Fence Post Day

The fencing project that I have been looking forward to getting done finally began this past week.

Over the winter, we used the drone to help plan the project. Using aerial views over the backyard, we planned where to run the high tensile wire fence and the best spots for placing gates. The aerial view of the cattle working facility was especially useful in deciding how to enlarge the crowding pen for the cattle. After printing a photo of each location, I recorded the distances between the straight runs of fence after we measured the perimeters. From this, we calculated the necessary number of fence posts, gates posts and braces for the project.

Redesign of the cattle working area in the corral
Addition of fence and gate for a barnyard area
Backyard field behind the orchard
Backyard field behind the house.

On July 1, MWP (our local wood store), delivered the piles of posts and boards:

  • 45 – 7ft 5-6inch posts for the high tensile fencing around the back yard field and to redesign the cattle working area
  • 29 – 8ft 5-6inch faced posts to replace the corral fence
  • 5 – 8ft 6-7inch posts for five new gates
  • 50 – 16ft pine fence boards

Of course, no project on the farm is at all straightforward. Before any fencing could begin, all of the old board fence and posts from around the corral had to be removed. As each board and post came down, every nail had to be pulled out. No nails sticking out of wood is a good safety precaution but also if we decide to burn the boards, nothing in the burn pile will be an issue for tires or hooves. This chore took a couple of days to complete and interfered mostly with Sundance’s living quarters. For the duration of the corral work, I set up Sundance with a suitable arrangement in the barn and front field.

Another pre-job job was removing a gigantic walnut tree stump that was along the new fence line in the back yard. Once the fence was in place, the stump would be impossible to remove. This one stump took almost two days to completely dig up. Bill filled and smoothed the area under the fence line. Later this month, I will use the smaller tractor to grade the remaining debris and dirt.

We decided to rent the post hole pounder for just one day, so spent the day before measuring and marking the position of each post with marking paint and then laying out each post in position. When we fenced the Mountain Field, we also marked post locations but used the hopper on the machine to carry a load of posts. Given the tight quarters and terrain of this job along with having only one day to complete, I felt laying out the posts ahead of time made sense. The effort involved to lift a post out of the hopper or to lift one up from the ground is similar … exhausting either way.

Post Pounder #4

As soon as MWP opened their doors, we picked up Post Hole Pounder #4, the same one we used last year. We started the day working on the corral, putting in the faced 3/4 posts. Because this would be a board fence and the perimeter size unchanged, these posts were set in the same holes where the old ones had been. Immediately we struggled with getting the posts pounded in vertically, keeping the faced sides flat to the inside of the corral. Most of the posts wanted to twist. Towards the end of setting the 29 corral posts, we decided to stop using Pounder #4 and set the remaining 6 by hand. We were both frustrated and ready to move on to the round posts waiting for us in the backyard field. From a timing standpoint, I was pleased that we finished most of the corral by noon and then happy day … our friend and farm sitter showed up with lunch for us! Wonderful friends like her make life so sweet.

Corral posts
Posts for the holding pen in the corral. We will set panels between each of these.

After a 30 minute break for lunch, we turned our focus to the 45 round posts along the Backyard field. The majority of these went in smoothly and predictably, only a couple missed vertical because of hitting rocks. We ended the day by setting the gate and brace post to fence in the barnyard. The day was a long one but we powered through, pounding in that last post at 7pm. Done!!

The last section of the backyard fence. The remains of walnut stump dirt pile is visible under the cedar trees.

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