Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Operation Deerterrent (Part 1 of Many)
According to my therapist, I'm finally ready to post this first installment in our latest mini-saga: Operation Deerterrent. Yes, those cute, pesky indigenous antelope roam in billions around our new locale. I've decided to take preemptive action before we start growing a damn thing. Immediately after installing leading-edge steel deercatchers on the fronts of both our cars, I broke ground on our first major gardening project at the new house--none other than the construction of a 6' high, 280' long deer fence.
As with my other past (and most likely future) projects, Operation Deerterrent began with a freakish amount of research, planning, and anxiety. After some online research and plenty of local scouting, I drew up some plans and then immediately abandoned them in favor of some other, more complicated and expensive plans. After discarding those, I settled on a hybrid design and gathered the materials:
280LF 4' wide hog-wire fencing
280LF 3' wide chicken-wire fencing
(28) 8' 4X4 pressure treated wood posts
(28) 60# bags concrete
(2) 6' wide chain link swing gates
The plan was pretty straightforward. The fence consists of 28 evenly spaced posts around a rectangular area with 83' X 50' dimensions. Each post was to be set in concrete at a depth of 30" below grade. Next, a 12" deep by 6" wide trench was to be dug and filled with a chicken wire barrier to stop burrowing varmints like rabbits, moles, and groundhogs. After securing the chicken-wire to the wooden posts, the hog-wire would be stretched and affixed to the posts as well. The chicken-wire would come up 18" from the ground and lap the hog-wire fence to create an "impenetrable" pest barrier. The gates would be installed last, one gate each in the middle of the 50' sides. Sounds pretty simple, eh? And how many of my past so-called simple projects have lived up to that expectation? Here are some of the myriad ways I underestimated the tasks before me.
For one thing, we live on top of a mountain. Granted, our little mountain is no K2 or anything (think foothills of the Appalachians), but the two share the distinction of both being made out of almost solid rock. As I soon discovered, rocks and digging implements don't get along too well.
Another potential problem arose from the sheer scope of the project. Digging a 12"X6" trench is no big task if it's 10 ft long; digging a nearly 300' long trench is another story. Obviously, this necessitated the use of power equipment which I didn't own and couldn't borrow. I added rental costs to the ever expanding expense list.
There were other challenges as well. Rented power equipment is not as easy or well-suited to the task at hand as it may seem. For instance, a mini-trencher sounds like the perfect tool to assist in the miserable labor of trench-digging. The model I rented was basically a colossal, unwieldy dirt chainsaw without any kind of safety mechanism at all. And that was even before the buried boulders began ambushing and mocking me. You'll have to wait to hear the rest. Time for a Xanax.