Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

How to put up fence.... even if you don't know what you are doing

I talk about fencing a lot.  And I assume that folks know that I'm referring to that barrier-type-stuff used to keep the neighbor's bad dog out of my yard. Or keep goats in.

 Fencing - keeps goats in.

However, I had lunch with the best little boys in the world a while back. Naturally we started talking about fencing and they asked me if I had one of those pointy swords.

Me: *blink blink*  What are you talking about?
Them: What are YOU talking about - you know, fencing. (And then they demonstrated with their drink straws).
Me: OH. Well.... I use a two handed broadsword.
Them: That's awesome!

Because telling them this is what I use is a little disappointing.

So if you want to learn about my kind of fencing then huddle up - here's a fast tutorial. For a couple reasons, one you might have guessed and one you know is coming, we needed to string up some field fence with electric wire on the inside.  I did this job myself in an afternoon.

I mowed this strip down but left the rest.

First step, run right out there and mow down where you want your fence line to be. You know I hate mowing so I did a fast and bad job of it. Mostly you need to keep the grass and weeds out of your hotwires. Plus its easier to work if you aren't tripping over stuff.

 Bolt cutters - good for everything.

Next, go get your war implements... I mean... tools. I like to use gloves to move stuff around, I always use these kind of bolt cutters, and I found all the insulators I could find.

Throw your tools on the ground. Easier to find that way unless you can't find them. Then someone will spray paint all your tool handles fluorescent orange and that will just make you mad.

Then drag your fence down there. What if its too heavy? For heavens sakes then just weight down one end, unroll the fence in the driveway to the desired length, use them bolt cutters to clip it....and make sure you have someone standing on the end closest to where you are cutting or the fence will roll up suddenly and might cause some damage. Don't ask me how I know this.

Place your posts strategically before pounding them in.

For this project I unrolled the fence THEN laid out the posts. I did this because the ground was really uneven and I wanted to a) make sure I had enough fence and b) that I could put the posts where it would most make sense. I wanted to be sure that the field fence could be secured as close to the ground as possible so nothing could slink into the hen yard. You know of whom I speak.

Dahlia was most unhelpful.  Dahli! Get OFF the fence!

Then get the fence post pounder and whack in the posts. Don't bonk yourself on the head. I think we've already covered this. Take your time, lean back a bit, and let the pounder do the work. You don't have to put your weight into it. You wanna go for about 10 feet between posts. Tposts work just fine.  Don't get the cheap ones.

Now get down there and string up the fence. They have all kinds of fancy stretchers and stuff. Or if you are superlucky you have the attachment for your tractor, but all's you really need to do is pull on it. Try to weave it over the tops of the tposts. That is, pull the fence up over the top of the post so that the post is thru the first or second square of the fence. This will help hold it in place. Just make your way down the line.

Won't hurt the tree. Remember to remove before chainsawing down the tree.

Go back and make sure the fence is tight, straight, and secured. You can use those clip thingys they give you with the tposts. Or not. If you strategically run the fence thru the trees you can use those hammer in staples to further secure your fence line. And no, tree huggers, it won't hurt the tree.

Now, cowboy up and prepare to work on the electric hotwires. No, I don't particularly like this part either.

Rule #1:  Go and unplug the electric fence. Make sure its off. Get one of them kids to test it for you. Or a goat. Or if you were smart you got yourself a fence tester to go along with that superduper charger.

Rule #2: Go back and DOUBLE check that the fence is really off.

By now you've figured out where you want to run the hotwires. Where you put them depends on what you are trying to keep in, or keep out. Go for nose level. On your goats that's about should high seein' as how they lead with their noses, and then some where between shoulder high and where they naturally hold their head. For varmints - go as low as you can. For coyotes run a hotwire across the top so as you can fry 'em as they are climbing over your fence.

I ran two wires - one low and another kinda low. I had my bucket of tools, started at one end, and commenced to securing the insulators. Insulators are the yellow thingys that keep you from grounding out your electric or killing yourself and everyone else because you've electrified your field fence.  And I know you got the highest charger you could afford, right? Did you get the one that will hold in buffalo? Yep. That's the one. Don't skimp on the charger.

You want to run the wires so they do NOT touch the field fence. Or anything else. Try to keep them all about the same height. You can use this kind to keep the wire off the trees.

Or this kind to keep it off the tposts.

Or you can use those plastic push in posts also.

Now just start at one end and tread the wire thru the insulators, keeping it taunt as you go. 

That's about as far as I got. I decided that I wasn't foolish enough to try and connect the new hotwire to the existing electric fence. Mostly because you know how I am... especially because I was alone and while the dogs are good.. they can't quite get the hang of dialing 911.  I decided to let The Big Man deal with all that mess when he got home - so I went in the house and made a pie.

So that's how I install fencing. Pie is optional but always appreciated.

Happy Wednesday everyone! Now run right out and get some fencing done!


freemotion said...

Fencing never ends on the farm, does it?

katiegirl said...

Great post! You look like a master fencer! You make fencing look easy! I have the same type of field fence with 1 hot wire, and I got those extended insulators so the wire is about 6" off the fence. Works so great! I'd probably put a wire on top of the fence if we had a predator problem, but in our area we're fairly safe.

Robin said...

I think you should do a "how to" video! I'm not going to tell "The Italian" about spray painting tool handles....cause I tend to do the same thing.

When I was young we used to test the electric fencing by turning on our AM radio. You can hear it and then try to touch the fence in between! That was a game us little farm kids would to!

Rae said...

"fluorescent orange tool handles"... HATE orange tool handles! Still can't find the $&@! tool, leave it outside, it gets wet, find tool, and end up with $&@#%! orange paint all over my hands! Grrr. That aside, great post. :)

Diana said...

Thanks for the tutorial! It all makes more sense now. :)

David said...

We'd get the city kids to try and pee on it! Where is Errol Flynn when you need him? Seriously though, this was the perfect foil to a long day at the office. Especially the pie part.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Fencing NEVER ends.. that is just right, Free!

Thanks Katie! isnt it totally easy?

Ha! Robin, my video would be me stomping around swearing about "who the (#&) moved my $&*(@*(&$ tools!" I think its safer for everyone if I stuck to pix ;-)

See? Thats what I'm sayin, Rae!

Its totally easy, Diana, give it a go!

Dave, you are a pip for sure! Now where is my two handed broadsword....

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