Fence Fixing

LeAnn posted this blog on Saturday, December 15th, 2012 at 11:16 pm

I have to say — fixing a fence in the dark by flashlight is an interesting task. My husband gets done with work at 5 p.m., and by the time he gets home at 5:30, at this time of year, it is dark.

Friday evening when Randy came home, I told him about Seleena’s fence and how the post had been torn out of the ground and tossed aside and that the wires and white electrical fence tape were loose, and that I had tried to tie it up a little bit with twine string that morning when I had discovered it.

We decided we would shore it up with a two-by-four and then do a proper job of fixing it in the morning when we had full daylight.

It was one of those jobs where one thing leads to another.

Randy thought it would be a good idea to sink the two-by-four into the ground a little ways, otherwise it would just fall over and take the fence and white tape with it.

“If we are digging a hole to sink the two-by-four, then why don’t we just sink the post?” I inquired.

“I was thinking the same thing,” Randy said.

By flashlight, he went off to the lean-to to find the posthole digger.

In the meantime, Seleena finished her grain and then dug into her hay. She was only a few feet away from where we were working.

Randy came back with the posthole digger, and while I held the flashlight, he started to dig the hole.

I thought it was going to be difficult digging since it has been below freezing with some cold nights  over the past few weeks in which the temperature dropped to only a few degrees above zero.

I was wrong.

The ground is so dry that there is no moisture to freeze. After breaking through the first inch or two of frozen crust, the ground was powder dry.

Randy had the posthole dug in only a few minutes.

Of course, tamping dry dirt into the hole around the post does not set the post very well, but at least the post was set.

Then, while I held the flashlight, Randy used staples to tack the smooth wire to the post. You don’t have to pound the staples in tight because the wire needs to be able to slide through the staples when you tighten it with the tightening devices located at the front corner of the fence.

By flashlight, we also did the best we could to get the white tape tightened up again. Each post has plastic holders that are supposed to snap in place to hold the white tape tight. Some of the holders were broken off the fencepost we set, so we used twine string to tie up the tape and make it tighter.

I thought maybe Seleena would come over to check out what we were doing, but she did not. She just kept right on eating her hay.

Saturday morning, early in the morning, it began to rain. The initial forecast was for freezing rain and sleet and slush, but it actually only rained during the day.

I have to say, what with the warmer temperatures above freezing during the week and the rain on Saturday, there is not much left of the 16 inches of snow that fell last weekend.

“I’m really glad we fixed the fence last night instead of standing out in the rain today to try to do it,” Randy said as we fed the horses and took care of the chickens and the barn cats Saturday morning.

“Me, too,” I said.

It’s kind of a funny thing. When we put in the fence during the summer of 1995, we’d had a lot of rain the week before.¬† About 15 inches of rain, as I recall, with thunderstorms just about every evening that dumped two or three inches of rain at a time. When we dug the postholes to build the fence, as soon as we dug the holes, the ground was so saturated, that the holes filled with water.

And now it has been so dry, the ground is powder for a long ways down.

Here’s another funny thing. I remember the last regular rain we got. It was in June of 2003. I had to cover a village board meeting in the next town over for the newspaper. It rained buckets during the meeting and on the way home. That was almost 10 years ago now. I had no idea at the time that it was the end of regular, reliable rainfall. By regular and reliable, I mean thunderstorms or just plain rain that produced rainfalls of 2 or 3 or 4 inches every week or two.

And here’s another alarming thing. The more dry it has become, the more farmers around here have relied upon irrigation for their corn. Many of the natural springs have gone dry in this area. Ponds have dried up. Marshes and wetlands have dried up. If there is very little rain falling, then what is there to recharge the groundwater?

LeAnn R. Ralph
Saturday, December 15, 2012

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