New Hampshire, US
about 1200' above sea level
about 20 acres, about half wooded (firewood)
house/barn are at the high point, land slopes down toward the east
steep in some places; total drop is about 100' over a 1500' run -- see image generated by http://www.heywhatsthat.com/profiler.html from Google Maps elevation data
about 40" annual rainfall (maybe 1/3 as snow)
frost-free about 90-100 days
gravelly to loamy
lots of large rocks
granite ledge outcroppings; few places where ledge is deeper than 2' ("digging is hard")
Hay Burners... I mean horses (2 -- pets)
Laying chickens (20-25)
Guinea hens (for bug control, entertainment, annoyance, and food for foxes and people; they come and go, I think we've got maybe a dozen now)
an annual round of meat chickens
a couple of really good cats (and by "good", I mean "ruthless murderers with a quota")
a useless pet rabbit
a really good dog (and by "good", I mean she hasn't killed a chicken in over a year)
A grapevine that hasn't amounted to much
Young appletrees that haven't produced any fruit yet
Young peach trees that gave a couple of armloads last year
Plums that just went in as whips last spring
Annual veg garden
Some newly-planted elderberries that might have survived last summer
More wild blackberries than you can imagine, and the odd black raspberry here and there
Fox likes to eat guinea hens; guinea hens don't really function properly in an enclosure (i.e. they can't range around and eat ticks)
Deer like to eat everything Rocks everywhere; while rocks are useful for many things, they make digging challenging, and some "rocks" are immovable
Anything that isn't mowed regularly will revert to dense forest, starting with blackberries and progressing to black cherry, white pine, beech depending on the area. (This is a resource, but also a maintenance issue.)
The veg garden
The Woodlot -- annually cut/drag/buck/split/stack-ing 6-8 cords of wood for heat & hot water Maintenance on everything above...
Hugels / soil-building on the hill below the barn. Soil is nutrient poor, acidic, rocky, thin. This area can capture rain from uphill and nutrient runoff from the barn area. This field is where I am building a food forest.
1. I'm working on a plan for chicken forage. There's a slow water flow from the barnyard/paddock down the hill behind the barn. I think this will be a good beach-head for a food forest. (The land is too steep and rocky for horse pasture.) Since it is close to the barn/coop, I'm going to focus the initial plantings food for the girls. Challenges here are keeping the deer away so the chix will have something to eat, and keeping the foxes away while the chix are out there eating. I've got a long list of plant candidates, the work is narrowing it down to what I will actually be able to acquire, plant, and protect this year. This could consume many full days' worth of work. I need to cut it down to probably 3-4 half-Saturdays -- terracing/earthworks/mulch, fencing, and finally planting. The area I'd like to tackle is about 50x50', but what I'll probably manage is maybe more like 20x20'.
2. Establishing a plant nursery in an area of former veg garden that won't be used for veg any more. I don't know enough now, but I'd like to learn more about propagating my own plants and this is where I'll be doing that experimentation. I think there's a day's worth of work here; it doesn't need to be elaborate, and the soil is already garden-prepped, just needs protection from deer.
3. Planting a wind break to the northeast & east of the house and east of the barn, possibly also on the northwest of the house. I've wanted to start this for several years but I'm overthinking it; I need to just stick a bunch of white pine in the ground and get something started. The winter winds from the nor'easters are vicious. I can always cut some down and replace with something more useful at some future time.
4. I'm thinking that if I'm smart about how I process the firewood, I can haul up the smaller branches for use in hugels next year. (This is more a thought-experiment / process improvement than an elbow-grease type of project.)
Looks as though you have a pretty good plan formulated. Best of luck
Thanks for the vote of confidence. I haven't had a plan yet that has survived contact with the enemy deer. We'll see how this year goes, I'm trying to account for them up-front... may have to go looking for a couple of cast iron kettles so I can make up some bone sauce and see how that works.
Just from a superficial researching on deer deterents:
Deer have sensitive noses:
1. Wiz all around the perimeter!
2. cat scat! It don't always work to keep the deer out, but the bunny rabbits will stay far away!
