Sunday, October 9, 2011

Fall colors have peaked in Kickapoo Center. It's downhill from here. I cringe at the thought of four months of black and white.

The Amish patriarch, Jorge and I travel to Hillsboro to find parts for a manure spreader and greenhouse polycarbonate panels(clear plastic 4X8 insulated panels that will make the roof and sidewalls of my future greenhouse).  The colors along highway 82 from Lafarge to highway 33 which runs through Hillsboro are incredible and different than our hillside display.  Seems the farmers in that area decided that a mixed deciduous woods was an important ecological diversity worth preserving.  Even now, locals in the area are harvesting hardwood trees.  The logging trucks ply highway 131 which runs past our house with all too frequent diesel engine brakes and fumes. Our hillsides are a mix of muted yellows and an occasional stand alone hardwood of red or brown.  The dairy farmer down county highway U mentioned that in the 70's the hillsides were almost denuded.  The Kickapoo wreaked havoc with spring floods and the "gummit" stepped in and decided to build a dam north of Larfarge.  400 families were bought-out and evicted.  One old grandmother refused to sell and stopped the Army Corps of Engineers dead in their tracks. There's a park dedicated to Grandma.  Now the area is called the Kickapoo Reserve and is a scenic, unspoiled area save for one large concrete tower that was to be part of the dam preserved for the future in memory stupid government and ignorant people who value the greenbuck above nature.

If I didn't have enough to do in the race before winter's icy grasp relegates me to pissing and moaning in front of the computer with nothing to do but dream about getting my hands dirty in sandy loam, the dipstick neighbor decides to purchase the ten acre corn field behind us.It was a small part of a bankruptcy sale.  Being a poster child for Anal Retentives Anonymous and a huge fan of Ron Paul, he decides to erect a fence around the huge ten acre parcel.  I'm picking beans in the front field. I hear a commotion in the corn field and decide to investigate.

"Wisconsin law requires that I construct a fence on my property," he tells me.  "What law?" I reply.  "After the corn is harvested I'm going to run cattle in this field," Mr. Dufus replies.  He speaks of bulldozers, chain saws and hiring itinerant workers to clear the fence line between our property and his. I retain an attorney and become an instant expert on section 90 of Wisconsin Law which requires that "good fences, makes good neighbors."  It also says that I'm responsible for 1/2 the fence:material costs and labor.

Cut to the chase.

Dawn has to work on Saturday because the retirement home is hosting a quilt show and benefit. I work on the western portion of our south fence line hauling out tree limbs and removing brush that will interfere with a four wire barb wire fence.  I'll haul all the detritus to a burn pile in our front field.  My @#$ F-150 pick-up which I'd filled to the brim with large limbs clicks and will not turn over.Click. Click. Crap.  What's that quote about the best laid plans of mice and men?

I gaze wistfully at all the fallen leaves.  My newly repaired Cub Cadet riding mower I affectionately call Ted does a wonderful job of mulching leaves to fine particle.  With the lawn cart in tow I carefully line perennial herb gardens and start to cover the compost pile.  Two years ago my son-in-law gave me a box of red worms.  Ah shucks, red worms. You shouldn't have. I exclaim. They are eating machines, turning vegetable waste to compost in weeks.  BUT, they won't survive in a compost pile that freezes in minus twenty five degrees.  Hence the leaf mulch.

I'll wait until the wind dies down to mulch and take my trusty Stihl weed-wacker with the nylon blades and clear the other half of the south fence line.I quit after the blades jam up five times when I hit weeds the size of small trees, when red nylon rope winds the reel and I have to disassemble the head to unwind the mess and finally when smoke starts to rise out of the cutting head.  I'm dirty and smelly.  The sun block I use on my beardless face is covered with bits of weed and grass.  I shave my beard in the fall when I no longer worry about 12 hour days in the sun forcing me to spend six hours at the Mayo Clinic undergoing mohs surgery.

 It's time for a beer, I tell the kids.

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