My little yard has two stables, a tack-room and a small hayshed, all built from timber. I love it, but it has one major drawback. Well, two really. Both my horses and the climate like to get their teeth into the timbers. It is autumn now and to protect my yard from the weather, I have to treat the woodwork with a protective stain. I use a well-known brand that advertises with a 5-year guarantee on colour and climate protection. Ha! I wonder where they test these products. Perhaps this product will stand up to protect a shed in an inner city garden, but any buildings on top of a hill facing the brunt of whatever ugliness the Atlantic chooses to throw at us really don’t stand a chance. I painted my yard with that stuff last year, but the colour has washed away and the timbers have bleached out white, so obviously there is zilch protection. This last week I have used every dry moment in between showers to paint my yard. It was a job I didn’t particularly enjoy but it had to be done. Here is what I found over the last few days:
1. Spiders love timber stables and there are a million hidey holes for them and hence, a million spiders. You can’t see them, but they’ll come out as soon as you push your paint brush in between the timbers. It is not a good idea to freak out at spiders running across your hands or trying to lower themselves like acrobats onto your upturned face by a thread while you are precariously balanced on a wobbly ladder. The spiders have their own safety harness and will come to no harm, while you will hit the ground un-gently and will end up in dire need of the first aid box. Ugh, I hate spiders, can’t trust anything with eight legs, unless it’s two horses of course!
2. Wasps. October is the month they are dying and it makes them aggressive. They are trying to escape death by finding a place to hide in for winter. Lots of them trying to find a nice cosy spot under the eaves of my stables. Failing that, apparently my hair will do. I had a less than friendly encounter with wasps last year when I inadvertently disturbed a nest. Although I apologised profusely to the wasps, they attacked and I had to run for my life followed by an angry swarm, and by the time I got to the house I had stripped off nearly all my clothes to get rid of the wasps trapped inside. Good thing we don’t have neighbours! I got stung 17 times and I was in absolute agony. So obviously I’m not too fond of wasps. However, it is not a good thing to freak out at wasps when you’re on top of a wobbly ladder either. Wasps have wings and they will be there waiting for you when you hit the ground and flying unfortunately is faster than running. On second thoughts, I’ll take the spiders over the wasps. Ugh!
3. Dealing with ladders is a SKILL! I have to admit, a ladder is not my favourite place. Put me on the second step and vertigo sets in. Add to that an unstable surface to put the ladder on and the whole experience becomes definitely less than charming. The front of the stables is not too bad, as there is a strip of concrete in front that is nice and steady to put the ladder on, but at the back of the stables there is a swamp, which as ladder bearing ground goes is highly inappropriate. Today I learned that it is generally a good idea to make sure that if the ladder is going to slip, it should slip into the wall, so one could grab the drain pipe in an emergency, instead of slipping outward towards the swamp. Although swamps are softer in the way of landings than concrete paths, they are very unkind to one’s self-esteem. And putting a rock under the ladder to make it level is not a good idea in a swamp. The rock will just sink, the ladder will tilt and you will need a dry pair of jeans.
Anyway, it is done now and I think my yard looks all lovely and fresh. All I need to do now is tidy up that tangle of fencing poles and tape in my hay-shed. And perhaps try to get rid of the green algae growing on the concrete footpath.