Many people look forward to a spring vacation - a spring break. Some people go to the beach. Others go skiing. Some enjoy a staycation and don't go anywhere, enjoying the opportunity to relax at home.
Some, however, choose working vacations. Joe and I recently bought 21 unimproved acres in rural Virginia at the base of the blue ridge mountains, near Sperryville. We "exchanged" our Tennessee property for something closer to family, albeit further from our current Florida home. The opportunity with undeveloped property is you get to create your own vision of what your dream property will look like. The downside is that someone has to do the work to construct that vision. In our case, that someone is us. Fortunately my husband is a skilled craftsman who can build just about anything. Unfortunately, my husband is a skilled craftsman who can build just about anything. As a result, our spring break this year was spent constructing 800 feet of beautiful rolling three board fence.
All work and no play is a little dull so we still managed to fit in some fun. We arrived in Virginia on Friday so we could attend the Old Dominion Hunt Point to Point Races at Ben Venue Farm. If you've never attended a Point to Point event, you are definitely missing an exceptional experience. Its all about the tailgating, the ladies' hats, the dogs, the people, and of course, the horses. It has the atmosphere of a much grander, horse race affair like The Derby but all the charm of a country fair. The day was windy but sunny and we had a great time. It makes us happy to know that someday we will be part of this welcoming and diverse community.
Sunday we attended The Reynolds Baptist Church early service led by pastor Jon Heddleston. This is the church that welcomed my father as a member in his last months when my mothers church would not accommodate his membership request. Pastor Jon is a loving Christian who embodies the warmth we should all extend to each other. His church doesn't judge, just opens its arms to all who will share in its message of hope and redemption.
Brunch was consumed at The Thornton River Grill with long time friends Dina and Mike McDaniel. Dina has served The HSUS for more than 43 years. I've known her since I was 10 years old. She taught me how to operate The HSUS switchboard when I worked there in the summer throughout my teenage years.
Sister Anne, friend Sally and I enjoyed a lovely horseback ride later that afternoon. Early spring in the Virginia countryside could not be more beautiful. I love the daffodils, cherry blossoms and budding trees. The natural stone fences and rolling hills with the mountains as a majestic backdrop complete the idyllic picture. My favorite mount, Spirit, was living up to his name after a long winter's rest.
Monday arrived too soon and our fence building journey began with the early morning delivery of our wood supplies. We are used to Florida terrain and not the engineering challenges of rolling hills and rocky ground. We weren't sure what to expect. Turned out better than we hoped and by midday all of our posts were laid out and marked for placement on Tuesday.
Tuesday saw the delivery of a Caterpillar skid steer with nine inch hydraulic auger. Another pleasant surprise, we had all the holes dug and 100 posts in their holes by noon. Very few rocks, mostly red clay. I had the pleasure of raising the 4x6 posts while Joe had the "easy" job of digging the holes. Next came the tamping and leveling of the posts so we will end up with a fence that wasn't erected in some haphazard manner without precise attention to detail.
By the end of the day Wednesday we had our top rail up and rolling nicely with the contour of the land. Post tops were angled for a fished look. A couple of neighbors dropped by to monitor our daily progress and offer their praise and suggestions. We want to be accepted by the farming locals so we wanted to make sure we built a pretty fence worthy only of positive local gossip.
For some reason, I can't seem to figure out a proper system for calculating the number of boards required to complete a project. I had myself convinced we were 33 boards short so part of Wednesday's efforts included finding a local source of additional corral boards. This, because our original supplier doesn't stock them at its culpeper location. Lowes had a similar issue. Odd as we are in the middle of farm country where you'd think fence boards would be as popular and plentiful as the cows that dot the countryside. We were finally winners with two alternate sources, awarding our business to the Rappahannock Farmers Coop. Turned out I actually had 15 more boards than necessary so another trip was required for their return and credit.
We might have actually finished by the close of Thursday's efforts if not for the mechanical failure of our trusty air compressor. We are not new to fence building having built the original and now replacement fence at our Florida farmette. Our air compressor, necessary for the use of our air nailer, has always been temperamental but operational. She required constant supervision and had to be turned on and off between board cutting and nailing sequences so as not to overload the generator. On Thursday, after aggravating us for most of the afternoon, she took her last breath-just 20 boards short of finished. Here Lowes ended up victorious as we completed the purchase of our new Hitachi air compressor.
Friday was our final day and our 20 boards and relocated gate were complete by 1 pm. We could finally step back and congratulate each other for a job done.
Oh did I mention our property is occupied by a herd of black angus cows? They are both overly curious and annoyingly helpful daily adding their personal touch by rearranging the leveled placement of our daily fence efforts and leaving us "fresh pies" to avoid squashing. Without a doubt they made our project more interesting and caused a few unnecessary delays.
All in all, we are proud of our efforts. We enjoyed our week and are looking forward to continuing this journey on future vacations.