Wednesday, March 10, 2010

a new life for an old rail fence

isn't this a splendid old rail fence?
About this time last year we were looking everywhere for old split rails to make a fence around
the vegetable gardens and flower beds.
A few years earlier, we had seen them in stacks all over the countryside. Farmers and ranchers were taking them down and putting up taller and sturdier wire fences to keep the deer and elk out of their crops and hay fields.
I was thinking then how lovely they were stacked high, weathered and mossy.
Now that we had a good use for them, there were none to be found.
We thought of Craigslist!
Did you know that you can find anything on Craigslist?
I have gotten pallets of used brick, heritage chicks, turkies, heirloom herbs and plants.
Anything and everything, all for sale or barter.
One chilly winter evening by the fire, a look through building materials and antiques for sale
we came across a small ad by a rancher 140 miles to the east of us.
He was selling his split rail fences.
We emailed him and found that he had a few miles of fence...
at such a wonderful price we couldn't get the truck and trailer loaded quick enough.
The next morning, after driving for nearly 3 hours on snowy roads,
we at last arrived at the ranch.
Like many of the old cattle ranches that we passed along the way,
it was old old old.
Beautiful and weathered, we were sure it was the same as it had been for nearly 200 years.
Driving along muddy roads through gates and streams and cattle pastures
we arrived at the ranch house,the old fella was waiting for us.
He came out and introduced himself and his dogs and pointed to the hills beyond his place and said,
"the fence is along that creek past the scrub willows and oaks..".
sure enough, there it was, still standing.
He followed along behind in an old hay truck with the dogs holding on for dear life on the back.
When we reached the fence, I could see it stretched quite aways in both directions.
Beautiful country and a beautiful old fence. Mossy and weathered. Still standing.
I asked him about it, if he had built it...
He said, "nope", he didn't build it, but his great- great grandfather who had come from Scotland
to raise cattle here had built it himself.
I knew then that times must be very hard for this old fellow.
to be selling his great grandfather's
hand split rail fence...
I told him how I dearly loved old things.
That his great grandfathers fence would be loved and taken care of. He smiled and said, "good thing...that'ns an old one for sure."
So we carefully loaded each rail...and piled on as many as the truck and goose neck trailer
would hold.
We paid the old fellow in cash with a little extra besides.
I asked if he'd like to see a picture when we got it put up again and of course he said yes.
I wanted him to know for sure that it would be made useful again, loved and cared for.
So this week the old fence is going up again, along the east side of our garden
where it can be close to where it came from.
I've got 50 asparagus crowns coming that will be planted alongside it. It'll be a nice place for the heirloom pumpkins & herbs I've got started in the green house,too.
I know I'll be thinking of that old fellow and his Scottish great-great grandfather
while I plant and hoe and dream in my garden this summer.


Dixie Sargent Redmond said...

Beautiful image, Christe'. You will have a lovely handmade Scottish fence.

Becky said...

How very lovely,
Thinking of the many many years your olde Scottish fence will now surround your Garden.

Goode day friend,

Kim from The Sheep's Nest said...

What a wonderful post Christine! I can't wait to see the fence up at your place with your gardens about. Have a wonderful day. Kim

Aunt Polly's Attic said...

What a wonderful story! And an incredible fence too! We live in the Midwest and don't often see old split rail fences. I would love to put one around my garden too. I'm looking forward to seeing your pictures.


Heather said...

What a lovely and bittersweet story. I know that fence has found a good home with you. It is amazing that the wood has lasted this long- generations! I cant wait to see it in the spring!~

Sarah said...

We have just a few split rails that dad left. Ours are cedar. They have lasted forever.

Laura said...

what a lovely story, Christine. The old fence reminds me of the ones at Garfield Farm. How wonderful to be able to still find a new home for a piece of history from the old Scottish homestead.

hope the sun is shining in your neck of the woods,

Stickhorsecowgirls said...

Lovely! I love using old things and this fence is truly marvelous! I think I shall start perusing Craig's List more often!

Old World Primitives said...

What a touching and beautifully written story. I am looking forward to seeing photos of the old fence when it's back up at its new home.


Jeri Landers said...

What a fantastic fence you are going to have, and, with a known history. I love it. By the way, I enjoyed
your contribution to the magazine, it was wonderful writing. The magazine is GREAT for lovers of "OLDE", even the ads are beautiful!

Penelope's Beehive said...

Such a lovely post. I am delighted that you have given live to old materials. The arms of the past, with all of if its stories, shall surround and protect your garden surely. May you enjoy hearing the many tales as you work in the soil.

Penelope's Beehive said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stacey said...

Christe`~ What a wonderful treasure! It holds within so many stories and it will continue now. Yes these are very sad times, but I know that this gentleman is happier knowing that his special family fence will continue a journey of love. You are such a wonderful Caretaker of Olde.


Suzanne said...

I was quite intrigued at the mention of, you can buy almost anything on there! What a sweet and tender story.....I'm sure your garden will be beautifully surrounded by its new fence. Perhaps plant some Bonnie Blommin' Heather and/or Thistle in honor of its Scottish roots?

怎麼做才好 said...

nice job! waiting for your new artical. ........................................

Gayle said...


Your fence will be even more beautiful because of its meaningful history. I think it was meant to be that you and Bob own it now.

Can't wait to see photos of it in your garden...

Gayle from Stars