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focus on food systems and fence aesthetics  RSS feed

 
paul wheaton
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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A few days ago we spent several hours at the table talking just about food systems. And then yesterday we spent two more hours. And we're still not done.

Ten years from now, basecamp will, in theory, be a demonstration site that people can visit. The laboratory will continue to be a closed site for experimentation.

So we decided on a spot for a formal "food forest". And we discussed "won't most of our systems be food forests? so, what is so special about this?"

We talked about getting the seeds planted for future hedges - to keep animals in/out. Mostly at the perimeter.

We talked about chickens in 2015, 2016 and many years into the future.

We talked about having a paddock shift "alley" that will, in time, evolve into a paddock shift "loop".

We talked about fence for the short term, and the long term. Electric fence is in many ways cheaper and smarter. Plus we already have a pretty healthy start in electric fence investment. And while electric fence is the obvious practical choice, there are two types of fence that are, in many ways, better and worse.

The woven hedge (living fence) will be the favorite for the perimeter. And we might use some of it for internal fencing too. So we hope to get those seeds planted, with mulch, this spring.

The second, here at basecamp, will be a combination of rockjacks and woven twig/stick.


rock jack


source


woven stick fence

The woven stick fence is something that none of us have ever tried before. Our greatest concern is the overall time it will take. Including shuffling materials. We need to build a 100 to 200 feet of fence to get an idea of how well we like it or don't. I've built rock jacks before and I made a rock jack yesterday out of toothpicks and raisins to show everybody what I was talking about. Our fence would need to be about eight feet tall.

The benefit of the woven fence, compared to the electric, is a better aesthetic, less plastic, no zap, no need to build the "psychological barrier" that is a critical component of electric fence. The downside is far more labor, probable shorter lifespan, more sensitive to wind damage. The first step is to try. Who knows, maybe there will be a lot of other people that would like to come out and try for a few days.

We need the fence for at least four paddocks so we can start raising chickens. We will start with layers. Probably 15. It is important to me that we offer organic feed, but they prefer the provided forage. So the paddocks will need to be heavily planted in other stuff. I'm saying that the fence should be about eight feet tall, to keep the layers in (layers can be a bit flighty - especially if folks don't clip their wings) and keep the deer out.

People picked spots. We worked out some spots at basecamp where people would have their own gardens, and some spots where it would be more of a community garden. We're going to get some designs back to get some ideas on how much topsoil we will need to do these projects (basecamp is very low on topsoil). Tim is talking with a neighbor that has a dump truck and a bulldozer. We have an excavator and a dump truck. The neighbor has a project where he could use an excavator and a second dump truck plus drivers. We have this project where would could use a dozer and a second dump truck. A trade sounds eminent.

We have agreed that saturday afternoons will be devoted to food system design until we have hashed through everything. There is much, much more to share at this point, but this is just a few things that popped into my head so far.

 
David Livingston
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Location: Anjou ,France
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Do you have much hazel at the base camp . Its traditional for such woven fencing in europe not sure about the 8 ft part though .

David
 
paul wheaton
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Posts: 22367
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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We have heaps and heaps and heaps of conifer.

And as we gather firewood and materials for the sawmill and building wofati, we have lots of branches.

And there are spots where there needs to be a lot of thinning.

 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1667
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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Paul,

Traditional laid hedges here in the uk depend on a planted row of tree species that coppice nicely. Woven hedges need renewing every few years (7 to 10?) and the living material supports the woven dead and is ready to be cut and next time the hedge needs relaying - a big time saving over having to haul in cut material from elsewhere on site.

Plus from a permaculture perspective you can get many different yields from the hedge...

They make a really effective stock barrier if you combine thorny material and make sure your horizontal material is laid tight and really low to the ground.

A skilled worker with hand tools is supposed to be able to do 100ft to 200ft per day and it is a traditional winter job to renew barriers.

