If there is one resource that my family has, it’s bamboo. Not just a couple of canes, not just a couple of clumps, but enough that we could exclusively feed a Panda for about six months. With my waterfowl flock quickly outgrowing the chicken coop it was time to do something with all this free building material.
When I was about seven my parents decided to plant bamboo. After selecting about seven varieties from a local botanical garden, they planted about 15 clumps. Three clumping types and four running types. In fourteen years the clumpers haven’t done much, but the runners have all but taken over our yard in the name of bamboo freedom everywhere.
Recently our efforts have turned to eradicating it from certain parts of our yard in an attempt to use at least some of the 2.5 acres for something other than rainforest. (Seriously, the stuff is a wildlife sanctuary unto itself. Unfortunately if we don’t clear it periodically, there isn’t any room for us) Clearing bamboo usually involves my brothers, a reciprocating saw, about 20 saw blades, a couple of machetes, and a lot of manual labor. Needless to say we always end up with a ton of cut bamboo and nothing to do with it. Usually we burn it, (interestingly burning bamboo, thanks to the chambered canes, explodes with a almost gunshot like intensity, making it sound like the Mafia is shooting up our yard on an annual basis) but this year I decided to use some of it for fencing.
One of my favorite farm reference books is ‘The Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency’ by John Seymour. (You can find older versions in PDF form online for free) Though it doesn’t go in to great detail, it is still a good primer for a starting farmer (bonus points for being free). In the section on fencing it describes Wattle-hurdles, portable woven wood fence used to keep in non jumping livestock. The author is British, so he suggests making them from willow or ash but since those trees don’t grow in my area I decided to use bamboo. The result did not look a lot like the pictures but it works very well for my birds.
Since I wanted the fence about 2 1/2 feet high, I cut about 30. stakes at about 4 1/2 feet. The area I was fencing was about 75′ x 50′ but two sides were already fenced so I only needed enough stakes to fence the other two sides. I used a hammer (and a piece of 2×4 to distribute the hammer strike so the bamboo wouldn’t spilt) to pound the stakes into the ground. I spaced the stakes about 5′ apart. It took awhile and quite a few blister to finish but I think it looks pretty good.
This fence was relatively easy to make and only cost the labor to cut the bamboo and build the fence. If you have a large stand of Mimosa Trees (an invasive species) it would work too. Any kind of long flexible wood would work really.
Knowing that I just saved myself about $150 in fencing is a pretty good feeling, knowing that that money can go to medical supplies or feed is even better. Now I need to finish fencing in the new goat pen so the girls have more room.
See ya! ~Kc