Fencing! Amazing!

I don’t even know where to start telling you how cool our new fencing is. The craftsmanship is incredible. My gratitude is immense. But look, here’s one completed run.

Harvey is trapped! Not really.

The fence may look like normal horse fencing (not all barbed wire like cattle fencing), but what you can’t see is that all the parts were fabricated by one person and the whole thing was installed by one person, not a team. Plus, many of the tools used to make this a one-man show were hand-made, as well.

The industrial-strength auger

All the heavy braces required deep holes filled with concrete. You can’t dig those with a shovel! Luckily, the nephew happened to own a big, yellow auger that attaches to a tractor. But, what to do with it in between uses? He fashioned a way to hang it from the rafters of the future stall roof, then dug a hole for stability. Cool!

Daisuke at work

But, how the heck will all those t-posts and the metal support poles get dug? Well, I wish you could have seen it in person! First, each post got spray painted to show how deep it needed to go. Then they all got started by hand, which involved climbing up the front-end loader forks and pounding them down with a huge mallet. One mallet made the supreme sacrifice and separated from its handle during the process. Always have a backup!

Doing a wheelie. Some posts didn’t go in as easily as others. I forgot to edit this one, so the world looks sideways.

Then, one by one, Daisuke, our “big helper” tractor did the work of sinking all the posts. It is really fun to watch, especially when a post hits a rock and won’t go any further. Daisuke’s front tires go off the ground. We may have to break out the bigger tractor for some fine tuning.

Just getting started, but a good photo of the fencing on its spindle.

So, how do you string all the fencing by yourself? First you make a spindle kind of thing. It’s like a record player, and goes round and round. You put a pole on it, then put the roll of fencing on that. You can then attach to one end, and just slowly drive Daisuke backwards and unspool the wire. Ta da!

The tensioner, right after it was finished.

Great, so after that, you have a length of fencing, but it’s pretty loose and wobbly. You need to tighten it, which is much easier with a helper. However, if you’re a master welder, you “just” (easier said than done) make yourself a tensioner to attach to the tractor. There are the same number of hooks on it as there are spaces in the fencing. You hook them on the end of the fencing, and gradually tighten it, then fasten. That’s really clever.

Getting ready to stretch. Pretty cool.

Before the afternoon was over, there was an entire length of fencing, which confused the heck out of the cattle.

Fencing row number one.

By the end of the day, two rows of posts were laid out, and the top strand of barbed wire was up on the second row. Once there are three rows (we are making two pens to rotate the horses between, for parasite management), the more detailed work of putting in the fencing around the stalls, adding gates, and setting things up will start. There’s plenty of work left for our one-man crew.

Two rows of posts, and fencing ready to be strung.

And the cattle aren’t being ignored. There’s a shiny new gate that holds their heads in place so they can have their shots and other things done to them. That should work with these fairly docile cattle. We’ll still have to borrow the fancier equipment over at the Wild Type area for palpitation and anything that requires no movement. (I say “we” but I mean “he.”)

A head gate, I think it’s called.

We are glad it didn’t rain yesterday, so all this stuff could get done! Since it’s a US holiday to honor people who died in wars, I’m off work today. That means I can do my own physical labor and help with cleaning the tack room. Sara did the floors yesterday, so I get to do everything above floor level today. I’m not complaining; it needs doing, very much!

All clean and shiny, and no longer limping. Hooray! Patchy may not be as pretty as some of those fancy horses, but he’s beautiful to me.

Plus, I’ll get to hang out with Apache and Fiona. Apache feels good enough to do ground work, and Fiona is finally shedding, so I’m working on her coat. She does love attention!

I hope you are having a fun time, whether it’s a holiday or a “real” Monday for you. Life feels so much more “normal” now, with everyone home and doing stuff (and I even had a traveling friend drop by yesterday!). I’m savoring every moment.

I Feel Pretty – Why Not?

Lately I’ve been enjoying photos of some friends who are my age. For example, Kathy, who I know from high school, has been sharing a sweater she knitted every day this month, and it’s been so fun to see what she’s made, and I’ve envied that she lives in Colorado now and actually gets to wear them.

Also, though, I’ve been enjoying how she looks in each photo. She just glows with happiness, her eyes shine, and her smile is bright. So what if she just had another birthday? This is my idea of beauty, because her beauty as a human being shines through.

Yes, she made that herself. Check out mountainpurl on Ravelry for more!

