Monday, February 1, 2016

Taking Down the Fence, Part One

That title sounds like it should be a euphemism, doesn't it?

Like:  "Why's Heather so grumpy?"
          "Oh, you know, she and her sister took down the fence last night."

Or maybe:  "Heather sure looks happy!"
                   "Well, she and Will took down the fence, so she ought to."

It could work in a lot of ways, I think.

However, in this case, it actually means "I'm taking down the fence in my backyard."

You may remember last March, Phil Robertson inspired me to clean off the weird concrete pad at the very back of our property.  Since then, it's stayed pretty clean, but the back corner continues to be a dankesque, gloomy, snake-ish looking area and I've decided that I want it to be more open and airy.

The first idea was to chop down the large and ice-storm-damaged Carolina laurel tree that lurks near my garden.  I am generally not in favor of chopping down trees, but this one leans and sprawls and makes forty blue million babies all over the yard AND it's poisonous, so I was okay with it.  Will, however, nixed that idea.


The next idea was to take down the fence that surrounds the concrete slab, making it easier to get in the yard and taking away any number of interesting crevices into which brown widows and snakes can insert themselves.

*Pause to say here: I am NOT anti-snake or spider, per se, but last year a farming family nearby cleared a lot of land and all of the timber rattlers and copperheads that lived in the brush decided that my neighborhood would be a great place to which they could relocate.  And brown widows are fine if they don't do things like build their webs under door knobs, in the tracks of sliding glass doors, and under the edges of patio chairs.  Which they do, so I consider them "not fine."  Unless pressed, I won't shoot, squish, spray, or otherwise harm these guys, but I'm not going to keep providing them places to chill out with kids and dogs running around.

Anywhoodles, below you will find the fence I'm taking down. You'll note that right at the corner, there's a gate.  (You'll also note that there is a slightly overweight beagle snorfling around happily because any time I'm out in the yard doing work, Frodo is convinced I will overturn vast colonies of voles which he can dig up and chomp.)  To the right in this picture is the jasmine vine that is going to be wrestling with me as I attempt to move it to the back side of the fence.  I decided to start with the gate.


Roughly four seconds in, I was cussing.

Y'all.  Why?  Why would you hammer two zinc nails into the holes of a hinge to affix it to a gate?  Is this some kind of redneckery that I don't know about?  Is this standard procedure in whatever part of the country from whence the renters here before us lived?  I don't know, but whatever the case, it looked ridiculous.

And it made taking out the nails all but impossible, since they had rusted to each other or were overlapping each other.  At one point in time, I was pretty much wrapped around a post, gripping the handle of my hammer, trying to pry out a nail whose head was mushing all out of shape every time the hammer got near it.  Without warning, the head slipped out of my hammer and, I swear, I clocked myself right in the jaw so hard that I saw stars and my ears rang.  Thank all the stars that I gave myself an uppercut with my fist instead of the hammer.

The nails weren't just zinc.  Also included in the bizarre gallery of fasteners were staples, finishing nails, sheetrock nails, and this bad boy.  I can't even figure out how I got that sucker out.  It appears to be some form of alchemy.

Because of the whackatoodle nailing job, it took me a little longer than expected to get down the gate and one of the panels of fence, at which time I was neck deep in greenbriar and fallen branches and assorted little bushes.  I decided to take a break and work at getting out the greenbriar so that when I got back to hauling out the fence parts, I wouldn't trip and fall and eviscerate myself on a nail I neglected to pull out.

My friend Whitney called while I was working on the greenbriar, and I horrified her by telling her what I was wearing:  a teeshirt emblazoned with the mascot of the school where Will's principal, my polyesteresque, bright green yoga/workout pants, and my doodoo brown muck boots.

"I don't want to even think about your hair," she said.

"It's slicked back, wet with sweat, and probably has spiders in it."

I am a source of great anxiety for my friends, particularly those who are hairsylists with keen fashion senses.

Around lunch time, it started spitting rain, so I called it quits until after the kids got home from school.  I didn't get as much accomplished as I wanted to, but I did get the gate and one panel off, I cleared up some vines and brush, and I rolled a giant log one quarter turn in my quest to get it over to the fire pit.

Frodo was ecstatic with my progress.  Please note the dirt-besmudged nose of a vole-hunting beagle.


  1. You inspire me. My backyard looks a lot like a wild game refuge (which irritates the hell out of my neighbors) and I would love to spend time out there. But, I can't because if I clean up the back yard, all the prowlers make it their mission to attempt to gain access to my abode via the back door and I'm tired of fixing it.

    So, instead of prettifying my exterior, I shall attempt to "take down the fence" in my house. I'll pick a section that gives me the most grief and make changes.