Today's Quote

“If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.” Thomas Jefferson

Saturday, January 29, 2011

What is a wattle fence?

Kelle asked on one of my posts what a wattle fence is. I won't go into great detail since I am working on an article for Backwoods Home magazine and writing all of it here would negate my ability to sell said article. However, I will explain a bit here and it shouldn't hurt. In victorian times, especially in England folks needed to use what they could in order to repair fences. Most homesteads had a stand of small green saplings. In order to make quick repairs on fences, especially in cold winters, they would use these sapling to weave in and out of posts in the ground. The green saplings (about an inch in diameter)were flexible enough to weave through the posts without breaking, but as they dried became much stronger. Depending on how you weave the saplings,these fences can be quite strong and were often used in sheep fields. They would not be strong enough to contain cows that were determined to test fences, nor do I think they would contain my goats. My horses would be contained just fine because they don't test fences. They just take advantage of a hole that is there. During that time they even had people who built what was called a wattle hurdle, which is much like a moveable fence panel. These guys were masters at working the samplings through and around the posts so that when they were finished they were very strong. Hurdles were typically used out in the field to make a small corral for working the sheep. It was easier to work them in the fields than to get the whole flock to the barn. The hurdle makers would actually twist the samplings so that they wrapped around the end posts and could be woven back into the body of the hurdle. This made them self contained and really strong. The great thing about these fences is that they use underbrush that needs to be cleaned out anyways or yard trash that needs to be cleaned up. I have been making mine out of trash sticks on our huge woodpile that my husband was going to burn. These aren't as flexible as green saplings would be and so don't make as strong of a fence. However, I only need mine to keep the ducks out of the garden beds and for that purpose they work just fine. My first fence is probably not the best example of wattling there is and I am still having make slight repairs here and there as the fence settles into place. Most repairs are simply done by adding a few more branches to the top. However, the ducks don't try to go through the mass of branches and twigs and therefore are staying out of the garden beds. This will give my seedling a chance and once the plants are mature enough then I can open the gate and let the ducks have at the bugs. Meanwhile they can run around each section and hopefully get the pests before they get into the fenced area. I can see lots of uses for this type of fence in our future. The best thing is that when the wood at the bottom rots, then you just squish the fence down and add more to the top. Our pine thicket needs to be cleaned out, so I can see using lots of the pine saplings for a wattle fencing. I would also like to build some wattle hurdles and think that the wisteria vine that I need to clean out would do just great for that purpose. We are growing a stand of bamboo also and will be using the bamboo poles to make wattles. It will be a great way to keep the bamboo under control. The closer the posts the stronger the fence. The second section I am working on will be stronger that the first since I am spacing the posts closer. The post can be a thicker sapling (2-3 inches in diameter) simply hammered into the ground. A few years ago I couldn't hardly hammer a piece of rebar into that ground and now I am amazed at how easily I can hammer a 2 inch sapling into the ground to set the posts for the wattle fence. All those tons of compost have really paid off. Anyway that is another blog post. I hope this explains what a wattle fence is a little better. Blessings, Kat


Kelle said...

Hey, thanks Kat! Sounds like something I've been thinking about to keep the chickens out of one of our garden areas. I'll see your article in BHW when it is published :o)

Blessings for your weekend,

Kate said...

Oooo! I haven't blogged or visited a blog in over a year, and I can't believe how the Lord just knew I would be needing a post like yours! He is so good and perfect in His timing! I have been saving articles and pictures of wattle fences over the past few days and your piece just fits right into what I'm trying to learn. I hope when you finish a wattle project you will post some pictures and I'll be sure to look for your Backwoods home article!