Saturday, July 25, 2009

fence woes

Today I am going to talk about fencing. Not the kind that involves swords. The kind that (at least theoretically) contains livestock. It gives me something to rant about, plus I'm soliciting input from those in the know.

Whoever built the pasture fence here didn't do a very good job. It was in "fair" condition when we moved here, although the original owners had used this awful plastic mesh on the fence. Not only was it a complete eyesore, but it wasn't really all that strong, and when a big horse like Gwen decides to lean on it, she might just pop through on the other side (this happened!). So my brother J, bless his heart, got the horrible job of taking down the plastic stuff and putting up non-climb wire instead. Major improvement, but the fence still has some serious structural problems.

Here's the fence (and a lovely view of the blackberries out by the creek). It's about 5 feet high, it has posts and a top rail, and the rest is the non-climb wire. Sometimes I think it would have made more sense just to do the whole property with hot tape, but the wire does have the advantage of keeping dogs on the proper side of the fence.

Just for comparison, this is the corral fence. It's welded pipe. I love it. I could keep an elephant in this here (not that I have any plans to). I wish they would have fenced the whole place with this welded pipe, but I'm sure it wasn't cheap.

There are several issues that are all coming together to create a situation called "the fence is falling down." One is that the dorks who built the fence did a really stupid job of it. Instead of angling the top of the posts (so that rain would run off) and nailing the top rail to the outside of the post, they actually cut sections out of the top of each post (OMG wouldn't that be a serious pain in the asterisk? Worse than angling the top of each post?) and set the top rail in there, like it's on a little shelf. See that? Bad no no.

Great, so now there's this area on the top of each post where rain water can flow down and puddle and.... you guessed it, rot the posts. They're all rotten, at least the tops. Most are still firmly in the ground, but a few wiggle. So what happens when the post rots? The top rail falls off! And you get a fence line that looks like this:

I'm NOT proud of this, I hate this, this is embarrassing, and I've been working on fixing it (that's obviously a section I have not gotten to) and it's probably going to at least many weeks to do. Sometimes it's basically just the wire that's holding up the fence. Aaack! I can't nail the boards back up, they won't stay put in rotten wood, so I have to drill holes, loop wire around each post, and wire the stupid top rails back up. It's rednecky to say the least, and feels like putting a band-aid on a gushing wound. But, it'll at least buy a few more years. The entire thing seems to be all falling down now. For a while it was just one board here and there, but omg in the last month I swear it's just all gone to heck.

Of course, a major contributing factor is that the darling mares are VERY fond of scratching themselves on the fence. ARG!!! They are both fond of scratching their butts on it (yes, they are wormed consistently, and yes I do take care to clean the gunk out of the udder-area to prevent itchiness, but they do it anyway). Gwen will also lean into the fence at about a 45 degree angle and scratch her entire body along the fence. I about have a heart attack when I see her do that, I can hear the wire stretching and the posts groaning and popping.

So, this brings up the thought of hot wire. It may be all that can save the fence, the horses really need to be kept from leaning on it. Without going out and measuring, I don't know many feet of fence there are. Thousands I'm sure. At different times of year they have access to different pastures. They always have access to the corrals, and sometimes are off pasture entirely. This is a VERY not-to-scale drawing, but this is pretty much the lay of the land. I'm having a hard time figuring out exactly how this could be hot wired, or if it's even doable ($$$). Thoughts about hot wire/hot tape? I want to hear them. Only the wire fence would need it, the red pipe fence is fine.


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