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Saturday, May 6, 2017

Our Old House Fence Project and family stuff

Oh my goodness, we have been so busy busy busy I forgot to write any blog posts about what we have been up to. It took five loads from Menards to get all the wood here to our house to build the fence. Whew!  Our little Tracker can only tow 1,000 pounds at a time. We bought it all during the sale and spent five evenings running over to Manitowoc to buy enough for the whole fence.

I have spent the last two weeks out in the garage almost every day staining the wood.  Each piece gets two coats of  Cabot solid color acrylic deck stain. (solid color stain because it looks like paint, but it lets the wood breathe and dry, plus doesn't flake off in later years. It just soaks into the wood and I can restain it when it may need it)

I have four sets of saw horses laid out and I am rotating wood from side to side, four times flipping so every side gets coated. Then I lay a small piece of cardboard with a number on it, on top of the boards, especially if I get interrupted. Then I know where I left off with which number or coating it is. Everything needs 2 coats to look good.

Cranking tunes on the radio 
while I rock on my staining clothes 
and my pinned up hair! 

Our planned fence structure is composed of 258 feet of fence. This means 38 fence posts and 66 horizontal boards and 528 spindles! It is all green treated deck materials and should last a lot longer than preassembled fence panels from the home improvement stores.

We started installing it last week. Thanks to our friends Mike and Heidi White for lending us their gas powered post hole digger, we can work one post at a time and build it as we go.

We started with the far northwest corner.... It was quite exciting to start with the first corner post. We made sure it is level and screwed on the horizontal top and bottom boards and put in another post in each direction to hold it perfectly square. After our first pieces were in, it was easy to keep on going.

This way everything can be level and exact and follow the contour of the ground. If we had rented a post hole digger, we would have had to get all the holes dug at once. Sometimes that could be very difficult especially if we are trying to be exact. If we are off by half an inch on the first one, we could be off by a whole inch on the second, etc. by the time we hit the 8th or the 9th post we could be off by half a foot or more!

Here is my Man....  

So far we have only run into one rock and one tree root. Steve easily cut the tree root out of the way with our small electric chainsaw, sticking it down in the hole. The rock came out with a manual digger, and was only about six inches across so that wasn't too bad either.

Our topsoil is nice and rich but as soon as you get down about 6 inches it is all clay. Very sticky thick clay. It sticks to all the tools, and comes out in huge clumps. I can see why Chilton used to have a brick yard nearby to make clay bricks.  It even sticks on the bottom of our shoes and does not scrape off unless you use a garden trowel to remove it forcefully.

Once we get each hole dug, then we are backfilling and tamping around each post with some very fine gravel called screenings. We had a 10 yard load dumped here, the smallest amount they would deliver. Once we finish securing all of the posts Steve will smooth the rest of the gravel over our motorhome parking pad for a new layer. Once these screenings get wet they form almost a thick hard surface on the drive. Using it in the holes by the posts they firm it up and hold the posts into place. But the screenings do allow for some movement during the freezing and thawing process of our seasons. Otherwise, if we used post cement the frost would heave it up out of the ground. Our posts are only 18 inches down. If we really wanted to use cement we would have to go down four feet below the frost line. I don't think so, not for only a 45 inch high fence

Over a few days, we worked the west and north fence lines and got all of the top and bottom boards in place. It looks kinda strange, but this is only the structure framing and needs to be perfectly plumb up and down plus follow the contour of the ground horizontally.

We were still changing our mind a little bit on the location of the south side so we didn't put those posts in yet.  We did get them all along the west, north and up to the east side meeting against the house.  See the runway behind the garage to let the dogs access the back yard?

On the rainy days, while I was busy staining spindles, Steve was getting a few other projects done. He had a lawnmower to tune up for the museum, a roof leak to take care of on the motorhome, plus working part time for the county driving the Old Fart Party Bus.

We started installing the spindles earlier this week. I came up with the bright idea of using a spacer board with a top guide piece that helped with the height of each spindle and a handle to pull it away after the spindle was screwed into place.

