Friday, June 20, 2014

Do Fence Me In

We finally did it! No we did not climb Mount Everest or explore the Amazon rainforest. Although I must admit that it did seem like that was what we were doing.  No, what we accomplished was even more monumental and even more dangerous. Jennifer, the kids and I built the fence east of our house. And if I must say, I believe it is the eighth wonder of the world.
OK, I am not that full of myself or that proud of my fence, but it is a giant relief to finally have the fence done. To fully understand why I am so giddy we need to go back about fifteen years ago. Yes, sadly enough this all began fifteen years ago when we purchased our home place. At that time I decided to start building fence along the road. We built the fence west of the house that first winter and I must say we learned a lot about building fence.
I have often heard that we learn by experience and much of that being bad experience. This was the case on my first fence. It is still there but much of it needs a major overhaul or at least a good stretching. In all fairness it where I winter cows and it does come under tremendous pressure late March into April. The one thing I do know is that the posts are in good shape. The fence from the house east was to be my next project.
During that time we started to get really busy with the kids and all I got done was to tear the fence out. I am not proud to admit it, but I ran a “temporary” electric fence along the road fourteen years ago with the promise that I would get back to it soon. I guess those fourteen years were soon enough. Part of my excuse was that the county needed to do some work on the ditches on both sides of the road and I did not want to tear out new fence when they fixed my road.
That excuse stood up pretty well until this spring. The county came in and reshaped the road bed and made the whole roadway drain better. In doing so they cleaned up the side of the road, leveled it and cleaned all the vegetation off of it. It was never going to be easier to build half of the fence. I announced to my family that we would build fence on Memorial Day weekend. This announcement caused a great stir among the kids. They made the point that all of their friends were doing “fun” stuff like camping and traveling over the long weekend. I pointed out that fence building was a great family bonding experience and a whole lot of “fun”.
We started with the stretch cleared off by the Pottawatomie County Road and Bridge Department. It actually went in very well with only a minimal amount of verbal persuasion.  The situation got a little tense at times, but the family withstood the “bonding” experience. Even more amazing is the fact that the fence only has a little bit of crook and bend to it. In the end, we all looked at this fence with satisfaction. Now it was on to the dreaded hill.
I had been dreading building fence up the hill since the day I had decided the fence needed replaced. The hill is really steep, very wooded and rocky beyond belief. This stretch was not going to be fun; the family “bonding” was going to be intense. The project needed to start with brush clearing. Any self respecting person would have rented or hired a professional to clear the way. Not me, we started up the hill with a chainsaw, loppers and machetes. Two dull chainsaw blades, about six dozen ticks and a really bad case of poison Ivy later and the hillside was cleared. Now the fence building could commence.
Digging post holes was out of the question so we decided to drive all steel posts into what appeared to be pure rock. Isaac and I did this one after noon. Have you ever hit a baseball or softball with a metal bat and had it send shock waves up your arm. That was how this whole stretch of fence was but crooked as they might be, the posts were planted.
Running the wire down the hill was another exercise in courage. We had to navigate the stumps and stubble that we had left too tall in hopes of saving chainsaw blades. More ticks and poison ivy were gathered during this portion of the fence building. Finally the last wire was tightened and we stood back and looked at what we had done.
I am here to tell you that the fence weaves down the hill, much like we did. The posts are a bit crooked (OK, they are really crooked) but they are in solid. Anyone else may look at my fence and giggle and wonder what drunken crew built it. However, Jennifer, the kids and I know the truth.  This engineering marvel came about with a whole lot of blood sweat and tears, otherwise known as quality family “bonding” and the best part is that it is done.

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