Tufts

While doing my morning rounds and starting along the path to the trail cam, I immediately noticed something odd about one of the fence wires.

It’s hard to see in the photo, but one of the wires is all bent out of shape.

On the wire below, I could see why.

A couple of barbs has tufts of deer fur stuck in them.

The electrical cord that powers our lights by the gate runs along the top wire of the fence. It’s big and thick, making it quite visible, even in the dark (at least for a deer!). My guess is, the deer tried to duck under the electrical wire, but didn’t see the barbed wire below and got hung up.

I really want to get rid of this fence.

The Re-Farmer

Clean up: spruce grove, south fence continued

Last year, before it finally got too cold to work on cleaning and clearing the trees, I did manage to get some areas on the south side of the spruce grove done. Just a bit by the garage, and more more by the gate.

One of my goals for the day was to finally start working on clearing that middle section. Since we now have a working electric chain saw, which is the perfect size for the job, I figured it would be nice and quick. When cutting some of the larger trees, I’d made a point of leaving fairly tall stumps, so they would be easily visible and no one would trip over them. I intended to cut those flat with the ground, too.

I tested the chain saw out, first, of course.

Then went back to cutting by hand.

Check this out.

Continue reading

Destructive deer!

While walking about the yard this morning, there are areas that I can see where the deer have gone.

Along the edge of the spruce grove, there are now several areas like this.

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This patch is new.  It wasn’t there yesterday.  At the end of the row of spruces, near the feeding station, there is a patch they’ve been pawing at for a while, now, and it’s getting quite big.

I think, in the process of clearing out that area and taking out the bottom branches of the spruces, I also gave them better access to something in the moss that they like.  I can’t see what it might be, though.

While continuing around the yard and by the garage, I noticed deer tracks coming from the barn towards the yard, so I followed them.

Then I noticed something odd about one of the wire holders for the renter’s electric fence at the gate.  It looked bent.

That’s new.

Heading over, I started to find wire.

Lots of it.

So I started gathering it up.

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Here is most of it, along with the holder that is bent the most.

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The other one turned out to be bent, too.  The wire is still running through it.  Considering how much wire got dragged into our side of the fence, I think it may well have broken loose right at the solar battery area.  Which is almost at the other end of the fence.

In case there was any doubt as to what rapscallions did the damage…

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There were plenty of tracks, showing exactly where they came through!

The fence wire would not be easily visible, and with the cows moved out for the winter, the electric fence probably doesn’t even have electricity running through it right now.  The deer probably didn’t see it to jump over it, and would not have felt any shock to cause them to back away when they touched it.

We like the deer coming around enough to put up with any damage they do; there isn’t a lot.  But this is a bit more than just digging up the yard.  The wire should be fine and just need to be re-attached.  I believe those wire holders are new, from the last time the cows broke through.  I know the renter likes the deer, too, and this sort of thing is just what we have to live with when living around here.  I just called to let him know about the damage.  With no cows here, there’s no hurry to fix it.

The Re-Farmer

New Lights… mostly

Some time back, my older brother and his wife generously passed on items to me that used to belong to my brother’s late MIL.  Among them were outdoor LED Christmas lights, and a timer.  Today… er… (glances at the time)… yesterday, I took them out to add to the stings of white lights we already have at the fence line near the gate.

I had two areas I was considering to put the timer.  One was in the garage, where the main power cord is plugged in.  I figured, if I were able to get the timer to sit at the window, I could set it to turn on from dusk until dawn.

Turns out, I can’t do that.

The timer’s plug in area is slightly recessed and rectangular in shape.  The power cord’s plug is round and rather large.  It doesn’t fit into the space.

The other possibility was to put it between the new strings of lights and the set of white lights I was adding them on to. This way, the white lights would be on all the time, while the Christmas ones would only turn on at night.  I even had a clear plastic bag to put over the timer to protect it from the elements, while still allowing the sensor to detect light levels.

Nope.  I could plug a string of lights into the timer, but the timer’s plug has three prongs, and the light strings can only accept two prong plugs.

