October 20, 2010

Progress On The Fence

As with most projects, progress on the new fence is taking longer than we'd hoped. By the end of Dan's vacation, we (he mostly) had all the corner and bracing posts in, and all the h-braces built. His vacation ended with one short trip out, and then a full day at home before leaving again. We spent that day stretching the first part of the fence.

I'm going to show you how we've been doing it, but I also wanted to share the method that Laura (Polymath Chronicles) left in the comments of my last fence post. Her method sounds so much easier if one has a 4 wheel drive truck. Laura's comment,

I know a great way to stretch fence, if you have a 4 wd truck. Attach the fence between 2 2 x 4's, bolt (or screw) them together. Tie a rope around each end of the 2 x 4, making a loop, and hook the loop over your hitch ball. Put the truck in 4 Low, and in 1st gear (this is critical), idle forward. The fence will "magically" stand up as it tightens. Park the truck and put the clips on to hold it, and then disconnect.

Unfortunately we don't have anything 4WD, so we use a fence stretcher bar and a come-along.

Stretching welded wire fence with a fence stretcher and come-along.

In order to secure the fence with as much tension as possible, it has to be stretched beyond the post it's being attached to. A temporary post called a dummy post is usually installed for the purpose of pulling. In the above photo, we are using the H-brace instead of a dummy post. This is because a gate will be attached here. We use dummy posts for the corners, as seen in the photo below.

Dummy posts enable the fence to be stretched tightly before stapling
it to the corner and bracing posts. We use 1.5 inch fencing staples for
that. The dummy posts are removed after the fence is attached.

The dummy posts are temporary and are removed after the fence has been stretched and secured.

Our fencing in welded wire, which really, really, isn't the best option for goats. Goats love to lean full weight into a fence as they walk along it, scratching their sides. This does put stress on the fence! Other options we considered were field fencing used for cattle. It's woven rather than welded, uses a heavier gauge wire, and is stronger and cheaper. However the openings are much larger; larger than I was comfortable with for goats. Regular goat fencing is also woven, knotted actually, 4x4 squares. However goat fence is mucho more expensive. For us, it was a matter of either buying all the fence now, or some now and the rest who knows when. We've had no problems with the welded wire fence we used for the first field, so we opted to use it again here.

Rebar gives something sturdy to which to attach the stretcher.

Because welded wire isn't the strongest fencing, it can't support the pull of the stretcher bar. To add support, we weave a piece of rebar through fence openings, and attach the stretcher bar to it.

Close-up of the "come-along,"

The stretcher bar is attached to the cables of a come-along. A come-along is a hand operated cable winch with a ratchet brake. As you can see, it's also hooked to a chain which is rapped around the dummy post. Once the fence is stretched tightly, it is stapled to the wood posts, and clipped to the metal ones.

Long stretches take two of us. Above is a shot along the same property line I showed you in this post. What you see is over 300 feet worth of fence. Here we have gotten it rolled out and loosely attached to the t-posts. DH will then start stretching and I will move up and down along the fence, untying where we temporarily secured it, and making sure it doesn't get caught on t-post stubs. We actually stretched this piece in two sections. From the road to a double h-brace in the middle, and from there to the back corner of the field.

Clipping to the t-posts involves this nifty little tool...

Fencing tool for attaching clips

... a fence clip tool. We bought ours at a feed store, but if you're planning to put up a fence and don't have one yet, I'd recommend something like this one from Fence Pro Tool. Theirs has a hollow end for adjusting the ends of the clip (check out the video on their website if that doesn't make sense). Mine is solid so I usually have to use pliers to position the end of the clip for twisting.

You can click on these images for a larger version if you wish. The clip goes around the back of the t-post. One end hooks easily over one of a horizontal wire, but the tool is needed to wrap the other end. The tool is slipped into the V...

... and rotated forward, until the clip is twisted under the wire. Sometimes I can continue twisting with the tool (below). Sometimes I need to adjust the clip with pliers.

