Well it’s been another busy fortnight or so here on Serendipity Farm. Steve and I have been working hard to get everything sorted out in the garden and our latest task was to build a structure around the fridge wicking beds to protect the veggies inside them from possum attack. So far, the possums have stayed away from the planted beds. We put that down to the fact that the seedlings are pretty small for a possum to want to try to navigate those strange white structures for but as soon as they start growing, the possums interest value is going to increase exponential to the rate of growth so we have a small window of opportunity before disaster strikes.
As middle aged penniless student permaculture hippies, we try to do everything we can to minimise the cost of anything that we build. We try to use permaculture principles to use what we have available and what is abundant on the property and in the area around us. In order to build a structure for the fridge wicking beds, we need a lot of timber and as we have a large stand of ti trees (Melaleuca alternifolia) on our property, we figured we would head down and utilise some of this free bounty in our structure. The main problem with having to find your own resources is that they don’t come prepacked and ready to go. In order to utilise the ti trees, we had to head down into the forget-me-not and vinca infested section of the property and go hunting for trees that were of a suitable size for our needs.
After we found the right sized trees we had to cut them down and then find a way to transport them back to the house. Our wonderful old 4 x 4 is on it’s last legs and although we managed to use it to carry some of the ti trees that we needed for our structure back up to the house, we didn’t want to chance it breaking down on the driveway so we had to come up with an alternative method for transporting the cut timber from the lower part of the property to where we have the fridge wickers. We ended up strapping the cut timber to our trusty (rusty) wheelbarrow and Steve pushed and I pulled it up the steep slope to where we had set up our saw horses so that we could start preparing the trees to become poles for our structure.
Turning the trees into poles involved using a a draw knife to strip the bark from the trees. If you leave the bark on the poles they rot. If you remove the bark, they last forever. Go figure! Anyway, as Steve does most of the really heavy stuff around here, whenever I can do something I take on the task so I stripped all of the trees ready to cut to the right lengths to create frames for the structure. The added bonus of stripping the bark is that I got the bark to use as mulch in Sanctuary. I also got a serious upper body workout for free.
Once we stripped and cut the poles we started making the frames for the structure. We worked out that the structure would need a front and a back with doors in each, and a series of frames in between the fridges in order to share the load of the ex fish farm netting that we are going to use to cover the entire structure. We used this netting on Sanctuary and it is perfect for the job and we have a couple of large rolls of it left so we are using what we have available. As we have 14 fridge wickers in the row we ended up putting a frame between every second fridge wicker and we ended up needing 9 frames in total (including the front and the back)
We managed to collect and strip poles on the first day. We then constructed 4 frames on day 2 and on day 3 we headed back down and collected more trees for poles and created the rest of the frames. Another excellent thing (although it doesn’t feel like it at the time!) about doing things yourself, is that you learn on your feet. The first frame took a lot longer than the subsequent frames as we had to learn how we were going to put it together. By the last few frames we were like well oiled machines. There are some serious benefits to doing as much as you can yourself and one of them is that you learn a whole lot in the process, including learning that you can do things you didn’t think that you could.
We have now installed all of the frames ready for putting on the netting and after a trip to the city some time this week, we will pick up some thin rope to finish the job. Once the netting is over the structure we can start work on installing the irrigation around the orchard trees that we have been adding to the small collective of trees that were here when we moved in. We had to cut down an ancient cherry tree this morning because something had killed it. We used the pole of the tree to strap a tall bird bath on for the birds in the area to safely drink and bath. We chopped up the old tree with our secateurs and a saw and will use it’s remains in one of the remaining wicking beds that we are still to transport down from Sanctuary. Nothing gets wasted around here.
In between all of the construction we have been moving a lot of things around, cleaning and clearing up and generally changing things to suit us better. I was happy to read that one of the fundamentals of permaculture is that you keep changing and adapting to the situation. We have been actively embracing that ethos on Serendipity Farm. I am officially knackered. Another benefit to doing everything you can yourself is that you sleep like a baby and that’s my segue for Narf signing off for another lovely day down on Serendipity Farm. I will make sure to keep you all up to date on what we have been getting up to here. With Christmas rapidly approaching we will actually have some garden produce on our table this year which will make all of this mad rush of activity well worth it. See you all soon 🙂