Friday, January 27, 2012

Tearing Up Jack, old fences, and Kudzu

Summer Kudzu topiary  Kudzu hugging an old house
Topiary, winter Kudzu
"Tearing up Jack" and  "Wrathy" are expression my Mama says she heard all her life...to this point.  I guess she knows what "tearing up Jack", and "wrathy" mean. She's been using them to describe my actions since I was a pup.

 Tearing up Jack means to Get her done in modern hip language. Mama will ask, "Well what'd you do today, Tear up Jack"? It means work hard, I suppose.

Mama always tells me not to be so wrathy. I have always assumed the word mean cross, irritable, or angry. Who me? It  comes from her neck of the woods; the mountains of Virginia, where pockets of Elizabethan speech still survive. The only person she could have gotten that from was Aunt Lou.

Aunt Lou was my grandmother's old maid sister, and a piece of work. Small, outspoken, no nonsense, and not given to spoiling Rachel's grandchildren, which were many. She spent many a hot day in the kitchen cooking for us during our month long visits in the summers. We were somewhat afraid of her. All, excepting my brother Bob, who still ain't afraid of the devil himself.

"Friday Fart" was another one of Aunt Lou's pet espressions. My little brother learned he could read her cards in the reflection of her glasses when they played Set Back, a card game similar to Bridge. Aunt Lou was a master of the game, and every week, some of the neighbors would come over for the weekly Set Back night.

Bob and Grandma would partner up to play Aunt Lou, Johnny P. Cocks, Aunt Minnie or Dorsey Thompson in a weekly card night. bob was just 10, and had been playing for a couple of years. Aunt Lou would suspicion something wasn't right when Bob and Grandma started winning. Granma was not a winning Set Back player. She only won in the summer, and then only when she partnered with Bob. Trouble brewing.

Bob would set the stage by positioning the table in the living room so both Lou and Rachel's glasses would reflect their cards in the floor lamps.  It didn't work always, but enough times that Aunt Lou would play a few games, throw her cards down and say, "Rachel, that little Friday Fart's cheatin'!  I'm going to bed, and she would, mumbling to herself. She never caught on, but Bob later told Grandma, who thought it hilarious.

Anyway, today, I got wrathy, and attacked the creek bank Privet, Kudzu, and Saw Briar hell. I do this every two years. It takes a lot out of me, but seems to wreak havoc on the enemy as well. I usually lose a pint of blood to the green briers and black berries during the melee.
This year I decided to tear out all the old defunct fencing that had been on the place through at least 3 owners. The fencing was grown up with all manner of vines, privet, and general underbrush. I had known for years I would eventually have to deal with the old fences.

A maple fell across the creek in November, and grandson Jacob and I literally cut our way  to it, and drag it out of the morass of vines and green briers to salvage it for firewood. We then, or rather Jacob slid down the creek bank and tied the chain around the big Privet in the bottom of the creek bank, and jerked the clumps out with the tractor, until we could get in amongst it. I envy Jacob his young knees, and nimble hands. He can slide down the 10 foot bank of the creek  and hook up as fast as I can pull.

 Today, I finally got to a point I could get to the old fencing, more buried than not. Looked like a nasty job for a good winter's day... and decided this was taht day. I hooked the winch of the trusty Cushman and started to pull. The wire immediately broke.  I ended up have to get a bush axe and cut under the downed wire to break it loose from he ground.

OOOHWEEE, I'se a gettin wrathy and fixin' to tear up Jack now!

After about 3 hours of tearing up Jack, and gettin real wrathy, I had the last of the woven wire, and the two strands of barbed wire corralled in the dump trailer. I tore up one pair of gloves, both arms, (I'm picking briars as we speak) knocked a good hole in my bald head, but BY GOD, the wire is gone and the creek gully looks pretty good. Oh, I'll have to bush hog and cut more privet...but that nasty piece of tearing u[p Jack is done forever.  No more fence wire on the place. Famous last words. 

The Kudzu is another story. It has gone underground. I began to work on it some 12 years ago, and have managed to get it cornered it up. I have cut about 6 or 8 huge "mother lode" roots, about 4 to 6 inches around, and painted the stumps with full strength brush killer. That ought to piss it off! I would like to be able to say, before I die, that I actually rid my property of Kudzu. THAT would reserve a place in heaven, I think. I've gotten sort of a symbiotic relationship with it...It grows, I cut. it relocates, I find, year after year. The trees are kudzu free, I have managed to get that far.

I know not why a man would want more that 15 acres.  The farm in West Virginia was 121 acres.  I thought I was taking care of it. What a  joke that was! It's the old story, the bank owns the farm, the farm owns you, you work for the cows, and peas, and all you really own is what you eat and the BS. That's living the dream, I guess.

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