The forecast for yesterday was not the sort that brings a lot of joy for men with the prospect of building fence in the first full week of July: expected heat index of around a hundred-and-six degrees. But Neil and BJ had agreed to come and help and since they followed through, I felt sort of obligated to pitch in, too.
I had some bit of optimism that we could work in the shade if we started early enough in the day; there’s a line of trees along the eastern edge of the little pasture we were fencing. BJ and I had already set most of the posts and had braced the two forty-five-degree angle corners on the northeast edge. Its location allowed us to work in the shade until around one p.m. on a day of triple digit felt temperatures.
Neil’s first day on the project was predicted to be even hotter. But eight o’clock found overcast skies shielding us from the sun while we set the last two posts on the western run of the pasture. Just before we finished tamping in the dirt on the second post, I scanned the sky overhead and toward the west. “Looks like our cloud cover is just about gone,” I noted. “Yeah,” Neil agreed.
There were a few minutes when the sun sort of broke through the clouds while we began setting in the horizontal braces for the southeast corner. But then, more clouds moved in and kept the perceived temperature about twenty degrees lower than predicted.
“You just can’t count on the weatherman!” Neil commented facetiously. “Yeah,” I responded, “I guess some days their lack of proficiency isn’t as disturbing as it is on other days.”
We were grateful for the lack of accuracy on the forecast and equally grateful when BJ showed up a few minutes later. I introduced the two guys and the team kicked into real action.
BJ and Neil looped in the heavy wire for diagonal bracing while I marked notches for the next horizontal beam brace and then cut stakes for twisting the heavy wire. In a very short while it began to look like this wasn’t the first time we’d built fence together. Marking and cutting the heavy 4×4’s, drilling pilot holes and fastening the beams into place, looping in, and twisting the heavy wire braces: everything moved more and more smoothly with each post. In a couple of hours, we’d finished bracing two corners and two end posts. And the cloud cover held, too.
It’s a mighty fine blessing to have cooler than expected weather for outdoor work in July in Kansas. And an even better one to have friends to help you with it.