Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays’ take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘fence posts

Final Step

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It starts out as luscious green grass. The horses eat it and their bodies process it. They spread it on the ground for me to scoop up and shape into big piles. In the piles, microorganisms take action and the temperature climbs to around 160° (F). Eventually, things settle down and the pile cools.

At that point, it’s ready for use feeding growing things which puts that luscious green back where it came from at the start. The final step is loading some bags for sharing our wealth with others.

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My project yesterday was a little more involved than usual after the chickens showed up to offer assistance. Their version of helping seems to always involve getting as much in the way as they possibly can. I tried negotiating with them, but it seems as though they don’t understand English.

Compost work was interrupted by lunch, after which our attention shifted to the north pasture. With Cyndie assisting, we pulled the posts with a chain and the loader bucket of the diesel tractor, which cleared the way for me to mow the overgrown field.

Well, not exactly. The evergreen trees in that field have gotten so big, the tractor doesn’t fit between many of them anymore. It becomes a maze of weaving around groups of trees that are often too close together to provide easy weaving.

It was certainly more trouble than I could manage, in terms of getting the field to look decently mowed. I did achieve a wonderful version of the ‘bad haircut.’

The night ended with a small setback, as the chickens made their way into the tree over the compost piles again before we could entice them to the coop. It seems as though the training for that may not have a final step, but will be a repeating exercise for some time to come.

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Written by johnwhays

July 15, 2017 at 6:00 am

Straightening Posts

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dscn5368eWith my trusty companion, Delilah, tagging along, I lugged tools across the pasture to finally deal with a corner post that had been bugging me for months because of its ever-increasing lean.

Starting with chains and a come-along, I quickly discovered that the angle I was dealing with was compound.

I would need to pull from both directions. There was a problem with that, though. There wasn’t anything to pull against in the second direction.

While Delilah and I surveyed the situation, the neighbors suddenly showed great interest in our presence.

dscn5365eThe cows came running up to the fence around their pasture and stared at us expectantly. I think maybe that leaning post was bugging them, too.

dscn5369eSince I couldn’t pull in that second direction, I decided to push. I got the tractor.

It worked pretty slick, although it required a lot of climbing on and off to check the progress. Delilah wasn’t offering any assistance at that point, and I couldn’t see if it was straight from the tractor seat.

Once I had it where I wanted it, there was a long process of trying to pack the soil around the posts to a point that would hold them in place after I released the supporting pressure. In fact, just to be sure, I left the come-along and chains in place overnight, even though I had put the tractor back in the garage.

A little insurance while the soil dries out and settles for the long haul, which I hope lasts for a very long time. Of course, that part about dry soil won’t last long at all. It is supposed to rain again this afternoon and tonight.

I wonder if I packed the soil firmly enough.

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Written by johnwhays

October 29, 2016 at 6:00 am

Rebalancing Act

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We are checking off a string of spring chores this weekend, and it has given me a chance to replace the rock that months ago toppled from its delicately balanced perch atop another on the tall stump of a pine tree. It’s been on the ground so long that I’ve actually forgotten what it was that contributed to the fall, but I think it was high winds.

IMG_iP1342eI never expect these balancing installations to last, but the two on that topped pine trunk had exceeded my expectations for so long that I was rather surprised when it finally did collapse.

I had the diesel tractor out to use the loader for pressing down a fence post that was being pushed up by the springtime thawing and freezing of the ground. It worked incredibly well for that purpose, by the way, quickly returning the post to the desired level. “Like butta,” as they say.

It won handily over the other method I tried, in two locations where the ground was way too saturated with water to support the weight of the tractor. Pounding the posts with a sledge only moved them a small amount, and required a great deal more effort.

IMG_iP1346eWhen it came to my rebalancing act, I first tried hefting the fallen rock up the ladder, but that attempt only succeeded in knocking the lower rock to the ground, too. There is no way I can lift that lower rock, so that meant I needed the bucket. In a moment of inspiration, I deviated from the previous orientation and flipped the base rock over this time.

I don’t know if this orientation will last any longer, but I’m liking the new look. That’s what it’s really all about. I like to look at balanced rocks.

