A Bit of Wire

Leave a comment

I am a great fan of wire.  It is so useful.  My mother reckons that I have inherited my love of wire from my grandfather who, reputedly, could fix anything with a bit of wire.  As a farmer, a lot of his skill would simply have been tied to the fact that ‘necessity is the mother of invention’.

Although I grew up in the city, I now live on a semi-rural small acreage and those same skills are required from time to time.  Apart from genetics, at least some of my ability to use wire was honed during my career working in operating theatres.  The principles of application of wire remain the same, regardless of whether it is a fractured ankle, a fractured jaw or attaching fencing wire to a post.

Here are a couple of recent examples of my handiwork.

Attaching the weldmesh panels to star pickets for the sides of the compost bays.

2020-05-31 01

We bought a decorative wind ornament for the garden a few months ago but the pole was not sturdy enough to maintain an upright position.

2020-05-31 02

So, we placed a star picket immediately beside the pole and wired it to the star picket in 3 places to provide a sturdy brace.

2020-05-31 03

A couple of things to keep in mind when using wire.

Consider where the ‘knot’ will finish and make sure that it can be tucked out of the way to avoid risk of injury.

Make sure that the item is strong enough to accept to force of tensioning the wire.

Use a suitable gauge of wire appropriate to the job.

Always hold the end of the wire when cutting it to avoid injury.


The New Arrivals


On Thursday evening there was a card in our mailbox advising that there was a large parcel at the Post Office for us to collect.  We collected the box early on Friday morning before we went to work.  It was our fruit trees that we ordered online from Daley’s Nursery.  We ordered 12 blueberry bushes and a passionfruit vine.

New plants
Here is the box after I had slit one side open (as suggested in the attached instructions).  The plants were well-packed and in excellent condition.  Once again, we followed the directions and removed all of the wrapping and put them out in full sun.

Blueberry bushes
We watered them well and have placed them in the area where they will be planted  – hopefully tomorrow.  It may be a bit difficult to see in the photo but I had already placed rocks to mark where we are going to plant them so it will be a relatively simple matter of digging the holes.  The ground is quite soft as we have had some rain.  Blueberries thrive in a slightly acidic soil.  I have never actually tested the pH of our soil but the other indicator is that azaleas and camellias grow really well in our area and they like very similar conditions.

We have four other blueberry shrubs which are in the area which is now the chicken run.  You can read about them in this previous post.  We did not give them as much care as they probably needed but we still managed to harvest about 1.5kg of berries this summer.  That was predominantly from 2 shrubs.  We have now pruned them quite hard and mulched them thoroughly.

The other exciting news is that we have completely finished fencing the vegetable garden area.

Vegie garden and fencing

As well as the completed fencing you may also be able to see the black hoops over the garden bed in the distance.  This is some large poly pipe which I am planning to use as a frame for some exclusion netting to keep the white cabbage moth off the broccoli, kale, cabbages and cauliflower.  I am looking at buying the vege netting from Green Harvest.  We are fortunate that this business is located in Maleny so we are able to place our order online and then pick it up in person.

The chickens are rather unhappy that they are now permanently excluded from the garden area and all of the freshly dug soil and earthworms.

Weekend Work & Chicken Wings


It is Wednesday already and it is nearly a week since my last post.  I have been busy doing things instead of writing and unfortunately have not always had the camera handy.  However, here are a few photos of some of the things we did on the weekend.

The existing blueberry bushes have been pruned, enclosed with wire surrounds and mulched thoroughly.  These bushes have been in for several years but are now in the wrong place as they are located within the new chicken run.  I previously had the entire area enclosed to prevent the chickens from digging around them and exposing the roots but I decided that individual enclosures were a better idea.

New garden
The fencing around the perimeter of the vegetable gardens is almost complete.  I the meantime I have temporarily closed off the last bit to exclude the chickens.  This meant that I was able to prepare a new garden bed and be safe in the knowledge that it would not be dug up immediately by the marauding feathered army.  The rock edging is made from some of the hundreds of rocks that litter our property.  The bed is inside the fence nearest to the house so I plan to make this into a herb garden.

Finally, I clipped the wings of the chickens in order to make sure that they could not fly over the 1200mm fence into the vegie garden.  I had wanted to do this for ages but never felt quite brave enough.  With some advice from an online forum, a Youtube video and The Duke to hold the chicken I was able to clip the flight feathers on one wing of each chicken.  The exercise seems to have been successful as there has been no more instances of flying over fences.

