Mending Fences flash fiction stories prompted by the Carrot Ranch challenge

Mending fences

What time is it when an elephant sits on the fence?

Time to get a new one!

Mending fences #flash fiction prompt from Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch

This week, when Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a broken fence. You can mend it, leave it, or explain its place in a story. Go where the prompt leads, I spent quite a bit of time fence sitting, undecided about which fence story to choose.

As you know, there are many types of fences: literal, metaphorical, even imagined. Fences are usually built to contain things, to keep people or things on one side or the other, or to define a boundary and possibly restrict passage. But the term “mending broken fences” has a different nuance of meaning. In this use, it means to repair a broken relationship as opposed to improving boundary security.

But which fence should I choose?

Should I share some history?

Rabbit-Proof Fence

This year marks the one-hundredth anniversary of my family (grandfather, grandmother and their young family – my father, the fifth of nine, was born three years later) taking up residence on a property owned by the Rabbit Board. My grandfather was a boundary rider until 1955, repairing the fence built to protect farming and grazing lands from the destructive introduced species. His youngest son replaced him, continuing until the role terminated in 1957. My uncle purchased the property from the Rabbit Board and lived there with his family until his death this year not long after the anniversary celebrations.

or perhaps reminisce?

The Cow Jumped Over the Fence

Until I was six, my parents were small crop farmers. The farm didn’t generate much income and there were more bad years than good. To help feed the growing family (there were six of us by then) Mum and Dad invested in chickens for both eggs and meat and a milking cow. The first cow knocked down the fence and escaped to freedom. Dad repaired it and bought another cow, which squeezed under the fence. After a third cow jumped the fence, Mum and Dad decided milk deliveries were a better option and we kids never learned to milk.

Note: I did write about this incident, a little differently, here.

Should I plan a lesson?

Teaching positional prepositions with The Elephant’s Fence

Make a fence from pop sticks.

Make an elephant using different-sized pom poms for body and head; pipe cleaners for legs, trunk and tail; paper or felt for ears; and googly eyes.

Place your elephant according to these instructions:

  • Beside the fence
  • In front of the fence
  • Behind the fence
  • Under the fence
  • Between the palings
  • Next to the fence
  • Above the fence
  • Below the fence
  • On the fence.

Now choose a place for your elephant to be. Tell your elephant’s story:

  • Why is it there?
  • How did it get there?
  • What is it doing?
  • What will happen next?

or attempt a story?

Sometimes it is the imaginary fences that can be more limiting. Sometimes it’s better to leave things that aren’t broken in the first place.

Broken with intent

The fence was too high to jump or even see over, no footholds to climb, and palings too close to squeeze or even peer through. It hugged the soil too compacted to dig. It seemed impenetrable, and so intrigued. He stacked boxes for makeshift steps—not high enough. Finally, he hatched a plan—balloons! He blew them big and tied them tight, attached some string, and waited. And waited. Then a gust of wind lifted him high, over the fence, where another, just like him, smiled and said, “Should’ve used the gate; latch is broken—always open to friends.”

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Pleasure share your thoughts.

41 thoughts on “Mending fences

  1. Pingback: The Grass is Greener #99WordStories | Norah Colvin

  2. Annecdotist

    What a lovely post, Norah, with a rare peek into your family history. I never have guessed there was a Rabbit Board but, knowing what a pest they can be on my vegetable plot, it makes perfect sense when the country’s survival depends on this control.
    And I love your final flash and must confess I’ve been like your character sometimes, failing to see the simpler solutions.
    And isn’t it weird how words can actually have opposite meanings – although extremely common in English – with fences both connecting and dividing people.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you so much for your warm words, Anne. I’m pleased you enjoyed the stories. There are numerous Rabbit Proof Fences in Australia. The importees are such a nuisance to the landscape. We also have a dingo fence which is the longest fence in the world. 🙂
      I appreciate the message you took from my story. Sometimes we don’t realise the door is actually unlocked before we try all manner of means to knock it down.
      And you’re right. Language always intrigues me.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Charli Mills

    What a clever way to teach prepositions, Norah! I like how you wandered through various fence stories, The rabbit fence sounds like fascinating history. I love your story about mil cows uncontained by fences. I think you and your siblings were spared! Your final story has a pleasant ending. Always open to friends!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks, Charli. I’m pleased you enjoyed my meandering. I don’t think I’ve written four 99-word pieces for one post before, but it was a fun challenge to do so.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Norah Post author

      I’m pleased you enjoyed the fence pieces, Jules – all 99 words. I don’t think I’ve done 4 x 99 words in one post before.
      Please let me know how you and your granddaughter go with the elephant activity. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Kate. I’m pleased you enjoyed the post.
      I am rather intrigued by the family’s involvement with the Rabbit Proof Fence but sadly know little about it. Most of the family has gone now and taken the history with it.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Norah Post author

          I wish I had taken more interest when I was younger. I don’t think I had really realised this part of the family history until earlier this year. I was hoping to find out more at the celebration but didn’t.

          Liked by 1 person

              1. calmkate

                well we all know the history of stolen Aboriginal children running many kilometres to get home … did the homestead owners assist, give food, protest … they must have seen and known things 😦

                Liked by 1 person

                1. Norah Post author

                  Maybe. I’ve not heard stories of such from this generation. There is a story of young relative (grandfather’s sibling) being taken by the Aboriginal people when they lived further west.

                  Liked by 1 person

                    1. Norah Post author

                      I’m sure the incidences were far more infrequent than the damage done in the other direction. The incident was documented in a local history.
                      I did watch the movie, but that fence was in WA, not in Qld. There may have been similar events here. I’m not sure. The Aboriginal peoples have certainly suffered a lot of injustices through the generations. Very sad.

                      Liked by 1 person

  4. thecontentedcrafter

    How much fun is this post!! And oh, the fun we used to have with those positional prepositions! Your family history would make a good read I think Norah – perhaps a memoir or novel…..? As usual your 99 words has layers and leaves us intrigued.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Pauline. I’m so pleased you enjoyed it. As is often the case, my story didn’t live up to my expectations. It’s good to know you found something in it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person


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