Mike
 
David Livingston
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I thought a bit about the issue of fencing and deer and trying to keep the buggers out/in . Then I thought well what did they do in Deer parks as I remember reading about a deer leap .
The plan was instead of chasing the deer across the countryside annoying the populace you entice them into an enclosure to kill at your leasure ( the deer that is not the local population ). A medeaval solution to winter meat shortage .
Then I thought why not have a perimeter fence that has two functions .
1 Keeps deer and other unfriends out
2 Lets deer in to a small part they cannot get out of thus suppling meat through out the year


Here is a nice PDF explaining in more detail Including wooden fencing ditches and hedging

http://www.forestofbowland.com/files/uploads/cooper_deer_salters_in_leagram_park_v1.pdf

David
 
David Livingston
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Location: Anjou ,France
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another thought ditch for fence = swale ?
 
Ann Torrence
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There is lore that a deer won't jump two short fences a few feet apart, because they don't want to miss and get stuck in between them. I've seen this happen with a pronghorn once alongside a highway, it was stuck and in a panic.

I used that deer mindset to make a 5' fence around our garden confusing to the little marauders. Actually, our tale begins with a disastrous underestimation of our local deer population, our mistake for planting before fencing. They nearly destroyed 60 fruit trees in one evening. As an emergency measure I pounded some t-posts and wrapped the new garden with yellow caution tape. Yes it looked as bad as you imagine. But it worked. I think in part because of our wind, it made an unholy sound that scared the deer as much as the sight of the thing. In the deer brain, novelty is bad.

We had to accept that 8' or better is necessary with these mule deer. At first I thought, I'll build a two fences and make a chicken moat. Funds and time crunch eliminated that option. Then I thought, short fence then pound some posts a few feet inside, string up something a little less tacky than the caution tape, to give the impression of the second interior fence. They aren't physicists after all. Then I realized, the deer don't like the flapping stuff because they can't judge the gap when it moves. So we just did a single fence, put 10' t posts at the corners, used 5' high cattle panels to fence with, then strung some Tibetan prayer flags from corner to corner to simulate an 8' fence. The deer never tested it (they did find an open gate one night early on). The flags have worn out (they lasted only a few months). We replaced them with some super ghetto car lot streamers, those lasted even less time in the sun, but really flapped. Now that the deer have established their new trails. They don't seem to innovate, in fact I don't think they look up at all.

So maybe, if it's just deer and not bear that you are excluding, you can save some work or at least not have to build the whole 8' high right away with a little winter craft project. Home-made streamers from rags or thrift store t-shirts ought to do it. We didn't have time to DIY, but it is totally doable.


 
Will Holland
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Location: CT zone 5b
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David Livingston wrote:I thought a bit about the issue of fencing and deer and trying to keep the buggers out/in . Then I thought well what did they do in Deer parks as I remember reading about a deer leap .
The plan was instead of chasing the deer across the countryside annoying the populace you entice them into an enclosure to kill at your leasure ( the deer that is not the local population ). A medeaval solution to winter meat shortage .
Then I thought why not have a perimeter fence that has two functions .
1 Keeps deer and other unfriends out
2 Lets deer in to a small part they cannot get out of thus suppling meat through out the year


Here is a nice PDF explaining in more detail Including wooden fencing ditches and hedging

http://www.forestofbowland.com/files/uploads/cooper_deer_salters_in_leagram_park_v1.pdf

David


Thanks for posting that deer park info, David. This is the kind if thing I had been looking for in my thread about a food forest to include deer. Maybe not as far as trapping them in a fenced in area, but definitely in terms of controlling how deer move over a landscape and choosing access points.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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On Perma Vitae's FaceBook page, I found this image of a brush fence.

We have competing uses for brush, branches, saplings and small trees: hugelkultur, chop-and-drop mulch, RMH firewood, lumber, rock jacks, stick furniture, and now fencing!