Finally – A Fence

Leave a comment

We have been living here for over 8 years now and when we moved in there were no vegetable gardens and only 3 fruit trees – avocado, orange and lemon in rather odd spots in the yard.  We built some vegetable gardens which have evolved over time and the chicken run has been moved and is now next to the vegetable gardens.  Since free-ranging chickens and vegetable gardens do not go terribly well together we decided to fence the entire area containing the garden beds.  This has been a very long-winded process but we can finally see the end in sight.

Today we actually did one run on fencing and here is the result.

We hope to finish the fencing which will enclose the vegetable garden area next weekend.  It should mean an end to the various bits of wire contraptions that I create to keep the chickens away from the seedlings.

These are peas and pak choy seedlings that we bought at the Yandina markets on Saturday.  We also bought lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, kale and cauliflower which are in the other beds.

Beans and radishes
Here are the purple beans and radishes which have come up from seed I planted a couple of weeks ago.

What are you growing in your garden at the moment?

Making it Happen


Late on a Sunday afternoon The Duke and I can often be found strolling around the garden or sitting on the verandah.  The topic of discussion is invariably our plans for our patch of paradise.  Both of us working full-time means that our time is somewhat limited but we have so many grand plans.

A couple of weeks ago we decided to create an action plan.  In reality, it was just a matter of writing down all of the things that we regularly talk about.


Paint fenceposts


Fence vegie garden area


Buy & plant shrubs outside fence


Create rockery in V outside fence


Finish retaining walls under verandah


Buy and lay pebbles under verandah


Revamp compost area


Create 6 new garden beds


Extend concrete path to gate


Paint stairs and railing


Create corner garden outside the gate


Build a gabion seat in above garden


Make & erect lych gate


Rainwater tank under house


External plumbing/taps


Cut up and stack excess wood


Mulch wood as required


Build extra chicken roost/house


Trees cut down


Develop snakepit


Irrigation for fruit trees


Clear/replant along driveway


Plant rainforest on upper level


Slash top of the block


Battens/screening under house/verandah


Lighting under the house


Build pergola outside garage


Repair/replace verandah flooring


Build shed at end of driveway


Renovate downstairs shower/toilet

The list is by no means exhaustive.  Some of the items are long-term projects, some require external help and yet others are beyond our budget at the moment.  However, it is good to see where we are heading.  We have roughly allocated priority to the tasks, however, that may change.

We do not necessarily plan to refer to the list or stick to it precisely.  Without even looking at it, yesterday we made the decision to take the first step towards item  number 1, painting the fenceposts.  We retrieved them from where they had been stacked after the demolition of the previous chicken run.  Using the high pressure cleaner, we cleaned the mud and mould from them and they are now stacked on the scaffold.

Some posts have already been painted and we now worked out how many of these are required to be able to complete the fencing of the vegetable gardens.  There is still a bit more preparation to do before we can start painting.  We need to cut some of the posts to the length we need and also remove the metal bolts which you can see at the end.  The posts that are not required for the fencing project will be stored for future use.

The posts were still damp today so we made a start on one of the other items on the list – creating a rockery in the ‘V’ outside the boundary fence.  When The Duke and my brother-in-law replaced the front fence last year we thought we would have t remove a couple of trees that were growing immediately adjacent to the fence.  However, a bit of creative thinking led us to detour the fence around the tress which we did not want to lose.

I did not take a ‘before’ photo but here are a couple of shots to give you an idea of what we are doing.  The first view is looking down the line of the fence with the ‘V’ to the right.  We cleared all of the leaf debris and small branches and set them aside to be mulched.  Then we created a rock border along the fence line and also to create an edge between the proposed rockery and the grass on the footpath.

New garden
Finding rocks is never a problem here as there is volcanic rock everywhere.  We have all sizes from boulders that are over 1 metre high to pebbles and everything in between.  It was a simple matter of collecting enough of the size we wanted and then positioning them.  This has had the added benefit of blocking one of the escape routes for the chickens when they are free-ranging as the fence did not exactly follow the contour of the land.

New garden - view 2
Here is a better view of our handiwork.  It is taken from inside the fence and looking towards the road.  The point of the ‘V’ is on the left of the photo.  There is still some leaf litter and twigs to be mulched.  There are some quite big rocks around the base of the trees  and they will remain.  This should add structural interest and height to the finished area.  I hope to clear some of the debris from the pockets between the rocks and fill them with soil to plant some groundcovers.  A bullet-proof suit might be in order for that job as some of the biggest, nastiest ants I have met live in that spot!!

The next step will be to spread several layers of newspaper over the entire area and then cover it with mulch.  We will plant an assortment of native shrubs and ground cover plants and before long the area will be much more aesthetically pleasing.

