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Monday, November 17, 2008

Color scheme

[posted by risa]

Two days of -- for this time of year, in my memory -- unparalleled glory. First, there was a slow-to-burn-off fog, under which I participated in Eugene's 400-strong response to Join the Impact, but I will admit I was anxious to finish the fencing. No more work could be done laying out veggie beds until that task was completed. It was daunting, too.

The new stuff is called "deer fence" but it's only six feet tall. Blacktails are lazy enough to respect that, but not if they get really hungry.

So when I took down last year's seven-foot welded wire, I rolled it up and dragged it down to the northeast corner, where they had jumped in most frequently this year, and laid it out along the sheep fence, now rusted and buried in invasive weeds and such, put up by our neighbors in days gone by.

The six-foot fencing I brought along the north boundary, by the street, and cut it off at the northeast corner to retain a kind of informal gate for vehicles, as that place has been, for decades, a kind of second driveway, and we might need it sometime.

In fact, four huge round bales of hay are sitting in the middle of it right now, and will need to be distributed on the new beds as soon as I've spread enough cardboard.

I put up the remainder of these two 185' rolls along most of the rest of the east boundary, past the spot where the fox jumped through last summer, until I ran out of it.

This deer/orchard fencing is heavy. I could unroll it only a few inches at a time. To stretch it before stitching it onto the fence posts you really need a tractor, which "I have not got"; so I was reduced to setting, at intervals, a come-along attached to a newly set post, with a cable puller on one hook, drawing along the bottom wire until it was a taut as it would go without lifting out the post, and then twisting wire to set the fencing on the previous three posts.

The results aren't the prettiest fence I've ever built, but it's a three-woman job with one woman to do it. Later, I'll come back and string tight wire along the top from post to post, to increase the height, but also to weave once through the fence between posts and do a "suspension-bridge" effect, which should help.

Next I started piecing old leftover welded wire onto the inner poultry fence to make it tall enough to convince the Araucanas not to clear themselves for takeoff.

Julia (banty)This involved making hundreds, perhaps over a thousand, cuts with the side-cutting pliers, which are fortunately a good brand over fifty years old, stout, heavy, and sharp. It also involved using up the old fencing that had been hoisted into place to keep the chickens out of the new pasture all week, when we found out how much they like to hop three-foot fencing.

I could then attach each piece to the end of the preceding one, weaving the snipped ends of wire into the top edge of the three-foot fence, and thereby create a four-and-a-half foot fence. Labor-intensive, but I place a premium on avoiding waste, and stood back and admired my work with some pride.

The birds discovered within seconds that a corner of Paradise had just opened for business and the land rush was on -- all except for one who kept banging against the fence around the corner, unable to fathom why she couldn't join the others. I had to chase her about ten feet, to get her clear of the obstruction.

Beloved walked up.

"Oh, my, you've gotten a lot done while I was at work."

"Thank you."

"So, are you going to do anything about that color scheme?"

"Color scheme?"

"Green fence below, silver above. Dogpatch."

"Hey! Well, yah, but waste not, want not. And the birds are happy."

"Still, come next summer, when we're sitting out here with a cup of tea ..."

"We'll need a pleasant place to rest our eyes!" We repeated this together, in unison, as it's a regular saying of hers. And both cracked up.

"Tell you what," I offered, "there's plenty of leftover green paint from the trim work; I can run a roller along here and it will look ready-made in the twinkling of an eye."

"That's the spirit."

The geese came over and looked us up and down from their new perspective: north of us instead of south. Behind them, Chanticleer, the rooster, scratched in the new ground underneath the fir trees, and stood back, in gentlemanly fashion, for the hens to inspect his findings. In the distance, the ducks hopped up and down, first one, and then another, catching flies that had alighted on the hay bales to warm themselves in the sun.

Now to begin laying out next year's veggie beds.

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