So I just added them on, as is.

It turned out to be 4 strings of lights in total, already plugged into each other.  Which was just fine by me!  I strung them out and affixed them to the barbed wire with zip ties.  Though they had power running to them, there was too much sunlight for me to see how they looked. I waited until dark to go back and see them, since there’s too much brush in the way for us to see them from the house.

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So… they look just fine…

Except for the gap.

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I did test these in the house a few days ago, when I was deciding what to do with them.  They were all working fine.  I was all set to put them up in the sun room and had even started to unroll the bundle a bit, before I realized I didn’t have a way to affix them the way I had in mind.  Finding an entire string of lights out was a bit of a surprise!  Checking it out with a flashlight, I could see nothing to tell me why it wasn’t lit.

So I’ll be going back tomorrow with something to cut the zip ties, and remove the string that’s not lit up.

I was rather impressed by how much the white ones light up the area around them.  I definitely want to pick up more of those, when I can.

Yeah, I know, it’s not even Halloween yet, so it’s early for Christmas lights.  I figure, better to get them up now, before the snow arrives to stay.  🙂

The Re-Farmer

New Lights

I replaced the old Christmas lights on the fence with the new indoor/outdoor LED lights yesterday, and left them on.

Then I waited until full dark before checking on them. 🙂

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At first, I didn’t think I’d be able to get any photos, then remembered that I have a “pro” setting on my phone that allows me to adjust ISO and aperture settings.  Well.  The virtual ones, anyhow.  These are the two extremes of what I got, after playing around with the settings.

The strings of lights are slightly longer than the old ones, and they have at least double the number of bulbs.

My brother tells me the lights used to have a timer in the garage.  I know I saw one, but couldn’t find it.  We do have at least one in the house, and I even know where it is, so I will set that up later. 🙂

I’m rather happy with them.  According to the box, up to 20 strings can be added together, without causing problems.  I certainly have no plans to do that, but they are inexpensive enough that I might pick up a couple more to extend away from the gate.  As I eventually clean up the fence line in the other direction, it would be nice to have them strung all the way to the corner. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

 

Well, that was faster than I expected

I had sent photos of the clean up I had done yesterday, to my family.  When my brother was out here, working on the tractor, he went into the barn to look around, and found something to use to replace the plastic jug I’d put over the outlet on the fence post.

It worked.

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I’ll just have to find something to affix it in a way that will keep it from falling off in inclement weather, but will also allow me to move it easily, to access the plugs.

It never occurred to me to look in the barn; with our focus being on the inner yard, we just don’t go into the barn or out buildings very often.

The Re-Farmer

Clean up: spruce grove, fence line, reaching the gate!

Though we had a trip into town for another medical appointment and some errands (since we were there, anyhow!) in the late morning, I decided I needed to finish clearing the fence line in the spruce grove today.  My siblings and I are working things out in regards to checking on our mother over the next few days, and tomorrow is my turn.  The long range forecasts say it’s going to get colder again, so today was the day, ready or not!

I am happy to say, it is now DONE!  I have cleared the fence line along the spruce grove, up to the driveway gate.  Anything else I am able to do before winter is bonus.  Woohoo!

I took a whole bunch of before and after photos, so I’ll just set up a slide show and let them speak for themselves!

The following photos were taken from the gate side of the fence, facing north.  I started inside the grove, where I left off, but realized I needed to start a new pile for cuttings.  The place to do that was on the south side.  Which required clearing a section of fence so I could toss things over, then working my way north to where I left off last time.

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Here is what it looks like from inside the spruce grove, where I left off last time.

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I managed to save one tiny little spruce tree. 😀  It was in the way, to be honest, but after cutting away so many spruces that were in the fence line itself, I wanted to keep at least this one!  It’s small enough that I could potentially transplant it, in the future.

As you can see in the after photos, I did break out the weed trimmer.  I did the edges of the driveway, first, and even cut away some of the smaller trees on the south side of the driveway, for a bit of visibility.  Next, I followed along the fence line where I worked, as this area had actual tall grass, rather than just undergrowth.

