The Farm Report: Tree’s Gone, Net’s Up

Last March, we had a pine tree fall very close to the house:

For obvious reasons, we made cutting it up and getting it away from the house a priority. There are still big chunks of the trunk sitting in the side yard, waiting for us to figure out what to do with them. The current plan is to use the big ol’ stumps as seating around our (seldom-used) fire pit in the front yard.

Months before pine tree threatened the house, another big tree fell in our side field:

Quite a supply of firewood there. The smart approach would have been to cut it up in the winter, before the grass grew up around it. Unfortunately, that task fell below finish a version of the film in time for the cruise on my priority list, so I didn’t start dragging my chainsaws out there until June. I’ve been cutting it up a bit at a time since then – with the grass growing up all around it, of course.

I finally finished cutting it into chunks last week. (Sorry, I neglected to take pictures.) We figured we’d drive the van into the field, load up the chunks of wood, and drive them over to the barn to be stored until we rent a splitter.

That idea lasted until Chareva said, “These stumps are covered with ants. I don’t want them in the van.”

Our girls have a well-deserved reputation for using the van as a combination clothes closet and garbage bin, so I replied, “How would you know the difference?” But I had to concede the point.

So we ended up piling wood into a garden cart, with each load weighing somewhere in the neighborhood of a couple hundred pounds, then pulling the cart out of the field, up onto the driveway, out towards the barn, through another field, and finally stopping at the barn door. Then we tossed the wood into the barn. Lather, rinse, repeat. By the time we were done, I’d already given myself permission to skip my weekend workout at the gym.

Also last weekend, we made progress on building the new chicken yard. We got the fences up and strung some Paracord atop the 10-foot poles.

This weekend, we finished stringing the Paracord from pole to pole.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that the Paracord is there to hold a net, which meant it was time to figure out how to unfurl a giant net and get it draped over the cords.

The net comes in a box, all rolled up.

My plan was to take the net into the nearby field, unroll it, start raising it over one end of the chicken yard, then work our way across.  Chareva’s plan was to not go with my plan.  She said we needed to start by tossing the net over the pole and cords in the middle of the yard, then work our way out. I didn’t see how that was feasible, with the net still rolled up and all.

She tried it explaining it to me, but it had something to do with vectors she learned while working with Adobe Illustrator, or female intuition, or something else I couldn’t grasp. As a result, my role was reduced to holding the ladder steady while she worked the net outwards. I was also allowed to offer as many suggestions as she cared to ignore.

Slowly but surely – and obviously due in no small part to my ability to hold a ladder steady on hilly ground – she got the net unfurled and draped over the poles and cords.

We still have some work to do before we’d consider the chicken yard a safe haven at night. The net has to be tied down on all sides, and we need to attach chicken wire along the ground to deter predators from digging under the fences.

But the net is up, and as you can see, it’s way above our heads – just where I wanted it.

We also got a door attached to Chareva’s signature cattle-panel archway, so the yard is safe enough during the day for the chickens to run around the yard and look for bugs. They seem quite happy about that.

I’ll be happy as long as a raccoon doesn’t figure out a way in.

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20 thoughts on “The Farm Report: Tree’s Gone, Net’s Up

  1. Lori Miller

    I bet people often ask you where you find the time. I have time to garden, cook, can and pursue some other interests since I’m not on Facebook, I don’t text, and I don’t watch much TV.

  2. Andrew Huang

    Looks like quite a project! Where do you learn about building a high-security chicken yard? My parents keep chickens, and thought they had their bases covered with a basic fence. But just a couple of days ago there was a massive massacre after bringing home 3 new birds (which presumably attracted predators by making noise or being too out in the open). We woke up to find 5 out of 6 killed, likely by a weasel (based on the pattern of bites in the back with intestines pulled out). My parents would like to get a few more to give the lone survivor some friends, but are of course wary after such an event.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      We learned from our mistakes. Eventually, you have to look for every spot where a predator can squeeze through, climb over, or dig under. As your parents (and nearly everyone who keeps chickens) found out, predators just love chickens and are determined to get to them.

      Your parents might find this site useful:

        1. Tom Naughton Post author

          I give him high marks for cleverness. Look how long it took me to figure it out.

  3. Patrick Owen

    You need a truck, Tom. I know it sounds silly but I live on 40 acres back in the hills of NC and it’s true. I have resisted getting a tractor, boat, ATV and RV but I feel like a truck is a must-have for the small farm. Nice if it’s 4×4 but not totally necessary – mine is a 1980 Ford 4×4. I don’t even put tag and insurance on it – but it’s very handy around the place. Something usable can be had for less that $1000. Chareva will thank you, I promise!

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Nothing silly about it. We know we need a truck. I’ve just been putting it off.

      1. chris c

        Just a belated thought, how about a real Man Toy – a vintage tractor and trailer?

        You could probably find a Johnny Popper, or for added luxury a Massey Ferguson with the Perkins 3 cylinder, both pretty unbreakable and especially if you found time to do some restoration, or pay someone else to do so, you could get several years of use out of them and then sell them on for more than you paid for them.

        Chareva might even let you drive it occasionally.

        1. Tom Naughton Post author

          Only if I ask her nicely.

          We have all kinds of farm toys in the wish list. But first, we need to place to store them.

    2. Chareva

      Yes!!!!! I was muttering “Dear, we really DO need a truck” under my breath the whole time we were pulling logs in the garden cart. I will certainly thank my beloved husband. Thank you Tom.

  4. Lori Miller

    I bet people often ask you where you find the time. I have time to garden, cook, can and pursue some other interests since I’m not on Facebook, I don’t text, and I don’t watch much TV.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      I spend very little time on Facebook, but I’m there. I manage to squeeze in an hour or two of TV before bed most nights, but that’s because my other hours are productive.

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