Friday, January 04, 2008

Fencing [CCR]

The cool breeze of a Southern winter blows across the lower pasture as I finish working on the fence for the day. The dogs are challenging each other for my attention and it is simply amazing how the Miniature Schnauzer holds up to the St. Bernard. As I look around the pasture I can’t help but feel I have cheated. Today I simply replaced a few posts and secured the net wire. Someone put in a lot of effort building this fence.

Dad spent many hours teaching me how to build a fence. We didn’t have the fancy augers to drill holes nor the metal posts to drive into the ground. I can still see the sweat on his forehead as he drove the posthole diggers into the ground. I only dreamed of the day when I could match his skill.

Dad would find good cedar heartwood which provided the stable support for our fencing. He held the axe firmly as he trimmed away any remaining bark. As we dropped the post into the hole Dad would eye the post to make sure it stood straight and sure. Periodically we included cross bracing in preparation for mounting the wire. We took the back side of our hoe handles and compressed the fresh dirt tightly against each post.

After all the posts stood with firm support it came time to string the fencing. We didn’t have the farm supply store with fancy fencing tools at our beckon. We simply used crowbars on barbwire fencing while Dad built a rig to compress and stretch net wire fencing along our newly placed posts.

Dad and I didn’t build many fences, but much of the fencing we put in place stands today. For many years it helped contain our cows, ponies, sheep, and goats that we raised. Dad taught me everything I know about maintaining fencing and it helped me complete my work today.

Granddaddy Daily exposed us to an earlier generation of fencing. His front yard was partially contained with split-rail fencing. Granddaddy was demonstrating earlier techniques which are rarely seen today. I can only imagine the effort into locating enough heartwood and properly placing each log in the fencing arrangement.

The sun is setting now and the dogs have tired of their play. I grab my tools and begin my trek through the pasture towards the barn. I turn to look at the work I completed today and feel satisfaction. But that satisfaction isn’t exclusive to my day’s work, but to years of work with Dad back home in those Alabama pastures. I can only hope that some day my children will look upon these pastures and share similar pleasurable memories as the sun’s orange glow dips below the horizon.