In my family, we sometimes talk about how the pandemic hasn’t been kind to our figures or that all the stress is showing in how we look and feel. I know I sometimes look in a mirror and wonder who the heck that is looking back.

Unretouched photo of me, today, with hair no longer blue.

It’s really tempting to focus on the obvious signs that I’m not a kid anymore. Those lip wrinkles make me look like a long-time smoker (I never smoked!), the jowls make me wonder if I’ll look like Droopy Dog eventually (my great aunt did). And the neck. Eww. That’s enough, though I could go on.

Other parts of me are fascinating, too. I have interesting new moles and marks (yes I get them looked at), my stomach is at its poochiest (and it’s pooched since birth), and while my breasts finally got larger than an A cup, they have been defeated by gravity.

So What?

Yeah! I’m mentioning all this stuff, because when I looked in the mirror this morning, I saw this new me and I was fine with her. I don’t exactly recognize her sometimes, but I like her. When she’s happy, she really looks pleased. When she’s down (or thinking, in a Zoom meeting), she looks like my dad or my brother, so at least I’m still a member of my family.

This is nowhere near as awful as I look in some meetings. But, it’s me.

And I feel so free to dress and act however is comfortable to me. That was a long time coming. I used to try to dress to portray membership in my group (hippies, corporate employees, cowboys). Now it’s more like, what looks fun today?

Cowgirl time (2014).

I wish I could find the article I recently read about people who identify as women and their relationship with makeup. It talked about the conflict between so many young women claiming makeup gives them freedom with the thoughts of many of us older feminists who feel that requiring makeup of women, but not men, is another sexist vestige.

I think back to what I’ve spent on makeup, hair stuff, nail stuff, etc., and know I have gotten some company executives richer. It’s a conflict for me, for sure. I don’t think I NEED makeup, nail polish, or blue hair to be attractive. I don’t NEED overly coordinated clothing, either. I could wear jeans and a t-shirt every day the rest of my life and be fine. But, dressing up is fun. I guess it’s a part of my cultural identity as a Western woman that I can’t get rid of completely.

That’s right. The outfit even has a coordinating mask.

At least I acknowledge it! And that’s the thing. I want to encourage all my friends to love who they are at the age they are and feel pretty, all over. We’re here, we’re alive, and we’re creative. Let’s not hide who we are, but shine like Kathy in all her sweaters! It’s all GREAT.

I’m a Harsh Judge of Creativity, or I Was

The UU Lent word for today is creativity. It didn’t require much creativity for them to think of that word, did it? I hope I can make my thoughts on this not only creative, but interesting, since only eleven people looked at yesterday’s masterpiece on sanctuary. I enjoyed writing it, anyway.

This is the Instagram post for creativity, with comment.

First, yes, I think creativity is important, and I have no doubt that I am a creative person. That’s probably why I like brainstorming so much. The ideas just keep coming.

This thing I knitted was actually done completely by a set of instructions. Even the yarn is the type called for in the pattern, though I chose the colors and the beads.I have been told many, many times how creative it was.

However, most of my life I’ve always viewed creativity through a narrow lens. My personal definition of creativity seemed to be to think of something new and different and bring it to fruition. Originality has been important to me. In other words, it’s sorta like how some people define art versus craft. Art is original and craft is creating something based on a pattern. I’ve always been crafty, but not artistic (in my own mind).

Because of this mindset, I would always bristle when someone would look at something I knitted, needlepointed, or otherwise “made,” and said, “Oh, you are just SO creative!” I would uncomfortably respond with, “I just followed a pattern, though I guess choosing a color was creative.” Or, I’d get told a newsletter I made was creative, and I’d think, “No, I just arranged what people gave me and put it in a template. Whoever made the template was creative!”

Whoever designed this triple goddess in iron was creative.

I was wrong, so don’t waste your time shooting holes in those arguments. I’ve come to a much wider view of creativity, where I think we all get to join the Creativity Club. Any time we put things together in a new way, tweak a recipe, put together a new outfit, etc., we’re exercising our creative talents. We’re making something new and interesting out of whatever is at hand. I like this viewpoint better.

I’m glad I get to arrange furniture, select lighting and paint, and plan uses for rooms in renovated houses. I’m glad I get to arrange objects on my shelves and tables in ways that please me. It’s great to do crafty things and follow the directions OR branch off. Our minds need to be able to take chances and do new things. It keeps us fresh and alive!

Taking a hideous room with no windows and no ceiling and making it into a workable office…I guess that’s creative.

How do you manifest YOUR creativity?