Art of Proprietation

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

That aint no goat

That aint no goat. That there is the proverbial north end of a southbound moose. It waltzed by early one morning. It's the first moose I have seen in our neighborhood. Ever. My next door neighbor said later that day he also saw a bear take the same path. Another first. My wife and I decided it portends the end of the world as we know it. Que REM.


Friday, May 15, 2009

Setting Posts with the Tractor

I had some big posts to put up, so I used the tractor...

I was putting up the posts for the deer fence around our new garden in the back field.
Some of the posts were pretty big.

Usually, I use my post hole auger to put in posts. Our land is relatively rock free, mostly sand and clay. So the auger makes a neat hole as deep as I can go with the handle. I can do a little more than 40" with this bar. The bar can be threaded out of the of the head and an extension added. But the hole is only 8 - 12" in diameter. Not big enough for the posts I am working with.

I wanted a tall fence, about 8 feet to keep the deer out. I don't have any cedar on my land but I can get nice 8 foot cedar posts for as little as $6. But posts long enough for an eight foot fence start to get a little pricey, if I can get them at all. But I can cut over sized posts from my own land. And I can get them in any length I want. They might not last as long as cedar, but that's why I cut them over sized. I will use increased girth to make up for inadequate material.
With such big posts, I had to cheat and use the tractor to move them, set them and dig the holes. It was good practice with the backhoe, though. I got good at digging deep without making a wide hole. Some of the holes were as much as seven feet deep. I would get as deep as I could staying narrow with the backhoe and then finish with a shovel. Since I was still making a sizable hole, I put in a footer log at or near the bottom. That and a log buried close to the surface on the opposite side give the post extra resistance to tipping under the tension of the fence.

I like to make corner posts with an outrigger, horizontal and a diagonal brace in each direction the fence goes around the post. This kind of bracing can be done without the diagonal brace using a tension cable instead, but I prefer to use wood under compression.

I notched the posts and used 1/2" rebar to pin them. My goal is to make sure the diagonal brace starts out under compression before I string the fence. After I assembled the diagonal brace and attached the horizontal to the main post I used a crude windlass to winch the outrigger post into the notch of the horizontal. I cut the notch in the horizontal about 2" short so the outrigger is drawn in, putting the diagonal under compression.

It was fun working with these larger timbers. I got a lot of experience making notches with a chainsaw. But they were heavy enough that I had to figure out some mechanical helpers to help during assembly. Things like using the flat webbing to suspend the diagonal brace while I scribed the angle for the end cuts or fitted the pins.

Over all, I am happy with these corner posts. I learned a lot putting them up. They are different and significantly bigger than ones I have put up before. So there are plenty of things I did one way on the first one but learned to do better before I got to the last one. But the are all rock steady. Standing on top of one gives a nice view of the garden area. There is a lot of mass in the posts and I was careful to get them tight. Now I need to string the wire.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

As Good as it gets

In the movie, As good as it gets, Jack Nicholson's character, Melvin Udyll, is an obnoxious obsessive compulsive man who has fallen in love with his waitress Carol, played by Helen Hunt. At one point, Melvin is trying to give Carol compliment. He tells her a long rambling story about how he hates to take his medication but he has decided to take it. She points out that in general, a compliment has something to do with the person being complimented. And he says something to the effect of oh, it's all about you. I am taking my medication because you make me want to be a better man.

I was working on a deer fence for the new garden in the backfield this morning. The corner posts for this fence are of absurd proportions, 18" diameter posts, 9" diameter cross members and horizontals. They are that big because I wanted to use wood I could cut on my land but I don't have any cedar. So I am going with over sized posts to makeup for lack of rot resistance. While I was notching these over sized members I thought about how a couple of years ago I never would have managed to tackle a project of this size and scope. Before about four years ago, I was too wrapped up my hardcore whitewater paddling career and riding around on my motorcycle to take on something like this. To prove it, for nearly ten years, I had a kitchen that I had torn apart but never gotten operational again. When I bought this house, I had two kitchens and I thought that summer I would renovate the one in the Elle. I disconnected the plumbing. I took the cabinets off the walls. Then the project sat idle for nearly ten years while I was busy doing other things. I did about the same thing with the bathroom in the Elle, tearing it down to the studs and the floor joists then getting distracted for years.

Working on that corner post this morning, I realized that my wife has been a significant motivator in my taking on these big projects and pushing them to a point of functionality even if not complete. When my wife moved and our son was born, I re-tackled the kitchen and bathroom projects. This spring, we began converting a half acre of brush filled pasture into a giant garden. Around that garden I am building a eight foot high deer fence. I doubt I would have tackled any of these things while I was pursuing the perfect wave.

My wife makes me want to be a better man.

Happy Mother's day, Smoochie.