Spring may be my favorite time of year. Blooms, sprouts, and longer days! We are wrapping up a project that has been on the to do list pretty much since we moved in: redoing the fence along one of the roadsides that adjoins the main pasture.
On the bright side, google told us this stretch was 900+ feet, when in reality it is only 870 or so. When you’re setting fence posts every 10 ft, every little bit counts.
So, exactly what is included in redoing a fence line? Buckle up, it’s a long ride.
Mowing. Lots of mowing. One of the more recent hold ups to this current fencing attempt was that I broke my bushhog again. This time was a good one though. The main pulley came off and while a new one came in quickly, we also damaged the inner bearing, and the deck assembly had to be professionally reassembled. The professional being my mechanic husband. I married well at least!
OK, once we’re done mowing what I can reach, next the old fence had to be pulled down. If there was a fence up already, why redo it you ask? Refer to some of my older posts here and here. So, remove the poison ivy, honey suckle, rose bushes, etc. that have claimed the fence in the last few decades, and then pull the fence down. Oh, dont forget to nip the wild plum trees at the base as well. Best item ever for removing old fencing is a pair of mini bolt cutters. Fence pliers are awesome and have their place, but getting wire into the cutting slots can be tricky. The bolt cutters were my husband’s idea, and it only took me a year to listen to him…
Next is the big one. Cutting down trees. This fence line was old, and some of the trees were close enough that wire was growing into them. Trees along fences are generally no good. Either they will grow into the fence, they make it harder to spray/mow the fence, or they will fall at the most inconvenient times (i.e. in the middle of a hurricane…). So we decided to go ahead and pull down trees that were either too close or on the road side of the fence. Cutting trees is quite the chore. We started one evening with a smaller gum tree, perhaps 30-50 ft. My dad was over that evening, and he has been doing this since before I was born (yes, I exploit him, sue me). So he notched the tree and started cutting the back side to have it fall opposite of the road, out of the way. Did I mention it was a gum tree? They get twisted on the inside and sometimes fall in unexpected ways… Daddy survived, and we got the limbs out of the road in short order. The next tree fell like it should have that evening (Hey, we had to let the man redeem himself). And the next day, we got a rope.
Even with a rope, tree felling is a chore. Someone has to get in the tree and tie the rope. Im allergic to poison ivy. Perry had to run the tractor. Toby doesn’t have fumbs. Really, I should call this post “Dave’s adventures on the fence line.” Really, we love him and appreciate it!
Ok, so once the trees are down, cue taking a break from fence work to cut and split all that firewood. Because, grass. We spent a lot of money and some time seeding the pastures last fall, and didnt want trees laying on them and killing the precious grass and clover. Good news is, I think we are set for firewood for at least two winters. Hopefully. Oh and continuing to remove fence sections that were passed over before.
Next, pull the fence posts up. Its amazing to me the gadgetry that is available to farmers. We have had t-post fence post pullers for quite some time now, and sometimes we get along. But how people managed before such nifty tools or without a tractor, I have no idea. However, of interesting note, some of these t-posts were concreted in place. Why? How? Add it to the list of Mysteries on Sourwood Hill (I’m hoping Nancy Drew will show up soon and give us a hand).
Now, we mow again. This step is probably a month after the initial mowing, and wonder of wonders, the mower was still in one piece! So mowing again didn’t cause weeks worth of delay. Finally, we had a nice, clear (except for some tree stumps), straight line.
Now we let our OCD side take over. Out comes the string, measuring tape, and spray paint. Unfortunately, we picked a point that was not exactly in line with the ends of the fence, so it is not as straight as we would have liked. However, you have to be dead on top of the line and looking down it to notice. and if that is you coming to my farm to do that and comment, you are not welcome!
So, fence posts every 10 ft, every 5th posts is a round wooden post. We now have a tractor and an auger. That is another awesome gadget that I don’t know how we survived without. Our days of digging holes by hand during a drought are hopefully over! You still have to clean out the holes with post hole diggers and occasionally widen them, but the hard part is done for you. I can finally see the appeal of the industrial revolution now!
Fence posts up, concrete cured, then we string wire. This is possibly my least favorite part, as the wire spools are HEAVY and bite into my leg on a new spool. The handy dandy barbed wire unroller that allows it to free spin makes life easier though. I run the wire and run the fence stretchers, and Perry ties or hammers as needed. Don’t forget to mark your wooden posts or count notches in t-posts so its an even fence line!
At this point, the fence is done for all intents and purposes on that side, but since we have Houdini calves and really don’t like stray animals, we are also adding two strands of hot wire to keep the monsters in. The biggest lesson I have learned with hot wire is that it needs to be spaced roughly halfway between the barbed wire strands so the wind doesn’t tangle it.