3. blood meal and ammonia on florists cubes
http://voices.yahoo.com/alternatives-deer-fencing-during-fall-season-1841574.html 4. Get a dog:
5. shave slivers of soap 6. scatter human hair
7. Chimes or shiney pie pans
8. having a fence where it doesn't allow room enough to jump over,
or even two fences close together
9. -- maybe this is to frighten birds -- tie pieces of old VHS tapes on a fence the shiney surface bothers them
-- then -- I thought -- what about making a fence using those old VHS tapes --
deer wouldn't like getting tangled up in complicated looking things, I'd think
10. Idea: building base posts in a tire or heavy buckets, and use the posts for a movable fence
just around the area you need fenced off temporarily -- like your guineas
"The eyes of the future are looking back at us and they are praying for us to see beyond our own time."
--- by Terry Tempest Williams, naturalist
Linda - Thanks for the ideas. I've tried your 1-8. (The dog can't be loose outside, though, and even if she could be, she might do as much damage to the garden as the deer...)
Soap, cats, hair, shiny stuff, human urine, single electric fence at 7' high -- these don't work over the long term (not more than a week). Hungry deer get used to stuff pretty fast, especially when they know there's "candy" on the other side of the obstacle.
Blood *on specific plants* works -- e.g. if I spread blood meal on the spinach bed, they will leave the spinach alone and eat the beets instead.
"Cages" over specific beds work. I bent some old welded wire fence over a couple of beds to keep them off low plants. This is a relatively easy solution, but expensive to scale and it makes weeding a hassle.
What did mostly work was an inner 7' high electric fence and an outer 4' fence about 4' away from the inner fence. (Unfortunately this is ugly -- and annoying for mowing around the garden perimeter.)
I've done posts in buckets for a chicken area, and may go back to this for temporary areas like you mention. Thanks for the reminder.
No point trying to fence the guineas in -- very flighty (they end up on the house roof sometimes).
When I was researching deer and racoon deterents I found this:
This man calls it the Mandala system or keyhole design --
but -- it seems to work and I just love this guy's idea.
Seems to me it can be done in larger versions or multiples
Got a bunch of trees flagged for felling a couple of weeks ago. Should be more than enough for a season's worth of heat -- and tons of branches for hugels. Now I just have to get to work dropping them...
Indoors under the lights I have some seeds started. Optimist Spinach for the cold frame, siberian pea shrub which will be part of the Chicken Forest, and a few thornless honeylocust trees. Also some cuttings rooting from forsythia, blueberry, and a mystery shrub -- these will go in the experimental plant nursery for growing to reasonable size to be planted in final location next year.
My plan with dear is to build a fence with free pallets and small tree branches that the deer can't see over in the theory that they won't jump over what they can't see through or over. If that doesn't work, I'm getting a night scope for the rifle and not talking about it. See: Atkins diet.
It's one of those gorgeous, warm, sunny spring days but there's still snow on the garden, so I get to sit on the deck and pretend I'm actually gardening.
I went to pot-up the cuttings today and none of them had rooted
And the honey locust seedlings were starting to get a little yellowish so I've repotted them too. Nice root systems. Too bad the germination rate was so low. Debating whether to add a little blood to the new pots for nitrogen...
At least one of the pea shrub seeds has germinated. If they germinate well I'm going to have quite a few more than I need!
Started some lupine and sweet and hot peppers today too.
Location: Springdale, WA USA - Cold Mediterranean Climate
The kids want to help me with tending "chicken gardens", so I had some help yesterday moving debris from the log yard to a new hugel bed. We'll end up with a couple of C-shaped beds with the opening facing both southwest and uphill to catch runoff from heading down slope. It's below the manure pile so they'll trap nutrient runoff too. And it's within hose-reach (but still downhill enough to have pressure) from the water barrel under the barn roof gutter so I can irrigate easily when needed.
Now the dilemma: I have a spot where I could drag out some decent sized logs for piling up in a big hugel bed. They've been sitting for a few years so they've got a good start on getting nice and spongy. But I have a hunch that there's a skunk hiding in that pile! The cable on the winch is 150' so I can be a good distance away when the logs move, but someone's got to climb around on the pile and hitch a chain around each log to begin with...