Fencing Strategies and Basic Tips

Published on Wed, 03/13/2019 - 2:07pm

 Fencing Strategies and Basic Tips

 by Bruce Derksen

 With designs entrenched, ready the area by first removing potential obstacles like trees, shrubs, brush and large rocks.  Don’t hesitate to use herbicides or manual clearing to keep vines and brush from disrupting your efforts, as once your project is partially built, it may be impossible to double back to take on this task.

An extensive tool and equipment inventory should be assembled for there is nothing worse than being in isolation miles from the ranch and realizing you don’t have the right tools.  The stockpile should include a carpenter’s apron, small chain saw, fencing pliers, digger bars, hammers, crowbars, goosenecks, sledge-hammers, extra braces, smooth wire, pieces of chain, wood chisels, nails, staples and possibly a generator and cords.  Don’t forget to take care of your own safety making sure to have good work boots, heavy gloves plus ear and eye protection.

For barbed wire fences there are a few basic tips to remember.  Most fences need early repair because corner posts are undersized or not deep enough in the ground.  The average 4 or 5 strand barbed wire fence should have at minimum a 6-7-inch diameter corner post in the ground at a depth equal to or greater than the height of the top wire.  Corner posts should lean slightly away from the pull and have a separate brace assembly for each fence leading to them.  If more than 200 feet long, it is good practice to use a double span assembly and if between 650 feet and a quarter mile (length of wire roll), multiple braced assemblies should be used throughout the fence.  Never over-tighten the wires as excessive tension may lift the fence out of the ground in gullies and wetter areas.

Barbed staples hold the wood better than smooth and should always be driven in staggered and slightly off the vertical straddling the wood grain to avoid cracking the post over time.  Rotate them around about 30 degrees from the flat surface of the point spreading the legs of the staple and giving it greater holding power.  Pound staples at an upward angle into posts going through dips and at a downward angle into posts on natural rises, never driving them all the way in as the wire must be allowed to slide through the staples for tension adjustment.  And do yourself a favor by leaving a couple of staples in the tops of corner posts for when you might need them down the road.

Planning and building a new barbed wire fencing system can be a balancing act as you want it to last a long time with minimal upkeep, but also be affordable enough to not initially break the bank.  Carefully consider a basic design encompassing any re-usable or existing fences to keep costs down but use the best affordable materials to give your investment the longevity you desire.