Aspendale Farm Update ~ July 2015: Garden Fence Rebuild!

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It is shaping up to be a pretty nice summer here at Aspendale Farm! The last two years we’ve been a bit quiet — preoccupied with family matters, keeping up with my expanded responsibilities as an editor, and just trying to keep up with an altogether overwhelming schedule.

Although I definitely planted a few things last year and took a swipe at keeping the farm running, a lot went un-tended — or under-tended, anyway. This year I’m paying for it a bit. My orchard got a little out of hand and I’ve developed a few troubles here and there among different crops throughout the farm. But this year has afforded me a better opportunity to clean things up and to spend enough time keeping my sanity out in my garden. LOL! That’s what gardening is for me … it’s a sanity-saver. How about you? When I’m tense or overworked or grumpy, often the best remedy is to get outside, and it’s a doubly-good remedy when I can pull a few weeds or maybe spend some time hand-watering. I don’t quite know why I find that so relaxing… I deplored weeding as a kid!

Although early spring of this year was really too busy for me to do much at all in the garden — I didn’t plant anything until June 1 — I love that succession planting and season-extension affords me an opportunity to get some things in that I would have completely missed otherwise … spinach, carrots, peas, lettuce — if we’re lucky (and I can do a good job covering them when the first frosts hit) we’ll get a few pumpkins to ripen.

So this year I’ve focused on catching up with the things I’ve fallen behind on. My garden fence finally just gave up the ghost this spring. We built it in 2008 or 2009. Not too bad considering that even then we considered it a temporary fence at the time and didn’t expect it to last more than two to three years! So six- or seven-ish years later the sapling posts we had cut from our woods had finally disintegrated so much there were barely half a dozen wooden sapling posts left standing. Those probably were the newer posts we had replaced as some of the originals rotted away in prior years. We’d also mix-and-matched various other posts as the sapling posts rotted away — t-posts, step-in fiberglass electric braid fence-posts. It was not pretty! LOL!

You can see the jumbled mix of wooden posts (foreground) with the step-in posts, and t-posts we replaced the posts made from saplings that had rotted off at ground level. And the chicken wire was pretty unkempt, too!

You can see the jumbled mix of wooden posts (foreground) with the step-in posts, and t-posts we replaced the posts made from saplings that had rotted off at ground level. And the chicken wire was pretty unkempt, too!

The old fence was truly a wreck, but it did the job — keeping the chickens out. Oddly, those are the only critters I really need to worry about getting into my garden. The deer seem to ignore it, we never have rabbit trouble, and nothing short of solid steel walls and concrete foundation will keep the raccoons out… so I just don’t plant corn anymore and they don’t give me trouble. But once the fence actually fell over this spring, there was nothing I could do short of rebuilding the whole fence.

Although the two-foot-high chicken wire was still perfectly intact, it was definitely saggy and misshapen. The bottom six inches had gotten rusty, and this seemed the perfect opportunity for me to add something I’ve always wanted to my landscape … a white picket fence!

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My youngest daughter helped me shop for supplies and she and I got started removing a section of the old fence at the back of the garden. She has been as excited about a white picket fence as I! After clearing away that first section of fencing and the posts, we dug the two back corner posts into the ground before her twelve-year-old self was tired of the project for the time, and we were both pretty hot and sweaty. It was a good start but we had to wait a couple weeks before we could get back to it on account of a two-week vacation at the lake with some of our extended family. Vacation was great! But the poor fence sat, undone, waiting for us to return.

When we got back, I recruited the help of the other kids and it did go faster having two extra helpers. We would go out and work for half an hour in the morning before the sun got hot, and while the shade still covered the garden, making it much more pleasant to work there. We pretty much built a quarter of the fencing each morning. We’d dig in the 4×4 corner/brace posts and drive in two or three sharpened 2×2 posts in between each 4×4 post, doing one section each day. The side of the hay barn was the north boundary and didn’t need any work. This was a nice way to work and keep making progress!

The last day I let the kids help install the posts and screw the pickets to the posts, but I had to head into the machine shed and figure out the garden gate on my own. I didn’t have a plan I was working from, but I know enough about building and how gates work that with some measuring and cutting and fitting things together and eventually that afternoon, I had a gate.

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I love the new fence! Funny how something like that can double the pleasure of working in the garden for me, but it truly has. Instead of stepping over, or fighting with, the makeshift old gate, I happily swing the new one open and shut and latch it and relatch it! LOL! Like a kid with a new toy.

We have yet to install a new birdhouse on the tall corner post. We built around the old one, as there is a family of chickadees who haven’t quite finished with the old one yet. It’s beginning to lose pieces here and there, so a new birdhouse is definitely in order. Too bad, as we really like the old one quite well.

Like a kid with a new toy...!

Like a kid with a new toy…!

So … only one more month of summer left. I’m a good bit of the way through the school planning for the kids for this coming year, but I’m not ready to think about getting back into fall. I’m insatiably soaking in every warm, summery day. Hopefully by the time autumn does hit, I’ll have filled up my store of sunshine and warmth to make it through another Northern Michigan winter!

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