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Written by johnwhays

May 1, 2016 at 9:28 am

Old Fence

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While working to widen the trail we created through the south woods, I recently discovered the remains of an old barbed wire fence. There is no obvious logic to the location of this fence. It is in the middle of the woods. There are so many trees in the area that it is hard to imagine what the fence was originally supposed to be keeping in, or out.IMG_iP0685e

Most of the rusty barbed wire had fallen down and was buried out of sight, beneath the dirt, leaves, moss, and fallen branches that carpet the forest floor. Occasionally, it would rise up to a dangerous level that could become a treacherous surprise to an unsuspecting explorer. It was clear that the fence was from a long time ago because I found a tree that had grown up into one strand, eventually swallowing it entirely, and continuing on undeterred.

As I struggled to navigate through thick growth while trying to keep track of the 5 lines of rusted and barbed strands, I came upon an old fence post that still had nails and hooks in it that held on to some of the wires. The post was barely a hint of its original size. It was so weathered it looked more like a walking stick than a fence post.

Working with rusted barbed wire is an onerous task. It often breaks unexpectedly. With much of the wire buried, if it breaks when I am trying to pull it up, I have to delicately hunt through the ground cover in search of the portion that remains.

DSCN2562eWhen it breaks while we are trying to bundle the lengths that have been cut for removal, the number of pointy ends and loose pieces doubles. That’s on top of the ever-present barbs that constantly poke our gloves and catch on every obstacle possible.

Removing it from the middle of the forest is a major hassle, but rusty barbed wire is a hazard we don’t want to have lurking among the trees, so we find that the torturous effort of removing it is worth it.

Now we just have to find a way to conveniently dispose of the bundle. I bet I could find a taker on Craig’s List. I think it belongs in a sculpture by some creative artist.

Someone other than me. I don’t have the patience —or the right gloves— for it.

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Written by johnwhays

October 30, 2014 at 6:00 am

More Posts

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IMG_1991eMonday is the weekday I don’t drive to the day-job, with my 4-day work week, and yesterday provided me the opportunity to witness the process of fence posts installation. I discovered there is a lot more to the task than just digging a hole and dropping a post down into it.

I am very grateful to see the crew we hired are very particular about getting the posts precise, to assure we end up with not just a functional fence, but one that will look good, too.

With each post, they have to watch multiple things, simultaneously: first, that it is the right distance from the previous post, but then also that it’s set to the right depth, level in two directions, square to the line which the cross-boards will run, and ultimately, in line with the rest of the posts.

When they finally achieve all of those parameters, they need to back-fill the hole, packing the dirt tight as they go, without allowing the post to move out of position. When you are setting a lot of posts in a line, one bad one can really stand out of the bunch. They have to repeat this series of steps over and over, with sustained vigilance to meet each goal, for every post. I think it’s pretty impressive.

They also agreed to create a radius, which I didn’t think they wanted to do, so the fence by the new driveway will follow the arc of the loop.

IMG_1989eWhile that work was happening, we received one more truckload of sand for the driveway, and then the trusses for the hay shed. The dump truck driver informed us it would be the last load for now, as he discovered the route has been posted with road restrictions for reduced weight limits, due to the spring thaw. That restriction will likely last into May. We got close, but we were intending to put at least one more load than was delivered yesterday. Luckily, we have the fill we need for work on the shed to commence.

Here is a wide shot that shows how the fence line will arc with the driveway, and where the hay shed will be located beside the driveway loop:

IMG_iP0158e

Written by johnwhays

April 2, 2013 at 7:00 am

New Posts

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IMG_1976eWe have fence posts! And that’s no April Fool’s joke. The first ones were placed on Friday. It is still very wet down there, so progress will be limited to hours when the ground under foot is mostly frozen, but fence posts are a great visual of progress that has been long-awaited. An actual fence may be days away yet, but that is better than being weeks away.

Yesterday wasn’t a big day of melting, but it did get above freezing, and the angle of sunlight is high enough now to be productive in causing melt, even if air temps don’t get very high.

There was a fair amount of wind, and the air blowing across the fields of snow felt noticeably chilly. In spots where there was a wind break, the solar energy was unmistakably warm. You feel it instantly.

Elysa and Anne were visiting and we played for a bit in the melting snow piles, creating paths for drainage, which quickly became babbling brooks of runoff. What a wonderful playground we have here!

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Written by johnwhays

April 1, 2013 at 7:00 am

Posted in Wintervale Ranch

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