Fencing for Farmers

En Guard! A humorous tale involving fencing and the French fencing team's pointers.

| May/June 2009

  • Fencing for dummies
    The French fencing team shares some pointers.
    illustration by Brian Orr
  • Makeshift fencing material
    Farmers often customize fences in a variety of ways.
    illustration by Brian Orr

  • Fencing for dummies
  • Makeshift fencing material

One of the things, maybe the principle thing, you need to be able to do when you live a rural lifestyle is put up and maintain fences. And fencing is no longer limited to T-posts and barbed wire, no sir. Fencing materials now go all the way from a single hot wire on a flexible graphite rod (for the terminally optimistic) to nylon posts and "boards" with the look and feel of real wood (unless a spooked horse runs into one, in which case you then have lots of nylon chips for ground cover with the look and feel of real ... uhh ... nylon chips).

Today, the only real limitation on fencing materials and installation methods is the size of your current mortgage and the gullibility of your bank lender. Because fencing has gotten expensive. A single T-post that used to cost no more than a cup of coffee now costs the same as a blue plate special without the pie.

By the way, as you might have noticed, country folk frequently describe the cost of things in units of food. That's because it’s often a choice between eating and farming. The other day I was haggling over a used tractor generator and got Harvey Gollum, our local pawn shop owner, to drop the price by 3 pounds of bacon and a box of macaroni. I really foxed him. I would have settled for a gallon of milk and a pint of coleslaw.

Anyway, back to fencing. I've been putting up, taking down and repairing fence for more than 30 years now. I long ago broke with the patriarchal, rectilinear thinking of most fence installers. I've gone beyond that and developed my own, more organic fencing style. I mean, as long as the fence gets where it’s going, what does “straight” have to do with it? When you look down one of my fence "lines" you can see that here's an artist who's escaped the regimented and narrow-minded thinking of the old days. A real Picasso of the pasture.

And I've suffered for my art, oh yes. Why, the commentary about my fencing skills down at Big Bob Café's Table of Truth would crush a lesser man. That’s why I was so eager to stop on my way home from the city the other day when I saw a billboard outside a high school that said "National French Fencing Team Demonstration Today." As you might imagine, I was overjoyed. At last, a chance to share my vision with the more sophisticated, Continental practitioners of the fencing art!

Unfortunately, by the time I got into the auditorium, the demonstration was finished, and the French team was just leaving. But even at a glance I could tell these guys were pros. They were all wearing identical spotless white coveralls. Now that's optimism! I can get a pair of overalls dirty just by folding them to put in my dresser. I will admit to some confusion over the purpose of the wire mesh screens they were all wearing over their faces, until I remembered all the wasp nests I've run into while fencing.

1/26/2015 11:39:58 PM

I liked your article that you have posted on farm fencing. It is one of the most valuable pieces of farm infrastructure as well as biggest investment that farmer will make. I have also posted one of the blog on farm fencing at http://blog.californiafenceco.com/farmers-guide-5-simple-saving-tips-on-farm-fencing/ where you can get a high quality products while saving a significant amount of time and money.Nice sharing.



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