Homemade Pasture Gate: Woodlot To Fenceline Project

| 11/8/2010 2:36:00 PM

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GRIT Editor Hank Will at the wheel of his 1964 IH pickup.Our sheep have a stubborn streak in them that makes it tough to move them to greener pastures without a fight, especially when the pasture gates aren't tough and tight. Last Saturday about half the flock discovered that an old homemade barb wire and batten  pasture gate was easy to skinny beneath. Since that old homemade pasture gate stretched across an opening between our backyard and a wooded area of their east pasture, it was time to come up with a new plan. Much as we like sheep, we don't like them in the yard, unless we put them there to mow. As I was contemplating a trip to town to shell out more than 100 hard earned bucks for a 14-foot gate, my Partner In Culinary Crime wondered aloud why I didn't just make one, and a rustic one at that. 

 Pearl the Cairn Terrier approves of the new homemade pasture gate because she can still squeeze under it. 

After a bit of measuring and figuring, it was off to the woodlot for the two of us where we cut sufficient (and mostly straight) Osage Orange and Hackberry saplings (young trees more like) to make a pair of 5-bar pasture gates that would meet in the middle. Much as we love hand tools, we used the Echo chain saw with the 12-inch long bar to grub out the wood. We chose Osage Orange for the gate's standards and top and bottom rails because it is especially decay resistant. The Hackberry was chosen to make our homemade gates a little lighter and because we have many more Hackberry saplings in the woods than Osage Orange.

 Hackberry and Osage Orange homemade pasture gates. 

The first step was to cut a pair of standards for each gate -- one about a foot longer at the bottom than the other. Our standards approximated 5.5-feet long for the hinge edge and 4.5-feet long for the latch edge. Next I trimmed the Osage Orange top and bottom rails to length, flattened one surface on their ends with a sculptors adze and nailed them to the standards with 16-penny nails. Since the Osage Orange is so dense, I bent several nails, which were so difficult to pull out that I finally resorted to drilling pilot holes before nailing, which I should have done in the first place; the drill bit was about half the the nail's diameter.

 Homemade pasture gate barb wire detail. 

4/6/2015 9:52:11 PM

Excellent article Hank! I can do this! This kind of gate would look a sight better in certain places on our ranch than the pre-fab stuff we already have. What, if any, problems did you envision you might have because you used green wood? - Thanks, Renee (a blogger from over at Cappers)

1/23/2015 3:12:03 PM

The Plains Indians used Osage Orange for their bow and arrows. It may be one of the easiest trees to find in Kansas; it is also known as Hedge. The knobby posts are fantastic and simply won't rot. There are miles and miles of barbwire fences in Kansas held in place by Hedge posts. It makes a fire as hot as coal, and it was used extensively in windbreaks to combat the dust bowl. Hackberry and Osage Orange or Hedge are both considered "trash" trees in my area, but are actually very useful when you need a really hard dense wood. Good article!

michele' preston
11/21/2010 8:37:27 AM

This reminds me of the beautiful twig art that was a big movement for many years. I am impressed with your gates as they are simple but very elegant & blend with the nature around them. I am glad that you were able to use something that was already there, natural & free...Ok the labor to go drag them out wasn't free in a sense. :) Thank you for sharing this with us & I hope that you will find many more things to do with the twigs you find on your land!

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