It is great to see the first results from our planning.  Watch this space as we work through the list.

Going, Going………Not Quite Gone

1 Comment

Last weekend we did some more demolition work on the old chicken coop.  We have been fairly careful in how we went about it because it was our goal to salvage most of the materials for use in future projects.  There is now only one piece of chain wire to remove and then the posts.


The Colorbond sheeting from the roof and walls will come in handy for some of the remaining raised garden beds that we are planning to construct.  The posts have been earmarked for use in building the perimeter fence of the vegetable garden.  That was the reason that we fenced the new chicken run before the vegetable garden as the posts for the run were taller so had to be purchased.

The woodshed which is in the foreground of the photo will be retained and some minor modifications made to it.


I will also be making some changes to how the wood is stored.  Although it cannot be seen in this photo, I had wood stacked quite high against the side wall.  I use the past tense of ‘had’ as recently there was a tremendous crash during the night and we have now discovered that my carefully stacked wood has collapsed and is now a disorganised jumble on the ground.  I suspect that some of the local wildlife was instrumental in this event.

As always, there is always another project lurking in the background, even if it is only in our minds at this stage.  Once the structure is completely removed this will open up the possibility of having at least one large limb lopped from one of the jacaranda trees.  There is also a very large boulder which has dislodged from higher up the mountain and is resting against part of the old fence at the top of the block.  We may remove the fencing to allow the rock to roll to the bottom of the garden (another ‘meteorite feature?) before repairing the fence.

Then there are the possibilities of what to do with the area where the chicken run was but I will save that discussion for another day.

I Can Grow Carrots


This probably seems pathetic to many gardeners but I have finally managed to grow some carrots.  It is a crop which has eluded me for the best part of 30 years of growing at least some food crops.

Some of my earliest memories are of the carrots growing in my grandfather’s vegetable garden.  Carrots were one of the vegetables that my parent’s grew also.

So why is it so difficult to grow carrots?  The seed is very fine and can easily dry out, blow away or be taken by birds.  Whatever the reason, I have been unable to even get them to germinate previously.  Then there is the issue of the soil.  It needs to be a bit on the sandy side, well-drained and definitely no rocks or you can end up with some strangely shaped carrots.  Mind you, I was so desperate to at least have carrots growing that I could not have cared less about them being misshapen.

When I sowed carrot seeds a couple of months ago I covered them with a few layers of damp newspaper until they had germinated and this seemed to do the trick.

Carrots and beans

These are the carrots I picked today.  They are really just a few that I pulled to thin them out.  They are still smaller than the beans that are also from the garden and I can almost hear my grandfather telling me that the soil is too rich in nutrients as they have all gone to the tops.  I know, I know……..but at least I have carrots.  I am so proud of myself.  The beans and carrots were eaten for dinner.

We have been busy putting the strainer wires up for the fencing on the chicken run today.  Tomorrow we hope to attach at least some of the chicken wire and also assemble the coop which we bought.  It is currently still in the 2 flat pack boxes in the garage.

I am looking forward to the day when the fencing is all done and the remainder of the raised garden beds are built and then hopefully I will be able to concentrate on improving the results of my vegetable gardening efforts.

Demolition Derby


We have managed to get a bit more done in the garden this weekend but is has not been all about building.  Some of it has entailed destruction – namely demolishing the original vegetable gardens.

Vegie Garden

This is what it looked like about 2 years after we moved here.  These beds served us well but we are now working on a revamped plan.  So far we have built 3 raised beds and eventually there will be nine of them in a fully-fenced garden area.

New garden beds

You can see some of the old beds in the enclosure in the background of the photo above.  Below is what it looks like now.


You can see the posts for the chicken run in the background.  That will share a common fence with the bottom of the garden enclosure.  The string line on the left hand side marks the eastern boundary of the vegetable garden enclosure.  As well as the 9 raised beds I plan to grow herbs in beds along the fence line nearest to the house and asparagus and rhubarb on the eastern side.  I do not want these in one of the raised beds as they are perennials rather than annuals.  There will also be chilli bushes and blueberries nearest to the front boundary as well as a screened area for the compost tumblers.  We have one tumbler at the moment and will probably get a second one as well as keeping one ‘open’ compost bay.  I am quite keen to clear up the ‘Steptoe & Son’ arrangement that is there at the moment with a cut down rainwater tank as well as a rusty 44 gallon drum.