To be honest, though, one of the main reasons I did that was because I got tired of tripping over stumps I’d just cut, but couldn’t see due to the grass!  I will have to see if we have some really bright spray paint, and mark some of them, for safety.

I also tidied up the two strings of Christmas lights, as well as re-attaching the top wire of the fence onto one of the fence posts, where the original U nail was simply, gone.  I used the third string of lights I’d removed previously to replace burnt out and broken bulbs, and switch them all to clear bulbs.  I still intend to replace them with LEDs, but just in case I can’t get to it this year, it is all fixed up for now.

I also discovered that the light strings had plastic clips on them.  While on one of them, the clips were mostly broken off, I don’t know why they weren’t used to clip them to the wire, rather than wrapping them around tree branches.  I also brought out the zip ties for those areas where the clips were broken, and to secure the main power cable, including all along the fence to the garage.

I discovered that more of the fence posts on the south side need replacing than I originally thought.  I leaned on one while reaching to clear a tree at its base, and it broke at ground level!

There were some interesting finds.

Earlier in the year, I discovered there was asparagus growing at the fence line!  I highly doubt this was planted deliberately, and yet, how else did it get there?

There isn’t a lot, but they have their berries now!

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I didn’t know they got berries.  Turns out the female plants do.  Interesting!

Also, do you see that rock?

Once I started clearing around it, I realized it’s two rocks.

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I’m.  At a loss.  It seems to random, and strange, to find two rocks cemented together like this.

There has got to be a story behind this! 😀

When all was done, I had a large new pile we’ll need to haul away.

At least this time, the pile is in an area that’s easier to get to!

After cleaning up and putting everything away, I came back to address a concern.

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It’s a temporary fix.  I cut out a section of one of my husband’s empty distilled water jugs (he uses distilled water for his CPAP humidifier, so we have lots!) and popped it on the post.

Why, you may ask?

This is why.

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Once the trees were cleared, what little shelter there was for the outlet was gone.  I don’t know how many years it’s been outside, facing down to make sure no moisture got in. It seemed so very exposed!

So this should keep the precipitation off, until I can come up with something better.  Which will likely not happen until I can work on repairing the fences, so it might be a while!

While I was working on all of this, the girls were working in the West yard.

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They had already done part of the yard and put the leaves on the little garden by the Old Kitchen.  This is just some of the piles they rakes up today – there’s more by the fire pit!

I had commandeered the wheel barrows, so they will move the piles onto the garden tomorrow, while I am out.

They also made supper.  The smell of which is making me very hungry right now!

It’s been a very productive day today!  I’m so glad to finally get that fence line done.

Another thing off the list! 😀

The Re-Farmer

Clean up: spruce grove fence line, more progress, part two

After working my way through the first section, I realized the stuff I’d cleared away had hidden quite a bit.  So here are some before photos of the next section. (click on them to see them better)

The little spruces were far enough from the fence that I found myself wondering, should I take them out, or should I just prune them clear of the fence?  When I’m in that situation, I try to think ahead 10, 20 or more years.  What will they be like if I leave them?

This was made easy today, by looking at the large spruce that’s already there, even closer to the fence.

What tree, you might be asking?

This one.  In the during and after photos.

Yup, those little spruces were completely hiding a huge spruce, right at the fence.

Also, another little spruce that grew under the fence line and even wound its way back and forth around them.

Reaching that big spruce was my goal for the day.  If all goes well, the next time I work here, I should reach the gate.

In that after photo, note the red Christmas light bulb.  Look for it in these next photos.

The first of these three photos was taken from outside the fence line, where I went to clear some of the trees growing there.  There are many more, closer to the ditch, that need to be cleared, but those will wait for now.

If you look closely, you can see that red Christmas light bulb in the first and third photos.

Did you notice something else in the after photos?  Take another look at the top fence wire.  What you can see of it, anyhow.

I found a temporary fix for the broken wire.

