Although we hillbillies-at-heart are reclusive enough by nature to covet the isolation of where we’ve chosen to live, it’s still not as secluded as we had envisioned. Our little farmhouse is unfortunately as close to the road as any found in suburbia. A shame, since there are forty-plus acres of excellent house sites for the settlers to have chosen from, well away from the road.
We gather that when this hovel was erected a century ago the “road” was little more than a dirt track, so its horse-and-cart proximity would have been of little concern back then. Nowadays, although it’s a fairly dead road most of the time, there’s still the odd thundering stock-truck, house-shaking tractor, or lingering motorbike which more than make up for the infrequency of, albeit quieter, soccer-mom minivans.
Additionally, our house is regretfully overlooked by the neighbouring community hall, giving us little privacy when a couple dozen folk turn up every so often. I like my privacy as much as the next person, but perhaps need it a little more; I yearn to dance naked around my yard and let free the inappropriateness of my, ahem, creative nature.
So, what’s a couple of crazy recluses seeking optimal seclusion to do in this instance? Our answer: Bush the fuck out of the roadside.
Above you can barely see the meagre efforts of our first year to the right of the gate. A couple of rows of tiny wee saplings. Not enough. Needs more bush. So, with the ideal of having a home nested in forest, we set out to begin some epic planting. Having learnt all about the uncontrollable nature of grass and weeds in planting up the roadside of our home paddock and orchard, we chose to fork out for some weedmat and mulch to save ourselves future labour. If we didn’t, we reasoned, it’d inevitably become an eyesore of saplings lost in a sea of seedheads and thistle, just as our previous efforts have.
We found some extra thick stuff at a pretty good price from a local supplier (local being an hour twenty away).
First job: Weedmat around the already planted trees. This was tricky, as we had to manoeuvre the heavy rolls around each tree and pin it in place. As you can see, I’m hard at work.
After some learning, we’d finished the most difficult part. The rest would be easy… right?
A brief break to admire our efforts and to play the cardboard roll like a didgeridoo.
Some hid from the sounds of my beautiful playing.
We continued laying the mat, hammering in pegs every half-meter or so. It was pretty smooth sailing until we encountered a bunch of large stones – excess fill from the driveway which had obviously been dumped and spread there back when the driveway had been laid. The previous owners strike again!
Fifteen by fifteen meters is the area we intended to cover, up to the base of our towering hundred-year-old pear tree.
The final part was to follow the edge of the driveway at an angle, which took some tricky thinking. Lucky Char was with me. A string-line helped, too.
Above you can see the aforementioned hall directly across the road. Pervy, huh?
And, after a couple afternoon’s worth of effort, viola!
Looks really out of place, we know, but it’s the beginnings of something beautiful.
A boot and trailer load of plants later, and we were ready to once again get our hands dirty.
We decided on types of trees which had proved to be well-suited to our climate; a mix of natives and exotics including blue cedar, holly oak, red robin, kowhai, pittosporum, ake ake, ribbonwood, laurel, and a mix of others. There are a variety of heights which should create an attractive dense bush.
The next step was an arduous one. Digging a lot of holes. It would have taken a quarter of the time if it weren’t for those damn stones hiding under the grass.
As well as cutting holes, digging holes, and planting trees, I also had to shovel off all the soil I’d dug out, otherwise the weedmat was for nought.
But no part of the project was as toilsome as MOVING MULCH. Oh em gee.
Twenty five cubic meters, every bit laboriously shovelled, forked, barrowed, and raked.
And someone kept wanting to shit in it.
I moved about a third myself until my faithful slave, Dingus, drove down to help a brother out. I love you, Dingus.
Here are my efforts before Dingus joined:
And after a couple of days with his help, we were finally done. Done! DOOONE!
It’s sweet, huh? Looks a little weird with grass on either side and in front, but that will all be filled in with bush at a later date when we sort out connecting it to the orchard and widening our driveway.
And here it is a year later, after a friggin’ excellent growing season:
And those original plantings at the roadside from our first year are really starting to fill out now. It excites us. A lot.
Already the few hundred trees we’ve planted around the farm are bringing in more birdlife, which is so fulfilling to see (and hear). If living out here weren’t also a money game, I’d have my way and restore the whole place into a forest wilderness. Aww yeeah.
Here is looking at our cottage from the far corner of the mulched bush patch.
And here’s a before and after for comparison:
Because this is only the beginning of turning this place into a wild jungle, we decided it would be cost-effective to buy a mulcher attachment for our tractor, so we can process our own in the future. Buying mulch is f-ing expensive; it cost almost a grand for that original twenty five cubic meters – and that was a good price apparently!
So, even though it was a bit of an investment, we think the chipper will pay itself off in no time. Especially with all the labour that’s saved; weeding, mowing, spraying, etc. We’ve already chipped a trailer’s worth of mulch from some branches that came down in a recent storm, and we’re really pleased with the beast’s performance. But that’s a post for another time…