Fencing in the Raspberry Patch

Gene and polehole digger

Posthole digging!

We started creating another free ranging pasture for the chickens this week. This new piece for our black raspberry patch. This will give the girls another large place to scratch and peck for bugs. In certain years we have a lot of Japanese Beatles and the chickens can help to keep them under control. And I am willing to share some low growing fruit in the process.

Digging hole overview

Tamping the sand down to fill the hole.

Cane berries like these carry many upright branches (as well as berries and thorns) and is a wonderful shelter plant for poultry.

canes and green stake

Early in the season canes before the leaves begin to swell.

Our patch has always been prolific and I typically pick and freeze bag after bag of these plump deep black berries and many years we have so many that I am giving them away to friends as well.

Our black raspberries are the thorny kind which will help keep the girls safe as they free range under them. I read that the hawks and other predators do not like to risk going into thorny plants.

I also see this pasture as a place for the big girls to go to when I am acclimatize the new chicks to the out-of-doors. I figure that once the chicks have grown enough they will enjoy coming out of the brooder for “day trips” to the garden for a few hours of sunshine, fresh air and exposure to the out-of-doors.

Fencing step one looking north

 Overview of the beginning of the fencing project. Day 01.

One this patch is completely fenced in we will essentially have three “pastures”; A) the open pasture directly outside of their coop, B) the seasonal fenced in vegetable garden area where they can feed under supervision and soon C) to be fenced in the raspberry patch.

I paced off the fence using my size 9 1/2 size feet and the pasture is approximately 85 feet long by 24 ft. wide. This should provide the chickens with a lot of bugs, dirt as well as entertainment this summer.

Gene measuring

Gene’s is using this as a plumb line.

This pasture should be a very fruitful one because we have always blown small amounts of oak leaves into it in the fall to keep the weeds down and to oh so gradually improve the soil found there. I am guessing that those layers of leaves should in turn be layered with bugs, worms and beetles. And, scratching under leaves and of course finding and eating bugs, seems to be my chickens favorite activity right now.

Canes in leaves

Oak leaf mulch is the base for our Black raspberry bed.

Last fall we bought the pressure-treated posts rated for ground contact embedded directly into the ground and posts for the gates, a number of green metal “T” stakes when Menard’s had an 11% off sale. We also bought two large rolls of chicken wire at the same time.

With Gene’s 10% employee discount and this second sale this means we get 21% off of retail.  This week we hope to measure up the wood that we need for the small open run cover son to be adjoining the coop so that we can buy those materials before Gene retires from Menard’s on April 28. Every little bit helps!!

And right now it is still a month or two before the ground has warmed up enough so that the REAL gardening season can begin so it’s a great time to get a fencing project built. And off we go!

Even though it’s early yet in a Zone 5b garden, things are starting to gear up to a hustling and a bustling homestead!

Small House Homesteader, Donna

A Homesteader Can’t Plant too Many Trees

There is no one Arbor Day on our Homestead. We plant trees both spring and fall here.

This fall we planted five more 6 foot tall trees on our Small House property. Two are White Pines and three are Arborvitae. It seems like we are always planting one kind of tree or another. Mostly we plant them for screening from the busy roadway outside of our home but trees, as you know, give us so many more other benefits too.

East pines USE

These White Pines will help to screen noise, traffic and pollution from the roadway to our home.

It takes a White Pine approximately 75 years to grow to its mature height (75 ft.) and width (35-50 ft.).

Because we have lean, sandy, oak savanna forest soil here we work hard to amend our soil before we plant, sometimes as much as two years in advance. We typically add a lot of compost to the soil mix, either my own homemade compost or well-rotted horse manure compost we haul home from a friends horse farm. We top dress each tree with several inches of bark chips on top after it is planted and watered in.

Bark chips strip only USE

This is the strip of bark chips we readied over two years ago to help our soil along, pre-planting.

Evergreens Genes back USE

The row of arborvitae will help to screen the front of our home from the traffic on this two lane roadway.

I know that we won’t live to see these trees mature in our lifetime but this is one of the things we do on our homestead because we know in our hearts this action is the right thing to do. This is green living and right-action on behalf of our community.

 Four pines to east USE

Eventually these White Pines will grow to create a living screen.

Picket fence pines newly planted USE

This planting bed sits alongside of our gravel driveway and provides a barrier between out roadway and our home.

We plant trees for Mother Nature and the good of our earth community. Excuse me while I go out and water my new trees!

Blessings from The Small House Homestead.