With Kyle’s help pounding posts and snapping on insulators, we have fenced 2/3 of the seven-acre back pasture. The cattle are ecstatic. I was still stringing line at 9 PM Tuesday night, so it was dark when I turned them out for the first time at 9:30. Still I could see their blurred shapes running and bucking with joy. By that time I was hot, sweaty, and tired, and had been attacked by midges and deer flies for a few hours. Still I could feel myself smiling in the humid night.
This field has been years in the making, evolving slowly as I have had money and time.
It was logged of its balsams in the fall of 2009.
Allen began stumping it that fall and spent another week on the job in the spring of 2010. The weather did not cooperate.
Leon finished the job later that summer, and then bulldozed, leaving a sour, lunar surface strewn with bits of logs.
That year I dragged the loose stones, broken roots and logs to the woods on a sledge, hand-seeded the ground with 1800 pounds of winter rye, and rolled it in.
In 2011 I mowed the acres of rye, weeds, and poplar saplings with a walk-behind brush-hog — I did not own a tractor — incidentally requiring an emergency room visit when the brush hog shot a stray rock into my leg (after that I wore soccer shin guards).
2012 was a summer of family crisis and little progress, though I did luck out with some round bales that I unrolled for organic matter to feed the soil, and I spread as much manure as possible.
That fall Damon brought me some free sandy fill, to begin to cover a long gully that Allen and Leon had crammed with stumps and boulders.
In 2013, I bought a 1988 tractor. Allen and I put in treated 6×6 corner posts.
Later that summer Allen and I buried an electric line under the barn paddock.
Luke and I fenced about 1/6 of the field.
2014 was another summer of family commitments and little progress, though Allen mowed the field — a huge help to keep the weeds and saplings down and add them to the mulch feeding the thin soil.
(From a distance, the field looks beautiful and green. Close up, one can see it is still mostly inedible weeds. However, I am confident that with manure, lime, and time it will improve slowly but surely.)
Now, in 2015, I’m excited to be moving forward again.
This spring Damon brought me some more fill and soon we hope to smooth over the second half of the rocky gully.
I have bought and stockpiled fencing line and insulators bit by bit over the last three years. I am now resigned to having to break down and buy the remaining 40 or so steel T-posts at $3.98 apiece. I have lucked out over the years with major hauls of $1 posts on Craigslist — I bought 100 in 2010 from a farmer downstate, neatly coordinating the purchase with a pick-up of my daughter in Albany — but I haven’t seen many advertised since.
When I buy the posts and a 10-foot gate, I will finally be set to finish this . . . seven-year project. Maybe this summer!