Goatpen Takedown

Woke up unsure about what to do today, ended up taking apart the old goat pen and chicken coop. 

It was a well-constructed enclosure, about 20x40 feet, but of no use to us. It could have been the basis of a deer-proof garden--a good start with 6' high hog wire firmly stapled to 13 evenly spaced pressure treated 4x4 posts, 10-footers dug two feet deep, set in concrete. All sturdy and straight, it was almost a pity to dismantle but it's the shadiest part of the yard and it was best to open up the space.

With Dogyu bar (aka whaletail), hammer, and end nips, I removed the staples. At first I did each individually, using cat's paw to pry them out one by one. Then I realized it went quicker levering the hammer claw under the wire; this method worked on all but the largest, stoutest staples. I did it carefully because the wire will be reused to protect the hugel beds and trees Sarah is planting.

I considered digging out the posts, but that seemed too hard and possibly bonkers. Instead I used a recip saw with pruning blade to cut them off just below ground level, as close as possible to the concrete footings (which we are leaving for future archaeologists to ponder). I was surprised at how many remained standing after I cut clear through them (5 of 13!), testament to how well the builder plumbed the posts. I was stoked to come away with a baker's dozen of 8-foot-plus lengths, about $200 worth of lumber.

There were also a couple of pallet structures--a chicken coop and a goat box, latter complete with ramp. Both were slimy and shit encrusted. I barely noticed it as I probed for screw heads so I could disassemble and reuse what lumber I could. Pallets can be hit or miss (some are impregnated with toxins that make them dicey for cutting or burning), but the 2x4 lengths will come in handy for bracing and blocking elsewhere.

After everything was razed, I quickly repurposed sections of hog wire to protect two apple trees Sarah planted today in hugels she built in the backyard. For each, I set a single slender 6-foot stake and worked the length of fencing around the tree in a circle, snipping wire as needed to follow the contour of the mounds.

In front of the house, I recently built a planter box from cedar fence boards salvaged from a job--11 feet long, 2 feet high, and 16 inches deep (front to back, that is). Sarah is planting grapes, which prefer somewhat rocky soil, which we have in abundance within a literal stone's throw, a mountain of spoils just around the corner from when the nearby inlet was last dredged. Lacking a tractor, we did a really anachronistic thing and used our pickup truck for agricultural work. I momentarily paused my shoveling to appreciate the view from the top of the dirt pile, king of the hill.

It took four truckloads of soil to fill the planter, then a 6-inch topping of compost. Quite a lot of work for two small starts, but more plants will come. Then I went hog wild with hog wire again and bent, tucked, and screwed the steel deer-frustrating grid in place. It's temporary but fairly solid. Sort of a theme around here...


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