Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Fencing Underway!

So much has changed in the last two weeks, and so far it's all good (mostly)!

We hired someone to come and clear the fence lines. Fantastic! In a day-and-a-half, he not only chopped down the yaupon and small trees in his way, but his machine also mulched it up. It was like a huge paper shredder with scary teeth at the front. What a great investment in saving time! Also meant no burning of brush piles and returning the organic matter to the soil.

So, this moved us into building fence before it gets to be 110 degrees.

First things first, Dan and I surveyed the fence lines, noting how many posts, corners, H-braces, gates and such we would need. During the week, Dan picked up fencing supplies at the Coop and took them to El Rancho. He off-loaded three dozen 8 inch posts, only about 100 pounds each. (!)  On Saturday, we put the auger on my tractor. It hadn't dug a hole in many years, but after we finally got it connected to the PTO, we were in business. (I also had to replace my redneck drink holder as the last one had gotten torn).
First hole we drilled we hit a hard layer of clay partway down and Dan had to get out the 'idiot stick' and break it up some so the auger could bull through. Then we remembered that we do have a front end loader on the other tractor- uh, duh! A little pressure from above and the auger dug right on through. Building braces was aided with the generator, electric drill, impact wrench, and long screws. They are not moving any time soon!

Unfortunately, somewhere in the digging, the backhoe reached out and wouldn't retract. Ruh ro, Astro. Plenty of hydraulic fluid, but no joy. So, we figured out how to release the pressure and fold the arm up so we could put the tractor on its trailer and haul buns to Bryan before WCTractor closed on Saturday. Spent 45 minutes there trying to offload the 'easy connect' backhoe at the shop. Part of the decoupling process requires you use the stabilization legs on the 'hoe to lift it off the tractor mounts. Ha! It actually worked! Still we left it to have it checked out and took the L2800 (Extra Power) back to El Rancho. Finished up the posts and braces on the northeast line.

On our northwest side, we are rebuilding and improving an existing barbed-wire fence. Many of the 'posts' are actually old railroad ties, some are cedar staves, some t-posts and some 3 inch posts. Everything will be goat wire topped with barbed wire once we're done. This property line is crossed by the large lake next door, just a finger of water on our side. So, we decided to start at the water and do that piece of the fence first. Looking at the 'four corner' property line, you can tell how old the fence is by it's fragility and how the tree (which is one of the supports) grew around the barbed-wire. The corner post was one of those railroad ties , but it was broke off at the surface when we pushed it. The auger had a helluva time trying to drill through what was left of the wood and again Dan used the idiot stick to muscle out little pieces. Then I would drill, Dan would dig, I would drill.... finally we got it done. Made an executive decision to never replace a railroad tie unless it was exactly at a corner! In Somerville, there has been a railroad tie manufacturing plant since 1897, and we have tons of railroad lines in the Brazos Valley. I wonder if ties came from rebuilding tracks or were rejects from the plant. Now, for whatever reason, railroads don't give away old ties-- probably an EPA reg.

We set all posts and braces on that line and got wired up. Front end loader again helped out with the t-posts, pushing them in most of the way so that Dan had only to bang once or twice with the t-post driver. We pulled the wire with a come-along and a home-made field fence holder (they retail for over $70 and Dan made this from materials at-hand). Then staples and t-post clips to secure to wire. We ran a strand of barbed wire along the ground to keep hogs and coyotes out and our critters in.

The new fence is a huge improvement. I think our neighbor will be pleased!

Fencing the small run was a great warm-up on the bigger parts. Work smarter, not harder. I am happy to have our his and her Kubotas, power hand tools and a nifty generator. Our next task will be installing the wire on the northeast line.

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