Sometime next month, my shortleaf pine trees will arrive from the Missouri Department of Conservation. I only ordered 25 of them this year, and that’s all I ordered; there won’t be any shrubs or other trees. My planting adventure this spring ought to be quick and easy. Of course, I won’t let it be that way. I have found a way to complicate it.
I mentioned in an earlier post that I wanted to have a small copse of pine on Danger Island. I know that the local deer bed down there sometimes because I’ve seen the matted grass. Thus I know that any pines I plant there will not be safe from hungry, browsing deer. (Note, the island is rarely an island. The lake is hardly full enuf to keep water all the way around the island, and I don’t think that would stop the deer anyway.) So I decided to build a fenced area on the island and plant the pines within it. That will give them a little better chance of surviving. So that was one of the chores we undertook on our weekend visit.
I have been accumulating fence posts for months in anticipation of this. Even so, I’d only managed to get myself four of them. So I bought another five as well as a fifty-foot roll of chicken wire fencing, and between Libby and me (and the two dogs) we managed to get all of that plus the driver and other tools onto the island in only two trips.
So, I have this roll of fifty feet of fence. A little math, not too taxing for my qualitative brain, told me that if I made a square of 12 feet by 12 feet, I’d have two feet of fencing left over once I enclosed the square. Using the posts as six-foot measurements, I laid out the four corners and then took up the post driver, dreading the job of pounding those posts into the giant gravel pile that makes up the island.
It turns out the job was far easier than I expected. Sure, I had to pound and pound, and the dogs didn’t like the noise much, but I managed to get all nine posts into that gravel without breaking a sweat. Here is the result:
I know what you’re thinking. Some of those posts don’t look very straight. I welcome you to come out to the island and pound steel posts into Ozark gravel any time you’d like.
I have a center post on each side but two posts on the west side (in the foreground). That is because I am putting my “gate” in the fence there. I’m not sure how often I’ll need to get into my little pine tree garden to need a gate, but I suppose in the first couple of years I’ll need to cut down the scrub within so the pines can get sunlight. “Gate” is a fanciful word, too. I’m just going to attach the fencing to the corner post with two zip ties rather than three so I can cut them to open the “gate” and then replace them to close it.
The next job was to put the fencing up. I have newfound respect for people who lay continuous fencing fabric. It’s a lot tougher than I imagined to get the fabric straight and taut, especially with an island that is not as flat on the top as it appears. There’s no way a fence on an island in a lake is going to look picturesque, though, so I didn’t sweat perfection too much. It’s a deer barrier, not a work of art. Here is the result:
I don’t know if four feet of fencing is going to stop a deer. I suppose it wouldn’t if the deer were determined. But it might deter the deer. Anyway, we marched the roll of fencing around our square of posts, attaching it as we went, and we were nearly finished with putting the last zip ties to close the gate when I saw that we’d left the post driver and one backpack within the fenced area. So I crawled through the little bit of gap we still had left at the bottom of the gate corner to fetch those things. And it turns out that there are thorny vines on that ground that you don’t see until you kneel on them or press your bare hand on them.
And another thing: somehow my fifty feet of fencing only stretched forty-eight feet. Fortunately I had undersized my square. Had I set the corners at twelve and a half feet, I wouldn’t have had enuf fencing.
It actually looks pretty good from a distance. On our hike back to the cabin to sit in the comfy chairs, I turned to look at our handiwork, and it looked pretty good. Of course planting trees in that rubble is going to be a chore of its own, but I’m sure I’ll tell you all about it.