Fencing Progress

Spring is in full swing here on the farm. The WesternTrillium is in bloom, bringing brightness and beauty to the woods. Husband and I spent today running string between property markers to mark out fencelines. This is the first step in building a proper pasture for this year’s batch of piglets, who will be arriving next month (we’re doing 3 this year). The pasture will be approximately 400 x 50 feet, giving our pigs about a half-acre of land that is a mix of forest and open brush.

One long side of the pasture lies along the property line, dividing ours from the neighbour next door. She is donating the cedar fence posts and a roll of wire mesh for that part. We’ve decided to hire a guy to do this section, as it runs over uneven ground and we want it to look nice and be durable. The wire mesh gets attached at each end of the fence line to special braces that absorb the tension as the fence is tightened up. It will likely need braces midway as the terrain changes from downhill to uphill, too. Definitely not a job for newbies.

We’ll be watching and taking notes for future reference, however, as we hope to do the rest of the property ourselves when the budget allows. While the pig pasture will run along the first 350 feet or so of the property line, there’s another 400 feet to the bottom of the property. Today we went out with a 1000 ft roll of mason’s twine to see if we could mark the whole fence line.

About halfway down that side of the property somebody put up a farm gate many years back. It sits there looking rather strange – a gate all by itself without a fence. It does, however, have 4 posts that are in a straight line and the question was whether whoever built it ensured it was lying on the property line. If so it would make a very handy reference point. Our plan was to run a line of string from the topmost property pin to the gate (our property runs from North to South, so we designate North as “top” and South as “bottom”), then stand on the other end of the gate and eyeball the four posts to see if it matched the line of string.

So we did this and, as far as we can tell, the gate and its posts are in line with the property markers. Hooray! So using that as a midway point we continued running line from there down to the bottom property marker. We had always assumed there would be trees in the way and that we’d have to do some heavy tree removal before running a line there. To our delight we discovered that it’s a clear line all the way from the gate to the south property marker (we now suspect it may have been cleared for that purpose several years ago). That’s going to make it much easier, and less expensive, to fence when we’re ready to do so.

As for the other 3 sides of the pig paddock, we’re going to do those ourselves. We’ve laid it out so there are no trees in the way, and now the question is simply what sort of fencing we’re going to install on those sides. If we choose to use wooden posts (which look nice) we’ll need someone to dig the post holes since our very rocky ground precludes the use of hand-held power post-hole diggers (apparently if they hit a rock they’re liable to swing you right off your feet). We’re going to ask the fence guy if he would do that for us (presumably he has a tractor or other machine with an auger) and how much it would cost.

Originally I figured we’d just use metal T-posts as they go in the ground quite easily, being smaller and with a sharp point. However, T-posts are almost twice the cost of wooden fence posts, so if the difference is about the same price as getting someone to dig the holes for us, we may be just as well going for wooden posts. While T-posts are much less permanent, we’re pretty certain of where we’re placing the lines. With all that said, the budget is tight these days and we may end up settling for electric fencing along the 3 other sides of the pig pasture. It’s by far the cheapest option, and the easiest to install. It just doesn’t look as nice as proper farm fencing.

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6 responses to this post.

  1. We’re putting up fencing today, too….but on the ground. We fenced off a chunk of the dog’s yard for container gardening and raised beds, but we have to lay aviary wire on the entire ground in there to keep the dang ground squirrels and pocket gophers out. The squirrels can actually climb up the buckets and harvest our food; they did that last year with all the tomatillos.

    Nice to have a gate already in place! There’s no way we could use wooden fence posts here. Subterranean termites are so prevalent that anything wood gets eaten into very quickly unless it’s pressure-treated.

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  2. Building must be in the air, because we’re working on a tool shed/chicken coop project this weekend!

    Fencing is hard work. We have only done a very little bit of it. Like you, we have very rocky ground, which makes digging post holes horrible work. When we needed an 80 foot straight run for the orchard we hired the experts – and were they ever amazing to watch! I figured it would take them at least the morning, if not longer, but they were done in about an hour and a half.

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  3. I just remembered someone mentioned a “water drill” for digging fence posts. They had found some kind of attachment that went on the end of a hose to make the water come out at high pressure and it was used to “dig” the fence post holes. I’ve done no research on it nor do I know if it works with rocky soil, but I thought I’d throw it out there.

    Reply

  4. Posted by Lotte on April 24, 2011 at 11:20 am

    give the fencing guy you hire a few bears, then he’ll tell you all you want to know. my hubby did that throughout our restoration. now he’s a decent electrician, a great plumber and can even do finishing carpentry. it’s amazing what people will tell you if they like you 😉

    Reply

  5. Posted by Lotte on April 24, 2011 at 11:21 am

    oops. don’t give him bears, give him beer. Bears won’t work at all.

    Reply

  6. Hi Freelearners, I’ve tagged you with a Versatile Blogger award! It’s a pay-it-forward peer award to those who inspire us with the multitude of things they do. If you’re interested, take a look at my blog for the details–you import the award image, share 7 things about yourself that your readers may not know, and then tag 5-15 others.

    I’m enjoying your posts–fencing an otherwise! 🙂

    Reply

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