Friday, July 10, 2015

Quick Chicken Fence Repair

We found out the other weekend that wire mesh movable electric fences (one of these guys) and lawnmowers don't get along very well.  While trying to get into a tight spot behind the bee hive, the lawnmower managed to reach out and pull one slightly-less-than-taught section of the fence into the blade.

Here's a question for you: given that it takes the human brain around 0.2 seconds to process a stimulus and react, that the lawnmower blade spins at 200 rpm, and that the fence cost $165, can you calculate how many dollars per blade revolution the lawnmower did?  Ready, go.

Easy, you say?  0.2 seconds equates to 2/3 of a revolution, and the fence was obviously destroyed, bringing the total to $247.50 per revolution?

Wait, there's more information: first, we didn't have the fence electrified and weren't planning to since it kept the chickens in just fine without electricity (until we put a big hole in it with the lawnmower), and second, we saved the wire wrapping that our rolls of hardware cloth and woven wire fencing came in, along with plenty of other wire scraps.  Turns out that, as long as we still don't want to electrify it, the cost was more like an hour of Jake's time, or basically, $0.00.

We started by laying the damaged section of fence as flat as possible, figuring out what strands were missing, then replacing the vertical missing vertical strands with pieces of 16 gauge wire.  Where there were a few remnants left, we tried to wrap them around the new wire.  We also fed the new wire through the horizontal strands when they were still intact.

Similar drill for the horizontal wires, except using the thinner wire that the hardware cloth roll was wrapped up in.  Our thinking is that the thinner wire will make it more flexible in the horizontal direction when we eventually roll up the fencing.  In extra-damaged places (like in the first photo), we wrapped the horizontal wire directly around the new vertical pieces.

The finished product doesn't look perfect, but it does keep the chickens out of the garden.  Will it ever be electric again?  Hard to know.  If we decide to try it, we'll update the post.  In the meantime, mission accomplished!

How do you do electric fence netting repair?

Monday, July 6, 2015

A Sampling of Trelli from Repurposed Materials

With the last of the garden finally planted, this last weekend we could turn our attention to the next step in vegetable cultivation: trellising.  (Some would say that should be done concurrently with setting out plants, but that happened to be outside our time budget this spring since we didn't have them built yet!)  We've got tomatoes, pole beans, and cucumbers that need support, and we're testing out a variety of trellis designs this year to see what works best (and based largely on what we could find in our garage and yard).  A fun exercise as you scroll through is to try and figure out which designs Katie likes.  (Hint: it's not all of them.)

Two quick side notes: in case you were wondering, 'trelli' is not the accepted plural form of 'trellis.'  That would be 'trellises,' which is much less fun to say.  Also, we learned a while back that an unconventional collection of styles can be referred to as 'Bohemian' if you want to impress your visitors.  So, let's take a look at our Bohemian collection of trelli!

First up: tomatoes.  We made this one out of cedar fence pickets ripped in half on the table saw.  Once we had the design in mind, it only took about an hour to build.  The sides are surprisingly sturdy for being built out of 1/2" cedar pickets eroded to significantly less than that in places and held together by only one screw at each juncture.

One thing we noticed, though, was that just leaning against each other, the sides were prone to sliding and falling over, even in our not-very-windy yard.  So we took some scrap pieces of wood, pounded them in near the corner feet of the trellis as stakes, and screwed them to the trellis.

Also, taking some more wood scraps and jamming them in the top gives some more friction to keep the sides from sliding against each other.

After the first trellis, however, we ran out of cedar fence pickets.  So we ripped a few pieces of six-foot 2 x 6 into 3/4" by 1-1/2" strips and screwed them to stakes for the remaining tomato beds.  We can add additional boards/sticks across them as necessary when the tomatoes get larger.  Also, there are a few isolated tomato plants (not shown) we have stuck in the ground or containers here and there, for which we're still using the last few of our wire tomato cages (until they get too bent up to be useful).

Second, the beans: we have three hills, one hill of Scarlet Runner beans, and two of Kentucky Wonder.  For one hill (the scarlet runners), we have a UFO-on-a-stick.

It's actually a slightly-bent bike wheel attached to the post with a piece of 5/16" all-thread with a bike axle nut on top. 

Wires run down to sticks in the ground for the beans to climb up.

A second hill of beans has a tripod of 3/4" x 1-1/2" x 7' posts (also ripped from 2 x 6's).

They're held together by a piece of 1 x 12 with 1-1/2" holes drilled through it with a hole saw.  No screws in there, everything held in place by friction (so far).  We'll update the post if it ends up not being stable like this.

The third hill of beans has a section of woven wire fencing arcing through about 300° of a circle, and held in place by a stick driven into the ground on either end.  The theory is that leaving 60° of the circle will allow us to pick both the inside and outside; we'll update the post if that turns out to be too small.  The fencing is cut so as to leave a piece of wire at the end that wraps around the stick.  This model only took about 15 minutes to build, including finding the sticks!

The cukes get the same type of trellis as the third hill of beans.

What do you use for vegetable trellises?  Do you get them out when you first plant the garden?  Which ones do you think Katie liked?  Let us know in the comments section below!