A month or so ago, Our neighbour saw two deer crossing our road and entering our land.
We have never fenced our land. I rather liked the concept that all the local wild life could come in and graze on our grass and drink at the dam quite freely.
After-all, the wallabies, kangaroos and wombats were all here before us.
However, feral deer are another matter. They have been breeding up in extreme numbers out in the Buragorang Valley National Park for years, so now they have reached Balmoral Village.
We live in a small hamlet or village, on a very old road and disused railway line that is situated between two National Parks.
Whether the deer got here from either the East or the West side parks, doesn’t matter. The big problem is that they are here now.
We have been so lucky to have had 46 years of living here without this problem, but now we have to deal with it.
Luckily for us, There is this guy I know who does fencing all summer and sells firewood all winter. His family have lived and worked here since 1906. AND, he’s a really nice guy to boot.
I had been talking to him about getting some help with a fence along the back lane, as some kids had been coming in and yahooing about down the back there.
We have already put a fire-proof steel and stone ‘gabion’ fence along our front boundary as a kind of heat shield for the ground fire in the next big bush fire event, whenever that comes.
We asked our neighbours on the South side if they wanted a fence 30 years ago. They didn’t. So no fence was ever built. We got on really well together as neighbours, so didn’t need one.
Those neighbours were burnt out in the last big fire, and wont be rebuilding or returning to live here.
So now we have deer in the back orchard eating our fruit trees. They particularly like cherry tree leaves. They leave their turds on the grass around the trees as they nibble, and their hoof prints in the soft muddy soil around the edge of the dam where we were clearing out the dead trees and undergrowth from the water yesterday.
and Baby turds, so there are at least two of them eating our trees.
Monday the 16th of January, is the first day back at work for most tradies and small businesses around here. So Phil turned up with his two sons to get a bit of a start on our fance.
A lot has changed since I spoke to him in late October last year. The fence now needs to be twice as long, to seal off the property, and twice as high with the arrival of the feral deer, as they can jump very high. We originally discussed a wire mesh fence 1200 mm. high with 3 strands of barbed wire on top. This is apparently the basic, standard rural fence these days around here. I wouldn’t know. I’ve lived here for 46 years and never spoken to a fencer before. I have done all my own internal fences around the gardens and orchards over the years, cut my own fence posts, crow-barred and shovelled my own holes. Rammed my own posts solid in the ground. But now I am a bit too old for all that hard work these days, as the fence will end up having to be 250 metres long to keep the deer out. I’m learning to relax and to compromise my standards by letting someone else do some of the hard yakka this time. Basically, I trust Phil to do a thorough job.
The new deer fence will now be 1800mm high, at a greater extra expense and a very dear fence it will be.
We cleared a track through the bush that had never been cleared before. I tried to keep as many trees a possible, allowing the fence to wander a bit to find the line of least destruction of the bigger trees. The first thing that Phil said after walking the fence line, was that some more trees will have to go. It needs to be straight, otherwise you’ll be up for the added expense of extra strainer posts and stays.
All the trees in question are already dead. Standing blackened, leafless and burnt dead. Victims of the catastrophic bush fire that raged through here 3 years ago. I have no idea why I wanted to ’save’ them. Just habit I guess? So out they come and the line of the fence is straightened. They drag the trunks out of the way and into the clearing where we stack our fire wood. A place well away from the house. I spend a day chain-sawing. I stop regularly to refuel, re-oil and sharpen each of the three chainsaws. Large, medium and small. I spend all day at it, but can’t keep up with the delivery rate that the fences are dragging the dead wood out.
I cut them up into usable sizes for the pottery oven/heater, the kitchen stove and the lounge room heater. The trees with the largest diameter butts are cut into just 150 mm. long slabs. This is to make them lighter, and easier to lift and stack them, and eventually move them to the hydraulic splitter. Large diameter hardwood logs can be very heavy. The skinny logs and tapered top branches, anything less than 150 mm. dia. are cut to the longer lengths, as their weight doesn’t matter at that size. All the intermediates are cut to 300 mm long. It all works out quite well, but the site looks like a bomb site with timber and branches everywhere.
