Soooo… weekends. If it feels the first post of the week lately has felt a little bipolar… uh… yeah, I also feel that way pretty much every minute of every weekend. Spring is a hard time of year on the farm, because there’s basically a 3 week window between the time when it stops snowing and the time everything needs to be planted. And if we’re going to be honest here, I still have some cucumbers and tomatoes that aren’t in the ground yet…
Also, something has eaten all of my lettuce, chard, and cilantro because I haven’t managed to get the missing sections of my garden fence up yet.
All of which is probably beside the point of this post, but these types of things start to wear on you after a while, and the truth is that I’m away from the farm 10-11 hours at a time during the week, so most of this work has to get done on the weekends. God help you if you’re a person who suggests maybe I do something social on Saturday that doesn’t include a twenty-pound box of deck screws and all of the drills that I own.
This is what my social life looks like, guys.
Okay, so I decided my sole focus of the weekend was going to be getting one damn thing done on the farm. Just one. And I picked this fence around the propane tank because it really wasn’t as properly secured as it probably should have been. BUT, since I bought an awesome new tool the last time I lost my shit over this fence, I thought getting it straightened out and installing the gate would be a breeze.
Do I really need to cue the ominous music here?
Let’s just say the “anchoring” portion of the days activities did not go as planned. I mean, the drill worked beautifully, but I’d be hard pressed to use another Red Head concrete anchor if my life depended on it. At the end of a couple of hours I had two bloody knuckles and three anchors stuck uselessly but immovably in my concrete pad. I was sopissed.
And I was thinking about how much I hadn’t gotten done already. And how much time it would cost me to go back to the hardware store and get different anchors. And why the fuck the anchors I bought wouldn’t just work properly. And I hit those anchors with a hammer a lot of times just to vent some of my frustration, which, oddly, did not help. Hitting things with a hammer usually is a surefire way to make me feel better about life, but this time I flopped down in the garage to “take a break” and made my angry face for a while.
I know, you’re like, um, did you totally just selfie yourself crying over concrete anchors? YES. Yes I did.
The interesting thing about telling stories about your projects on the internet for a decade is that even when things are going way, way wrong, there’s a part of your brain that recognizes, hey, this is a moment… like a real, unfiltered moment of Shit Not Going Well, and as much as I love building things and fixing up my farm, these moments happen to me too.
They are fucking ridiculous moments you guys. I’m not downplaying my emotion or frustration, those are real legitimate feelings. They are also things I’ll make fun of myself for twenty minutes later when I’ve dusted myself off and gotten back to work, because if there’s one thing I know about myself it’s that all the frustration in the world doesn’t hold a candle to that awesome feeling of doing something I didn’t think I could do.
I created a slightly hacked– but also functional– support system for my leaning fence. (There might have been beer involved at that point.)
I also added some supports because those boards were getting wonky over a ten foot unsupported span. And it straightened everything right up.
Of course, in the spirit of not being able to do one thing right this weekend, I did manage to trip backwards and trap my leg under a seventy-pound piece of fence at one point…
But once you’ve cried over anchor bolts, shit like this is just funny. Don’t worry, I’ve been lifting the big-kid weights lately, so I managed to extract myself with all limbs mostly intact.
And after that horrendous progress, I decided come hell or high water (or more tears) I was going to get the damn gate built for the fence. So I set up a temporary workspace in the driveway…
To build the gate I laid out all the pieces, some of which warped since they were sitting outside for over a week–don’t do that– and required a little creative straightening…
The gate consists of boards that are evenly spaced like the fence boards, two side braces (2×4’s) and one cross brace…
This is how I handle cutting cross braces. Lay the 2×4 across the assembled fence and mark the angles with a… crayon?
Yeah, that’s right. I still play with crayons because I flat-out refuse to grow up. (Also one of my good friends got these for me for my birthday and they are super handy. Crayons from Lowe’s… who knew?)
So, the tricky part about this whole thing was that I built a gate in my driveway that weighed–as far as I can tell– somewhere between one-hundred-and-twenty and four-million pounds. But, as you can imagine, I had quite enough frustrated energy to heave this thing on to my back and walk it– awkward-turtle-like– to the fence.
I’m not going to say that was “no problem” but I will say that it got done, and that’s what counts.
I already attached the most industrial-sized gate hinges I could find while the gate was on the ground, so installing it became a matter of figuring out how to prop it up and keep it steady while screwed them in place on the 4×4. Naturally, I used a garden arbor.
One day I will write a book called “Using Garden Implements to Avoid Being Crushed to Death by an Oversized Gate”… bestseller material.
But I’ll be dammed if it didn’t work.
Last step was adding the short fence pieces on the left to match the gate…
And, of course, I ran out of wood to finish the 16″ section to the right of the gate…
So after all of that, I can’t even check this damn thing off my list. But I’m close.
One more afternoon sinking the final two posts, shoring up the gate, and trimming the 4×4’s, then giving the front a coat of stain, and this one will be officially done.
And I have to say, tears or no, it’s totally worth it not to be looking at this anymore…
That’s the raw, unfiltered version of Shit Not Going Well, and it happens to me too. The reason I push through those moments is because they are nothing, nothing compared to that feeling I get when I do something I didn’t think I could do.