Saturday

Checklist:
1. 2 chainsaws
2. Bar lubricant
3. Gas with oil mixture
4. Chainsaw wrench
5. Chain files
6. 8 t-posts.
7. Roll of barbed wire.
8. T-post setter
9. Come-along
10. Tree saw
11. Pruning loppers
12. Gloves
13. Ear plugs
14. Safety glasses
15. 2 fence pliers
16. Roll of wire for use as fence clips.
I made this list around 7 am on a Saturday. Experience has taught me that without the “list” one spends most of the morning running to the barn for forgotten supplies. Since the morning task was repairing fencing far from the barn a list was needed.

Caleb, the kid from the next hollow who helps me on Saturdays, showed up promptly at 8:30. We spent a few minutes loading my pick-up and headed out. The fence line to be repaired lay in the lane connecting the lower farm from the upper farm. The lane is bordered by stately white oaks and deep woods on the north side and a neighbor’s pasture on the south. The lane runs about a quarter of a mile up a ridge to the back pastures.

The fencing in the lane is a low priority. The cattle know the drill and when you begin moving them they are running to the next field, seldom pausing to check for weak fencing along the way. But, time and storms had taken a toll on the fencing. The final straw was a huge white oak that toppled taking a pine, sycamore and several dogwoods in domino fashion as it fell across the fence.

We cut up all the wood across the fencing and drug it into large brush piles in the woods. That should provide plenty habitat for wildlife. Using the tree saws and loppers we cleared the fence line of small shrubs and trees that have grown since the last clearing took place. Drove the new posts, stretched the wire and secured it. We headed back to the barn after one o’clock. After putting our tools away Caleb headed home and I polished off a large plate of leftovers with a well-earned appetite.

I mumble often about the absolute satisfaction completing a tangible and constructive task gives me. Five hours of hard work, a new solid fence line, wood cut and the comradeship of a helper…that is hard to beat. To be able to say, if only to oneself, “nicely done” is a good way to finish the day.

I’m often reminded, while working on the farm of Mathew Crawford’s wonderful work Shop Class as Soul Craft: an inquiry into the value of work. He writes: To live wakefully is to live in full awareness of this, our human situation. To live well is to reconcile ourselves to it, and to try to realize whatever excellence we can.

Excellence in fence repair was yesterday’s goal.

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