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‘Barbtized’ in the woods

Drops of sweat stung my eyes and trickled off my nose.Perspiration saturated my shirt and blue jeans. It was hot andhumid and it wasn’t 10 a.m. yet. Nope. I wasn’t on the fairway ofthe Wolf Hollow Golf Club’s seventh hole.

“Did you have a good vacation?”

I smiled and nodded with a positive shake of my head.

Yours truly was BARBTIZED last week in the woods of southwesternLincoln County. In other words, three days were spent erecting abarbwire fence around a portion of our property.

Certainly, stringing wire on a fence is something every youngman should experience. Using the preferred American Red Tip brand,the sharp barbs seem to have a mind of their own. They will twist,bend, spring back and even bite you on your arms and legs. Barbwirein a rookie’s hands can be dangerous.

Building a fence through a wooded area requires more time. Addsteep hills and hollows to the landscape and it becomes even moreof a challenge. Stringing wire on a flat piece of land isconsiderably easier.

A neighbor and his son offered to build the fence for 35 centsper foot. Consider the number of feet in a quarter mile and itbecomes pretty expensive. Five strands would cost 50 cents afoot.

Next time you drive your vehicle along the highway, take a lookat the fences. Once you have built a fence out of either wood orwire, you have a much deeper appreciation for the amount of laborinvolved and the laborers.

My son-in-law, the Rev. Garland Boyd, agreed tohelp me run the wire during a portion of his vacation. We made apretty good team. The more wire we strung the better we got.

Between the wooden posts were placed a minimum of two steelposts. I hammered the staples in the wood and Garland hooked thewire on the steel posts with an electrician’s pliers.

Yes, there were hazards galore. An 80-pound bale of wire wasplaced on a bracket attached to the rear of my Honda ATV. It workedpretty well but the heavy bale made handling the ATV difficult,especially on hills.

We adopted several mosquitoes. After swatting aggressive deerflies and hungry horse flies all day, they were kind of cute.

Yes, Mississippi is tick and red bug country, too. Also known aschiggers, tiny red bugs live in the grasses and woods. They delightin finding a tender, tasty patch of skin and digging in.

Next comes the intense, itching sensation. Thank goodness DeepWoods Off discourages most of the critters.

We played 18 holes of golf on one day of the vacation.Obviously, my game isn’t ready for the PGA Senior Tour. Blame it onthe fence.

Over the last few months, this crusty journalist became closelyassociated with the business end of a fence post digging tool.

It is interesting to note the reaction of men when you tell themyou are digging post holes, without the luxury of a hydraulictractor attachment.

“Ugh.”

“Wow. That’s tough work.”

“Man, I don’t envy you.”

Living in rural Mississippi, most men have had some experiencewith post hole digging. That’s one of the reasons country boysmoved to town and enrolled in college.

At the 65th hole, one of the digger handles finally broke. Idrew a deep sigh of relief. No more holes today. Thankfully, mostof the digging had been accomplished before the first heat wave ofsummer arrived.

My dear wife, Laurie, deserves special recognition. Being acountry girl, she had some prior knowledge of the fence work.Displaying the patience of Job, she would plumb each post, set thestring to maintain straight property lines and use the carpenter’slevel to make sure each post was properly set.

Meanwhile, the husband would grunt, groan, fuss and make faceswhen the wife made corrections in the alignment. Engaged couplesshould be required to work together on a difficult project beforeexchanging marriage vows. It’s a true test of love andpatience.