Saturday, March 29, 2008

What I Learned Today

Today I spent all day in the drizzly cool mist mending and building fences. I have barbed wire, and I have t-posts, but I don't have one of those come-a-long things to get it nice and tight. From past experience, I know that slack barbed wire fencing is a real hazard to livestock because they think they can easily get through the strands and end up getting hurt AND loose. Our place is chock full of old loose barbed wire fences and I've only just begun to start the tremendous job of getting them right, or getting them in at all in some places. Well, when I was a child I remember seeing fences with sticks wound into them to make them tight, so that's what I've done. What I learned today is that you can't use just any old branch to do this. Certain trees make good sticks and certain ones don't. The good ones are cedar and hickory, and maybe oak and some others. The bad one I learned about today was buckeye. It was handy and I thought I'd try it, but it was a waste of time. It takes a lot of torque to twist a stick in a barbed-wire fence, and the buckeye just bent and broke. Fresh off the tree, a hickory or cedar stick will not break.So that's my survival tip of the day: if you don't have a gadget to make a tight fence, use a hickory stick about the thickness of an inch, and wind up the slack with that.

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