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This summer at Acorn Abbey…

David and Ken use a rented machine to drill post-holes for the garden fence. The trailer is gone now, by the way. I sold it the same afternoon this photo was taken. The trailer was my home while Acorn Abbey was under construction.

Now that the house is built, much outdoor work remains to be done. The first priority is a deer fence. There is an overpopulation of white-tail deer here, and they can destroy a garden overnight. There also is a great deal of planting and landscaping work to be done. I was despairing of how all this work would get done, so that my vision for Acorn Abbey can continue to unfold. Much of this work — especially the fence-building — requires two people. It’s hard work, and I am not a young’un anymore. It would be possible to pay someone to do this work, but that wouldn’t be frugal, would it, if alternatives can be found?

The alternative turns out to be Ken Ilgunas. Ken, you may recall, visited Acorn Abbey during the winter. Part scholar and part adventurer, Ken was looking for a frugal summer situation that combined peace and quiet for reading with old-fashioned outdoor physical labor. Am I lucky or what? As I mentioned when Ken first visited Acorn Abbey, he has become quite a celebrity after he wrote a piece in Salon Magazine about how he lives in his van while attending graduate school at Duke University. Here’s a link to the Salon article. Many media outlets picked up Ken’s story and interviewed him. Here’s a link to an ABC News video. A literary agent recruited Ken, and they’re working on a book proposal about Ken’s experience living in the van while going to Duke. Ken brought 50 books for summer reading from the Duke library.

On Monday, we picked three gallons of strawberries at Mabe’s Berry Farm and put up 17 pints of strawberry preserves. Photos of the preserve-making will follow soon. We also started building the garden fence. It’s an ambitious fence project. The fence is to be 365 feet long and almost 8 feet high. It will surround the garden area, the chicken house, and my small orchard of 11 trees. After several dawn-to-dusk workdays, the fence posts are all planted. Next week we’ll work on the wire. I’m planning to save the fence-building photos and post them all at once, hoping that our fence-building experience and methods may be useful to someone else who needs to build a deer fence.

I’m exhausted from a week of hard work (though Ken doesn’t seem to be). I’ve declared that we’re going to take the weekend off from hard labor outdoors.

Ken caps strawberries.

One Comment

  1. Tina wrote:

    David you dont know me but my name is Tina. I am Ken’s mom. I ve been reading your articles & really enjoy them. Especially liked the article on May 15th. Ken I have found out is a work horse. I’m sure he is enjoying his time there. The strawberries look delicious. Hi Ken!!!!!

    Saturday, May 15, 2010 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

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