Sunday, August 16, 2009

Don't Fence Me In.

If you follow my wife on Facebook, you may have read an entry or two about chasing a big-butt cow. Some wondered if that was me (Wasn't!)

We vicariously became cattle-ranchers last weekend when we decided in the absence of sheep, to rent out our pasture to the local AG teacher who needed more acreage and grass for some of his cows. Last Sunday he brought over 14 of his Beefmasters and turned them out.

I did a fair amount of fencing when we moved in in 2006 but then ran out of time and money so we still have two sides of pretty old fencing that held up OK for sheep.

But seems big cows have a different effect on fences. Once their head is through, the rest is sure to follow or if the fence starts to lean with any weight, they will simply just walk it down and walk over. (that "grass is always greener" thing)

One side of our property has some pretty old fencing and this is likely where the cows got through. Yesterday was the first chance I've had to check it out and fix what could be fixed. Usually I'd much rather put up my own new fencing than try to fix an old one. But for the sake of time and money my option was to repair.

I raided my stash of t-posts (for the uninitiated - a 6 foot piece of steel with a spade-like thing near one end), got my trusty fencing tool kit and took off.

Surprisingly, the repairs went quickly and well. I was able to drive about 20 t-posts in between some older rotting wooden posts, clip the existing barb wire to the post and move on.

Thanks to Sam Osborn and the t-post driver he made for me almost 20 years ago, a handy-dandy little tool that helps with twisting the clips and a pair of channel locks (my favorite fencing tool) I had about a 200-foot-section of fence reasonably cow-proof in a couple of sweaty hours. The best part was being able to look back at the work and see something actually done - with my own hands.

I grew up in the city (Big D) and my exposure to ranch life was mostly old westerns in the 50s. No one ever showed me how to put up or fix a barb wire fence. I taught myself and even if I do say so myself, I think I do a pretty good job of fencing for a former city-slicker. I really enjoy good hard outdoor work and fencing fits the bill.

Maybe, just maybe, if I'd been born in another century, I could have been a real honest-to-goodness rancher. I interviewed a guy Friday for an Ozarks Farm & Neighbor story who started as a dairy farmer at the ripe old age of 53. Keep hope alive!

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