Puttin Up the Fence

The other night my dear husband decided some pop corn was in order.  I entered the kitchen and to my surprise he was using the wrong kind of pot, too much oil, too many kernels....you get the picture?  I'm sharing this incident because he has the same reactions with me and my fencing capabilities     Precision is key.  Focus is imperative!  Just as I seek the perfectly airy billow of popped corn,the kernel that can only be achieved with precise execution, he too requires the same from his "kitchen".
I have learned (he says not) that I should just listen and do as I'm told. hee-hee  That will be the day!
Posts into the horizon....
A beauty of a fence he builds no doubt.  "Straight as a gun barrel" one of our neighbors exclaimed.  It is truly an amazing feat of engineering.  Yeah, I know, you and I think it's just a bunch of fence posts put in the ground standing vertical to support a wire fence.  Well we're both wrong.  The beginning of the fence is dependent on the middle and so on.

Corner posts, braces, angles, pushing and pulling...every added component requires thoughtful analysis.  Of course so much of what he knows he learned as a young boy with his father.  His fathers knowledge also came from a familiar source, and added experience of course.
I am not going to write today about the dynamics of fencing because I think that might get a little boring.  I wanted to share how complex the project really is.  I wanted to share also as I look at the process the magnitude of the task ahead and the accomplishment when done.
We bought this farm with little to no fencing standing. The fencing that was here was so old, rusted barb wire, and quite frankly dangerous.  We couldn't begin to use it for our sheep.  So, not only did we have the arduous task of "puttin up a fence" we had to dismantle what was here.  You've also heard me say the fence is our first line of defense in protecting our sheep so fortress like it must stand!
There is so much to tell and share. There is the equipment we attach to the tractor, specific to fencing and the ingenious tools John has created to make the task easier.  For example, each post is positioned 13-15' from the other.  Rather then measure each time he puts in a new post he has created a "gauge stick".   Dah!  He has one for height and one for distance.  The more I write the more I realize this blog might only interest the girls out there?  Maybe guys know this stuff already. Maybe this information is as common to guys as the shortcuts we gals take in the kitchen?

John (oops, I haven't introduced him yet...he's my husband...the master fence builder) also says the fence is such a task he doesn't want to have to repeat it.  Not in his lifetime!  How do we accomplish that?  As with anything you want to last, you want to invest in quality materials.  We could go to the store and buy posts or we could take the advice of the old timers.  There is no written evidence but there is physical evidence in all the posts still standing after 40+ years.
This barn, here on the farm, has cedar beams and pillars and has been standing for 50 years.  The pillars  are 12-14" in diameter.

The "red" is considered the heart
You have to be careful to use the red cedar.  You know the stuff, so fragrant to us but objectionable to bugs.  Here in the Piedmont of North Carolina they have used cedar for centuries.

Cedar all over...see it in the foreground?

Who knows whether they used it because it grows like weeds here or because it lasts.  If we assume either argument we can't argue with the wisdom.  Regardless of why we must still be careful to use only the red heart cedar.  The red heart resist rot and bugs.  The "old timers" say you'll find the red heart cedars growing in the wooded areas.  We are so blessed on this farm to have "posts" growing everywhere.

So, I forgot to mention before any posts or fence can go in the ground a lot of ground work has to be done.   One of the previous owners was just plain lazy and went around the farm with the wire fencing and just attached it to trees.  It will kill a tree over time.  We've found wire actually buried within the growth of the tree.  It's really sad and unnecessary.  (See, I'm learning!)  Nope, the fella I'm building fence with puts a lot of time into the preparation of the area.  We have so much dead fall to move to clear the way for the fence line. If your asking "where to?", good question.  It's not like you drag it to the end of the driveway for the garbage pickup service.  We drag the trees to a central pile, one by one and later with burn permit in hand give the carbon back to the soil.  I know, I know some are probably saying what about the air pollution.  There are plenty of studies to suggest the soil contribution out weighs the air pollutants.  It's all what you choose to read, right?  John has also been confronted with the emotional response from me regarding one tree or another.  He might have his fence line figured out and then my keen eye spots a tree in his line that for one reason or another just cannot be sacrificed.  It might be an old glory or a one a kind specimen or just another old persimmon that the sheep love so much and are spattered about the farm.  Who knows.  Most of the time he understands even though he has to rework a great deal of whats already been done to accommodate my emotions.  That's true love!

 Now, let's talk bracing.  Good bracing according to John, is the key to fence longevity.  You have all the vertical posts in the ground and the wire gets pulled tight to the post so you have to "brace" your corners and bends so the posts don't pull out of alignment.  I am not even going to begin trying to explain the placement of the braces.  That's advanced fencing!  So, here we have a few pictures showing the braces, usually always on a long stretch or a corner, or where the wire would begin or end like at a gate.

Fencing, fencing, fencing...
Now I digress...I'm distracted.  I pull back some bark on one of the posts and what do I see? 
A burrowing worm made his home here.
The most curious art in nature....

Now that I have established a break from pounding nails how about a moment for a Glamour Shot?
Not completely off the job, at least I'm posing on the fence.

Poor John.  Some employees are just too much distraction!

As John has proclaimed time and time again, "I'll probably be fencing for the rest of my life" so, rest assured, there will be more to come on the topic....