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Once I cleared this area of the fence line, I found that when I pulled on the end with the loop in it (on the left of the above photo), it could almost touch the broken end (on the right in the photo, now with its own loop).  I don’t know when I’ll be able to fix it properly, but I didn’t want to leave it broken and hanging, either.  So I went to the garage and grabbed some zip ties, created a new loop on the broken wire end, and joined them by linking 4 zip ties loosely together.  Once they were all linked, I tightened all the zip ties as much as I could, then trimmed the ends with the pruning shears.  Now, the top line that was broken is tighter than the middle line, which got stretched when the tree fell on it, but didn’t break.  🙂

While making my way to the garage, I found this.

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Another bench, made out of logs with a board across the top.  I’ve gone through here a few times, but had to practically step on it before I saw it!  I tried to pick it up, to see if it was usable, but it is so rotten, it started to fall apart, so I left it for now.  It will be cleared out when we get to taking out all the deadwood and continuing to clean up the spruce grove, next year.  Though on this end, it’s not really a spruce grove any more.  Closer to the garage, and the south fence line, it’s more poplar, elms and oak.  The elms and oak are in rows, so those were planted deliberately.  The poplar looks to have sown itself.  There are even what might be some apple trees in here.

Once I’ve cleared the East fence line to the gate, I will work my way down the south fence line, along the driveway, just enough to clear it.  There are poplars growing right at the wires, and while the south fence line has good posts, just like the East line does, many of them are falling over.   Especially right next to the garage.  It is along this fence line that the power cord from the garage runs.  We might not get to straightening them out this year, but if there’s going to be electrical cord supported by this fence, I want it to be able to stay upright!

We shall see how far along there we will be able to get, before the weather turns.

Looking ahead to the future, I hope to have a number of seating areas scattered about – with seats made of materials that won’t rot or degrade as quickly as the wooden benches I’ve been finding.  The goal is to clear this area enough to give it a park-like feel, plus I want to be able to see through the trees from the house to the driveway.  At the same time, I do want to leave some of the undergrowth, too.  Dogwood.  Wild roses.  False spirea. Junipers.  I look forward to planting shade loving plants and flowers in areas where they can naturalize, and ground cover that can be walked on.  Over time, I want this yard, including the spruce and maple groves, to be a sanctuary, not only for us humans, but to shelter some of the native wildlife, and to provide food and shelter for native pollinators as well.

The Re-Farmer

Clean up: spruce grove fence line, part 2

I’ve got some before photos, and some taken during the clean up.  By this point, I had pretty much stopped with the pruning shears, except to clear things that were in the way.

These three before pictures were taken in an area just before there a tree had fallen on the fence.  I wanted to at least clear that area, as my goal for the day.

One thing that was noticeable is that, over the years, there was some maintenance done around here.  Despite the weird tops of some of the fence posts, they are all good posts, and still straight.  There is a bit of wiggle on them, but that could be attributed to how dry it has been.  The fence wire itself would also have been good, if trees hadn’t fallen on it!

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I didn’t want to go too far into the grove, but this tree top had to go.  It was in the way of clearing things out.  The stump of the tree can be seen where I’d cleared previously, near the open, mossy area.

I also went outside the fence to move away the top of the tree that fell on the fence.

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This is what my older brother had cut, to get it off the fence itself, shortly after we moved out here.  For now, I’m just leaving this here.  It will need to be cut down a bit before being hauled away, due to its size.

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Here’s where it had fallen on the fence.  I took a closer look at that ant hill, and there’s no sign of ants left in it.  It has been abandoned.  Which is good, because I had to cut some small trees out of it!

Then I made some discoveries.

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In the next section of fence, I found the end of a string of Christmas lights.

Notice the wire it is wrapped around.  If you follow it up, you can see it end in a loop.

In this next photo, you can see where it should be.

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This is where two lengths of barbed wire were joined together, but when the tree fell on the fence, on end broke off.

Once the fence line is clear, I will be repairing this.  I even found a tool for tightening fence wire that I can use; one of the few useful things that didn’t disappear while this place was empty!

