Amy Calder: In search of a fence post, we buy a fence
Isn’t that the way it goes?
You go out to buy a fence post and end up buying a whole new fence.
Such was the case with us after two sections of our fence blew down in a recent wind storm.
We weren’t unfamiliar with fence mishaps. A couple of years ago, another part of our 13-panel cedar fence collapsed, and Phil just popped over to the lumber yard, bought a round post and, with help from a friend, repaired the fence.
No big deal. The post looked fresh and new and the fence gray, but over time the post turned gray too and you’d never know it had been fixed.
Full disclosure: Our fence is 23 years old and has survived pretty well, considering.
Over the last couple of years, we’ve mulled tearing it down and buying new, but as typically occurs, we moved on to something else.
And then last week the wind blew down two sections, breaking the round post where it meets the ground and sending Phil to the lumber yard again.
But he was told they don’t carry round fence posts anymore.
Surely, some place must have a round post, so we began to shop around.
We visited another store in Waterville. No round fence posts. We headed to two businesses in Winslow and got the same story, but a clerk at the second one recommended we try a fence business a couple of towns away.
It was a sunny day, so we took the long way around and enjoyed the scenery.
But the congenial man who owns the fence business said he had no round fence posts in stock. However, he said, he could order one.
I began to mull another question at that point, which was something along the lines of, what in the heck has happened that you can’t just go out and buy a single round fence post without having to contact the pope?
The shop owner had samples of fence he sells and installs, so we perused them: There were brown vinyl fences, white vinyl, off white vinyl, vinyl made to look like wood, metal fences, pressure-treated wood fences, cedar fences and so on.
The man told us wood fences have become more costly than vinyl, which seemed odd to me, but I was learning something new every minute. We got an estimate for 13 sections and 14 posts of vinyl and cedar fence, and the man said he would need a four-to-six-week notice if we wanted it.
He printed out estimates for vinyl and wood, which were higher than we had hoped, but we thanked him and drove home.
A couple of days later, our friend who helped repair the fence two years ago stopped by, and he and Phil did a temporary fix, using two-by-fours to hold it up. It looks fine from our side, but our neighbor likely isn’t thrilled.
Meanwhile, our friend, always the practical one, talked us into replacing the fence all together. After all, it is 23 years old, and if we get a new one, we’ll never have to replace it again in our lifetimes, he reasoned.
The next day, Phil and I visited the big store, where a knowledgeable young man gave us a tour of the options other than vinyl, as we had decided against vinyl.
We chose the 6-foot-tall cedar fence with 3-inch slats and got a ball park estimate, which was much more palatable than our previous one. The clerk went online and contacted a fence installer, promising he’d call us within 48 hours to set up a time to inspect our property and issue a final estimate. He did call and is coming Wednesday.
While we’re awfully glad to move this fence issue along, it sure did seem like an awful lot of work for what started as a search for a measly fence post.
If we had run into this problem years ago, the fix would likely have been as simple as going out to the woods, sawing down a tree, stripping the bark and cutting it to fence-post length.
But complicated times require complicated solutions, I guess.
Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 31 years. Her columns appear here Mondays. She may be reached at [email protected]. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to centralmaine.com.