Basics: Mending Fences and Hanging Gates
Once I started settling in to my new digs, I realized very quickly that the life blood of a Homesteader is fences.
There are plenty of fenced area on the property. Enough for me to be able to raise just about any kind of livestock that I choose. And trust me. I want it all. But in every case there is a gate missing, a panel that needs to be replaced or a fence post that needs to be installed.
The ability to scrounge materials and make due with what you’ve got is essential. Raising your own livestock is not necessarily an endeavor that is cost effective. I saw round steak being sold at Checkers, the local grocery store, for $1.99 per pound the other day.
I’m new to this but I am fairly certain that with a little math you might be able to figure out that you couldn’t raise a steer for cheaper than you could buy beef. I would be tickled to death if the final cost was twice than $1.99 per pound.
Feed, straw and hay are expensive. The equipment you’ll need is expensive and fencing is expensive. These are simple facts.
I’m told that a good planning number for any kind of fencing is about $1 per foot. However, if you scour Facebook marketplace and Craigslist you can probably cut the cost in half.
People are always tearing down chain link fence. There is a Farm and Garden and Materials section on both platforms that have become invaluable to me.
The first fence I decided to build was a goat pen at the west end of my chicken house. It was already partially fenced so I only needed to install three sides. I stopped over to visit Shanna one morning and walked over to her shed to shut the door that was flopping in the breeze. Lo and behold there was an entire roll of woven wire that would be great for a goat pen. There was also an old chain link fence gate that was perfect for the project that I had envisioned.
That weekend we had Shanna’s family in town for the weekend and a visit from her Aunt Babe, which proved to be invaluable.
Babe, the Badass that she is, raises goats with her brother and she informed me that the proper way to install the fence was to turn the fence posts around backwards- towards the inside of the pen. This is because the goats will naturally lean against the fence.
Armed with good advice I set out to build my first fence the next weekend.
I only needed to purchase six fence posts at about $3 each and a little bit of wire to have all the materials that I needed. I quickly figured out that I was ill equipped to perform even this simple task. I had a few hand tools and that was it.
Being recently divorced and bankrupt I ended up selling all my tools. An act that was very defeating at the time, but I did not want to pay to store the tools and move them twice.
So here is a little advice. Go buy a good pair of fencing pliers, right now. Even if your dream hasn’t presented itself.
They are an invaluable tool that you will use for everything. I used an old pair of side cutters to cut my woven wire and my hands were trashed afterwards. I also learned that I do not like woven wire. It’s a pain in the ass. You can never get it flat and it needs to be stretched. The posts are not that secure, depending on the ground that you are ponding them into.
There is another tool that is absolutely necessary and that is a fence post driver and possibly a fence post puller.
If you have a welder and a little bit of skill, you could make the puller and the driver yourself. But if don’t have the skills or the patience, you can follow the links. Post drivers aren’t that expensive.
This blog is about my learning experiences as a homesteader and the joys of being self sufficient. However, I wouldn’t be true to myself if I didn’t convey all of the lessons that I’ve learned through this experience.
We all build fences around our lives and we become comfortable being fenced in. I purchased five goats yesterday and the nice man that sold them to me only uses a two wire electric fence to pen his goats. The goats respect the fence even though it isn’t even turned on. That is notable.
When I met Shanna, I had created a fortress of a fence. I wanted to keep women out and protect myself from ever feeling the loss of a loved one again. She pursued me vehemently and I kept her out for as long as I possibly could. I didn’t want to hurt her or be hurt. But after an evening of texting her I suddenly had the realization that I was already in a relationship with her and hurting her I was. So I thought about it and determined that I wanted this woman in my life. It was one of those aha moments.
I weighed the pros and cons and decided that there was no way I was ever going to meet another women that had so much love and compassion. This was so apparent in the way that she treated her children. Her children are an absolute joy and I have a nasty habit of judging people by the way their children behave. Let me get this straight right now. I have learned that I in no way, shape or form want to judge anyone other then myself. Judgement is reserved for the Creator.
Having made my decision, I had a plan in mind and mind and it came to fruition very quickly. I was sitting at work, at my new job down the road from where I previously worked with Shanna. She texted me at about 2pm, and asked if I wanted to go to dinner. Her kids were with the relatives that weekend. So I said sure. But let’s go to my restaurant in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. She said YES! And honestly, I fell completely, head over heals in love with her that weekend.
Sometimes you will have to tear down a fence for various reasons. I am so glad that I tore down my fence to let Shanna in. I wouldn’t be writing this article if it weren’t for her. Every relationship has its ups and downs and twists and turns. But even the frustration that I have felt at times has been a positive experience for me and has helped me realize what is really important in my life. So mind your fences.
Back the literal fences, and another lesson learned. Cattle panels are for cattle and hog fence is for hogs. A lesson I learned when my piglets spent the first night at Frog Island. They ran straight through the cattle panels and I found them staring at me at 11:30 at night after I watched a football game and had a few beers at the bar. Another lesson is don’t freak out. I didn’t call any of my neighbors, mainly because I didn’t want them to think I was stupid. I didn’t put up signs, but if I did it would have read. “Wanted dead or alive! Two red duroc piglets”. The next day I found the little oinkers sacked out in my chicken house.
The same thought could be applied to relationships. It may be that your significant other will push you away at times or run off. Don’t freak out, we all process things differently and we all carry our own baggage. Try to chill out, go to bed and see what tomorrow brings you. If it is meant to be, she might end up in your chicken coup someday.