It helps to keep them evenly spaced in each section. But because each section can be off by a half an inch or so we are being very careful on our spacing to make it appear even. Steve is on the outside of the fence screwing into the spindles while I am on the inside checking the spacing and for level as each screw is secured into the wood. It's slow going, and we are doing three or four sections a night.

Our biggest problem in the delay of putting up this fence has been the weather. We have had so many days of rain in Wisconsin, like many other parts of the country, that any time we have a little bit of sunshine or dry weather we are out there working on the fence.

We completed the front area by the back steps which is the original doggy potty yard. It is now almost twice the size it once was where we used the tall black dog kennel to block an area off. I put the kennel on Craigslist and sold that the other night.

Steve built a gate to close off the dog potty area from the back runway along the north side of the garage leading to the big backyard.

Once the gate was up, we left the dogs into the new area on the side of the house to play. Ahhhh they were so happy. Just wait, little doggies, when you can run free in the big back yard without ropes or leashes dangling.  You can play with your balls and toys and wrassle in a secure yard.

Just wait till they get into the whole backyard area which is about six times the space of this one!

Last night we got four more sections done before it started to rain again. We packed up all the gear and stowed it in the garage. By the time we got into the house and looked out, all of the storm clouds had passed and it was back to a blue evening sky again. Go figure. But we gave up for the night and relaxed with a glass of wine on the front porch.

This morning Steve is changing the belt on the lawn mower for the museum and once that is done we will go back out and get more spindles in place. Who knows, we might even get the south posts set in yet this morning. This afternoon he is going to help with some things at High Cliff State Park and out at the museum, so we will try to get done what we can this morning here at home.

Also, while all this is going on we had a few family things happen. Our wonderful Steveio decided he would have his last birthday ever at 59 years of age. He said he doesn't want to turn 60 so he will never celebrate another birthday. He will just keep being 59, year after year.  Silly boy. We had all of the kids and grandkids come over for a party in the backyard. Oh boy, it would have been nice to have the fence in place already. It was a very nice time and the kids had a blast:

Because we had available help on hand, we were busy swapping and moving around mattresses ... Remember in my last blog I said we bought a memory foam mattress for in the house? We just love it. So the mattress from the house needed to come out. It needed to be taken out to the motorhome.--- and the one in the motorhome taken to the garage. Last night I sold the motorhome mattress on Craigslist to a nice couple who came to take it away.

Our son and son-in-law helped to remove our mattress from the house to bring it to the motorhome. The best way was out the back shaker porch, and our son and son-in-law figured out the best way to get it down to the ground. LOL

Here's is a video clip

Also we had kept both boys, Mason and Clayton, both five-years-old overnight. They were very good and had a fun time playing and being together for a Cousin Sleepover.

Another night I had kept the youngest granddaughter Claire for an overnight. It was so much fun having a wee baby again. Here is something I have done with all of my children and grandchildren and decided since this is probably the last grandchild I would make a video of it to save for posterity.

One of our grandsons had a school play musical so we took a morning off work to go and watch him. This is pretty good for 4 and 5 year old children. Here's a video clip of his event. That is Mason in the upper right hand corner of the cow section. Yes he is a little cow. Gotta love it

We also had a nice visit from the honeymoooners from Florida who were doing a whirlwind tour of all the relatives in Michigan and Wisconsin.  We only got them for one overnight... but they were trying to get in stops with everyone.  Meet our new father, Lyle and his blushing bride, Mom~

Also, last Monday, my sister Linda and her husband Fuzz came down from Michigan to attend a food show by the vendor who supplies inventory for their bar and grill they own in the U.P. of Michigan.  We had a lot of fun and got a lot of free samples!  

Well, I started this blog early about 7 am.  But then the slavedriver said let's get out there and finish up some more spindles!  We got 4 more sections done and just came in for a break while I cooked some breakfast.  It's time to get back out there and get more done! 


  1. Oh Karen all of this is so very amaZING! I love all your ideas and projects. Thank YOU for sharing your life. Congratulations for your mommy <3

  2. That fence is gorgeous! I love the way it lets you look right out beyond it while keeping the dogs where they belong.

  3. Well I see I am not the only one building fence. Love the design! Looks really good.


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