Been frigid, all the way Down East. Every morning giant clouds of sea smoke billow, thick as fog, hiding the Canadian islands a half mile away. And on days when there’s a stiff breeze, it’s triply cold and no one leaves their house, except to go to the IGA, where you hear constant complaints about going stir-crazy. But I’m fine because I spend the winter planning for the future. Gotta have a project to keep the brain busy. Otherwise, might get a little weird or down in the dumps.
Some people plot their gardens or house renovations for when the weather turns warm. Me, I’ve been drawing and re-drawing plans for the fence. Because when the beautiful woman and I buy our own 10 acres (very soon, hopefully), we gotta build the fence, and mantraps, on the double to keep the good animals in and the bad guys out. While I have the utmost faith in our new president, he can’t prevent plagues or asteroid collisions that result in societal collapse. The fence, plus mantraps, will protect us from the roaming hordes of former city-dwellers scouring the countryside for food and shelter.
I’m not gonna fence the entire 10 acres. Way too expensive. My fence, in the center of the homestead, will be 330 feet square (or 20 rods), because the 60-inch-tall, anti-predator fencing I’ve used in the past (and love) comes in 330-foot rolls, for $450 (plus shipping). And I’m gonna use 10-foot-tall, five-inch-diameter, rot-resistant cedar posts. The nine-inch-diameter and three-inch-diameter, which I’ve planted on other projects, are either too bulky or too weak to handle the tensile pull of the fence.
Dig post holes at least four feet deep to get below the frost line. Some people paint tar or wrap plastic around the subterranean end of the post to prevent frost heaving. I don’t, because I know Mother Earth will move the posts no matter. Plastic or tar can’t stop Her. Fact of life: Each spring, fence maintenance is essential. Gotta give errant posts a tap-tap with the sledge. Or use the bottom of the tractor bucket to press posts back into the thawed ground.
When the fence is in place, it’s time to dig the mantraps. Each one has to be at least nine feet deep. I repeat, nine feet deep. Any shallower, you risk escapees. If you’re digging and six feet down, you hit ledge, take a deep breath, fill the hole back up and choose another location. A six-foot hole won’t trap anyone but an extremely short person. (If you have an ample supply of dynamite, you could blast the ledge. Probably result in a mess, though, and is a waste of TNT and time.)
The mesh bait bag should be dangling from a branch at least 10 feet above the mantrap — a lower placement might result in bait loss. I use blueberry wine and a baguette, but almost anything edible will get hungry prey jumping up and down.
Perhaps the most important part of constructing the mantrap is the camouflage hole cover. After much experimentation, I’ve found nothing works better than braided alder branches covered with a soil and leaf mixture. A nine-foot hole will need walls to prevent cave-ins. I’m gonna use plywood or thatch. Haven’t decided yet. Almost goes without saying that the bottom of the mantrap needs to be padded so guests have a soft landing. Pine needles and spruce boughs should provide enough cushion. Do not, I repeat, do not put Punjab sticks (coated with excrement) in the mantrap. You want the catch to be comfortable and un-angry when you find them.
Then comes the hard part. The initial interrogation might be difficult, but it’s important to determine if the person has skills useful around the compound. (Nurses, masseuses, blacksmiths, bass players, shoemakers and tinkers will be needed.) Bad characters, however, have to be summarily dispatched. Painless, for them, would be a single shot (9 mm, at least) behind the right ear. Butcher and feed ‘em to the pigs and/or dogs.
Good people, however, should be released and given a care package consisting of a dozen eggs, a loaf of bread from the clay oven, a crock of goat cheese, a pound of venison jerky, and either two pounds of pork or two pounds of mutton (their choice), plus three gallons of clean water, two marijuana cigarettes and a quart of hard cider.
Like with any home or compound improvement project, it’s important to plan before digging the first hole or mantrap. A well-designed fence-and-mantrap combination — with proper bait placement — will keep you and yours safe. Even in the most trying times.