Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Up Cycled Trampoline Veggie Bed, and why I don't pen my chooks.

Up Cycled trampoline veggie bed.

 Mrs Trump. The Poser.

Legs. (Skeptical of my phone)

& Mrs Nuggets.

They free range around our backyard during the day and sleep in the Chook-Mahal with a sign on the door that reads "Le gals" at night, except for Mrs Nuggets… she sleeps in the dog kennel with the dogs, and no, they have no interest in eating her, or the other two, I don't know why. They have happily coexisted in the backyard for three and a half years. We are an extended clan of weirdo's even our animals are odd.

I love all three of the chickens, but none more than Mrs Nuggets. I know you shouldn't have favourites, but stiff. I do.

She is my favourite for several reasons, but mostly because she loves nothing better than a good cuddle. (Superb Photo Bomb by my little brothers dog Janice).

Mrs Nuggets suffered a stroke a few months ago, which left her unable to do much more than walk in a circle. The next day she slipped into a coma, and spent the next day unresponsive on my bathroom floor.

She was breathing unassisted, but her neck was bent over her body at an odd angle, one wing droopy at her side. She did not appear to be in any pain and would drink water from a dropper, but that was about it.

I dropped water into her beak which is all broken and deformed from her time in the cage, every two hours, hoping that she would come good.
As an Ex battery hen, she had known so much suffering at the hands of man in her short life. When I brought her home from the 'farm' and I use that term loosely, the 'farmer' (also a title used loosely), told me that she was at the end of her life, she was no good for laying anymore, and that I shouldn't waste my time with her. That was three and a half years ago. She still lays an egg every couple of days.

Misogyny.. so hot right now..
I won't tell you what I said to the farmer because this is not an angry post.

Anyway, I spent two days in the bathroom dropping water and apologising for how humans had treated her. I wanted her to go peacefully, knowing kindness. Also, I'm not exactly normal.

The next day, cabbage announced that I was creeping him out, and I really needed to take poor Mrs Nuggets to the vet to in case she was suffering. So that morning, I placed her on the grass so that she could feel it under her scaly feet for the last time, she sat there, head bent, not moving, just breathing as though she was sleeping and I went inside to call the vet.

He was out on an emergency call and his receptionist sympathetically told me to bring Mrs Nuggets in that afternoon. I left her on the grass, a place she was happiest, in the shade.

At lunchtime I heard a scratching at the back door, I opened it expecting to see a bored dog or similar, only to see a very conscious, very hungry Mrs Nuggets, one wing only slightly droopy, a bit shaky on her legs, but very much alive and with us.
That day I was reminded of miracles and the fact that I know nothing of anything.

I'm not ashamed to say that I wept and wept... and cuddled, and wept, and kissed her crooked little beak. I sent an excited picture message to everyone who patiently listened to my sorrow over Mrs Nuggets for the past few days, even if they didn't understand it, and I marvelled and Andie ran around excitedly saying, “Nuggets waked up!!”
It was a joyous day.

Now, I refuse to pen the girls, it’s not that I think there is anything wrong with penning chickens, It certainly is not cruel when done correctly, it’s just that when I brought Mrs nuggets home for the first time, and she fell forward, unable to walk because she had never had the freedom to move her legs, therefore didn't know how, I vowed I would only ever pen her for her own safety at night.
However, this also means that any attempt to grow anything in my backyard is thwarted by three deformed beaks and six scaly feet.

With winter approaching, my favourite vegetable growing season, I needed to come up with a chook proof garden, but could not afford to buy any elaborate set up, what I did have though, was an old trampoline rotting in the backyard that had a perfectly good frame.

And so, with less than $50, about two hours, a four year old up cycling apprentice and some imagination, the veggie patch was born.

After posting a picture of the veggie patch on Facebook, and receiving many questions as to how I made it, I decided to do a how-to post, but as I didn't know I would be blogging it, so I don't have any photos of its actual construction, and had to make do with some crude drawings, but still, I hope it helps.

Tram-ap-oline Veggie bed.

1-take an old trampoline. We had a rectangular one, but I assume a round trampoline would be just as effective

2- Remove the springs, but keep the actual trampoline matting for an excellent recycled weed mat. It is also great for lining hanging pots and alike.

3- Place the trampoline frame upside down in the desired vegetable patch location, and mark around the inside of the frame, I used a shovel, you can get all fancy  with string and chalk if you like, but I have better shit to do.
Then move the trampoline right side up again, somewhere out of the way.

4- Remove the grass and dig a shallow trench from inside of the marked area. I am a bit lazy so I did not dig very deep at all, about 15cm, but you could probably go a bit deeper.

5- Place the old trampoline matting on the bottom of the trench to act as a weed mat.

6- Return the soil, turned with some good quality potting mix and chook shit into the trench, to make the garden bed.

7- Take the frame, right side up (it's easier) and secure some chicken wire around the outside of the frame, everywhere the chicken wire met the frame. I used plain wire to secure it, but next time, I will probably use cable ties, because the wire is sharp and I am a bitch about getting my hands all cut up, also my nails are pretty gnarled and I have mannish hands from playing the guitar as it is.
I used pliers to pull the wire very tight, and used about 8.5 metres of standard chicken wire. (I had some left over from a 35 meter roll that cost 49.95 from Mitre ten but you shouldn't need that much, but measure the circumference of the widest part of the trampoline)

8- Place the trampoline frame, with the wire secured, upside down again, over the garden bed and neatens any loose patches of wire.

9- I added some garden edging, made from split treated copper logs, at a cost of $19.95 for a 5meter roll from Mitre ten. And wooden stakes, $2.00 for four.
I only needed one roll of garden edging, as we placed ours on the fence, but if you wanted to completely trim the trampoline you will need two rolls.
The garden edging is to keep the soil from washing away and to make it a bit prettier, and easier to maintain the grass around it.

My mother will undoubtedly make disappointed type sounds at my use of treated copper log edging, but I am cash poor, and saving a trampoline from land fill, not running for Gandhi.

10- get smug and Send me a picture. That’s it. It is really that easy, takes very little time and is a fun weekend project the kids can help with!

FYI- late February, early March is a good time to sow seeds for the last batches of carrots and turnips for the beginning of Autumn/winter crops, also salad onions cabbages, oriental salad leaves, broccoli and cauliflower.

Enjoy, you up cycler you!

Emma. X

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