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Friday, March 5, 2010


Building a fence is much like building a kingdom.
Faith:  We wouldn't start if we thought it was not possible
Knowledge:  We must first learn the skills. Some of these skills we have been learning since birth.  
Experience  - To learn how to build a fence we look at other fences to see how they are built.  There are many different ways of getting it done. We study how others have done and take the best ideas from these.  We use the ideas that work for our situation.  I have more wood than rocks available. For now, I am better at working with wood and nails than cutting and stacking stone.  At this point in my life it is easier for me to work with wood rather than stone.  Other people may have great fences, even for the same purpose as ours.  My fence won't have to be just like theirs to be a good fence.
Study written instructions - People have written instructions about building fences. People have written about their experiences with fences.  People have made pictures of different styles of fences useful in different times and places and for multiple purposes.  Some people need to keep out barbarians.  Others need to keep out rabbits.  I need to keep out deer.
Talk to other people (learn from their experience) - Other people can tell us the secrets they have learned about building fences.  I can learn from people with different purposes than mine, but will pay extra attention to persons who's purpose and skills are similar to mine. I may be able to emmulate them in the way I build our fence.
Action - I must get started building the fence.  I will make mistakes, but the more I work at building a fence, the better I will become.  It won't get done by watching tv.
Discipline - I must keep at it even if progress seems slow.  Every bit I work on my fence, the closer I come to having it done.  Sometimes the weather will not be welcome.  Sometimes my knees will hurt.  Sometimes I will feel like I am not a good fence builder.  Sometimes I will want someone else to do it.
MORE FAITH Building a fence is very hard. I'm not sure how it will look when it is finished. Sometimes I would like to quit, but I know I have many of the needed skills and I will be able to work through problems when they come up.
Ask for Help - I cannot do everything myself.  Sometimes I will have to accept help, even ask for help. 
While building my fence, I have problems that are unexpected.  Rails are twisted and will not lay flat against the posts;  nails resist the hard wood, often bending, becoming useless.  This is when I break them off and select new nails.  This time I will try to drill holes first to help the nails go through the wood.
Some places the ground has become soft with changing temperatures, causing the posts to become unstable.  They must be re-tamped to be sure they are steady. 
Use what I have - Sometimes while building my fence I wish I had different tools, different wood, or a different area to be fenced.  Fence building teaches me to use what I've been given, what I have.  I have walnut trees rather than the locust or chestnut that have traditionally been used for fences.  My ladder is old and creaky.  It may break someday but it isn't broken yet. It would be nice if the temperature was 65 degrees and sunny instead of 35 or even 25 degrees and spitting snow.This is what I have and where I am now.
Be open to a change of plans - Sometimes when building this fence, I've seen that my original plan needs to be changed.  This might be because I've learned something new about fences, or it might be because I have realized that another path would be better for my fence.  The goal has not changed - to build a good stable fence around the entire garden - but in working toward this goal I've seen that another way is sometimes better. A variety of circumstances may change the plans for this fence.
A fence was needed. I am glad to be building it.

You may have realized that this discussion on fence building is allagorical.  I am actually not building our fence. Jeff is building it.  I don't have the skills or the tools. A fence built by only me would probably fall.  I have helped in the decision making, it is around my garden, I have been the helper, the "gopher" at times. Even this is part of life.  Sometimes we have to let others do the big jobs.  We don't always need the credit.  Sometimes it is fine to just be the helper, to feed the "front man", to handle the phone and run the errends. Try to reread this story thinking of yourself as "I."  Think about what your "fence" is.  What are you building right now?

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