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


8 Responses to “Fencing”

  1. Good job, guys!!! Now you can just stand or sit back and admire your handiwork It always gives one a glow when you have finally accomplished something that you have labored at for awhile. Guess it’s time for me to tackle the flower bed behind the house where those monster murderous mosquitoes hide and clean out the extra growth (weeds). Wish me luck!!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      We won’t bask in our accomplishments for too long as we’ll need to move on to the next task. Painting. Staining. Varnishing. Does the work ever end when you own a house?

      Good luck battling those mosquitoes.

  2. dwijaB Says:

    Your fence is gorgeous! I love it. Those…”communication breakdowns” can be a real stressful, pain, huh? I have shed my share of tears over projects at this house!

    Thank you for sharing your bargain tales. I get giddy hearing about other people’s victories!!!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Those house projects can be quite stressful, as you well know. I think the worst was tackling the bathroom, and we have only one bathroom. We have yet to re-do the kitchen, which is next on my list.

      Readers, check out HouseUnseen for a look at some fine bargain shopping.

  3. Bernie Says:

    Good for you! It looks great.
    I can so relate to the husband thinking something will work but the wife thinks it won’t. Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt. He is funny saying he will apologize every morning.
    You go Tom Sawyer!!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Sometimes we just have to along w/ the plan, don’t we, until they figure out “the plan” won’t work. Did Tom Sawyer say that?

  4. What a beautiful back yard! I LOVE your ferns! We had these growing wild at our place near Elk River, MN and I miss them. My sister-in-law had transplanted some of my Elk River ferns to her place many years ago. She now has a gorgeous area filled with huge, beautiful ferns and she gave us some transplants a couple years ago. But..those are not doing very well at our place. Guess I have to try another location??? And you have wild raspberries. Can it get any better than that? Enjoy your beautiful back yard or as the British say, back garden!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      We have worked hard to make our back yard beautiful. Our ferns came from a sister-in-law and the rest from around an old house that our church was about to tear down. I rescued the ferns. They are among my favorite outdoor, and indoor, plants. I love the way theybend and sway in the wind, dancing, really.

      As for those wild raspberries, they just keep spreading and spreading, which means fresh raspberries daily for several weeks during peak season. We just had a raspberry pie today made by an Amish woman peddling them yesterday in Osakis. Yes, I’ll be blogging about this weekend road trip west…

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