I've had a passion for Weave and Wattle fences and boarders for about 20 years. Ever since my friend and colleague Laurie Fagan did a feature on a Weave and Wattle artisan using twigs to weave fences I'd fallen for the art form. I started cutting out pictures in gardening magazines and when Youtube and Pinterest came along I studied every possible style and technique. I loved the organic form of the Weave and Wattle, I loved the natural flow at the edge of a garden. I knew some day I wanted to have Weave and Wattle on the farm. The only thing ustopping me was time, or the lack of time.
So now I'm retired and it's time to make my dreams a reality.
Today I got my tools together. A shovel, a sledge hammer, long armed pruners, hand pruners, and wheelbarrow and headed out to the front paddock. I decided to start with a small project. Or at least what I thought was a small project. I would make a natural horse jump between two fence posts between the paddock in the front lawn and my jump field. I thought I'd make a 2.5 foot high Weave and Wattle fence that would act as a ground line and then plant some flowering shrubs behind it like roses or rhododendrons, that would be the jump.
I have a bunch of weed trees around the property so I set out and cut bunches and bunches of sapplings that I was going to use for the Wattle (that's the spikes branches that provide the skeleton) and Weave. That wasn't hard but it is boring mindless work and I found myself having to remind me that this is a project I've been dreaming about for years so don't give up as the fun is about to begin. Once I had all the branches cut I started trying to stick them into the ground. I thought I could just shove them in as the ground is still soft at my place and the branches are pointy. No such luck the bendy twigs just bended they didn't stick into the ground. They poked into my fingers and bent a couple of fingernails as well. So out came the shovel and slits were made along the row and twigs or Wattle got jammed into the ground.
At this point I had to take a break. My legs were tired from all the up and down and my knees were complaining that they'd never thought a Weave and Wattle fence was very interesting in the first place. So into the house and to sit down for a coffee and have a heart to heart with my protesting body about "no pain no gain" when it comes to Weave and Wattle. I do a lot of talking to myself since I retired. I find I'm rather boring but I do tend to pay more attention to me than talking with the cats and the horses. They think I'm dead boring.
Back at it after convincing myself that the Weave part of the job would be far more interesting than the Wattle. After about 10 minutes of trying to bend weedy twigs around weedy branches I realized it wasn't that much fun and that Weave and Wattle is just a lot of hard boring work. I stood up, and kneeled down over the next two hours. I snipped and wrestled with twigs, bending and snapping and pulling them into some kind of a basket type weave. I would go from one end to the other, over and over again until my hands cried out "Uncle". At which point I stood up and decided to take a photo of my work. I'm only one third done but it is actually starting to look something like the Weave and Wattle horse jump that I imagined....sort of. Now if I can walk tomorrow I plan on finishing off. I just have this to say, Weave and Wattle is bloody hard work. Rackin Frackin manual labour sucks.
My mom has been gone from this earth more years than I like to think about. The years since she died in some ways has flown by, in other ways, on those days when I'm missing her, it seems like an eternity. Thinking back I now realise I was a lucky kid. I got to spend a lot of time with my Mom growing up. She was a stay at home mom. So she was always there with me making sure I was safe. Safe but also an adventure, my mother was always on the go, and that meant I was on the go with her.
She was a nurse so that meant she was the point person for every other mother in the neighbourhood when it came to cuts, fevers and childhood diseases. As I was usually by her side while she was patching up one kid or another I leaned how to clean gravel out of a cut and apply pressure to a wound before I could read.. She didn't believe in making up cute names for bodily functions.. I still remember the shocked look on my kindergarden teacher's face when I put up my hand and asked if I could go to the bathroom to "void".
My mother was a genius with a needle and thread, she learned at her mother's knee. The two of them could knit and crochet anything. Mom made almost all my clothes when I was a child. She knit all my mitts, scarves and toques. I had crocheted shawls, lace collars on dresses, and embroidered ducks on my pockets. I had the best costumes every year at halloween, all made with her loving hands. My favorite was bunny costume when I was 3. Still remember how the hard she worked to figure a way to put wire in the ears so she could make them stand up like a "real bunny". She taught me how to sew. I can't remember not knowing how to sew. I would tease her that I grew up under a quilt because every Wednesday my Mom and Grandmother go to church and work on quilts to raise money for the church. They quilted above me, I played with my dolls and stuffed toys under the quilt.
Mom was also fun and athletic. She could dive. My Dad couldn't dive, but Mom could. She never waded into the water. Always a dive straight in off the end of the dock. She would swim up and down the shore talking to neighbours or fisherman passing by. She was the one to who bought our canoe with money she earned one year working for Revenue Canada. It didn't go high healed shoes, and she loved her shoes, it went to a canoe, something we all could enjoy at the cottage. Fifty years later we still have the canoe and it still provides fun.
Mom became a grandmother when I was 11 years old. She loved her grandchildren. Wendy lived in Ottawa so Randy spent lots of time at Grandma and Grandpa's house. Nancy was out west so Shareen and Jen didn't get to spend as much time with their grandparents so when they were in town it was always a huge celebration. Mom always made time with her grandchildren fun, there were board games and fudge making at the cottage. Mom love movies so there were car trips to drive-ins and theatres. She never drove by an ice cream parlor or Dairy Queen without stopping for a cone.
Mom and Dad seemed to have endless numbers of friends. My mother had close friends from childhood, friends she kept in touch with her whole life. The women she went through nursing training with were more like sisters. I knew them growing up to be like family. Mom liked people and people liked my her. She had a big heart and was generous. But I really think it was her ability to laugh and have fun that drew people to her.
Dad died when I was 24 years old, so I had Mom in my life a lot longer. Those years were special she got to see me grow as an adult and I got to see her as individual beyond being my mother. Thankfully I grew up enough to finally appreciate what a truely remarkable woman she was,.