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Kangaroos and other Wild life

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Wire fencing for protecting crops is really pretty much a poor protection. Kangaroos can step over 4 foot fences, and although they normally don't leap into grow cages, it's probably more to do with the fact that they don't pose as much a threat to crops as most think they do.


Problems with fencing wire can be things like refection from the air, giving away the game, carrying the stuff in, and most of all, it's a dead set give away. I once walked three straight blokes through a patch of 6 plants all around 7 feet tall. I was racing offf my nut, laughing myself silly, as I guided these city guys back and forth through the plants, stalking wildlife with their assult rifles and GI Joe get ups. They failed to see the plants at all. But if there was a fence there, the plants would have been history.


I myslef once tripped over a small fence while walking along a river; fishing for Bass. I was standing in the midst of the largest crop I ever have seen, wondering what the wire was doing in a place like that. It was while I was trying to work that out that I realised I was standing amongst hundreds of small plants. The fence had collapsed, as is often the case anyway.


While ever there's plently of rain fall, and fresh grass shoots around, I've never had a wallaby or kanagroo eat a single leaf of my plants. And I've found them camping under them in the middle of the day while tending the crops. I've found flattened areas covered in roo droppings, evidence of them sleeping there, with no troubles at all.


However, when the Australian summer turns to drought, and it usually will for at least some period of the grow, if you're using the whole season; then they will eat anything, and your plants will feature on their diet.


Initially, I used a small electric fence energiser. It cost around 120 dollars 10 years ago, and ran on 6 D size batteries. The wire is cordage with a wire fleck through it and from memory was in the order of 40 or more dollars for a small roll. A small roll is an awful lot though when talking this kind of work.


With two pulse speeds, one fast, and one slow, the batteries lasted 2 weeks and a month respectively. Expensive to run, they will keep animals out of the grow, having tested my energiser with an electric fence tester, it generated more zap than a 240 volt job. The ground peg MUST be kept damp at all times, and as soon as it dries out, the fence is worthless. Instead of wasting prescious water on the peg during the drought, have a good drink of water before you go to the patch and take a leak on the peg, this will keep it moist from day to day.


The wires need to be kept very close together though, and if you're aiming to keep possums out, and echidnas, it must go all the way to the ground, although not touch the ground, or it will short out, and be useless. Plastic poles can be bought, with a steel peg in the end that can be stood on to force into the ground. These have provision for the wire to go every few inches, but more closely can be done by just being patient and winding it tight each wrap.


Possums will strip a plant and make a mess of things alarming a grower, thinking the plants have been discovered. They usually don't eat the plant to the ground, if they're large enough, but they will do as much damage they may as well have done.


Echidnas will want to dig around the base of your plants. This is most likely due to the fact that the only moist area for miles around in many cases is around your plants. The moisture attracts them as they know that where moisture is, there they will find worms and general small animals to be eaten. Using compost, and manures in general will increase the likelihood of these little buggers digging the plants up. They can tear an awful lot of roots with a swipe of their strong digging claws, and with no regard for your plants, can completely destroy them while they look for food.


To combat the trouble with these diggers, try laying chicken wire flat on the ground, pegging it down firmly. Cut holes out in the wire to facilitate the plants girth, and hopefully they wont give you too much trouble. Make sure you cover the wire so it doens't reflect skywards.


After a while of using my electric fences, I found a better way, far cheaper, and more reliable. One day while walking through the scrub, I became unsetled as dingoes "ghosted" me through the bush to a patch I was growing. There happened to be an untouched lease I was growing in, it hadn't been logged or barely touched since the lease was taken up 99 years previously by a friend's family. It reverted to the gov. in the year 2000 and is now an environmnetally protected few hundred achres, as an area untouched by man basically, in that area.


Consequently, and the fact that the area has a very healthy dingo population, I found they would walk behind me, hiding in the bushes, and qurious to my presence. It dawned on me that if I fed them around the patch, the electric fence would be un-nessecary. So I started tieing chunky meat bones to trees all around the plants. Very close to the plants, but far enough that fighting dogs wouldn't accidently fall over them.


In no time, the place had become the permanent camp for the dogs, and as the bones dried out and became tasteless, I tied more there, and I never saw another wallaby again. I took down the fences, and nothing touched the plants. I did this for years with never a single plant loosing a single leaf, and when I am well enough to grow outdoors again, will depend on meat bones again, entirely for wallaby protection.


So if you have dingoes in the area, don't chase them away, encourage them, and they'll become your perosnal gaurd dogs, as the wallabies and kangaroos will smell the dog piss and crap for miles, and will by no means hang around their camp to have a pick at a few leaves they don't really like anyway.


Of course, you must have a wild dog population in the area for this to work.


The last animal I can think of to give any real trouble are possums. They're very cheeky animals that are hard to deal with. Electric fences will work, and the dingo idea may work to some extent, but if they want to be a problem they will. They tend to love small plants, and leave established ones alone, but they are capable of ruining a decent plant for no apparent reason. I found two plants in full bloom stripped to pieces one day, with the leaves and buds all around the ground, not even eaten.


I can't offer too much suggestion, and hope they don't give you too much trouble, but I will leave a story that might tell you what NOT to do.


Every time i went into my patch, I had an uncanny need to have a squat in the bush. Every time of course, I had no toilet paper. So in a brain storm one day, I figured I'd leave a roll down in the patch, and it would be always there, ready for me. I took a tip top or whatever bread bag from the kitchen, and placed the toilet roll in the bag. Tieing the loose end up to make it water proof, I hung it from a tree.


Next day I went down to the patch and to my horror, there was toilet paper everywhere. It was laying out in a long strip on the open ground, and wrapped around and around the tree tops, in what appeared to be the shape of an arrow incredibly, pointing to my plants. Initially I was convinced the police had found the crop, and had layed out the paper for arial surveilance. It didn't take too long to realise how silly that was.


Eventually it dawmed on me the possums smelled the bread in the bag, and tearing it open, they found no bread, but a lovely toy inthe toilet roll, as they rolled it out through the trees, they accidnetly made a very obvious marker of my crop from the air.. The trees were typical sappling Australian black wattle, small trees which coulsn't hold an adult climbing them, with no braches to climb, and no strength in the tree. So I had to leave the paper there int he tree tops, like an invitation to anything flying over. It took forever for that paper to deteriate and come down, months.


I guess the moral of this is do as much as you can to not attract them there in the first place. Many animals will be attracted to your patch just out of quriosity, and many more by dropped food and even more by the water and compost smells.So take these things into consideration, and use what you can to your advantage, and what is detrimental, just don't do.


One day when the plants are all doing well, and you have the time, sit back and don't move. Enjoy the peace of the bush, and the work of your hands admiring the garden in the bush. And wait. If there's a healthy wild life population there, it wont take long at all before small animals are hopping in and out of your clearing. It will amaze you just how many animals will walk through your garden, andif you stay perfectly still, just how close they'll come to you.


Good luck.



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