Phil and the boys have already got most of the iron bark timber posts in the ground by the end of day one. Phil acknowledges that I have worked all day on the saws cutting up the 14 trees that he has dragged out this morning. There a still more to come. He asks if I ever want a job, he’ll give me one as a fencer. He tells me that he has watched me work and says that I work harder than most of the young fellas half my age that he has employed!
They have an antique tractor, fitted with an antique post hole drill and fence post rammer. They drive the iron bark posts 900 mm. into the ground. The gear may be a bit old, but they work fast and efficiently.
Tuesday, the fencers don’t turn up. They have told me already that they need to finish off another job from last year that was waiting for some more parts to be delivered. They are keen to get it finished and get paid. I was pretty tired and achey after working on the chainsaws all day yesterday. So in the morning I weeded some of the garden beds in the veggie garden, then picked just over 3 kgs of blue berries. I sharpen and service the saws from yesterday, then after lunch, I’m back into it, collecting up all the short cut billets of wood and taking them around to the new firewood stack. Once I’ve cleared away all the cut wood from yesterday, I start the cutting again. I want to get at least one side of the site cleared of tree trunks, branches and twigs ready for tomorrows task of doing it all over again, cutting, carting, stacking and splitting.
The wood is stacked more or less 20 billets wide x 6 or 7 billets high x 7 stacks deep.
We have several tonnes, possibly 10 tonnes, of wood cut and stacked, with just 4 more trees to work on tomorrow. I’m trying to get all the logs and timber detritus out of the way of the fencers, so that they can work efficiently and un-interrupted tomorrow. I also get a lot of satisfaction in seeing it all cleared away and neatly stacked.
I’m assuming that the fencers would normally like to take all these trees away with them each day and sell the wood as fire wood over the coming winter? However, we have a need for it, so I’ve kept it for our own winter needs.
We celebrate with an eye fillet mini roast, just for the two of us. Janine makes a traditional Yorkshire pudding with the left over meat juices in the little roasting pan.
It’s one of the best that she has ever made. It’s a beauty!
Their big old tractor almost gets bogged in the low spot where the dam over-flow water seeps down to the back lane. It was almost dry enough to drive over, but we had 30 mm. of rain overnight and on their last pass over the soggy bit, they sank in.
Wednesday morning we spent a few hours loading barrows with broken bricks , left over from the brickwork on the facade of the new pottery building. I knew that all those broken bricks would come in handy one day. I fill the deep muddy tyre gouged trenches with the brickbats and stomp them down into the mud. This may not be enough, but I’ve filled the deep trenches, so we’ll see how the tractor goes over this lot before I barrow another 20 loads down there. I’ll try and finish off with all the smaller pieces and mortar sand and gravel when this is all over.
Enough for now.
The first layer of mesh is tied onto the strained high tensile wire. There will be another 600 mm. of barbed wire on post extensions that fit on top of the steel posts to make the fence more Deer resistant. The extensions are not often called for, so are not in stock and will have to be ordered in.
A very Dear fence indeed.
Phil and his sons have done a very nice job of staying the strainer posts with a mortice and tenon joint in the iron bark posts and a huge flat stone embedded into the soil to buttress the other end of the stay. A very impressive and thorough job.
Thursday morning sees more rain, so I’m putting off doing the last of the wood carting and stacking till later in the day, when the weather is forecast to clear. I’ll spend the morning writing. While Janine is sorting the hazel nuts.
I wasn’t planning on spending my first week back at work after the summer break on chainsawing and wood stacking. I imagined that I was going to be making new batches of clay bodies for the coming year. That will be next week now. The fencers can fit me in just now, between other jobs, so that is what we will be doing. We are lucky to get them.
John Lennon said that life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans. So true.
Life goes on. As my friend Anne says; “How we spend our days, is how we spend our lives”.
In my case, that appears to be lurching form one crisis to another.
Nothing is ever finished, nothing is perfect and nothing lasts.
Life is good!