In the world of fence installation, my mother and I are Rockstars.

(This is where it starts to get fun,)

I currently am sitting at my desk with: three badly scraped knuckles, a strange egg-shaped bruise on my sternum, a fun little bump on the back of my head, a medley of scrapes in places I don’t care to think about, and a pervasive soreness in every muscle, from fingertip to toes. I am also radiating a happy glow of proud satisfaction. This is how the weekend went:


Despite the fact that I had only been sleeping for about five hours, the work crew showed up bright and early to get rid of (once and for all) my extraordinary regenerating concrete wall… much to the chagrin of my neighbors.

Guys removing concrete

Bub Helps move sand

As you can see from the second picture, they were not entirely without assistance. BubbaCat was supervising the removal of the backfill.

Three hours later my mom joined me, and we were left with a tractor, a chain link fence, and the huge and daunting prospects of operating the former, and removing the latter. The good news was… the bane of my existence? Vanquished!

No Concrete Pad

We uncovered that ledge on the right side of the picture, which is apparently part of the foundation of the house, so it gets to stay. I’m going to build a wooden “bench” around it,  sew some cushions for the top, and –volia!– no more concrete ledge.

Next was the chore of dismantling the existing chain link fence along one side of my property:

Me removing fence

This was especially fun because a.) everything was rusted to shit, and b.) there were roots, overgrown weeds, a couple of small trees, and several prickly bushes that stood in our way. Of course, I didn’t have a good tree-cutting saw handy, but my mom found what became the single most useful tool in this entire venture: A hatchet.

Mom and Hatchet

(She is hacking at a piece of wood that had grown over on the fence. not the metal….) My mother, we discovered, is aces at using a hatchet. I think she missed her calling. By the time all was said and done, many had succumbed to my mom and her hatchet.

Mom by pile of bushes

Papa Rick stopped by for about ten minutes to offer the following opinions. 1.) Don’t take the chain link fence down. 2.) If you take the chain link fence down you’re not going to have this fence done until the end of summer. 3.) You aren’t going to be able to dig your own post holes because of all the roots. 4.) This is an unholy mess.

Despite all of that, we did get him to show us how to operate the tractor, and since we were going to ignore his advice anyway, couldn’t he just help us remove the metal fence posts? He gave in, since he could see we were determined… but the thing with Ricardo is that you have to have all the tools set up and ready to go, and we were missing one important thing: A Chain. Exit Ricardo, stage left.

Both mom and I were fired up at this point. What the hell, I can drive a car, I should be able to operate a tractor… right? We run to Home depot and grab a 4-1/2 foot length of chain (6″ shorter than Papa Ricks recommended 5 ft, which becomes important later), run home, and I hop on the tractor. (Did I mention it was about half the size of the entire yard?) It took two phone calls to figure out how to a.) turn it on, and b.) make it go forward. To say that I was “in control” of the tractor would be an overstatement. It was more or less push the petal and pray. I’m still not entirely sure how the brake works on that thing…But after an agonizing half hour we got it in position, got the chain around the post, and….

Me on tractor

When that sucker popped out of the ground my mom and I were whooping and hollering like you wouldn’t believe. We took out the next two without much problem, except for that damn chain which was — would you believe it– about six inches too damn short. I solved that problem ingeniously with a screwdriver and a couple of zip-ties.

Yes. This actually worked.

Tractor Rig Job

The last post we had to remove before we called it a day had other things in mind. We worked on that one post for longer that it took us to get the rest of the posts out combined. We tried just about everything we could think of, and finally decided to call it a day. We’d have to call in reinforcements in the morning. Of course, I couldn’t do that without giving it one last shot, so I got my shovel and hooked it under a lip of the concrete the post was set in, and as my mom operated the tractor I literally used my entire body weight as leverage… and wouldn’t you know it, the damn thing popped right out of the ground.


With demolition complete, we were ready for– and apprehensive about — the start of construction. Added to that was the fact that my mother had woken up Sunday morning with the start of a migraine… she went to take a migraine pill, grabbed the bottle, popped the pill, and realized a second too late that she had just accidentally taken a Tylenol PM. At 8:30 in the morning.

So it was me, and my zoned out assistant… (and even doped up on Tylenol PM, she’s still better at using the hatchet than me.)

It took us about two hours to get set up, set the first post, (that hole from the removed chain link fence was miraculously in the exact spot I needed it) and attach the first piece of fence. After that we had our little system of measuring out, setting the next post, letting the concrete set while we widened, moved, or redug the next hole, and so on. By 7:30 (and thank god that tylenol was wearing off) we were mostly done, just one piece to go:

Fence from neighbors

And of course we hit a snag. A major snag. Exactly 2-1/2″ in diameter, and 8″ underground. A massive effing root, right where I needed a hole dug. I was bound and determined to to get that last post in, so I spent a half hour with my little pruning shears snipping away bit by bit at this thing. Then I had a brilliant idea.

Me Removing massive root 

Got a big effing root? Use a big effing drill bit. (Where do I get this shit? I have no idea… pretty sure I confiscated this from an ex-boyfriend)



Big Fing Root

Last post set at 8:30. And we have…

Fence from up high

Fence from up high

A completed fence!!!!!!!!!

Now, we’ve still got the back side of the property (which is another tricky matter, but I’ll get into that later) to do, but that’s a project for next weekend. For now I’m going to bask in the success of this one…

(After a little gloating, of course, which entailed sending the above pictures in an email to my dad with the following message: “Holy Shit! It must be the end of summer already!” Huh. Doubters.)

JUMP TO PART V of The Pergola Saga- Stuck Between a Root and a Hard Pipe

14 Responses

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  2. I cam SSSSOOOOOO relate to everything you are saying! It makes my side hurt to read my own thoughts. I am NOT alone! When I tore down my plaster walls there was drywall behind them. YES, drywall. I told some guys this and they all doubted me. Thought I was crazy! Drywall came around after plaster right? This is so. But before someone discovered that it could be used as wallboard it was used as lathe instead of those small wooden planks. I even took a big chunk to them to show I wasn’t crazy. Doubting Thomas’s of the world….u suck!

  3. You are totally insane. I see a lot of myself in this crazy project you completed but in a toddler version. Haven’t done anything that impressive but when i run into a snag I call them my mcgiver instincts kick in. Someway or another I will find a solution. So excited you are going to Haven. Looking forward to meeting U!!


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  5. So your a lezbo now,right.If it wasn’t for White men settling this land you wouldn’t have shit.Keep pissing on White Men with your Amazonian bullshit.

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I'm not interested in a mediocre life. I'm here to kick ass or die.