4.11.2011 Pole Dancing

Right before dark on Sunday, I stopped by my neighbors to visit for a spell. That’s when they told me the news. They were planning on doing “the fence line” in the next two weeks. This fence line is one we share. It forms the back line of our property. Well hooray! What this means is I’ll pull down the four strands of poly-coated wire, pull out the posts and then my wonderful neighbors will come over with new posts and their post pounder. I supply the fencing. Woven wire. Won’t stop a deer, but it’ll stop most anything else.


I went home that night, already worrying. I have never built a permanent fence and I have never taken one down. How the heck do I pull fence posts? There are plenty of how-to videos on the internet, all of them involving equipment I don’t have. Crawling into bed after a long day on the farm, I figured I had a big tractor and a heavy chain. I’d figure something out.


I headed out to the pasture the next afternoon with my cart loaded with a bucket, a heavy screw driver, a hammer, a mallet, a pair of needle nose pliers and the fence ratchet wrench thingy. The wire is held under tension by ratchets on the corner posts, and then nailed to the individual posts with u-shaped, barbed fencing nails. Fencing nails aren’t something you want to drop in a pasture. They do very nasty things to horse hooves when stepped on, hence the bucket for collecting nails. Like everything else on the farm, we use, reuse and repurpose as much as possible and fencing nails are so reusable.


On this particular fence line I had two 14 gauge wires and two 12 gauge wires – the lower the gauge the thicker the wire. You should really have bolt cutters if you want to cut 12 gauge. I don’t have bolt cutters, but a a standard wire snipper and lot of jiggling finally snapped those puppies. But here’s the really important part: Once I released the tension on those wires I discovered I had 4 three hundred foot slinkys. Well, who knew? Remember how hard it was to untangle a slinky and how they never coiled nicely again once you really, really stretched them?


We have several nice coils of the stuff in the hay barn. Haven’t a clue how to coil them so nicely. The best I could come up with was to grab one end and then sort of slowly sneak up on the remaining length of wire, letting it wind itself up, so to speak. The heavier 12 gauge coiled pretty nicely, but the 14, well not so much, but the more I talked to it, the better it behaved. I know. I know. “She’s talking to fence wire. She’s lost her mind.” Well yeah. Who else but a lunatic would get into farming in this day and age?


The last part of the job was pulling the posts. My fence posts are mostly landscape timbers and they’ve been in the ground probably around ten years. Before I fired up the tractor, I followed my husband’s suggestion to try to pull them by hand. We’ve had quite a bit of rain lately. The ground is soft and the posts gave easily to pressure when I wiggled them. Then I just sort of braced the post between my, ahem, boobage, wrapped my arms around it and pushed up with my legs. I suspect it looked pretty lurid, that’s why you won’t see pictures. Took a lot less time to pull those posts than it did to coil those slinkys. All in all, it took about 3 hours to make 300 feet of fencing go away. Only 577 feet to go, most of it through the only thing that counts as “woods” on our farm.


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