• Tag Archives electric fence
  • Garlic

    Beltane                                                                      Waning Garlic Moon

    In my new names for Minnesota full moons this is the garlic moon, because under its gaze, in its waning nights, the garlic leaves will begin to die back and the garlic will  be ready to come out of the garden.  This is now my third year with garlic started from garlic bulbs I grew myself.  Garlic gradually adapts itself to your soil and climate if you keep replanting it.  Not sure how long it takes overall, but the process should be well underway.  Artemis Garlic.

    Walking the line.  Nope, not Johnny Cash, but me, trying to track down a short in our electric fence.  Found it.  An ironwood branch detached during the last round of heavy weather landed on the eastern run of our chain link fence, bending the chain down and over the electric fence.  Chain saw.  That old branch popped right off.  Since I had the chain saw warmed up, I went out to the front and pruned some of our amur maples.  They’re getting old and their limbs have begun to crack and die.

    Now I’m in here, finishing up e-mail communications and getting ready for a nap.  Kate and I have a hand-built clay class this afternoon from 1-4.  The last two days required a burst of energy.  I have to restore it now.

  • Sigh

    Beltane                                                            Waxing Garlic Moon

    So, this guy has this dog.  He puts up an electric fence to stop the dog.  The dog jumps up on the fence, standing as a mountain goat, all four feet together, on the electric fence and the wooden top rail.  She’s laughing at me.  It’s another episode in the long running series, Are You Smarter Than A Three-Year Old Dog?  Up to this point, apparently not.

    Gertie is a special case, a special needs dog, only I don’t know what her needs are.  Why does she need to be in the orchard?  No clue.  Why does she snarl at strangers?  Territoriality I imagine, but what would make her back off?  Don’t know.  She seems to have a hair trigger with the other dogs.  Why?  I’m hoping it was partly (mostly) induced by Sollie, her male companion for the last two years.

    I’ve put up a run of bamboo fence and two pieces of corrugated metal roofing material.  Working so far.

    Tomorrow I’m going to the hardware store and buy material for another shot at this.  This time I’m going to get the plasticized wire I have on top of the fence and run it a couple of inches above the electric fence.  She pulls herself over the fence, but when she does I’m guessing she’s not completing the circuit, so the electric fence is just soft rope. (It has wire woven through it.

  • One Shocking Day

    Beltane                                                          Waxing Garlic Moon

    One more shocking day.  Headed out this morning with Mark to Fleet Farm.  If you’ve not ever encountered Fleet Farm, your life is not complete.  A megastore before there were megastores Fleet Farm carries all that stuff you can’t find anywhere else.  Electric fence supplies in this case.  Yes, my dog barrier creation abilities have been tested once again, this time by new arrival, Gertie.

    Gertie is a little dog by our standards, but she’s athletic, so the pull up and belly over the orchard fence proved little challenge for her.  You might think we wouldn’t care if the dogs were in the orchard, but our trees and blueberries have soft earth around them.  There must be an invisible Dig Here sign over each one, for no sooner does a canine enter the orchard (is this sounding a bit garden of edenish?) than soil begins to fly.  At some point, too, the dog encounters netaphim (nope, not seraphim), but a drip irrigation method designed to deliver water just where you want it.  Netaphim is chewy.  OH, Boy! OH, Boy!  Neither one of these activities make the orchard keepers happy.

    So, once again, I put up insulators, strung the rope laced with wire, jerry-rigged a gate and joined the whole to the already existing 1,600 feet of electric fence bordering our back yard and now the orchard.  Plugged it back in.

    Now we wait for the yelp that will indicate Gertie has learned about Mr. Wire.

    Welcome home, Gertie.

  • Burn your bag, boy?

    Spring                                          Awakening Moon

    Two stories from the world around us.

    Michele Yates, a docent colleague, toured a group of second graders last week.  At the James Ensor expressionist piece, “Intrigue”, a little boy raised his hand, “Look, you can see the paint.  It’s still wet.”  Turns out this young art connoisseur believed we had a basement filled with producers of art, crankin’em out every so often for the delight of the viewing public.  A time when it would have been delightful to be inside his mind and see the imagined works underneath the museum.  I see trolls and gnomes and dwarfs hard at work.  How about you?

    (Frejya and the dwarfs)

    An l.e.d. sign for onion sets drew me off  Highway 35E and put to Beisswinger’s Hardware Store.  Beisswinger’s is a great old style hardware store with lots and lots of stuff cared for by employees who actually know how to use it all.  When I took my brown sacks of red, yellow and white onion sets inside, it occurred to me that I still need a fence tester for our electric fence; the high voltage pulse knocks out ordinary voltmeters.  I know.  I did it.

