- Kate Barker
Building a fence….Do It Right !
My husband commented to a young friend of ours the other day,
” You know Gabe, that fence you and I built is still in good shape !”
(Meaning the fence remains straight and taut having withstood herds of cows leaning on it, calves determined to crash through it, and deer
jumping over it).
Gabe, now nineteen, reminisced about the summer he was thirteen and stayed a week or so with us at the ranch to help build that fence.
I thought about all the fences my husband has built, starting when his mom married his second dad, Sherman. Sherman grew up in Likely, California on a ranch tucked deep into the
mountains. After Sherman married Phil’s mom, they always had donkeys or horses. Phil and his siblings built and rebuilt miles and miles of barb wire fences.
And since we’ve always had horses and cows, our son, daughters, son-in
-law to be, several nephews and young friends learned to build good strong fences capable of corralling critters and prevailing, in tact, through the years.
Barb wire fences are tough to build and maintain, especially if the terrain is steep or rocky. Post hole digging is tedious. Slamming steel post into hardened ground with a fence post driver is body numbing. It’s boring and slow moving….miles and miles of posts and wire. There is no way to avoid nicks, scratches, torn shirts and frustration. Depending on the weather, you are either sweating dirt or morphing into an icicle.
One year our rambunctious twenty year old son was in charge of the “day cowboys” ( our nephews) and fence building was the main project. On a scorching hot day, three dusty young men stomped into the house, declaring that Travis was impossible ! T.J. had just taken a measuring device and decided that the fence the boys had spent hours stretching and crimping didn’t meet his approval. He told them to rip it out and start over. They were fit to be tied !
Of course, T.J. had learned this technique from his father, and his grandfather. In ranching country how a man builds and maintains his fences affects his reputation. The fence has to be built just so…to last…to be straight…and taut…able to keep in his own stock and keep the neighbor’s bulls out !
Red Steagall, a cowboy poet, wrote a great poem, The Fence That Me and Shorty Built, summing up why it’s important to do a job right !
May all your infusions be lasting,