Sunday, October 9, 2011

Fencing at Brush Creek

I fired up the wood stove tonight to warm up from a damp day of fencing in the hills.  

The neighbor’s cows had discovered a weak spot in our fence, so we took up the 4-wheeler, a roll of barbed wire, staples, bulldogs (fencing pliers), a shovel and tamping bar, and some extra posts to repair the fence in the Brush Creek field.

Kate and I went around the strays and headed them out the gate while Mark started replacing posts.

Fencing is satisfying work. Start with quality materials, dig the post holes deep and tamp them solid at the bottom. The last step, attaching wire to the posts with u-shaped staples, requires restraint. Only the novice buries the staple into the wood. Experience teaches one to leave a small air gap so that the wire can be snugged up later, as time and snow sag the once-tight line. When a fence is complete and well maintained, it's a source of pride to a rancher.

It reminds me of when Grandma Bonnie talks of being proud of her whites hanging on the clothesline. Her tools are timeless - bleach and sunshine - and the results are kitchen drawers lined with snow white tablecloths and dishtowels. I have always envied them.  

October is fine fencing weather. We ranchers have the hills to ourselves post-camping season and pre-hunting season. The grasses are a soft buttery yellow, heavy with seedheads. The quakies are golden, the sagebrush is in bloom, and all seems quiet, patiently awaiting the change of season. It is so beautiful as to break your heart.  

We stopped for a lunch of chicken salad sandwiches and pumpkin bread - with coffee of course. It was breezy, so we found a sidehill with giant sagebrush to block the wind.

I told Mark there was much to blog about on this day. I could talk about fencing and how technology hasn't changed the world of ranching very much in the last 50 years. Barbed wire and cedar posts still fit the bill. Or, I could blog about end-of-season plants, and how the leaves of the river birch dot the beaver ponds with color.  Or how a cow’s layer of fat acquired over the summer helps her ward off winter storms. I might talk about husbands and wives working together or how setting posts is like raising children, get a good start and the rest follows.

Blogging for the past year has been a real joy. It helps me to sift the lovely vignette out of the common every day, and with that done, I have renewed tolerance and gratitude for this life we lead.         


1 comment:

  1. Setting posts is like raising children...Awesome. Yes things are more clear, sharp and visceral. -