The Fence


Our first construction project at Camp Many Moons stretches over 90′, rises about 10′, and is made of local hemlock. Our fabulous new fence! And we put it up all by ourselves. So satisfying.

Why a fence when we live remotely, you ask? Because it isn’t that remote. Yes, we have 300 feet of waterfront, which is more than most lots nearby. And we do have a lot of trees on it. But we have taken down more trees than remain standing, to make room for driveways and cabin, well and septic field. The septic field was the main issue. It’s big and flat and open on top, as required by law, and butts up to the septic field of our neighbor. Which means that our common property line is wide open. We like our neighbor a lot — but we don’t need to see each other all the time. 🙂

I’ve tried to grow things there, but things grow slowly here on the 47th parallel and many don’t grow at all. When you’re in your 60s, you don’t want to wait decades for the desired result. So, for about $2,000 and several days of physical work, we have a wooden barrier that fits in well. It’s not the same as a tree barrier, but it’s made of local trees so that helps. As it ages, and trees grow around it, it will fade more into the background.

And I have my outdoor privacy, which was a key goal in getting this land in the first place. When you spend as many years in cities as I have, privacy is precious.

See the story of our new fence in pictures and captions, below. It was a good partnership. Jeff’s skills and equipment (and strength) were the key, but I wasn’t only the funder and by-stander. I carried boards until my muscles ached, learned how to mix the gooey stuff, hauled brush, and sweated. Jeff is without doubt the consummate “rugged man” who makes things strong and makes them work. But I hold my own. It’s one of the things I enjoy about camp…getting physical and learning new things. When it was done, I used my own chainsaw to cut down trees that were marring the new view. Jeff does the big ones, but I’ve graduated to 8-inch-diameter trees that are 40 feet tall. Ok, they are tiny on top. But still. Not bad for an “urban-boss-lady” who’s spent decades in Washington D. C. 🙂

Jeff began by creating what I call “the scaffolding” to hold the fence boards in place..13 4×4 posts, connected by 36 2x4s. Given the north winds here in the winter, Jeff was wise to add braces.
Rather than haul heavy cement, we decided to try the “new-fangled” (as my Dad used to say) cement alternative that turns from liquid into foam within seconds.
What a messy business. The chemistry works quickly so it’s important to act quickly. We worked as a team. Measure out each part separately. Pour them into a single container. Mix for 10 seconds. Pour the mixture into the hole. Quickly clean the buckets out. Move to the next post. And repeat.
It’s bizarre to watch this foam rise up in seconds to surround the fence post.
The sturdy screws on this fence cost about $300. Worth it, if they keep it standing! You can see the waters of Huron Bay in the background.
Jeff picked up the boards from a sawmill on the other side of the bay, which takes cash only. (Rural economic realities!) The hemlock boards come from Point Abbaye, about 12 miles north. I hauled almost all these boards to the site, which wasn’t far but wore me out anyway. They were heavy, as they’re newly-cut and still pretty wet. (I’m pretty tough but I’m only 5-foot-2 and not as strong as I wish…a reality that hits home every time we do something like this.)
We decided to stagger the sections to give a more geometric look, which meant going to the other side of the fence periodically. I shoved the boards through to Jeff.
We had fun with this project and even got a bit silly. (The heat, and sore muscles, got to me more than once but short breaks and dips in the water were all I needed. And a little Ibuprofen!)
Starting to take shape! 182 boards in all. Some people leave the tops of the boards jagged like this, but it looked unfinished to us. We considered cutting the boards to look like tree tops but it was risky and might end up looking like a fort.
Jeff came up with simple but clean “caps” to add a finished look. It was hot for September, so he worked without a shirt.
When it came to actually building the structure, it was all Jeff. All I did was help to steady the ladder and hand things up. My 1st gig as a carpenter’s assistant!
Jeff left a 2-foot gap at bottom to allow animals to pass under. After cutting the tops and bottoms straight, we had a lot of leftover wood pieces which I gathered into pots to burn in the wood stove of the small camper. They’re perfect for that, keeping a slow and low burn.
After clean-up….ta-daa! (That looks like a lawn to the right, but it’s the septic field. It’s mirrored on the other side of the fence by our neighbor’s field.)
I think it’s beautiful. I wonder if I would feel that way if we didn’t do it ourselves. DiY is quite satisfying…

2 thoughts on “The Fence

  1. A wonderful job on your fence! Will you need to stain or paint it? I remember doing a similar project, ‘many moons’ ago, & we forgot to use galvanized nails, so we had to replace all the nails a few short years later. Enjoy your fall weather!

    Liked by 1 person

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