Saturday, November 23, 2013

Posts Post

Jack's been clearing brush and some stumps where the fence will go; marking off fence post spacing with orange spray paint.  We really don't know what we're doing!  Jack is doing most of the labor and I'm the go-fer and tool caddy.  We can't bring the generator on the same day as the mowers since they won't all fit into the truck bed, so he worked on this on different days depending on what tools were needed.  He's used everything we have on hand to clear it...from a brush cutter, small mower, electric weed eater and hand power saw.  Oh and a sling blade and machete.

You may be tired of seeing just a few fence posts, but this is Jack's first attempt at using barb wire.  He wanted to put some around this for added support, even though all the posts are notched and screwed in, caulked and tarred.
Here's the road view of the center posts we put up the last couple days.  They are caulked but as yet not tarred.  Posts are not perfectly straight when we put a level on them, they have natural curves.  Jack is digging all the holes by hand with a shovel and post hole digger.  He is also drilling and screwing in the screws that connect the poles by hand on this particular set of poles.  Getting the holes dug by hand is lot of work, but much easier in Florida sand than I remember it being in Mississippi growing up, when there was just really thick clay.  The upright poles are 8 foot poles and are being put in about 3 feet deep.  It takes a while to position the poles as level as possible both horizontally and vertically.  One of the horizontal poles had to be put a little higher than the other in order to have a place to put in the connecting screw.  We want enough "up top" for a 4 foot woven wire fence with an additional strand or two of  barb wire on top.  We think.  See?  We really don't know what we're doing!   Any advice is welcome!
This line of view above is where we are preparing to put the first fence section.  We marked off spaces ten feet apart, and Jack will reinforce this center brace with more barb wire.  If we had ever fenced anything before, this may all be as easy as bam, bam, bam.  But we haven't, it's all new, and some days when we're out here Jack hasn't yet become fully un-jetlagged from his night shifts.  And with my gimpy knee, I'm not much help in the manual labor department, though I do backfill holes and pack down around the posts with a metal pole, do the caulking, tarring...some holding this and that.  So it's reallyyy slow, but it's all good.  It seems like if we ever can get this property completely fenced, that will be a MAJOR feat and some of the other things will seem really easy in comparison.
Above, one of Jack's experiments with the barb wire.  It's his first time working with it, ever, and with no one to show him what to do.  So he's watched a lot of youtube videos and read as much as he could beforehand.  He's enjoying figuring things out.  Sometimes it takes a while just to get the hang of what a new and unfamiliar tool actually does.  It was fun watching him use the wire stretcher, if that's what it's called.  And he has a hand tool that does several things...cutting, clamping, etc.  He's got the wire diagonally here for support.  We have no idea if it really needs that support, but he figures the more support for the upcoming fencing, the better.  Jack is like a kid in a candy store when he has a tool he's figuring out how to use, so this has actually been fun for him, and I'm glad!

So far, we have put in partial days at the farm this past week.  Most days it was overcast with a slight chance of rain.  The temps were in the mid 80s, up from the mid 70s of last week.  We really felt the heat the first day out because there was sun with no wind and boy, that was tough.  I know we sound like wimps, but we're pretty hardy when it comes to weather.  It just starts cooking when it's sun and you and nothing in between.  Thankfully as the week progressed, there was a lot of cloud coverage, and with that came a steady breeze, which was great!  PERFECT weather :-)

There were a few splashes of raindrops but no rain till Wednesday night, when it poured.  Boy, did that make a difference in the road...ugh.  Even with just an overnight rain, the road went from pretty passable to rough.  Any more rain and it would be a mud pit again, just like it was for about four months this summer.

We have to weigh our limited resources and the timing of it all...put down shell for the road holes, or fence the property?  This is the dry season (comparatively) here, so we decided after a lot of back and forth conversation  to try to get the fence done, or as much of it as we can, during what dry season we hope we have.  Let's see...
Not only is that a handsome man, I think the black tar paint looks kind of sharp on those posts, woo!
And see all those palmettos?  As beautiful as they are, they can't all stay.  We will leave "islands" of them, but much of the rest will have to be cleared, as it's impassable and full of rattlesnakes.  It's not just talk, either.  We've already seen two snakes up close and personal, and this week I got on the computer and positively identified them both as pygmy rattlers.  Supposedly they do make a warning rattle, but it's too quiet a sound to usually ever be noticed by a human.

