I grew up reading Robert Frost, but here in northern California fences are not about neighbors – they’re about deer.
The native deer population in California has allegedly plummeted, resulting in dashed hopes for thousands of hunters. This made my husband feel better about not bagging one last year, and it may be true in the mountains, where you can actually hunt them. It is not true in El Cerrito, where the local cemetery functions as a wildlife refuge for the hundreds of deer who at dusk set off to eat their way through everyone’s front yard, and it’s not true in Monte Rio, where the Schoolhouse backs up on several hundred acres of open space.
Therefore, if we’re going to have a garden at the Schoolhouse, we have to fence. We’d looked at pictures and discussed styles, but hadn’t settled on anything. Then last week I saw a Craigslist ad offering 20,000 free grapestakes. At this stage of the project, money is tight – decision made.
There are two kinds of grapestakes – hand-split redwood and not. We’d picked up some of the hand-split ones from a guy in Alameda whose neighbor, a retired contractor, is building them a new one, but they’re hard to find and since you usually have to trim some rot off the ends, they end up on the shorter side. These are the not. They’re being given away because an Indian casino is going to be built on the site of whatever was there. At one point we had toyed with the idea of buying in Cloverdale. The thought of a huge casino and golf course on the south side of town makes me glad we didn’t.