    Anyhow, he’d never heard of one, but agreed to look it up.  Both of us were surprised when he found not one, but two.  On the way to the electric fence tester aisle, he started this story exactly like this:

    “So, Charlie Brown and I were in New Hampshire on my uncle’s farm.  He’s an old guy, over 70, but wiry.  We’re going out hunting [I’m thinking this is a joke, so I’m preparing to laugh whether it’s funny or not.  He seems like a nice guy.] and the old man scrambles over an electric fence.  Charlie Brown steps over it, but gets a jolt.”  In his red Beisswinger store shirt, this guy seems believable.  He goes on,  “The old man hollers back over his shoulder, ‘Burn your bag, boy?”

    I had students from Eau Claire and New York Mills today.  Both groups were fun, interested and engaged.

  • Surgery, Money and the Electric Fence

    Fall              Waxing Blood Moon

    Saw Ruth Hayden again, today.  She has guided us since a stressful period in our finances over 7 years ago.  As Kate’s retirement comes closer and closer, Ruth helps us with fine-tuning our retirement budget and preparing our holdings to manage the inevitable ups and downs of the market.  Her help is practical and wise.  Everyone should have a Ruth in their life.

    Kate has scheduled her back surgery.  It will take place on October 19th.  She plans for 8 weeks of recovery, 4 of pretty low key activity.  That means extra care and nurturing.  I look forward to it.

    The electric fence has become part of our property.  I check the l.e.d. two to three times a day and walk the property after heavy winds.  Thanks to the fence, Vega and Rigel now run and romp, tumbling over and over in the way puppies will.  The electric fence teaches a strong life lesson about freedom within  constraint.  Once our limits are clear, we are free to act as we are.  This seems like an oxymoron, but in fact life has limits at every turn.  Like Rigel you may be inclined to climb the fence and run free.  Like Rigel you may find that exhilarating.

    Consider this, however.  She has a secure place in which to play with her sister, get fed and hang out on the couch in the evenings.  She risked losing that when she climbed the fence.

    Not a conclusive argument and I don’t mean it to be, but it’s worth thinking about.

  • Kate the Earth Mother

    Fall                                         Waxing Blood Moon

    Kate made pasta sauce(s) from our tomatoes.  She also made an eggplant (ours) parmesan that we had with one of her sauces along with a toss salad of our tomatoes, basil and mozzarella.  Pretty tasty.  Kate has preserved, conserved, cooked and sewed on her two days off.  In this environment where her movement does not have to (literally) bend to her work her back and neck don’t flare as much.

    After the 40 mph wind gusts I went out and walked the perimeter again, checking for downed limbs.  Just a few stray branches, none big.  I did find an insulator where the rope had pulled away.   I used the insulator itself and plastic case to nudge the  hot wire back into place.  The fence does its job, but it requires constant surveillance.  Fortunately, the energizer has an led that flashes while the fence is hot.  That makes checking on the juice much easier.

    Friend and Woolly Bill Schmidt said he enjoyed the fence saga from his apartment.  He said he spent many nights, often at 2 am, shooing cows back in the field.  Electric fences are part of farming and he had many helpful hints.  He didn’t seem nostalgic for installing or maintaining a fence.

    Both grandkids are sick.  Jon and Jen face the dilemma of all working parents, how to handle sick kids and work.  This is never easy and can create unpleasant situations.

    I’m grateful for the rain and the cool down.  Cooler weather means plants ratchet down their metabolism so they need less water and food.  It’s time for that.  The rain helps our new shrubs and trees.   They’ve got the rest of the fall to settle in and get their roots spread out in their new homes.

  • More on the Humanities

    Fall                             Waxing Blood Moon

    Walked the fence today, checking for limbs, plants I’d missed.  Sure enough, about a third of the way around a large fallen tree branch pressed against the chain link shorting the fence and creating a hissing, popping sound when nudged.  The air smelt of burnt plastic fibers.  A visit with the chain saw fixed that problem.  Later on I tightened up the rope from a place where it had sagged.  After turning the fence off of course and putting Rigel in her crate.

    This fence is a great metaphor, but for what I’ve not yet discerned.

