens looking confused, but happy from their worm feast it was time to call it a day having put all three posts in the ground and fixed down to 60cm with quickset. We had friends coming over at 5pm, so I did a little bit of gardening for about an hour to kill the time. Here is a worm feast picture;
Today, after a one hour session to the gym to build up the core muscles for the day ahead, I got stuck back into it at around 1030. Now that we had all the posts where they were required, I started with the wire. I chose to use 13mm chicken wire up to a height of 1.8 metres. It seemed about right, and I know now from experience that they cannot fly that high. Kim was still tired so she went back to bed for another hour, so I slogged it out in the blazing sun by myself. Fencing is quite painful when there is only one of you, so I took it slow and steady. After two hours of banging my thumb and pricking myself with the wire, this is what I achieved. Wire all the way up, double span, and dug down about 5cm with about 5cm pointing toward the path so that the dogs, or heaven forbid, a fox tries to get in. I pegged all bottom sections down with long tent pegs and will bury it all when I get the chance.
Here is a better shot of this part;
Do you like my sewing job? I joined the two spans together with the wire that came wrapped around the bundle of chick wire. It was just enough, but took me about 45 minutes to finish and my fingers were covered in zinc from the wire by the time I had finished. The sweat was pouring off of my brow from under my wide brimmed hat by this time as the sun was at its zenith. I finished this part at about 1330, and took a lunch break. It took me a while to scrub the zinc off of my fingers, but I didn't want to ingest it with my sandwich.
When I dug the trench for the bottom of the wire, there was another worm feast for the hens, and one of them, Esther, was so close to the spade, that I nearly chopped her head off three times. We nearly had roast chicken for dinner. Here is a pic of some of the cheeky chickens. Esther is the white one standing bottom right on the old lumps of concrete.
After lunch, I was getting real hot. I had to figure out a quick way of letting the hens through to their favourite dust bath area behind the shed. They have made it their weekend playground and quickly round up any insects and weeds, which works out as a win-win for all of us. Here is what I came up with as an interim solution until Kim suggested a gate that swings outward and blocks off the path. Now why didn't I think of that. Maybe she will be a master jedi sooner than I think!
It is a bit like a trap door that has battens down the side of each post as a guide. You can also see their behind the shed playground in this shot as well. Here it is with the door in it.
It seems to keep them in and they are getting used to all the new wire. With the last bit of chicken wire in place above the trap door and the left side of it, I called it a day at about 1500, as I didn't want to over heat. One dose of heat stroke is enough for this summer, thank-you very much.
Time for a beer and a movie to relax for the rest of the day. Mind you, after the movie, I still spent another hour at 1800 watering all the pot plants and fertilising the fruit orchard out the front yard. I must have ants in my pants, and find it hard to sit still until after sunset. Why waste all that wonderful sunlight when you only get long days for half the year? Pippa and Poppy sure don't!