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Monday, March 24, 2008

The best time to move fence


[posted by risa]

We had some more rain and wind ...

Beloved built up the fire a bit so we could venture out and help the poultry, who had (again) run out of fresh grass. We got into hooded rain jackets and rubber boots and previewed our campaign.

"I'd like to take off from this corner of the house where we already are, and go straight across. Except it's through the branches of the spruce."

"You could cut them back?"

"Ayah, or go at an angle, over to here by the fir tree."

"I could live with that."

"Are you sure? Catty-cornered seems to drive us both nuts."

"What else can we try?"

"Well, I could gate here and then corner here, along the walk, so that they can't get in the bed where we've put the lavendar, then go straight across."

"Is there enough fencing?"

"If I can piece it out with the hardware cloth." I looked at her inquiringly.

"OK, let's do it," she said. "They need this grass now."

She fed the critters, then temporarily blocked them out of their front yard with the hardware cloth, which is two feet high, while I separated all the fence posts from last year's 2X4" by 4' welded-wire fencing and pounded them in, in their new locations. It began to rain even harder. Water poured off the end of my nose.

We walked the fence, a fifty foot piece with a ten foot piece patched on, around to its new posts, and she stretched while I tied, using six-inch snips of light gauge wire. This would never do for cattle, of course, but it keeps chickens in and dogs out, or it has so far. I then worked along the boundary fence, attaching hardware cloth to the neighbor's sheep fence. One of their cedar fence posts had rotted off at the ground, so I found my last remaining tee post, which was badly bent, took it to the bench vise to straighten, brought it back, and pounded it in.

Ah, la niña winters! The best time to move fence.

I moved the gate, switching to open on the left instead of the right, to keep us from having to lean into the lilac bush by the house.

This gate has been through a lot. When we moved here, in 1993, there were heaps of trash on the "back forty," hidden in blackberry thickets, and most of the stuff we removed to the upper "barn" -- a stamping shed, where it remains to this day, while we keep hoping to get it all sorted and dumped/recycled and switch that area to pig raising. one of the piles was a burn pile, and unspeakable things had been thrown on the fire.... The gate had been burned, too, except it was all tubular steel and twisted wire, with a nice wrought-iron top, and not really any the worse for the fire and rust. I painted it green and it has had six different jobs since, including sheep pasture and chicken-house door.

"Can I let them out now?"

"You bet!"

Uh, nope. Turns out I wasn't as ready as I thought. The geese and ducks headed for new grass and snails respectively, but the chickens went straight to the scotch pine, the cherry tree, and a young bigleaf maple, and within sixty seconds had all but uprooted them. Woodland birds indeed! More like deforestation birds.

But we had a goodly pile of bricks left over from taking down the unsafe fireplace chimney a few years ago. The grass clippings were put back in place, then the bricks were quickly moved onto the clippings and arranged around the saplings' trunks as a "stone-mulch." Lets rain in, keeps chicken feet out. Not bad looking, either.

We bailed from farm work at that point in favor of hot chocolate by the woodstove, leaving the ducks to their slugs, the geese to their grass ...

... and the chickens pecking resolutely at the bricks.

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