    On a topic close to my heart a professor of English for forty years wrote this essay:  The Decline of the English Department. Mr. Chace places yet another shot across the bow of careerism and the practical major while trying to suss out just what went wrong.  He puts his finger on the fragmentation of the humanities into gender, race, media and technology studies as well as the lack of passion for books and the traditional humanities.  In general I appreciate a man who takes responsibility for the dismal thing that has happened and I like Mr. Chace’s posture in this piece.

    While I would like to blame the victims, too, the politically wracked departments attempting to right ancient wrongs in scant years by creating university departments, I find it lets off the hook the real culprit.  A relentless scanning of the horizon for opportunities to make money without regard to the social or environmental costs lies at the bottom of this debasement of education.

    Crass instrumentalism has invaded every aspect of our lives.   Witness the prosperity gospel.  The growth of the mega-church. The new business orientation of medicine where patients are now consumers and doctors employees.  The rank greed filleted for all to see as the great economic crisis unfolded last fall.  The loose expansion of credit with fine print so dense not even its creators understood it.  Partisan politics make the party a blunt instrument for personal and factional advancement rather than a representative tool for negotiating compromises amongst civilizations conflicting interests.  Professional sports now have contracts in the quarter of a billion dollar range.  Tens of millions are not unusual for catching or throwing a football.  Educators at the elementary and secondary levels now teach to the test, a strategy created to insure that they meet federal standards and that their students pass high stakes tests.

    It is this coarsening of the social fabric, gone from a workmanlike denim for the post World War II economy to a scratchy burlap in this age of the derivative, that has led to a pushing aside of any thing that does not promise economic or political gain.

    This is not new.  A friend of mine has a neighbor in his condominium who was hired to teach philosophy at West Point.  In the time period before he began teaching a widespread cheating scandal unfolded.  The honor code had no clothes.  Leadership at West Point told him, “We can’t believe it, but we just never thought to teach our students ethics.  You have to put together a group of experts and develop a curriculum.”  Ethics is one of those disciplines that you can be taught, that you can know well, and that will have no affect on you at all unless you have the will to apply it.

    It is not enough, in other words, to teach justice and critical thinking and wisdom and equality if there is no social will to honor them.  That social will comes from a shared conversation about our past, about our common destiny and our mutual responsibility.  Instrumental thinking places all the emphasis on results with means receiving attention only as they bend circumstance to the result.  This is a recipe for disaster as any historian, English or philosophy professor can tell you.  It is not new, it is not a new thing under the sun.  Rather it is a lesson learned by Moses when he came down from Mt. Sinai and found even his brother Aaron bowed before the golden calf.

    Judgment came then and it will come now.

  • One More Day

    Lughnasa                                    Waxing (Blood) Moon

    The fence continues.  Today I strung the rope and checked that none of it touched anything except the yellow plastic insulators.  1,200 + feet of fence now has a yellow insulator every 10 feet and white rope laced with wire.  Tomorrow I’ll do the electrifying.  That means connecting the energizer to the fence itself and sinking two ground rods.  I would have finished today but I realized late in the day that I needed PCV to keep the live wire safe and a different blade for my reciprocating saw.

    It will be good to allow the puppies outside again where they bump and run, pounce on each other’s necks teeth bared and hunt each other again around the lilac and the cedar.  They’re big dogs and have a lot of energy; they need the outside to grow.

    Projects like this tax my patience.  I never learned even rudimentary fix-it skills, so anything requiring manipulation of the physical world–the inanimate physical world–defies me at every turn.  So far, I’ve figured out most of the problems on this one which leads me to suspect it must be pretty easy.  Even so it has taken four four hour segments which is about as much time as I give to any one outside project.

    The Vikings beat the winless Detroit Lions.  Again, they did not come alive until the second half, then they looked good.

  • Neighbors

    Lughnasa                                  New (Blood) Moon

    Good fences make good neighbors.  Sort of.  On the other hand three of our neighbors have stepped up at various points and returned our wayward puppies to us.  As a result, we’ve met folks we didn’t know like our neighbors to the south and to the southeast.  Neighborliness does not have a high value in the ‘burbs, at least in those areas where the lot sizes are 2.5 acres and up.  And it’s a shame.  It takes events to pull cul de sacites into each other’s orbit.

    Of course, many are better at it than Kate and I are.  Both introverts by nature we tend to our knitting when at home, filling up our extrovert basket when we work in the non-home world.

    Time to get out there now and finish up the fence before the heat of the day.  Yesterday, around noon, the mosquitoes came out and the temperature got to summer levels.  Cool weather is best for this kind of work.  Sweat draws creatures and debris in close.