This is a two hand job, but fairly easy. The other, shorter end of the clip is given a tightening twist as well. Each t-post is clipped to the fence in five places.

Here's what I'd love for all my clips to end up looking like...

How many do I manage like this? Oh, about one in 500, LOL. We always make sure the clip's ends are pointing outward because we don't want to risk any goats getting hurt while scratching their sides.

As of this writing, we're down to only a short section of fence to put up, and installing the two gates.

Next post: The pasture is complete in "Grand Opening -Or- Charlie Leads The Way."

Progress On The Fence © October 2010 by 


Mama Pea said...

Thanks for the excellent pictures accompanying this post. What do they say about one picture . . . ?

A big job but it should last a long time and provide you with a real sense of security for your animals.

Laura said...

Wow - the appropriate tool for the job. I never knew there was a clip attachment tool, so I tried pliers (dismal failure) and resorted to rebar wire. It worked, and because it was in Nevada, it will tak a long time to rust out, unlike here in Oregon, where it *might* last one season! I'll have to find one of those!

Benita said...

Don't you just love having the proper tool for the job?

The fence looks great and should last you for years - barring any fallen trees.

I'll bet the goats will love their new pasture, too.

I remember reading when you had just bought the place and all of this was a far off dream. You have come so far in such a short time, really. You two should be very proud of yourselves.

Nina said...

Fencing is one of those jobs that always takes longer than you hope it does. It's looking good though!

Leigh said...

Mama Pea, thanks. It's one of those huge time consuming jobs that fortunately is a one time good deal! You're right about the sense of security though.

Laura, I only found out about it by googling how to install a fence! Trouble was, I couldn't find instructions on how to use it. It was a lot of clumsy trial and error to figure it out. It is handy though! And probably just a tad quicker than rebar wire.

Benita, yes! The right tool makes all the difference. It's amazing how far we've come in the year and a half we've been here.

Nina, thanks! We have high hopes of finishing this weekend.

Mr. H. said...

Your fence is looking great and these posts will be a good future reference. The fence clip tool? I have never seen one of those before but can see how that would be much easier to use than pliers...I've got to get me one of those.

Katrien said...

Thank you thank you! I am bookmarking this entry and will return to in Spring, when I plan to redo our garden fence and put some more fencing in.

Leigh said...

Mr. H, the RedBrand Fence website has how-to videos for fence installation. They are very basic but really helpful. A few things we had to figure out for ourselves (like the fence clip tool), but they were the resource that helped the most.

Katrien, your welcome! Do see link I gave to Mr. H. It's funny, and I suppose most of us are the same, but as I work on a post like this I wonder if anyone will really be interested. Still, it seems like the right thing to do and I'm always grateful to be able to help someone with similar goals. It's very rewarding to get a new fence up!

Sharon said...

I've learned to listen to Laura. The amount of stuff she knows is stunning, almost beyond comprehension. I learned to knit hats when she lived with us - can't tell you how much she has influenced and infuriated me - like a sister.

Leigh said...

Sharon, aren't you glad "we" all talked her into starting a blog! The blogosphere makes up such a great community. So much to learn and share.

Patti Evans said...

Thank you for your mention in this article of our Fence Pro T-Post Clip Tool. You mentioned that the tool you used requires both hands to wrap t-post clips and that only about 1 in 500 clips looked as neat and as tight as you'd like. With the Fence Pro T-Post Clip Tool all of your t-post clips can look that neat and be wrapped that tightly, and the wrapping is not only a one-handed task, but can practically be done with one finger! A great relief for folks with arthritic hands! An added bonus is that both ends of the clips are wrapped tightly, and thus won't spring off the fence. Ours have been both bull tested and tested by fallen trees. The barb wire broke, but the t-post clips were still attached to the t-posts. We LOVE our Fence Pro T-Post Clip Tool!

Patti Evans said...

I forgot to mention that t-post clips can be wrapped much faster, as well, than with other tools/methods.

Leigh said...

Patti, you're welcome! I definitely wish that's what we had. Definitely looks easier and faster to use.