I apologize for the lengthy delay in posting and answering comments. It was a strange and sometimes stressful week with virtually zero time for blogging.
I finally had some free time over the three-day weekend, which we used to solve a couple of issues around the ol’ farmstead. The first issue involved a runaway dog. Well, not exactly a runaway dog, but a loose dog. I was looking out the kitchen window on Saturday and thought, Hmmm, that’s a big animal poking around at the edge of forest back there … almost as big as one of my Rottweilers. Hey, wait a minute!
Yup, it was our dog Misha, running happy and free, waaaay outside the backyard fence. Nobody had left a gate open, which meant she was jumping the fence. Most of the fencing is 48 inches tall, and she can’t jump that. But over on the side yard, there’s a long section that’s only 40 inches. There’s also a section that was apparently caved in a bit by a tree at some point, and it’s even shorter.
The long-term plan is to fence in the entire property, but we’re not ready to make that investment yet, so we needed a quick and easy (and inexpensive) solution. Chareva remembered that she’d used a cow panel to make the hoop part of the portable chicken coop and thought cow panels would be tall enough to keep Misha from exploring the countryside and possibly deciding to explore the highway full of fast-moving vehicles.
I’ll be the first to admit it wasn’t the most aesthetic solution, but what the heck, the existing fence isn’t a charmer anyway. That’s one of the reasons we plan to get all-new fencing someday. The cow panels were easy to strap to the existing fence, and so far they’ve kept Misha from doing another remake of The Great Escape.
The other issue we solved was getting across the creek without requiring balance or long-jumping skills to avoid stepping into muddy water. The shortest route from the house to the chicken coop and the garden is across the creek. During dry months, it’s easy to just step over it. But for several days after a good rain, crossing the creek requires either a decent long jump or stepping on big rocks that may or may not be slippery. I’ve had my foot slip off a rock and plunge into the muddy water enough times to expand my vocabulary of four-letter words.
To keep our feet dry when the creek swells after a rain, I figured we needed something 12 feet long. I thought a steel bridge with handrails would provide a charming touch, but didn’t find the price on 12-foot steel bridges charming in the least. So we decided to just go buy $100 worth of wood at Home Depot and make a bridge ourselves.
For the base of the bridge, we bought 4×4 beams. For the surface, we bought 12-foot planks that are just under an inch thick and cut them into 3-foot sections.
Chareva likes this picture because (according to her) I look like a boy pulling his wagon.
She suggested pre-drilling holes before attaching the planks with 2-inch wood screws. While putting together the portable chicken coop, she apparently had a bad experience trying to drill long screws directly into the wood. I replied that in the interest of time and efficiency, I’d like to try drilling the screws directly first.
When I pushed the drill down and the screw head ended up flat against the plank, she said, “Huh … I guess you’re stronger than I am.” And here I thought – you know, with our workouts at the gym and all – she already knew that. Nice when a construction project clarifies your wife’s opinions of your abilities. She also told me several times how happy she was to see me building a bridge from scratch. I get that … my dad never did anything with tools, I never did anything with tools until we moved to the farm, and all the years she knew me in Chicago and Los Angeles, she never saw me take on a project more complicated than hanging a picture.
I thought we’d probably have to prop up at least one beam with rocks or paving stones, but nope. With a little moving and shoving and adjusting, we found a spot where the bridge settled in nicely, with no tilting or rocking. I celebrated with a round of disc golf, patting myself on the back a bit each time I used the bridge to cross the creek.
Meanwhile, the girls have decided it’s a great perch for watching crawdads.