Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

Robert Frost said it. Good fences make good neighbors. And now we have a good fence. Armando said it should last at least 50 years.

In my last post, we were waiting for the rain to stop for Friday, or at least pause, so we could finish the first coat of stucco/repello on the stub wall under the chain link fencing. Well, all that actually happened, and Saturday four of us moved the four 100-foot rolls of chain link fencing in the pickup from our carport to the building lot. Then we had to move them to their appropriate places in the lot. It was a lot of work as we purchased the heavier gauge fencing and the rolls were heavy. It took the four of us. We strapped a three-inch tree trunk to the top of a roll, then with two men in the front and two men in the back, we hoisted the mass to our shoulders and hobbled, staggered, and laughed our way across the muddy soil, sinking to our ankles in places because of the weight. By 2:00 we had all 393 feet stretched and hung on the fence posts.

It is getting close to Christmas, and Armando and Hernan wanted to work today, Sunday, to pick up some extra cash. They got the second coat of repello underway, one working on the inside and one on the outside of the fence. They got about 60-feet done, a good start. I had expected a bit more, but considering that yesterday was a hard day and that their entire day today was spent in an uncomfortable squatting/standing/squatting position, I think I have nothing to complain about. Once they get the repello done, the only thing left is for me to weld a pipe top rail to the posts and tie the fencing to the pipe. But that can wait until we get electricity and the ground dries out a bit more. No rush.

Speaking of electricity, I spent most of the day wiring the electric wall. I still have to finish driving the ground rod; half way through the job the sledgehammer handle broke from several years of silently rotting away in the storage shed. I’m waiting on installing the breakers, which I withheld so they wouldn’t get stolen, but we are basically ready to apply for the service hookup. I’ll get that process started tomorrow. And if I have time, I will go down the hill and buy enough wood to make batter boards for laying out the position of the 20 columns that will support the house.

Photos at the end of this post.

When someone says a word, for example “fencing,” I immediately think about the fence we are erecting, and about two people dueling it out with swords, and I will usually come up with a song or two, too. Everything seems to be connected with dotted lines in my brain. I’ve noticed that my girl cousin does the same process in her mind; it must be genetic. You could call it Full Spectrum Thinking. That would be kind. Or, you call it Scatter Brain Thinking if you weren’t being so generous. So what follows is a smattering of connections on the word fence:

The Fence or The Ambulance
by Joseph Malines

‘Twas a dangerous cliff, as they freely confessed,
Though to walk near its crest was so pleasant:
But over its terrible edge there had slipped
A duke and many a peasant;
So the people said something would have to be done.
But their projects did not at all tally:
Some said, “Put a fence around the edge of the cliff”
Some, “An ambulance down in the valley.”

But the cry for the ambulance carried the day.
For it spread to the neighboring city:
A fence may be useful or not, it is true,
But each heart became brimful of pity
For those who had slipped o’er that dangerous cliff,
And the dwellers in highway and alley
Gave pounds or gave pence, not to put up a fence,
But an ambulance down in the valley.

“For the cliff is alright if your careful,” they said,
“and if folks even slip or are dropping,
it isn’t the slipping that hurts them so much
as the shock down below-when they’re stopping,”
So day after day when these mishaps occurred,
Quick forth would the rescuers sally
To pick up the victims who fell off the cliff,
With their ambulance down in the valley.

Then an old man remarked, “it’s a marvel to me
that people give far more attention
to repairing results than to stopping the cause,
when they’d much better aim at prevention.
Let us stop at its source all this mischief, cried he.
“Come neighbors and friends, let us rally :
If the cliff we will fence, we might almost dispense
with the ambulance down in the valley.”

“Oh, he’s a fanatic.” the others rejoined:
“dispense with the ambulance Never!
He’d dispense with all charities, too, if he could:
no, no! We’ll support them forever.
Aren’t we picking up folks just as fast as they fall?
And shall this man dictate to us? Shall he?
Why would people of sense stop to put up a fence?
While their ambulance works in the valley?”

But a sensible few who are practical too,
Will not bear with such nonsense much longer
They believe that prevention is better than cure
And their party will soon be the stronger
Encourage them, then with your purse, voice and pen
And (while other philanthropists dally)
They will scorn all pretense, and put up a stout fence
On the cliff that hangs over the valley.

The Best Loved Poems of the American People
Compiled by Hazel Felleman
Published by Doubleday, 1936

Mending Wall
by Robert Frost

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!’
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors’.
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
‘Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
Where there are cows?
But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.’ I could say ‘Elves’ to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me~
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbors.”

Seems appropriate to put this photo here: The stone mason's (he is my cousin) completed work at my girl cousin's house in New England. Photo by C.D.

Okay, how about this song by Roy Rogers (click it): I’m going to build a big fence around Texas

And of course the obvious counter to the song above (click it): Don’t fence me in by Dean Martin and Mireille Mathieu. — Ah, Dean Martin ~ A man of great wit ~ If he leans any closer ~ He’ll fall off the fence ~ And into her ~ Lap!

I could go on, but here are the repello guys:

Armando and Hernan work the wall. Photo by Cynthia

Oh, did I mention that we have had some wind and rain? The back fenceline suffered a blow when a good-size tree fell during the night. We cut the tree up and repaired the M2 panel and were good to go again.

That’s it for today.

4 thoughts on “Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

    • One would think that that would be the case. But our land slopes from back down to front (there is about 4-feet of elevation gain at the back), and we haven’t built the front fence section yet. So, the neighbor behind us — their water flows toward our back section, but it is interrupted and diverted by the ditch we dug behind our fence. And any water that falls on our land runs off our property at the front and goes into the front ditch. I’ll take the front runoff into consideration when we build that section. Probably some short lengths of pipe through the fence.

  1. Fred and Cynthia
    Wow! The fence went up pretty fast considering the rain.
    Right now thinking about SC weather yep we are to have a low tonight of 16 winds 25 mph. high of 36 this is very cold for SC. Panama is looking better and better LOL!
    Cynthia great photo’s thanks so much for sharing

    • Yes, good progress despite the rain. We had another big downpour this afternoon — I’m anxious to see if today’s repello made it through the water…

      Yes, sounds like SC is getting the worst weather deal right now, although the Panama Canal was closed for the first time in two decades because of the rain. There has been much flooding throughout the country recently.

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