Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Working on the electric fence

We did not know if Sprite, the Captain's widow, was going to keep the cattle.

She had Sparky, her son, sell the ones with bad dispositions and plans to keep them, at least for now.

It is one thing to have a high maintenance fence when the neighbor who is using your pasture is handy and walks the pasture daily. It does not take much of a fence to keep cattle in when all their buddies, the water, the salt and a good stand of grass are on one side.

It is a different situation when the owner might not walk the pasture every day. The hose might get knocked off the water tank. They might have forgotten to throw the salt block in. Or the cattle might have run through the grass quicker than expected.

That is when a top-notch fence earns it's keep.

The perimeter fence around my pasture has just about every combination of post and insulator imaginable. After living with it for twenty years, I have definite ideas about which combinations are trouble-free and which ones are drama-queens.

Today, I started giving the most troublesome drama-queens cement overshoes.

Two neighbors back, the fellow borrowing the pasture was given some 2" diameter pipe. He thought it would make dandy fence posts, so he cut them to 54" and drilled holes into them to attach insulators.

Being only 54" long, he could only pound about 12" into the ground, but that was all the sweat he cared to break into. 12" was plenty deep enough as long as the dirt never got wet.

The poles leaned. The poles spun. Combined with the fact that the Captain used re-purposed barbed wire for electric fence wire, that invariably put the points of the barbs in close proximity to the steel pipe. That combination is the high-runner for fence shorts of all the combinations out there.

I briefly considered pulling out all the round posts and replacing them with T posts. I can get used T posts for about $1 when I catch the guy at the salvage yard in a good mood. Some of them are even straight! Then, I decided to use my 6" auger to drill an 8" deep hole, re-sink the short, round fence post slightly deeper than it was and to pour concrete pre-mix into the hole. Total cost of the fix, about seventy cents a pole.

I also snip the barbs that are pointing back toward the post and position the post so it is midway between sets of barbs. Again, the smart money would re-run the entire fence with smooth, galvanized wire.

It is hard to make the economics work if you figure my time is worth anything. A single fence post takes all of five minutes but I am only saving fifty cents by the time you cost-in the new insulators. I still have a few of those $1 T posts in the barn. It gives me comfort to know that I have something I can slam into the ground speedy-quick when I need an emergency fence repair.

1 comment:

  1. I hated riding fence, but it had to be done. And a good pair of fence pliers is a necessity!!! Hope you got the problem children fixed!


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