Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Fox-Proof Fence

This is the tale of our Fox-Proof fencing. And of how we learn as we go.

Before we dreamed of chickens, we had a small garden. It is long since gone (there is now a shed on the spot where our first vegetable garden once was), but it taught us two things about fencing: if the fence isn't tall, the deer bounce right over it; and if the fence isn't buried, the bunnies go right under it.

So, the next fence we made was buried several inches.

Then along came the chickens.  We built three large garden plots.  The chickens spend a year in each plot, and we rotate both crops and chickens so that there is a nice cycle of tilling, fertilizing, and bug munching.  When we first built the plots, we researched fencing and learned that a fox-proof fence should include a buried section that prevents a fox from digging under the fence.

We thought: chickens=chicken wire.
But only four years later, that chicken wire had rusted so badly, that there were gaps in the fencing that bunnies, foxes, and even chickens could manage.
This weekend I added a new, galvanized hardware cloth over top of the chicken wire. (It would have been too difficult to remove the chicken wire since it is half buried.)

Near the gate, I left gaps because transporting the coop through the gate door will require us to fold down the hardware cloth.

The most difficult stretch to manage was the side of the fence near the trees. In order to install the hardware cloth, a foot of earth needed to be moved, the 'cloth' needed to be rolled out and folded into an L shape, the floor was secured with landscape pins, and then the earth was added back on top of it, covered by a layer of mulch.  Finally, my boys and I used galvanized 18 gauge wire to tie the hardware cloth to the existing fence.
I did not use the camera during that long ordeal, so for the shot below I dug away a bit of earth to show how the hardware cloth folds out into the mulched area about 12 inches.

We know that foxes can climb, but we did not add the curved section at the top of each fence to prevent anything from climbing over.  We did have aviary netting secured over all our garden plots at one point, but a freaky October snow destroyed all of that and we haven't bothered replacing it.
I'm hoping foxes don't read this blog.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Bee, I'm Expecting You...

When the dining room table is covered in sweet smelling frames, you know it is that time of year...time to prepare for a new hive.
We had so much fun with our first hive that we are expanding the bee yard this year.
I had a beautiful, breezy day in early March, so I painted the hive boxes outside.  The honey bees could smell the familiar scent of the frames on the wood and were very curious.  Luckily no bee was hurt by the paint, but the cat (also very curious) ended up with a white paw.