Lightning in a Wire

Photo taken during the storm, right as lightning lit up the world

Before the storm moved in yesterday, I spent most of the morning digging out the compost pile, doing the work I could before everything was flooded. My plan went off without a hitch as the compost pile area is now super saturated, after three inches of rain. Another inch and there will be a compost island. But a tree fell on top of the fence, this meant cutting it into pieces, and removing it so the electric fence keeps zapping.

Not large, as far as trees go, but this one was covered in vines, which I assume led to its demise. Vines create a pull on the trees, and they also keep it from swaying with the wind the way trees do naturally, so this one broke in half, and landed squarely on my fence. A cut here, a cut there, another over there, and ordinarily the tree could have been removed easily. But the vines had it tied up, so first I had to cut through a green squid of vines, with tentacles reaching out to grab a blade or foul the cutters in some way. Into the compost pile this will all go, eventually, and the tree and the vines will return to the earth, as we all should.

I plugged the fence back up and got the whisper of a heartbeat of energy in the wire. There’s nothing to be done but walk the fence and hope the mosquitoes and ticks do not devour me before I can find the problem. Quickly, it becomes clear there’s more than one issue with the fence, and it’s only been a week or so since I cleaned it out. But that was seven inches of rain ago, and the jungle has returned. There’s a small limb pinning the wire, a broken insulator that was hit, and a few more small branches are removed, along with any vines that are creeping too close. The wind caused one section of the hot wire to get stuck on the fence, but all in all, there’s nothing horrible or time consuming. The mosquitoes, however, are truly terrible.

Ticks were not always a problem here at Hickory Head. I would pick one or two up a year, the dogs might get one on occasion, but two years ago, all hell broke loose and now I cannot go into the woods and not get a couple, if not three. My neighbor and I noticed them about the same time, so it’s not just me, and not just my neck of the woods. I can give the dogs medication to kill the ticks that attack them, but that doesn’t keep the ticks from hitching a ride into the house.

Walking the fence line, and cleaning it out means I am now lunch, no matter how much repellent I spray on my clothes and body. The vegetation near the line is covered with rainwater from yesterday and the ground is soaked. I’m drenched within minutes.

But this is old work, something I’ve done since fencing this area in, and putting a charger on it. I know how to do it, know how to get it done, and it must be. There’s no other way, and there’s no one else, so into the breech. About three quarters of the way through, in the area that’s not as wooly, I pick a small branch off the wire, that’s grounded it, and I know the limb grounded the wire because when I removed it, I was touching the wire, and had my other hand on the fence.

Now I am perfectly aware the fence is live again. The shock tears through my body like a physical blow, and this is the result I want when a dog touches the fence, and why no dog has gotten out in over three years.

Wow. That will wake you up in the morning, says I.

My left arm feels woozy, but there’s not much more to go. My shoes are soaked, as is the pair from yesterday. I am running out of work footwear. The pond is up higher than it’s been in a while, and it’s a good thing; too much water is a lot better than not enough.

But the fence is up and running, a hot shower and clean clothes are in order, and the dogs are safe again.

Take Care,

Mike