Larry pounds in the first stake. We’ve decided to site the orchard (formerly known as “an apple tree”) southwest of and parallel to the driveway. I like this decision. As we drive up the hill to the house we’ll pass a planting of fruit trees, and in my mind’s eye, I see them, heavy with spring blossom, and beautiful.
The stake is in the service of the elk fence that has to be built, and soon. We have two fencing bids, we have two apple trees waiting to be planted, and are on our own. The fence has to be 60 feet square. We have a 100-foot measuring tape. We have an iPhone. How hard can this be? We’re about to find out.
From the first stake, I’m instructed to walk, playing out tape for 60 feet. This is the opening passage of what we will call “Country Dance” as performed by neophyte farmers of a Certain Age. Quick, if A squared plus B squared equals C squared, then what is the square root of 7200? Um, why do we care? Because we want a square, not a parallelogram. (Yes, I know all squares are parallelograms, but not all parallelograms are square.) Hence the iPhone.
“Don’t let go!”
“Why are you walking in that direction?”
“You said to . . .”
“No, I said to . . .”
“It’s tangled in the bush,that’s why.”
“The tree’s in the way.”
And so it went. But it was a most perfect day. Warm sunshine, crisp air, and we had all the time in the world. On our way to Black Butte, we stopped at the farm to meet a man who had responded to my ad for a free Hammond’s Rhythm II organ, weathering away in the old house. The man wanted only the guts of the instrument, for purposes unknown, although he did say that what he found was well worth the trip from Newberg, and that he planned to make a guitar amplifier from the whatnot he was extracting. All fine, and welcome to whatever.
And we did need to outline that fence. Mission accomplished, we walked down to greet the cows, which were having a mid-day siesta under a grove of oak. In my latest Harper’s magazine, I read the following quote from Edward Abbey, referring to cows: “these ugly, clumsy, stupid, bawling, stinking, fly-covered, shit-smeared, disease spreading brutes.” Well. I don’t think they’re stupid, and as for the rest, hardly the animals’ fault. Our boys have 50 acres and all the grass, water, and sunshine they may want. Oak trees for shelter from the rain. But I’ve seen the Harris Ranch feed lots, too. I don’t know. I don’t know.
On the way back out Llewellyn, we saw the sheep in the pasture across the way gathering at the fence line. Lots of sheep! But no dogs, no people on horseback or in pickups. Curious. Our sheep? Do they know the time has come?
I hope you read the blog comments now that the system has been sorted out. And if you have, you will have seen friend Gordon’s suggestion that we name Larry’s new truck. So in the sun-warmed car on the way to the mountains, we considered. Candidates are Eeyore, as per the Hundred Acre Wood and, less poetically, Viehls’ Wheels, or the Viehl-Mobile. Late entry: The Heffalump. Thoughts? Other suggestions welcome, but no promises. The truck is a big, old, white pickup. In case you’re inspired.