Fencing: the work parties begin!

We’ve been busy around here, getting ready for our first official work party!! We’ve been tearing down an old, rather dilapidated wooden fence, and preparing to put up a new fence which will contain our future Edible Forest Garden and Edible Landscaping Demonstration Gardens, and protect them from our local deer herd. The official Work Party is Saturday, the 15th, but as it turns out, it’s been like a series of work parties just getting everything ready for the big day! Last weekend I posted “an impromptu work party” on my facebook status and a few friends came out to help me knock down the old fence. We went at it with hammers and crow bars and proved once again that “many hands make light work.” I’ve never been in charge of building a fence like this before, so I’ve been talking a lot with other more experienced fence builders, getting advice, and helping me sort out the logistics.

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A photo from last winter, showing the old fence, you can see it was already falling down

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A photo from a similar spot in the yard, looking out past where the fence used to be. It really opens up the yard!

It’s been a process deciding what materials to use and we’ve settled on reusing as much as we can from around the property, and buying some new materials as needed. There are a lot of old telephone post poles already in the ground along one stretch of the fence line. One of the previous owners of this property worked for Bell Telephone Company back in the day! We are going to leave those in place and use them. We’re also going to reuse as many of the 4×4 wood posts that we’re pulling out of the old fence, although many of them have rotted off at ground level. We will be using t-posts for most of the long runs, with heavy wood posts at the corners and gates.

We got Doug Fir posts from a friend of mine. The timbers were sustainably harvested from restoration forestry treatments as part of the Ashland Forest Resiliency Project that the city is doing along with the Forest Service, Nature Conservancy, and non-profit Lomakatsi. As my friend explained “overgrown forest stands with unnaturally high Doug Fir numbers due to long fire suppression were removed to promote the more natural species such as Oak, Pine or Madrone.” My friend is a timber framer and furniture builder and is able to reuse a lot of this harvested material for his building projects. He was happy to sell us a handful of sturdy timbers for our fence posts.

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Our Doug Fir timbers. Aren’t they beautiful?

Because we’re using Doug Fir, and not Cedar or Yew which are more naturally rot resistant, and the posts will be set into the ground, they need some kind of treatment to protect them. Of course we could run down to the hardware store and purchase some kind of chemical treatment to paint on to them. But as you might have guessed, that’s not really our style. So we’re gonna be trying out another old school technique, from back in the day before chemicals were the solution to everything. We’re going to char the posts! This is a traditional treatment method, typically done in a fire pit with the logs angled downward and turned regularly to char the surface to a 1/4″ depth all the way around the bottom, and up to a few inches above where they will be set in the ground.

Although it’s been on the wishlist for a while, we didn’t have a fire pit yet. I was starting to stress out about how we were going to char the posts without a fire pit, and then today a couple friends who are in town and staying with helped me dig out a fire pit and ring it with rocks from around the land. It turned out beautiful, and I’ll post pictures of it soon. We’re hoping to christen it tonight. It’s threatening to rain at the moment, which we deeply need, but if it doesn’t start pouring, we’re headed out to light a fire and start the charring. I’ll let you know how it goes!

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