Why would anyone ever burn a slash pile or have this stuff hauled off as yard waste?
brushfence_permavitae_fb.jpg
[Thumbnail for brushfence_permavitae_fb.jpg]
brush fence
 
Rebecca Norman
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Location: Ladakh, Indian Himalayas at 10,500 feet, zone 5
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Here's a type of fence some people here make after pollarding willows, with the sticks that are too thin for much else. Might not keep motivated and agile critters in or out, though.

There's another type of fence here, that I can't find a picture of at the moment. You cut big stems of seabuckthorn and lay them as a base for a fence, weighing them down carefully with stones or sticking them solidly into the soil. Then you lay on layers and layers of cut seabuckthorn on top of the base, until you have a wall about 5 or 6 feet high. Then every year you cut some more and add it to the top so the top remains dangerously thorny. Whenever I've tried to do it, I haven't been successful at weighing down the base, and then the wind drags it off a bit.
Woven-willow-fencing-in-Ladakh.JPG
[Thumbnail for Woven-willow-fencing-in-Ladakh.JPG]
 
Julia Winter
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Location: Moved from south central WI to Portland, OR
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? Are the original pieces of buckthorn vertical, to organize the rest of it?

Just trying to visualize.

I love woven fences. I need to get going on my own, I think. Our puppy, at 9 months, is now 85 lbs and she thinks the hugel mounds we built last fall (and never planted, life got in the way) are her personal hang out zone.
 
elle sagenev
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Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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David Livingston wrote:I thought a bit about the issue of fencing and deer and trying to keep the buggers out/in . Then I thought well what did they do in Deer parks as I remember reading about a deer leap .
The plan was instead of chasing the deer across the countryside annoying the populace you entice them into an enclosure to kill at your leasure ( the deer that is not the local population ). A medeaval solution to winter meat shortage .
Then I thought why not have a perimeter fence that has two functions .
1 Keeps deer and other unfriends out
2 Lets deer in to a small part they cannot get out of thus suppling meat through out the year


Here is a nice PDF explaining in more detail Including wooden fencing ditches and hedging

http://www.forestofbowland.com/files/uploads/cooper_deer_salters_in_leagram_park_v1.pdf

David


Haha David. Loved that!

I am not quite positive about this but I do not believe you can simply entrap and harvest deer like that in the U.S.
 
Russell Olson
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Location: Zone 4 MN USA
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I'm planning on building 2, 100' "woven" dead hedges for my spring food forest project. I don't want it to last forever, just protect trees for a few seasons.
I've thought it out and the issue for me isn't a lack of wood trimmings or materials it's keeping them upright enough to be an actual 6-10' fence, not just a pile.

My plan is to lay several large straight dead timber trees along the bottom of the hedge, all along where I want it. 6'' to 10'' diameter elm, poplar, or pine.

I will be clearing out lots of straight saplings and invasives in the food forest area that are around 2-4 inches in diameter, as I cut them I'll angle the bottoms sharply.

I'll pound in these 6' to 10' stakes maybe a few feet apart along the bottom timber in an alternating pattern. I might even pound a few spikes through them into the bottom timber. It's almost like a hay crib.

In theory there would be 6-10'' inside the stakes. Then I would weave or fill all the remaining non-stake branches, brush, and sticks from clearing out the area. If I can find evergreen branches to trim that would be great at the top since they'll block the deer's sight. Weave them in all the way down to the ground.

I'll stack all this material up into the stake wall, weaving some, tossing some on, adding material all along it. Then trim the top of the stakes even with a chainsaw, trim the odd uneven branch sticking out, and maybe add some twine in especially suspect areas. Twine could be a useful part of the whole thing now that I think about it, just crossing from stake to stake.

It should last all summer, probably need some propping up or restocking this fall/winter, and hopefully buy me time for budgeting an 8' woven wire fence around the perimeter of the property. When that is finished I can use the remaining hedge material for mulch or firewood.
I'll take pictures when I get going.
 
elle sagenev
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Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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I have been doing some searching, trying to find this answer, but haven't yet. I'm trying to figure out what kind of garden type stuff you have going on so far. I haven't found any documentation of it yet.
 
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