By the pricking of my thumbs…
Sometimes you just have to act! All the planning and preparation just runs out, and you have to think, “Bollocks”, and just do it. Ever since the need for a fence at the field has become a pressing matter, I’ve spent a hell of a lot of time trying to work out how it can be achieved. The field currently has 8 out of the 14.5 plots taken, which equates to a pool of 9 tenants (two half plots in there).
Last week I snapped, set a date (which was last Saturday), and just went out and bought the materials. We’ve got about 60 per cent of the money, and I’ll worry about the rest later! The timber was delivered on Friday, and in the afternoon two of us went off to buy the fencing. Let me tell you, if you have 700 metres of galvansied wire fencing in the back of a pick-up truck, it doesn’t handle very well. On realising that I wasn’t going to make a corner, I hit the brakes, and we nearly had the fencing rolls join us in the cab. The fact that it was Friday the 13th meant we were crying out for a disaster.
It seemingly didn’t come. By late afternoon we had the timber, the wire and seemingly the weather. We also had a man with a tractor who said he might help out for a few hours.
Friday night saw a gathering down the pub where I calmly explained that everyone would have to work like bastards all weekend, and each of the 176 posts would have to be knocked in, some by hand once the tractor bloke had gone home. I volunteered six of us – the younger fitter ones (yeah, I know, but none of us are genuinely young or fit any more) – to do the post knocking, with others to do the simpler jobs.
Seven in the morning saw the usual three workers arrive. We got going, but there was a gloom over us. Then a few more arrived. Then a few more. Suddenly, everyone apart from one rather negative individual had turned up. We moved the posts to the field, marked out, and prepared for two days of pain. Right then, I would have been happy if we’d have knocked in half the posts in one weekend.
We stopped for a coffee break. There were only two flasks, so we each took a mouthful of coffee and passed the cups on. There was a silent moment, as we considered the task that lay ahead of us, and then one person turned, his head cocked to one side, and said, “Listen”.
We all heard it, approaching through the trees. What confused us was that it was coming from the wrong direction! However, one thing was certain; it was a tractor, and as it turned into the field it had a bloody post rammer attached to it!
The farmer had decided that a few hours helping us wasn’t for him, and had sent a farm worker instead. It turned out to be a right result. Anticipating a short amount of tractor loanage, we had a system designed to maximise time. A line of five people stood holding posts, with one person shouting instructions to line them up. We had bamboo canes cut to two metre lengths, and used these to space the posts. Once your post was knocked in, you went to the end of the line, measured off the last person, and stood waiting again. On paper, it was a good idea. In the field, it worked. All 176 posts were knocked in in under two hours!
Then the tractor driver asked how we were going to tension the wire. The plan was to use the pick-up, and he said we could borrow a tool he’d made up for tensioning. We remarked that actually, we’d rather borrow his tractor, so he nipped off to get the tensioner and helped out. The wire was up, stapled and finished by 4pm, and the gateposts were concreted in by 5pm when we all went home.
Basically, a dozen people managed to install 350 metres of deer fence in 10 hours, and that’s no small beer!
On Sunday we went back to the field, dug a few trenches and ran a couple of hundred metres of water pipe, and in the afternoon I managed to get home and sow parnsips, carrots and salsify.
Okay, we still need to find a chunk of cash, but aside from that the job’s done, and I can go back to growing stuff for a while. Having lived and breathed this bloody fence, it’s nice to have some of my own time again!
P.S. There will be some serious fence porn in the very near future; I forgot to take any pictures because I was so busy working, so I’ll be doing a really boring photoblog thingy when I get some shots!