Spring Fencing

A note from early April:

A classic spring day is in the making on the farm this Sunday afternoon. The clouds are running fast from the southeast, a direction only seen in spring and usually signifying fierce weather. The sun is making appearances in hurried fast moving bursts of light illuminating an acre patch of pasture at a time before cresting a hill and vanishing.

The past few hours were spent walking the fence line on the back pasture repairing breaks in the barbed wire. Tip, Becky and Robby accompanied me as I made slow progress along the fence, deep in the woods on the west slope of the field. They remind me of childhood, no real obligations, curiosity and amazing bursts of energy, as they dash away to examine a box turtle and back again to rest underfoot while I work.

Methodically I remove limbs that have blown across wire. Using fence clips I raise the wire back to its proper height then reattach. To relieve the sagging of wire due to either age or deer pushing between the strands, a pair of fence pliers is used to crimp and tighten each stand. Working in the woods with only the dogs as company gives me great contentment. It allows me to slow down, distractions restricted by a wooded worldview. Sounds limited to excited barks and the creak of a dead pine leaning against a tulip poplar, waiting for the push of the wind before breaking the embrace and falling to the woodland floor.

Wild violets are spread across the ground, usually clumped around the base of a tree. Oyster mushrooms grow in shelves on a stump where I harvested a pound or more during a false spring in January. I’ll harvest them later this evening, dry them and use them with our pork roasts.

The dogs and I move out of the woods and follow the northern and eastern fence line, then back down the southern edge onto a fire lane and then to the lower fields and back to the house, pausing occasionally for an extra little crimp to the wire. Out in the field proper the fence stays in better shape and requires less maintenance.

With the field now certified for occupancy, the cattle will be moved in the next few days off their winter pastures.