More fencing; odds and ends make a long day

AC was on call at Maine Med last weekend, so I went down to Five Islands for some more ag-themed fun.  My grandfather (who is near 90) still keeps an impressive vegetable garden, but of late he has required help putting up the wire-mesh fence around it every spring.  Fresh from the experience with the orchard fence, we decided it would be more attractive and less work in the end to put up a permanent electric fence around his garden and apple trees.  His apple trees have suffered significant deer and moose damage over the years since their last dog passed on.  The model was the same as the orchard – 4×4 corner posts attached to trees, one free-standing 6×6 corner post with a diagonal earth anchor, 6×6 gate posts with a timber across the top, double swinging wooden gates, tensioned 14ga galvanized wire.  My aunt and ~uncle dug two of the holes, the bobcat dug the third (rocky ground) and we put the whole business together in a long Saturday.  This included trimming some branches from the corner trees and dropping a malformed 12″ oak that leaned over the apple trees and grape arbor.  We finished the gate and electrified the fence around dinner time.  The circumference was a bit less than the big orchard, around 0.1mi, so it probably encloses about a third of an acre.

Sunday was to be a relatively laid back day of puttering with no major undertakings.  I hitched up the cordwood hauler and moved about half a load that had been accumulating near the orchard, then Emily and I removed the stuff from the oak we took down from inside of the new garden fence, passing triumphantly through the new gate.  While I had the hauler hooked up we went back into the woods and collected a full load of maple and oak from the clearing along the stone wall where the maples will eventually go.  The wood had been sitting for more than a year in one case and needed to be collected before it softened up.  Unsplit  maple dries remarkably well in the open, oak less so, and birch not at all.  The nut on the pin holding the trailer to the tractor vibrated off during the return trip, necessitating a trip to the garage to get a hi-lift jack to reconnect it.  We added that wood to the pile, making the total haul for the day near to 2 cords.  The price of green fitted wood in Lebanon has increased from $140 last year to $190 this year, presumably because of increased demand with the high price of heating oil.  Meanwhile there’s a ridiculous excess in Five Islands with all the orchard preparation; but it’s hardly worth the gas and wear and tear to trailer it up there – if I had more time I’d fit and dry the wood in Five Islands, sell it, and buy green wood in NH, but other activities get priority, and so the cordwood accumulates.  If only my buff sister and her hulking husband would hurry up and move back to the farm they could do a good side business in firewood.

Trading the cord hauler for the wagon, I commenced to fill 5 gallon drywall buckets at the newly refurbished well pump, and hauled them to the orchard, watering the trees and leaving a set of full buckets for my mom to water with if the weather necessitates.  My dad and I set up a transit to shoot a grade between the pond and the orchard, finding to our annoyance that the highest trees are a mere 9′ above the pond, precluding siphon-based irrigation.  Gotta think on a bicycle-powered pump for orchard irrigation.

I then mixed up some white interior latex paint with drywall mud, and Emily painted trunks (to ward off borers) while Dave and I hung the door on the replacement outhouse for the upper cabin.  I noticed a handful of missing insulators on the orchard fence, so I got a 6′ stepladder and put them on, then I patrolled the fence line with a shovel, pulling grass, adding to the stone embankment under the north side of the fence, and filling in a few gaps, as well as editing the moats around the trees to hold more water.  By that time the day was well on, and I was thoroughly whupped.  With the exception of the loads of cordwood no one thing I did amounted to much, but taken as a whole it somehow turned into a hard but quite enjoyable day of work.


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