The Tree And The Fence

Tree downWood StackedRepaired Fence

Tree down, cut & stacked, fence repaired - photos: Warren Mars

On the 23rd June, 2014, a mature Allocasuarina verticillata that had I planted 18 years before blew over in a night storm, taking out a large section of fence. This is the story of that fall and my efforts to clean up the mess and rebuild the fence.

The tree came down in the terrible storm,
That howled with thunder and hail.
'Twas well after midnight the soft butt gave way,
And broke in the Antarctic gale.

The tree fell flat on the northernmost fence,
Crashing down with a horrible sound.
It splintered the palings and snapped off the posts,
And bent the rails down to the ground.

"Damn that's a mess!" I thought to myself,
When I saw in the cold light of day.
It's gonna take time and it's gonna cost bucks
And it's me that is going to pay!

My neighbour was calm as we looked at the job,
And he offered to lend me a hand.
He put up some mesh to keep out the dogs,
And we talked about what I had planned.

He borrowed a chain saw and cut up the tree,
Which made a great pile of green,
I threw the logs off to the side as he cut,
Til the ground round the fence was all clean.

I carried the timber across to my side,
And barrowed it up to the gate.
I stuck to the job for hour upon hour
Until there was no more to freight.

It can't be much more than 5 years ago
I could labour all day with no pain,
But years of sitting in front of a screen
Has bled all my strength down the drain.

My hamstrings were tight as a main halyard rope,
Just a little more work and they'd tear,
And I clenched with my teeth and braced with my hands
Every time I got out of my chair.

Then Brian turned up with his trailer in tow,
And took all the logs home to burn.
He also took other wood lying around,
Three loads in the end, each in turn.

I cleaned up the site so that work could begin
And called in the fencer to quote.
He measured the job at nine metres or less
And said he would leave me a note.

His quote was just shy of nine hundred bucks,
Far more than his typical rate.
"I've got to make money", he said with a grin,
"There's more jobs than yours to do mate!"

I'd never done fencing but knew what it took,
So I thought: "How hard can it be?"
I can save almost six hundred bucks if I work,
And do all the labour for free.

I dug out the post stumps one long afternoon,
Sweating hard over crowbar control:
It's a bastard to break up old concrete that's set
A good two feet down in a hole.

Then how to get rid of the old concrete chunks
And the sections of treated pine post.
I can throw them out weekly inside my green bin.
They'll be gone in 2 months at the most.

Next arvo I called on Anna to help me
Set the new posts in the ground.
We mixed up the concrete and shoveled it down,
And knocked it in tight all around.

That evening late it blew up a storm
And down came the hail and rain.
I hope this won't wreck it before it can set,
I wished again and again.

Next day I found that the posts were set firm,
So I cut the checkouts for the rails.
A job that took longer than I had foreseen,
What with knots and all the details.

Another day later I screwed in the rails,
With four inch galvanised screws,
Then bedded the plinth just into the soil,
Attached with the rail holding ruse.

The palings I spaced out, then nailed them home
With galvanised two inch flat head.
I cut their feet to the fall of the land.
"It's just like a pro!" they all said.

"It's finished!" I thought, as I studied my work,
More relief than joy to relate.
It's just a fence at the end of the day,
Though it's solid and even and straight.

I'll admit 'twas a job I did not want to do
But it saved me a bucket of cash.
And good for my health to get out of my chair,
And take on a project so brash.

Warren Mars - July 2014