Monday, February 6, 2012

A fence! A fence! My kingdom for a fence!

Anyone who says "Backyard neighbors/friends are best" can just kiss-off for all I care right now. We moved to our house in 2009 and have had nothing but issues with the long list of people who have moved in and out of the houses behind us. Thankfully, though, my desire for a privacy fence is coming to fruition and I can't wait for it to be finished. Heck, right now I just can't wait for it to be started!

I like our backyard. Oh, it has its issues like any other -- weeds that you try to kill but won't go away; flowers you try to keep blooming every year that die quickly, etc. There's a depression in the middle of the yard that we've been trying to figure out since we bought the place because it doesn't always drain well after a large rain. It looks like there might have been an outbuilding of some sort there but we can't find anyone who knows. And with the house having been the oldest built in this area of town (it used to be the only thing out here for years), a lot of people "know" the house but they don't know enough to give us a good history. We know it had a name but that only lasted as long as the person who built it lived here. Later as the town grew, the land was divided and sold and other houses were built around it. Many people only know the house because of the way it sits on the lot. Since it originally faced a private road, the "front" of our house doesn't face the current paved/mapped road. People look at our house at first with an expression of, "Oh! How quaint and charming! They don't build them like that anymore!" which then changes into, "What's wrong with that? Where's your door? How do you get into your house?" as if we couldn't figure it out for ourselves.

We have large trees in our backyard which is very nice in the summer when they're in full foliage and provide nice shade for the yard and house. Today I noticed that our red-headed woodpecker is back again and has a smaller friend with him/her. It's up there pecking away at the same spot on the tree I can see outside from my home office/library/catch-all room. The smaller woodpecker is trying-out its skills on a small branch and keeps getting dizzy and falling off. The larger one, however, just needs a little thrash-metal music going and it would probably make a great YouTube video.

If the woodpecker is back, that means that soon the squirrels will start commuting again soon. One neighbor's boys keep asking us if we want them to shoot the squirrels. I tell them no because (1) if I wanted them shot I could do it myself, (2) you can't shoot them within the city limits, and (3) they're a great source of entertainment for the entire family -- dogs included. Our first winter here we found out just how resourceful our squirrels are because we forgot to bring inside the cushions for the small patio chairs on the front/side/whatever porch. After the first good freeze came, we realized that when we looked outside at the cushions that they were smaller. Knowing that many materials contract in cold temperatures but never having heard that about cotton and batting, I went to investigate. The squirrels had come down from their trees and ripped-into the covering to steal the stuffing for their nests. I know that's what they did because they weren't too shy to continue doing it as I watched through the window and each carried away as much as they could in their cheeks. So now, every winter, we leave a pillow that's been worn-out past its usefulness and let the squirrels rebuild their nests and stay warm.

As the days get longer and their food supplies run out, the squirrels will have to start foraging again. This is when our backyard becomes Grand Central Station. They've learned to hop from the trees in the front yard (where the nests are) to the roof and run across it to the back of the house. From there they drop down onto the weatherhead that protects the main power lines coming into the house. They trot across the lines into the nearest tree and then scurry and jump from tree to tree on their way to the big walnut tree for "work" each day. In the afternoons, they follow the same path back. You can almost set your watch by it. It keeps Harley entertained because she loves to look out the window and watch them go by. I know she secretly wants one to miss a step so it will come down and she can play with it, but I seriously don't think she'd know what to do with one if it did.

As Spring gets nearer, we'll soon hear the whapping of their new progeny against the side of the house. It's a rite of passage all of the squirrels in this yard must go through. After the adults allow the younglings to leave the nest, they have to learn the high-wire act just like everyone else. Most of the time, however, the younger squirrels don't quite have the strength or depth perception to jump from the tree back to the power lines to make it to the roof. For about a month or so we'll have a serenade of thumps and thuds against the eaves of the house as they try to make the leap and miss. Fortunately, they've never been seriously hurt and we're not cursed with squirrel carcasses of the not-so-talented littering our yard. They just get back up and try it again.

But with the neighbors behind us now, I'll be glad when the fence is up. Not just for ourselves and the dogs, but to preserve our little habitat. One neighbor just moved-in with three large-ish dogs staked-out in their backyard and puppies running in-and-out from under the house. All they do is bark and bark and bark when I take Harley and Celeste outside for their "walkies." The last thing I need is one getting loose and trying to attack either of my dogs. They won't like it too much if that happens and not only are they charged for damages to my pet but also can be arrested for the injury/death of a service dog which ranges from a misdemeanor to a felony in our state depending on the severity.

The other neighbor has been there since before we moved-in, but it's not his house or his property and he keeps trying to come over to tell us what we can and cannot do with ours. One night he showed-up on my back steps unannounced and was just waiting there for one of us to come out. He's darned lucky he wasn't met with one of the many pistols I keep handy for instances like that. Now that he's seen the fence contractors coming by to bid on the construction, he keeps saying how he's promised us that he'll help build the fence to make sure it's correct. I've informed the chosen contractors that if he begins to pester them or attempts to "build" anything on our property line to let us know and the police will have another discussion with him.

It just figures, though, that the incredibly warm winter we've been having will come to an abrupt end this week as the contractors try to get the concrete for the posts to cure. Days upon days of Spring-like weather and now we start getting temperatures in the "seasonal" range. Oh well, they have a one-year warranty on all construction and materials -- and I made darned sure that it included construction during the winter. So, if the thing starts to lean, they have to come fix it. I'm nothing if not thorough (and perhaps a little nitpicky) over contracts and making sure I get what I want.

Now I have to decide....planks facing out where I have to look at the posts and cross-beams from my window or planks facing in which could give the annoying neighbors a ladder to climb into my yard.... The city laughed when I joked about wanting a 6-foot chain link fence with razor wire on top. Too would be cheaper....

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