I started unwinding the Christmas lights and found…

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… the fallen tree had also unplugged the string of lights.

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This is where it had been plugged into.  This string of lights reaches to the outlet box and still works.  I will leave it for now.  Eventually, I want to replace them with LED lights.

After this, it was time to climb back through the fence and start clearing on the inside, which will be in my next post. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Building the new back gate

Today we picked up some fence wire to make a new gate for our second driveway.

The wire we got was 1 inch mesh, in a roll of 36″ x 25′  I was pleased to see the hardware store had 1 inch mesh in stock. When I price checked it a while back, the largest they had was 3/4 inch mesh.  I would have preferred something like a 2 inch mesh, but this will do just fine.

My younger daughter and I then went out to the back gate to replace the old barbed wire gate.

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When we moved out here, the gate was open and we had no idea that it was in such bad condition.  When the girls went over to close the gate, they had to replace the post at the end (the lock and chain around it is the only thing keeping it closed) and salvage the wire as much as they could with what was there.

We salvaged the posts for the new gate, cutting down the round one at the end so that it was the same length as the middle ones.

In the process of working on it, I made sure to gather up and set aside the old barbed wire from the gate.

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It’s amazing how much rusty barbed wire just disappears in the grass.  There were a couple of times when, even though I knew the wire was there, I still managed to catch it with a shoe, or almost step on it.

Keep that particular detail in mind for later…

On to the new gate!

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The first thing we did was lay out the wire and position the posts more or less where they needed to be, while using other posts I’d brought, just in case we couldn’t salvage the old ones, as weights to keep the wire from rolling itself back up again. 😀

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For the end post, we first affixed the end of the mesh to the post with U nails, then wrapped the wire around the post and affixed it again, opposite the first U nails.  Since this post will see the most movement, the wire needs to be secured the strongest here.

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Once the first post was secured, we slid the next two posts under the wire, making sure their bottoms lined up with the bottom of the first post.  Then, after making sure the wire mesh was pulled taut again, the wire was affixed with more U nails.

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Next, the gate was put in position and the mesh affixed to the gate post.

The main gate post on the right has a barbed wire loop at the bottom that the first post tucks into.  A second barbed wire loop at the top was then tucked over the top of the post to hold it in place.  You can’t see it, but the chain is hanging down from that wire loop, as it had been threaded through one of the links when the chain was added.

You can see my daughter at the other end, securing the wire mesh to the opposite gate post with more U nails.  The posts in the gate itself each has 3 U nails securing them, but at the end, the mesh is secured with 5 U nails.

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The space between gate posts is about 22 feet.  Once the mesh was secured, wire cutters were used to remove the last 3 feet or so of mesh.

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The chain fits through the mesh, which worked out perfectly.

The barbed wire loop at the top was replaced with the wire that was wrapped around the mesh roll, to keep it from unraveling.  It is the same type of wire the mesh itself is made of, but was long enough that we could fold it in half, twist it around itself, fold it in half again, then twist it around itself again (something I do with string or yarn to make cord when crafting).  The loop itself is secured to the gate post with a U nail as well.

Yay!  The gate is finished, and it looks SO much better than barbed wire!

That done, my daughter headed back to the house to put away the tools and supplies, except for the hand saw and anvil shears I’d brought to clean up some of the self sown saplings that were starting to encroach.

Remember what I said about barbed wire, disappearing in the grass?

Well, this was next to the gate.

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The old gate had been on top of this pile of posts and barbed wire (and an ant hill).  My daughters referred to this as the barbed wire trap!  We’ve already had the renter’s cows end up on this side of the fence once (and as bad as the old gate was, it was enough to keep them from ending up on the road, so it still did the job. 🙂 ), and it’s always possible it will happen again.  I don’t want any cows getting hurt in barbed wired, so I figured I’d take some of the loose wire and pull it out to add to the pile of junk we plan to get hauled away later in the year.

