On the way back to one of my mushroom haunts, I came across this old oil filter set on top of an old fence post, a post that I know well. For almost twenty years ago, I spent a long summer helping my family put in this fence. Our neighbor at the time on the side of the fence I was standing on when I took this picture informed my father that he wished to raise cattle on his side. The law that is standard says that when two people with adjoining property put in an fence, you own or are responsible for the fence that is located to the right of the center point of the joining line between property from the perspective of you standing on your land looking towards your neighbor. In this case, our share amounted to almost a half mile.
We dug the holes as far as could be dug with a three-point-hitch-mounted post hole digger and then dug out the remainder by hand with jobbers. They are a scissor like tool that can grab dirt and pinch it between two blades and made specifically to dig fence post holes. Being fairly young at the time, my job was to string out the fence posts, carrying each one from a pile on a hay rack to the newly dug hole and then after the adults set the post, fill in the remainder of the hole while tamping it in with a heavy tamping rod. It was a lot of work even if it were spread out over a summer.
We strung it with shiny new barbed wire, stretched it tight and despite the crooked nature of hedge tree fence posts, had a really sharp looking fence. But here is the rub. The neighbor never did install his half of the fence and never raised cows on his property. In fact, almost twenty years after we built our half of the fence, he sold the land to my parents and so they own both sides of the fence. Being good stewards of the land and not wanting to hold the wildlife back, they unstrung all the wire last year and will probably remove the posts this year.
Back to the oil filter on top of the fence post, I thought I would remember having put the filter on top of the post after having installed every single one of them along that half mile stretch. In fact, I was amazed that I hadn't noticed it before since I had been hunting mushrooms in some timber down around the "missing" half of the fence for longer than the fence and have walked along that stretch for over twenty years. When I touched the can and saw that although heavy from moisture and dirt, it wasn't attached to the post, I was even more amazed that it hadn't blown off after all these years.
That amazement lasted until I was waiting on my brother to get back from hunting mushrooms, I saw him walk up with a sack of them in one hand and the oil filter in the other. He had been behind me on our walk back to the draw where we had found our mushrooms and had evidently found the can on the ground in the freshly turned earth on our former neighbor's side and set it on the fence post to pick up on the way back. It was actually an ordinary story after all.