Good Neighbors Make Fencing Good

Only the promise of a seasoned pork roast dinner coaxed me from a hot shower tonight. After a day outside in sub-freezing gloominess, the water felt so good raining against my uncountable aches—why leave?

The temporary soreness that’s coming is my neighbor’s fault. Or should I say, his teenage daughter. Her desire to own a horse, her father’s acquiescence, and our agreement that she could stall her newly-rescued mare in our barn for two months—until the ground dries and Dad builds theirs—meant some fence repair was in order.

The small barn and paddock have sat empty for three summers, gathering dust and cobwebs inside, weeds, overgrown grass, fallen leaves out. The daily need to be fixing things, or moving them about, had gone. When a tree toppled through the paddock fence two winters ago I vowed to get that cleaned up soon, and the oak melted under my neighbor’s chain saw yesterday.

But I repaired the fence. I could have sat that out—others were willing. I knew where the tools were, though, the short-handled sledge hammer for pounding a metal post as needed, the clippers for trimming back overhanging blackberry vines, the power cord and drill, and most importantly the bolts and screws that hold everything together. How could I farm that out?

I couldn’t. The horse is due tomorrow afternoon and if I hadn’t spent most of today twisting over and around wooden posts it would arrive to unfinished business. I can gladly admit that my work today was done simply because it was mine to do. 

Tomorrow an ecstatic young girl will look at her horse, almost home now, her father will see her with a new appreciation, and then they’ll get to the  pleasurable business of owning a horse. I wish them a happy trail, with every sore muscle in my body.


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