Monday, October 20, 2014

Fence Building

I am a fanatic about fences, and I don't mind admitting it. I want the barbed wire tight, the posts straight, and every strand level. Just so you know, there is never, ever a reason to secure barbed wire with baling string. Why would anyone even consider such an option? 

This morning, I did my usual routine of feeding livestock, writing, and opening the park. I was headed to take a shower when It occurred to me that the plants still needed to be moved to the greenhouse. That big project was almost done when Betsy, Ryan's first show heifer and a magnificent animal, came up to the fence and started bawling. She was clearly very unhappy. It turned out that a large dead tree had fallen on the fence, driven one of the fence posts completely into the ground (a few inches still showing) and totally leveled the fence. As a result, Custard, Ryan's big Charolais cross, had stepped through the gap and was in the yard. Betsy was "telling on her"!  

After moving the cows to the round pen, I went back to examine the fence. There was a tree down that needed to be moved, fencing wire to separate, and an entire stretch of fencing to be repaired. A closer look revealed that someone had used baling string to connect the wire to the posts. I was not happy.  In addition, some of the wire did not have clips attaching it to the posts. Maybe the impact of the tree knocked those clips right off. Maybe. But I doubt it. 

The condition of the fence was so totally pitiful that I decided the only thing to do was take down the entire section, reseat my posts, and restring the wire, and I gathered my tools to get started. It was a terrible mess and the job looked way too big, but I did what I always do. "Lord, I can't tell where to start. Please help me!" 

After a survey of the rubble, it was clear that the tree had to be moved. I was trying to decide how to move it and thought, "Roll it".  Much to my surprise, I reached down, lifted that big log, gave it a twisting shove, and it rolled right down the hill. Thankfully, only one strand of wire was broken and It just so happened that there was one turnbuckle in the tool box to repair it. Before I knew it, I had reseated the posts, figured out how to use my come-along (to tighten the wire), taken all the wire loose, repaired the break, restrung the wire, and secured it to the posts (with the appropriate fencing clips). 

It was amazing that all that work was accomplished so quickly, but what was even more amazing was that the fence was tight and straight. More than a decade ago, a dear friend realized how lacking I was in basic farming skills and undertook to teach me. He and his family  taught me how to set a post, string wire, and build a fence, among many other things. How they stood dealing with such a prissy diva is beyond me, but they were instrumental in God's work of transformation that changed a diva into a woman a little more like what God has intended. I'm still easily overwhelmed by the scope of the farm work, but I'm much quicker to think, "Maybe I can do this" and to give it a try. The investment they made in my life has yielded an incredible result and my new straight fence is just one of the many benefits of their efforts. 

Now, lest you think that I have become a fantastic farmer, remember that my fence was in a mess before the tree fell, and I didn't know it. I am a fanatic about wanting the fences to be right, but I have not been a fanatic about checking them or repairing them myself. That's because I have, once again, let busyness take over, and the farm, the pastures, the fences, and I don't know what else yet, have gotten away from me. The good news is that the investment in me was not wasted, I do know how to fix fences, and the farm work will get done in the same manner the fence was repaired today. One step at a time and with the help of God. 

Are you investing in the life of someone? It is easy to get frustrated when that effort you've expended seems to have no yield or be totally wasted. Take heart. Investments in the Kingdom of God are never wasted, even when the part of the Kingdom you're investing in is a too-busy, prissy woman like me. In the blink of an eye, a tree can fall, fence wire can break, and priorities can be not only shifted but also corrected. 

But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; (Matthew 6:20 NASB)

You may not be able to tell it right now from looking at my pastures, but before too long, I'm hoping it becomes clear that the investment in my life was not just worth it, but is bearing fruit that lasts.