How to get more than you bargain for when pruning trees.

I’ve been pruning trees around my yard and have quite a bit of mess as a result. A friendly request from an unknown neighbour at the rear of the property provided the motivation I needed to do a bit of tidying up.

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The trampoline that took up most of the backyard has now gone … teenagers have outgrown the bounce now, so I have a bare spot in the yard where I intend to put in some more veggie beds later. In the meantime, it served as the perfect spot to store my pruned tree limbs until I figured out what to do with them. They’ve been left to rot down in the “shared zone”. I call it a shared zone because, in reality, it belongs to my 5 chickens who allow me to venture into their domain on the proviso that I bring food and cuddles for them (in that order). They follow me around, getting under foot as I trim back branches, prune fruit trees and harvest what I can for myself. Nearly all the plants are surrounded by bricks so the chooks don’t scratch them out and the area often looks more like a weird brick garden than an orchard.

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mulcher machine.pngTo make the job easier, I’ve been tossing up whether to buy a mulcher or hire one.

All my investigations have suggested a cheap hardware store backyard model is pretty well useless for anything more than a few twigs. So now I’m toying with the idea of hiring a larger (noisier) industrial version. Well, perhaps not industrial … but it’s got a lot more grunt and should work much better on some of the 100mm (4 inch) branches that I’ve taken down.

I’m dragging the chain a little because, as a female, I’m a bit intimidated by these male dominated, macho, he-man, big power tool hire service companies. But being the registered horticulturist of the household, I get the job of doing most of the garden maintenance instead of my husband. Besides, my hubby would probably be a better virtual gardener than a real one and should stick to his strengths in the digital realm.

My lack of courage is simply a lack of experience with large power tools and equipment. Most of the time, once I’ve gotten over any initial intimidation, I’ve actually enjoyed similar situations where I’ve felt out of my comfort zone. But for now …. the pile of pruned plant material is still sitting there as a reminder of my gutlessness.

Until this morning!

A large, noisy cockatoo came to visit my backyard and frightened the chooks. I came out to see what all the squawking and screeching was all about and found the chickens cowering under a vine near the fence (wimps! – okay, so I know where they get that from now). After chasing the cockatoo away and rounding up the chickens to reassure them that there was nothing to worry about, I noticed that one of them was missing.

“Flighty Whitey”, as she is affectionately known as, was gone. I couldn’t find her anywhere. I looked around for a while and then headed in to tell the family that Whitey was missing, but I stopped at the back door and looked over my should in the hope that she might somehow appear. She did! She suddenly jumped out of the pile of tree branches stacked up in the middle of the shared zone.

I went over to see where on earth she’d been hiding. When I got there I found a hole with a little more than I expected.

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There in the middle of this pile of leaves and branches was a nest that the chickens had made, complete with a stash of 7 eggs! I suddenly had one of those “Ah ha!” moments that instantly explained why it seemed like the chooks had stopped laying. I had searched other areas of the garden with no avail. They have been known for sending me on egg hunts around the garden on other occasions but this time I had completely missed their secret stash deep inside the pile of garden waste.

So there’s my answer. How can I possibly get rid of it now? I can save my money and avoid the macho power tool hire shop in order to save my chicken’s new nest. Or is that still just avoiding the inevitable?

Okay, I’ll get over my intimidation and get a quote from those he-man power toolies ….. tomorrow …. or maybe the day after … or ….