Monday, March 17, 2008

going where they hadn't outta

Here I am at 2:30 in the morning. Just back in after a traipse through the fields.

I can’t say it was a happy traipse through the fields either.

It all started several hours ago. I had been sleeping, I guess napping and had gotten up to go check the heat up in the greenhouse The temperature, tonight, is supposed to drop down right around freezing and I didn’t want to chance it, the temperature dropping below freezing and the greenhouse not being safe and warm.

(I know, this is about the place where I will get e-mails chastising me for not having an alarm system, I guess a sort of early warning system hooked up in the greenhouse that will go off down here at the house whenever the temperature approaches the magically dangerous freezing point. The truth is I do. I have a sensor up at the greenhouse that’s set to start beeping, actually its not a beep but a bong. Bong, bong bong. That goes off down here at the house if the temperature dares to drop down to 34 degrees.

Only... only something as important has losing 50,000 seedlings --- that’s how many plants are now growing up in the greenhouse -- the risk of losing that many plants is too great to chance to an electronic alarm).

So here I am, out of bed, awake at 1 am. Checking the outside temperature gauge, it has dropped down the 37 outside and the alarm says its almost 50 in the greenhouse.

Still, I find my pants. put them on. Find my boots, by socks. Look around for a coat.

And then, for some reason, and you know I don’t need it. By now I can walk the 300 hundred yards from the house to the greenhouse blindfolded (and walking that distance, sometimes, in the middle of the night is somewhat like that) I pick up by heavy duty torch. My several million candle light flood lamp and step out on the back deck.

For those of you who have been out to our farm, our farm house sits on a sort of ledge. Our farm sits on the side of a mountain, the Bull Run Mountains.

Above our house is Highpoiint, the highest elevation in the bull run mountains. Its top isn’t all that high, something like 1320 feet.

We’re down here at 850.

And between us and the top are several flat areas. that we have cleared and made fields out of.

At 950 is the greenhouse.

Below that, about 900 is the orchard field.

The house.

And out our back door, below our deck. Maybe down at 750 is another field. Four or five cleared acres.

This field is surrounded by a deer fence. An anti-deer fence of woven black plastic nailed and stapled up to trees and surrounding the field, which this time of the year is full of winter rye and our peas.

A nice field that sits another hundred feet above the creek, Catlett branch, and a road that runs along side it.

This is what I did, for no reason in particular. is I walked out on the deck, looked out into the darkness and then snapped on the spotlight.

To see five pairs of eyes staring back at me from the early morning gloom.

Five pairs of eyes looking up from the rye and peas.

Five deer inside the anti-deer fence busily eating away at our peas and rye.

Five deer busily eating where they hadn’t outta. (excuse my rhythm but recently I heard Nancy Sinatra singing her version of these boots).

My first impulse which was probably the same one that Nancy’s character probably thought was to go back in the house and get the shotgun.

“how dare them...” I thought. “how dare the deer get inside my anti deer fence. If they’re doing it now, they’re going to be doing it in the near future when its going to be a lot more than just some rye out there.

But I didn’t.

Instead I just yelled. Yelled at the deer. Yelled for my dogs and yelled to get the deer a running.

And that’s when I took the torch light and headed down the path and out into the field.

The deer took off running. Unfortunately they took off running in a direction I didn’t expect.

I had half expected the deer to turn and run down the field, down to the far corner where the fence was loose, where a tree had fallen and had stretched the plastic. Instead of standing up ten feet tall it was at an angle where maybe it was only 3-4 feet above the ground.

But that’s not where they went./

Instead they came toward me. Running up the fence line and then turning, disapearing into the forest.

I followed. Crossing the field. Through where the old stone wall had been, Where Eli Hall, the owner of the farm back at the end of the 19th century had a heart attack on his way home from work.

Across the next field and right there where the deer had disappeared.

Someone had been there before me.

The fence hadn’t just fallen down. Someone had been there and cut the fence. Taken their pocket knife and slit the plastic in a straight line form top to bottom.

Someone had deliberately made a hole in the fence, maybe not intentionally letting the deer in, but intentionally making a hole in the fence where they could cut through.

Trespass.

Come out of the woods and instead of following the fence around to a gate had slit it open so they could climb through, going from one side, from my neighbors’ land, into my field.

Only why?

Who was up to no good?

Besides damaging my fence, who was out there snooping around, going where they hadn’t outta?

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