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Gloves and Pliers

A few weekends ago it was sunny, cool and breezy. A wonderful break from the sleet, rain and clouds. The birds were all singing and the cats were out chasing each other and climbing trees. Sadie was off work, we had a lovely slow morning then suited up in our most comfortable farm shirts and muddy boots and went outside.

Our house was built in the 40’s, I feel like I have mentioned that before. Uncle Jack made some editions in the late 70’s, building 2 bedrooms and a bathroom that connect to the main dining room by a long hallway. Our house is shaped like an L, in the elbow of that L we have the ‘dog lot’ which also holds Nana’s patio, the pump house, and the spigot where I water the chickens from. At the end of the lot is the shop, where we keep mismatched tool sets, old pictures, and furniture we don’t know what to do with.

The dog lot was hastily built by a neighbor who apparently had other things on his mind. One side is made of chain-link panels that used to be part of a kennel. The other side is a long roll of chain link that was wired to the existing T-post fence. The opposite side contains a gate and two, bent hog panels (made of 5 inch squares) and the front fence is more chain link that was cut at an angle, making one side taller than the other, then wired to a gate that was wired to a board that was nailed to the house.

Like I said, he must have had other things on his mind. The whole entire lot looked awful. Thursday evening, Sadie and I stayed up too late talking about fencing in the front yard, which is well over an acre, to put horses on in the summer when the grass is thick. If we put in a wooden split rail fence with a light wire backing, it could hold horses AND dogs. A friend once told us “you country girls sure get excited about the smallest things” – and he was absolutely right.

Friday after breakfast found Sadie and I at the front gate wearing gloves, wielding hammers, a tire iron, a chisel, wire cutters, a flat head screwdriver and a crowbar. Holding up the chain-link disaster were two telephone poles, cut in half, that our neighbor nailed the chain-link to with fence pins. The pins are about as long as your thumb, shaped in a U, with teeth on the outside so you can nail wire down or keep it from uncoiling. Extremely useful when building fences, absolutely awful when trying to remove them.

After several unsuccessful attempts, we got some kind of system going to leverage the pins out of the poles, freeing one end of the chain-link roll. Every few feet there was a T-post holding the chain-link up by 4 or 5 different strands of wire. Once we clipped those, the whole roll fell to the ground, it seemed almost relieved to be laying flat, out of sight.

Pulling the T-posts out of the ground was like something out of an I Love Lucy episode. Fortunately, it had been raining so much lately that the ground was fairly soft. We rocked the post back and forth, side to side, back and forth, enough to wiggle it free and pull it from the ground where it was placed years ago.

The only reason I am going into so much detail is to try and convey WHY I have been working on this fairly small dog lot, surrounded by the most ramshackle, redneck fencing system I have ever seen. I spent the entire weekend out there with gloves on and a pair of pliers in my pocket, twisting, cutting, pulling and yanking that horrible excuse for a fence out of the ground.

When the sun went down, I went out with the crowbar and a headlamp. I think I was afraid that if I didn’t get it completely gone, it would somehow grow back, or sneak up on me in the night. The last pole was damp from not getting much sunlight, so the fence came down somewhat easily. I think it knew I had conquered it. It knew the farm wasn’t big enough for the both of us.

 

 

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