Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Fencing June 10, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 7:57 AM
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This is the first section of fencing, nearest the house, that I stained.

IT’S DONE, PEOPLE. Done. Done. Done.

Last Saturday, with the assistance of my I-finally-have-time-to-help-you husband, I finished staining the 10 lattice-topped fence panels that enclose our backyard. Please note that I use the singular “I” here rather than the plural “we.” This project belonged primarily to “me.”

It didn’t start out that way. Originally, I was supposed to stain the panels nearest the house using foam and bristle brushes. Then Randy was supposed to spray the remaining panels with a handy dandy cheap air-pumped sprayer we picked up at a big box store.

From the get-go, I did not think the sprayer system was a good idea. I was concerned about overspray (stain drifting onto flowers, plants, the lawn, the house, the neighbor’s fence, skin, eyeglasses, clothing…). I also doubted a sprayer would provide even coverage. Would the stain truly adhere to wood when misted, rather than brushed, on?

However, Randy remained determined that he could spray the panels, thereby saving me hours and hours and hours of labor. Nice thought from a man who claims, “I’m always thinking of you, dear. It’s my job to keep you happy.” Oh, so sweet…

Sometimes simply going along with a plan works better than arguing with one’s spouse. OK, I admit, I protested several times, telling Randy that since he really didn’t have the time to stain when the weather was cooperating, I would continue brushing. I might also have mentioned a few times that I didn’t think spraying the stain would work.

Finally, I was down to the last four panels, the ones nowhere near the house and thus safe to spray.

The last of the 10 panels that were stained.

But as sometimes happens in marriages, Randy and I experienced a communication break-down. He wanted me to stain the last panel, the one embedded in wild raspberry bushes. Having already battled wayward ferns, a floppy bleeding heart bush, heat and a sliver in my finger, I was in no mood for his chastising words: “You should have painted that panel by the raspberries.”

I burst into tears and suggested that he should be grateful for all I had done and that I had no intention of dealing with thorny raspberry bushes. So I didn’t.

Wild raspberry bushes grow along one side of the last panel next to the woods.

Several days later he cut away the prickly branches closest to the fence before laying down plastic, filling the plastic spray tank with stain and spraying.

As predicted by me, the spray process failed. Picture a Holstein cow (that’s a black-and-white spotted cow for you non-agricultural people). Not how I want my fence to look. The nozzle clogged. This was not working.

I wanted to say, “I told you so.” But, instead, I mentioned that an apology would be accepted regarding his earlier criticism of my staining with a brush when I should have/could have waited for him to spray all of the panels (his words, not mine) in an hour with the sprayer.

“I wake up every morning apologizing,” Randy responded.

Did I tell you that my husband is also a funny guy? He makes me laugh.

In the end, he worked on one side of the fence while I stained on the other. We finished the three panels as a team.

As for that sprayer, Randy poured out the stain, cleaned the tank with paint thinner, then placed the unit in the original box. “We’ll sell it at a garage sale,” he said.

As you can see in this image, the fence panels are beginning to come apart. This is the third time we have stained the fence. It was last stained in 2005. I was extremely ill with whooping cough during that summer of staining, meaning I didn't have to stain the fence. I expect we'll put up a new fence before we stain this once again.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling