Sunday, March 9, 2008

De-FENCE-less --- Back to Hot Wire

Well, we need to be able to turn the horses out in the pasture. It's almost dry enough that they won't completely turn it into a mud pit.

And while I did have a major score with the 5' heavy gage wire horse fencing at the auction, [Click here to read He Shoots, He Scores At The Auction!] we can't afford to do the full scale wooden fence right now. Plus I'm going to get a survey done in the next couple of weeks, and I'm waiting for my farm plan approval with King County. When that happens, a portion of some farm expenses will be reimbursed by the county. Your tax dollars at work!

So we decided, and by "we" I mean The Cowgirl decided and I nodded my head, to put up a temporary fence with T-Posts and Hot Wire. For those of you that are unfamiliar, hot wire is basically an electric fence for horses. When they touch or press against the hot wire, they get a small shock, and learn to not touch the fence.
We got the t-posts from Home Depot. We got 80 of them and some misc other things - came out to about $400. The actual Hot Tape and connectors, ground rod, and other stuff, we got at Reber Ranch. That was another $360.

After all that, and a half pot of coffee, it was time to get to work.

First thing we needed to do was clear out the old fence that was in really bad shape.

Now this part of the project was not fun at all. God knows how long these posts have been in the ground. There was also several strands of barbed wire attached to the top and a mix of rusted t-posts and old rotted cedar posts. I ended up just cutting each individual tie off and pulling the posts out of the ground.

I borrowed a t-post puller from my neighbor Bill. That was nice not having to buy a tool for a change.

No quick way to do this.
Just one post at a time. Pretty tedious stuff, but we finally got it cleared.

A quick mow job with the riding mower... a world of difference. It's almost too bad that we have to put up anything here. I kind of like it open, but at the corner right behind where I took this picture, it gets pretty wet right now, so we have to separate things.

Your standard stretch a string to give you a straight line technique.

We used the 7 foot posts and pounded them down 2 feet. If you have to do this type of work, it's a must to invest in a T-Post pounding tool. My brother said he made one, but he has a welder at his house. I just picked one up at the hardware store.

It's basically a 20 lb. steel cylinder with two handles. But there would be no way you could get a sledge hammer up high enough to do a 7 foot post. I don't know how they do it in areas with really hard ground, but up here in Washington state, this method works fine... and gives you a heck of an arm and upper back workout.

One really interesting thing that I learned about today was this system to reinforce the corner posts for tension. It's a three piece system that uses all t-posts. The guy at the Ranch store showed it to me. Here's a close up of how it works.

You slid the square piece in between two teeth on the t-post, and then the second piece slided down to lock it in and the third piece is at an angle. You put another t-post in and it braces the corners when you want to put a lot of tension on the hot wire. We fooled around a bit with how the angles should go, and finally decided the the highest point should be at the corner post to give bracing in both directions when you add tension. It seems like it will work well.

So I ended up pounding in about 40 posts or so. That's as far as we got today. We need to pick up a few more insulators for the wire at the store, and I'll post our next challenge: installing the hot tape and turning on the power. I wonder who gets to check and make sure it zaps you when you touch it?

See you next time, thanks for reading...


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