Yes, the pedantic me (or “I” as it should more properly be) knows that in his most famous quatrain, William Ernest Henley spells, and is using the word “strait” as it applies to a narrow body of water, often difficult to navigate and get through in one piece. And certainly, sometimes when you’re undertaking a challenging project where measurements and some degree of exactness matter, it can also be difficult to navigate and get through it in one piece. Especially if the project comes without instructions, and you’re making it up as you go along. (Rather like life. And children.) But that’s not really what I’m talking about here.
Behold! The straight gates:
Aren’t they lovely? As you can see, the posts on either side aren’t plumb in any direction, and the boards on the right-hand post needs to be adjusted downward, and the top of the post lopped off–there isn’t nearly the discrepancy in grade to justify the difference in height. But the gates are (relatively, and good enough for farm work) plumb, level, and square. And I’m quite proud of them.
These gates replace a very inferior set in the same location that served their purpose for many years, but which got clobbered by a tree that came down in a freak storm in late Spring, and have not been the same since. I started, three days ago, with five sixteen-foot 1×6 (true dimension) boards of rough-sawn poplar, my tried-and-trusty GRK screws and my rather complete set of DeWalt corded and battery operated tools. Along the way, I was horrified at the price increase in my favorite screws (a tub which, a couple of weeks ago was $25 is suddenly $33–and don’t even get me started in the price increase in bathroom flooring tile), and I decided to go with cheaper gate hinges and spray them with Rustoleum Automotive Enamel Matte Black, which serves quite well, and gives about the same look as the expensive powder-coated black hinges, at much less cost. I know it won’t hold up as well (and I have a few bits to touch up, nuts and lag screws), but I have plenty more of the paint! The latch is heavy-duty powder-coated, and the cane bolt (which goes into the ground to stabilize the bottom of the gate) is also, and was left over from another project.
I’m pleased with the outcome, they swing nicely, stay closed, and stay open at whatever angle I leave them.
Can’t ask for much more than that. From a set of gates, anyway.
I mentioned before that I’m rather proud of this little excursion into farm engineering excellence. But not nearly as proud of it as I am of this:
Remember I said I started out with five sixteen-foot long boards?
This is all I have left:
Back, for a moment, to William Ernest Henley and Invictus:
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
Today, success! I’m feeling like the mistress of my fate and the captain of my soul. I can do anything–grow flowers, build gates, manage finances, shear sheep! Everything I touch turns to gold!
Is every day like that?
Of course not.
There are days when the coyotes kill my sheep. Days when people I love die, or get very sick. Days when people I thought were friends show me that, actually, they’re anything but. Days when God laughs at whatever I have planned, and when every single thing goes wrong or turns to shit. And frankly, there’s a day every here and there where I wonder if it’s worth it, and why I even try.
But you know what? It is, and I must. All I have to do is get through that day, to the dawn of the next one, and I then I know.
It’s worth it. Always.