I grabbed some of the wire and pulled…

… and pulled…

… and pulled…

Before I knew it, I was pulling up the wire from an old fence line, long since collapsed.  Since I had already started pulling the wire up, I couldn’t even stop, since lifting it made it that much more of a hazard.

Every now and then, I’d reach a fence post and try to lift it up, only to have the wood disintegrate in my hands.  On some of them, the bared wire was attached to the post with nothing but bail twine. ???

Now, the thing about barbed wire fences is, they never have just one line.  There’s usually three.  Which meant there were at least two more barbed wire lines, hidden in the grass.

About half way down the row of trees, I found myself pulling up two wires at once, because they were stuck to each other in places.  Then one of them ended abruptly, while the first one continued…

… and continued.

When I finally reached the end of the row of trees, at a large willow, I saw the remains of what turned out to be the last post of the fence line (I hope!).  I pulled it up, but the wires attached to were basically all broken off a couple of feet away.  I tucked the post itself against the willow.  I did find some ends and started pulling them up.  Once they were clear of the tall grass and old thatch (that area needs a controlled burn, big time!), I started working my way back, rolling up the wire as I went along, eventually adding in the second line as I found it again.

When I got back to the area of posts in the picture above, it was all pretty tangled together, so I tried lifting the post that looked like it was the furthest out in the line and began pulling on it.

As near as I can make out, the pile of posts were the remains of another barbed wire gate.  But why would there be two of them?  I’m thinking maybe an old gate was replaced with a newer gate, and rather than getting rid of the old one, it was just tossed aside at the fence line.  Then when the fence line collapsed, the old gate came down with it.

But that’s just a guess on my part.

I did, however, find the third wire of the fence!

So back I went down the row of trees, pulling up the third wire until it ended.  Which was about 2/3rds of the way down the row of trees.  Which means there’s probably more of it under the grass somewhere along the way.

Once I found the end, I worked my way back to the gate again, rolling it up as I went along.

This is where the fence line was.

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The tip of the arrow at the back is pointing to the willow the fence line stopped at.

My guess is that, when the row of trees was planted along the fence that’s still there, this fence line was added to protect the plantings from cattle.  Since then, the current fence line was kept up, since the land is being rented out for grazing on the other side, but the inner fence was allowed to just rot away and collapse. [Update: I have since learned that I got this backwards.  It turns out that the collapsed fence is the original one, and it has been there for an estimated 40 years!]

Leaving barbed wire hidden in the grass for anyone, or any cow or deer, to step on, trip over or otherwise hurt themselves on.

Which just blows me away.

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In the end, I couldn’t even get rid of the wire, because it’s all still attached to the main fence line.  I just didn’t have the tools for it.  So I moved the posts and the wire I rolled up into one, more obvious pile that I think even a cow will not bother getting into.

I hope!

After this, I cut away the spreading saplings on both sides of the area I’ve been mowing to the gate we just replaced, including clearing them away from the gate into the garden.

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Notice that this gate has 5 lengths of barbed wire on it.

In the future, as I work my way around, clearing the yard’s fence line, I will eventually cut back that lilac to uncover the gate post it’s growing over.  I checked the area over as I cut away the saplings and it’s clear, so the next time I mow down this way, I will probably mow a path to this gate, too.  (I haven’t done that to the gate by the fire pit yet, as it seems to need some clearing, first; I’m not entirely sure what’s buried under the thatch and tall grass, but it’s very uneven.)

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This is the corner created by the garden/yard fence line leading to the roadside fence line.  Though I will be clearing the fence lines themselves, I have not yet decided if I will also clear away these self-sown saplings.  It might be nice to just leave them be.  They’re not blocking anything.  I’ll leave them for now and decide what to do with them later, when we get to the point of working in the outer yard area.

It wasn’t until I was at the computer, uploading these photos, that I noticed this…

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I honestly don’t know what that happened!  I’ve got so many scratches from doing yard work, I don’t even notice them anymore.  😀

The back gate is finally done.  One more thing to check off the list! 😀

The Re-Farmer