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Of Fence Posts and Fairy Tales

February 23, 2015

When my children were young there was a popular movie and book about an entire community of brilliant rodents who lived under a bush and their desperate attempt to save their home from the evil farmer who was planning to expand his garden. It was a cute story and it entertained the kids and sparked their imaginations on cold Alaskan days when a quiet time was in order.

Chloe and the Honeysuckle Vine

More than 40 years ago there was a fence surrounding the point and other parts of our little farm. In my memory, the fence on the point has been gone except for a fence post here and there. Now there is only one left and it is in danger of failing from the ravages of time and a certain puppy. The fence post is covered by an ancient wild honeysuckle vine and it looks to me, much like the bush in the movie my kiddos loved to watch. Chloe seems convinced that “someone” is living in or under the vine and every time we let her out into the yard she trots over to it to see who is home. This involves barking, circling the post and vine and then inserting her head and half her body into the tangle eagerly in order to “greet” any new friend that might be brave enough to reveal their presence. Loki gets in on the act now and then, but for the most part he tries to act a bit more dignified.

We did expand our garden plot this year, but it will not require the removal of the honeysuckle vine. However, it now appears that Chloe, in her enthusiasm may have nudged the fence post too hard causing it to break off at the ground where it was most vulnerable. Questions arise. How can we put a new post in without disturbing this ecosystem? Do we WANT to even try to do that? Should we take the opportunity to simply remove the vine and the remnants of the post since the vine is a bit scraggly anyway? Is there something we might consider putting back in its place if we remove it? How will all of this effect the creatures who call that vine tangle home? I am sure that there are birds, rodents and insects who live in that tangle and it does still make a few flowers every year, fewer and fewer, but still flowers that entice bees, birds and other friends of the garden to visit. What is the best decision based on good permaculture practices? Sometimes choices are hard.

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