We put in 4 more posts for the chicken run fencing so next weekend we should be able to attach at least some of the top rails and the strainer wires.  Because the fence is 1800mm high in this section we will have three horizontal wires.  One at the top, one close to the ground and the other in the middle so this should prevent any sagging of the fencing wire.  We are using heavy gauge chicken wire as our plan is to make sure that the chickens do not get out nor any unwanted guests finding their way into the run.

Our original plan included incorporating a coop into the run but it all got too complicated so we have opted to have a ready-made, freestanding coop situated in the run.  It will be something like this.

My Day


Most of what I post is about a particular project or activity but tonight I thought I would share my Saturday with you.  Our weekends are precious and we try to make the most of the time.

I work full-time and have a lengthy commute, so during the week it is usually all I can manage to prepare and eat dinner and make our packed lunches.  Sometimes I do the ironing but that is about the limit.

The Duke and I are the only ones at home and many things have been simplified and streamlined.

I woke at 5.30am so I quickly hopped up and put a load of washing on.  I am trying to be more diligent about using power before sunrise and after sunset.  This means we maximise the benefit of the solar panels by exporting to the grid at 50c/kWh and using it (at night) for 28c/kWh.

Once the washing was on I crawled back into bed and read my book for an hour.  Then it was time to be up and going.

Breakfast eaten, dishes done and washing hung out.  The Duke put a loaf of bread on to bake in the breadmaker.  The bed stripped and remade.  A second load of washing sorted and ready to wash this evening.  Handwashing done.

Floors swept, vanity and mirror cleaned.  While I am doing these jobs, The Duke is sorting out finances and adjusting the budget.

That is enough housework for the day so it is time to head outdoors on this gorgeous autumn day to work on some of our projects.  It is not quite 9am.

2012-08-05 01At least one of the chickens has been doing a fine imitation of Houdini recently so we need to make some repairs to the chicken run to make sure they are contained.  We use some tent pegs to anchor some of the wire to the ground so hopefully that problem is sorted.

In January The Duke and my brother-in-law replaced a large portion of our front boundary fence.  We also put new wire along the front of the house below the verandah.  This was not finished off and tensioned and it has been a source of much debate as to exactly how we would do it.  A few weeks ago, The Duke painted some timber which he attached to the metal posts at each end so that we could secure the wire.  Today we tensioned the wire and attached it to the posts.

2013-05-04 02Time for a break and lunch.

We also needed to find a solution to securing from the end of the wire to the wall of the workshop and had decided that we would construct a concrete block wall and then top it with a piece of timber lattice.

The Duke painted the lattice last weekend.  We had also poured the first part of the concrete footing for the block wall.

Today we laid the first few blocks.  It is quite a challenge working in a confined space so we will be very glad when it is done.  We are certainly not giving up our day jobs but I am very happy with what we have achieved so far.  Once the wall is built to level at the left-hand end in the photo, we will place the lattice on top of the wall and secure it at both ends.

Block wallEven though almost everything we have constructed recently has come from second-hand or salvaged materials I am mindful that I do to not want it looking like Steptoe & Son.

I have been working on the design and plans for our vegetable garden fencing and a new chicken run adjacent to the garden.  This afternoon we marked out the position of the corner posts and discussed the location of the hen house.  We also checked how many posts we already have and it looks as though we will only have to buy a few more.  These are mostly the longer ones which we need for the higher fencing around the chicken run.

2013-05-04 04Once the sun had set I put on the load of washing I sorted this morning.  Then it was time for a shower, prepare dinner and watch Gardening Australia (my inspiration).  I checked the solar inverter – the panels generated 19kWh today.  That is pretty good when it is only a little over 6 weeks until the shortest day of the year.

Dinner was eaten, washing hung out and the final load put in the machine.

The last load of washing is finished and once I finish this post I will hang it out.  I use the clothesline under the verandah so it is safe and easy to access at night.

It has been a full and productive day.  I am happily exhausted and will enjoy a good night’s sleep.

I hope you had a good day and I am looking forward to doing it all again tomorrow.

Chasing My Tail


It does not take much to get the organisation out of sync.

On the weekend I spent most of the time outdoors.  I was helping The Duke with the fencing and my hands and legs bear testament to having done battle with the wire.


So, naturally the the jobs which I normally do on the weekends were neglected.  I still cooked meals but the kitchen was not properly tidied.


The washing was done but not the ironing. Ironing board

Floors were swept but not mopped.


I made a concerted effort last night and this morning and have mostly caught up.  Now I need to give some thought to packing as we are going to Melbourne for a few days.  There may be a couple of gaps between posts while I get on with my ‘real’ life but I will be back on track soon.