I do not look forward to the part of this all where we have to clear this brush by hand.  I'm praying for God to help us with any equipment we need, when we need it.  At this point, a tractor or a bobcat seem to be what most folks out this way use.  I have no idea how we'll manage that, since renting and hauling those to the property are truly cost prohibitive, as are the quotes we've gotten from private individuals who hire out to do clearing and leveling.  But either of those are tools I know we'll need at various times in the future, so I'm being bold enough to put it on the prayer list :)
Here's how overcast with rain clouds it was yesterday.  Do not be fooled by the apparent clouds...there WAS sun, somewhere --- enough to give me a sunburn to last me the weekend.  I was a tomato!  (still am, but am glowing in the dark a little less by now)    More to report later, but since this blog is our journey, this is where we are at this point.

What can't be seen in the pictures is how HAPPY we be able to get to the land, to have schedules that most times this past couple weeks have  meant days together to head to the farm, to have finished something, even if it's the gate, a few posts, some clearing, some further prep with plans laid out for weeks ahead.

It is FUN being with my beloved/hubby/best friend, and even just the ride out there makes me HAPPY.  We stare at the gate as if it's a talisman...something of actuality after so much waiting.  It makes me HAPPY to see Jack learning about new tools, for us to dig in the dirt, to sit on breaks listening to the whispering pines and the rattling palmettos and the sighing of the swampland on the other side of the street when there's wind.

We've met a few other folks who have land near here.  Everyone, the few who are ever out here, stops when passing by and chats for a few minutes, catching up on any news or making first introductions.  I really really like that.  So far we haven't met anyone we think of as sinister.  It seems like the folks who venture out this far are ones with some overlapping similarities in what they intend to do with their land, too, or just the enjoyment of being out here with the huge huge sky and the slower pace, the nature and the lack of interference from outsiders.  The sky here seems HUGE because there are few or no power lines and mostly sunny days, with skies often as blue as a robin's egg and dotted with beautiful white cloud cover.

We love to sweat and work towards something outdoors.  Somehow it feels more actual.  It helps me get through long, dragging days when we can't be out there, until we can again.  Whatever "it" is about being out there, it makes us both so happy.  I know part of it is our being together and doing something we love together.  We also believe God gave us this land and will help us use it for good things.  I love and appreciate my husband more every day, and especially on those days in the sun and at the farm.  We thank God, a lot...lot...lot.  And then some more.

Shabbat shalom, and I hope you'll share what's going on in your world :-)


Michelle said...

Why is Jack using barbed wire for fencing reinforcement, rather than smooth wire? I can see barbed wire as a top strand, but think smooth wire would be MUCH easier to use for the diagonal supports and such.

Carol said...

I love reading about people who are working at homesteading. Nice to see someone enjoying the outdoors...and you are doing a great job on the fence. I'll be checking back.

Robbyn said...

Michelle, y'know, I simply don't know! I think you're exactly right. He may be simply trying to get used to it, but I'll ask him.

Carol, so do I! and I think your boat adventures are great :) Thanks for the encouragement. I see you're a beekeeper...we're very interested in keeping bees and could use any advice you might offer

Robbyn said...

Michelle, I asked Jack and he said you're exactly right, he would prefer using smooth wire. The reason he didn't this time was because the only place he has right now to purchase wire is from Tractor Supply, and the smooth wire came only in 500 (or something like that) foot rolls as opposed to barb wire coming in much shorter ones. We just don't need that much smooth wire just yet and he didn't want to pay the high price for something he won't use much of :)

warren said...

Digging holes in clay will ruin a good person...I know sand is still hard but it has got to be better than clay! Anyhow, good looking fence!

Robbyn said...

Thanks, Warren! :-D Happy Thanksgiving!