When we first looked at the land we are borrowing, it seemed as though it had never been used. Most of it was covered with broom bushes up to 3 metres high, and many parts were impenetrable. We’d been assured that it had provided grazing for two horses in the (distant!) past, so we decided optimistically that it should be straightforward to clear it . . . .
We bought some really good power tools, and got to know the staff at our local ‘Rural Expert’ store rather well. In the end, the task proved relatively simple – it just required day after day of really hard work! We’d read that broom might be poisonous for llamas, although nobody seemed to be sure about this, and some advised us that it was harmless. To be safe, we decided that we had to remove it all.
Luckily, broom burns really well, and we had several days of huge bonfires as we dragged masses of the cut plants down the hill to a cleared section.
Bit by bit, the open spaces got bigger. We had to remind ourselves from time to time how much progress we had made, so that we felt there was some chance we could end up with a usable field.
Eventually, we had more or less cleared enough of the land to make a field big enough for our six llamas.
Of course, this was only the first part of the task. Now we needed a fence!
We’d never done any fencing, so weren’t sure what this involved. We did more of the usual internet research, and learned that we needed higher fencing than is commonly used with sheep. Electric fencing would be much easier to erect, but it seems that it’s not really suitable for llamas because of their thick fibre. So we needed to buy what seemed like huge amounts of metal stock fencing and wooden posts. Then we needed a post ‘rammer’ and various fencing tools (we found a brilliant tensioning tool invented by a British engineer) – and once again Ebay proved a brilliant source!
Neither of us would have claimed to be very fit, but we have found that fence erecting is amazingly good aerobic exercise. The post rammer weighs about 8 kilos – and it takes at least 70 blows to hammer in one post. If you hit a root, or worse a stone, it can be even harder! The whole field will take about 90 posts – do the maths!
We finished the fence along the road side of the field in four days – and we’re really pleased with the results.
The sections up the hill at the back of the field are much harder, because of the tree roots and stones.
We also need to include gates and build a shelter for the llamas . . .
And soon we shall need to do the same on loads more fields on the land we are buying. Volunteer labour will always be welcome. Working holiday in France anyone?