The permit to build my home required that there be a split rail fence 5 1/2 feet from the exterior wall on the north and east sides of the home–the ‘confinement fence,’ as I have dubbed it. While the City was generous enough to grant me ‘free and full use’ of my side of the fence (oh, wait! not the part where the sewer grinder pump is, though!), the area beyond the fence was restricted to “reasonable use” only…except the Mitigation planting Plan required that I weed, water, and fertilize (that gets me every time I say it) the 289 plants, and guarantee 100% survival of them with $5,000 set aside as a ‘survival bond.’ And then half of them drowned, were browsed to the nubbin by deer, or starved to death in the thin soil.
If you have been following along, you know that starting in late February I began to AHEM, amend and enhance the woefully inadequate, poorly thought out Mitigation Plan. I had to: there is 5 G’s and my self-esteem at stake. After calling very loudly, “DO OVERS!” I have hauled three or four yards of compost, mulch, and planting mix to amend the nearly sterile native clay, 40 or so one- to one-and-a-half man boulders for habitat and texture, and 319 native plants. Yep. You read that right…and that is not counting the mosses, groundcovers, or the placement of salvage moss- and nurse logs.
Because of the fence, all these things had to be hand carried either out all the way to the street, around the fence, and down one side of the house; or down the other where I would then have to squeeze my two foot wide body through an 18 inch wide gap between the
fence and a large stump. Usually while carrying something real, real heavy, almost always in the rain–or hail–or ice storm. Pull some weeds? Squeeze through the gap. Run the sprinkler on my tender young plants? Over the fence. Play with my daughter? Over, around, squeeze, repeat. I am 43 years old, for cripesake! I’m 6’4″ and 240 pounds! WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING CLIMBING THIS DAMN FENCE OVER AND OVER? I built a gate.
Now, I have built some pretty cool stuff before. I am not going to say the gate is among them; it’s the story of the gate that matters. The gate itself is not that interesting (although it turned out nicely): made of cedar 2×4, it is mitered at the corners and cross-braced so it runs together with the fence. Since (I guess) I am not supposed to have a gate, I wanted it to ‘blend.’ I cut out the three rails and added a cedar post, then trimmed the rails to fit from the original post to the new one. I pre-drilled the rails and countersunk some heavy lag bolts to attach them to the new post. On the other side, I used two pieces of off-cut from the container project and jointed them together, then bolted them to the other post to form a mounting plate. The gate swings on three of the beefiest hinges I could find (because the gate is wide), and I used my old friend the deck screw (LOVE YA!) to attach the gate instead of the screws that came with the hinges–I could use a few longer and a few shorter using the ‘dead man’ principle. It has a latch and a cord that pulls through the post, which allows my daughter to let herself in and out while pursuing forest fairies and harvesting salmonberries, red huckleberry, and wild blackberries for forage-y snacks. I wish I had added the gate earlier. I’ll be honest, I just went out there to pull some weeds and tidy up a bit.