I know a woman who knows a woman who publishes a magazine about fencing.
When I first heard this magazine mentioned, I was dubious. Fencing? How could there be enough material for more than a couple of issues? Once you’ve discussed the virtues of barbed wire versus woven wire, plastic versus wooden pickets, and wooden versus steel posts, you’ve pretty much covered all there is to say about fencing.
Oh, I suppose you could get into some of the finer details, such as what size woven wire mesh is required to keep rabbits out of your tomatoes. (Smaller than two inches by four, certainly, as I know from personal experience. Maybe I could write an article for the fencing magazine.)
Except, as I eventually figured out, “fencing” apparently has a different primary meaning in some circles than in others. I should have been thinking Three Musketeers rather than three wires, stretch tights rather than fence stretchers, fencing foils rather than fencing pliers.
Oh. Never mind.
Honestly, I have my doubts about whether that kind of fencing would provide enough material to keep a magazine going, either. But what do I know? I’ve never done thrust-and-parry fencing, just post-and-wire fencing.
Which I was doing last week. We transplanted some lilac shoots from a friend’s yard into ours. The deer apparently regarding this as a new and exotic addition to the neighborhood buffet, a fence seemed to be a good idea.
Since the woven wire fence around the small garden spot wasn’t keeping the rabbits out anyway, I decided to use it for the lilacs. I twisted off the pieces of wire that held the fence to the steel posts, dragged the fence out of the raised garden bed, and flopped it onto the driveway, where it promptly rolled itself up and tried to take me with it.
I untangled myself from the wire, rolled it up into a more or less manageable bundle, and hauled it up the hill to the lilacs. I pulled the steel posts out of the garden and carried them up the hill.
I remember as a kid, helping to fix fence, driving steel posts with a heavy iron pipe that was closed at one end. My father would raise the driver and bring it down onto the post a couple of times, and that was all it took. For my sister and I, the same job required thumping away on the post for five or ten minutes, after having struggled to get the driver over the post in the first place.
Unfortunately, not owning a post driver, I had to make do with a small sledge hammer. Fortunately, the ground was rain-softened, and, also fortunately, I got five posts driven without once hitting myself with the hammer.
By this time it was threatening to rain, so my goal for the rest of the job was to get it done in a hurry. The posts, at least a foot too short for the project at hand, ended up driven in just far enough so a strong wind probably wouldn’t blow them over. I fastened the wire to the posts with a hodgepodge of various sized pieces of recycled wire. The ends of the wires were straggly and scraggly and uneven. Yes, I was taught better than that, but I didn’t want to take the time to twist them together properly with the pliers and clip the ends off neatly. This was to be a temporary fence, after all, just to keep the lilacs unmunched until they grow big enough to fend for themselves.
This week's project is to get some more posts and a smaller mesh wire, then build a fence—theoretically rabbit-proof—around the tomato patch.
Maybe it would be simpler just to keep the critters away with a rapier. En garde, you pesky varmints!
When I opened your column, I thought your were going to introduce us to a magazine about the finer points of using those sharp, flexible foils and people with bee veils on their heads. So it was about pounding posts in the ground. Been there. Thanks for the funny stuff….Frank