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Tuesday
Aug092016

GOOD FENCES -- MAKE FOR HAPPY FARMERS


I almost guarantee your initial reaction to this post in the ground is not nearly as impressed as you should be when you knew the dozens of hours spent digging one hole for it to go into.


The focus this week on the farm was building some new fencing on the farm   When we bought the property it had barely adequate perimeter fencing around the property that we have continued to use with only minimal repairs.  However, almost immediately, we saw the usefulness of some strategic interior fencing on the farm that would help us divide the farm up.  We made plans, discussed them, revised them and planned some more.  After five years, we were ready to build some of the fencings.  Every day this week, long hours were spent by Dad and I digging fence posts for the new fencing.

We have settled on high tensile fencing.  A relatively new type of fencing that uses smooth wire made from very high strength steel. It is similar to the typical barb wire fences you see but does not have the sharp barbs and because it is made with much stronger steel that is pulled very tightly -- it needs far fewer poles.  However, the poles that are there, must be particularly strong.

Like many projects -- the first step has taken 80% of the time and the subsequent steps of putting the actual wire up will happen relatively quickly.  The first step was setting the posts on either end, called the braces.  They consist of two holes 8-10 feet apart with a horizontal cross-member in between.  It takes a brace at the beginning and end of each side of the fence to be strong enough to resist the pulling force of the wire for the next 30 years without ever slipping.  To make these braces secure you must sink the poles in the ground a minimum of 42"  This would be easy in some fields -- in our farm's extremely rock ground it has proven exceptionally difficult.  



We started with an auger on the back of our large 45hp tractor.  It goes down in the ground wonderfully and dug a beautiful 18" hole before it hit solid rock and would go no further.  We (Dad and I) fought with that auger for a day plus and still on our first hole before we decided we needed a bigger tool.  We ended up renting a jackhammer.  This worked fairly well but was still very slow.  Essentially after another entire day of jackhammering, we were done with one entire hole -- down a full 42".  The main problem with the jackhammer is that it is very difficult to jackhammer a 42" hole with a jackhammer that is only 38" tall.  The entire jackhammer is on the ground and your hole has had to become very wide to fit the entire jackhammer into the hole.  Plus, the feats of strength needed to jackhammer below your feet made getting 12 holes dug like this unlikely.  So we again moved up in tool.  


Grandpa working hard as he uses his equipmentpiloting skills to work the rock auger.  


This time, we rented a skid steer with a specially made rock auger.  This did the trick.  Using the weight of the machine and the HP of the auger, we were able to bore through the rock down to our required depth.  It took a couple hours per hole of near constant drilling but we made it to the required depth and I feel very confident that the poles we set in the ground will still be sturdy 30 years from now.


This is the tip of the 250-pound rock bit that can drill straight down through solid rock


This is what a  42" deep hole dug through solid rock looks like. 

Today we strung the first of six wires.  Since every part of buildings high-tensile fence is new to me and I have nobody to look to for advice -- I turn to the modern-day farmer's almanac -- YOUTUBE.  Each new step, I watch a  few videos and then go and try it on my own.  It has worked very well.  You'll have to let us know what you think next time you are down on the farm.


Our oldest daughter helped with setting the wire on the smaller interior line posts.

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Synergistic Acres - 21733 Iliff Rd, Parker, KS 66072 - 913-735-4769
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