Solar Tracking

Solar Tracking
How low can you go? Snow and ice and cancelled school.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Good Fences

     

      Good fences do make good neighbors, as Robert Frost argued. Ours, built twenty years ago, was dying. Part of it sloped over when an ice covered tree landed on it two winters ago; the back was twisted down by a freak gust of wind last spring. When a lively large dog with a Frisbee throwing owner—with poor aim, so the Frisbee landed in our yard several times—moved in next door, it was time to take action. One dog chasing after a toy could bring it all crashing down.
            The fence came down last Tuesday afternoon, when it was 98 degrees in the sun. For the most part, it took little effort. Luke, who wants to be a woodworker, was able to whack the fence boards off with a small crowbar and used his hands to bring down the rotten railings in small chunks. He piled the boards in the backyard to be denailed and turned into other, smaller, projects. The posts took a little more effort, but with a clever hand chainsaw, they were filed off at ground level. We could see into the neighbor’s weedy, dry yard. Their dogs wandered over for a dog treat and to watch the cats. Lucy came over to watch the dogs. It was an evening of stand-offs.
      
      The next morning, Mark Meyer began the rebuilding. He started with the posts around 8:30, struggling with rubble next door and some tight working spaces, until two. “I think,” he announced, “I’m going home for a few hours to take the dog down to the river. I’ll be back this evening when it cools off.”  Posts were done by dusk, the final hour of work supervised by the dogs. The next day was railings, on a similar schedule. Prep, we agreed, always takes longer than you think it will. The structure of the new fence was clear.
            Friday morning, I slipped out early to start watering the garden. The soaker hoses are old and there are gaps in the crop rows where we’ve eaten the plants, so soft jets of water shot into the air throughout the plot. I cat down with my tea and a cat in the cool morning. Birds arrived—bushtits and chickadees—discussing the water and insects, perching on plants and the fence frames. Slight sounds filled the air. Birds. Water. Cars a block away.  Cats purr.
            By Friday evening, the fence was completed. The fence boards alternate lighter and darker, six inch and eight inch, down the row, glowing against the darker posts and rails.  Mark Meyer climbed up on the end to attach cat steps to the roof, so that Kayli can still perch on the neighbor’s garage, even when she is an old kitty. There are shelves three and a half feet high all the way down to hold tools and bricks, garden poems and art. The plant life is enclosed;  the garden has a linear structure, rather than flopping  everywhere. The chickens and rabbit can run free. We are surrounded, once again, by protective wood.



Rhubarb and Red Currant Preserves


7.5 c rhubarb, chopped
2 oranges, zested
2/3 c of orange juice/water
3 c sugar

Place in the jam pot, stir, cover, and let sit 1-4 hours, until rhubarb releases its juice. Boil gently for 15 minutes, then add:

2 c red currants, stemmed
1t nutmeg

Cook until gel stage—either eyeball it or by temperature. This preserve is forgiving and jams nicely….

Place in jars with ¼ inch of headroom and process for ten minutes. I use the beloved steam canner.



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