Fixing Fences

Reader Contribution by Larry Scheckel
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Fixing fence on the Crawford County 238-acre Scheckel farm near Seneca was a never-ending job. One that we did not like, but knew had to be done. We seemed to have more fences than we needed, but that was because we pastured the cows, and we didn’t have a silo. Cows grazed in the pastures in the summertime, but were fed hay, cornstalks and ground corn in the winter. 

We cut our own fence posts at the same time we were cutting logs and cutting wood for burning in our furnace. We always had a supply of fence posts stored by the granary. Most were simply large dowel rods, others were sharpened on one end for driving into the ground with a post mall.

The buzz saw was used for putting a point on one end of the smaller posts. The driven posts were used in wooded and rocky areas.

Many is the day when we would hitch the two-wheeled trailer to the Massey Harris ’44, load up fence posts, fence wire, post hole digger, axe, post maul, wood splitter, nail box and nails, hammers, wire stretcher, tamper, and crow bar.

My brothers, Phillip and Bob, and I would be off to fix fence. Bob would remove the old fence post. Phillip would be digging a new hole for a replacement post. I would put in a new post, setting it down in the freshly dug hole, holding it upright while placing dirt evenly around the post, and stomping it down with a wooden tamper. Attach the fence, both woven wire and barbed wire to the new posts. We sure went through a lot of fence staples!

We “drove posts.” Some of our border fences went through woods. In the springtime, we had to “walk the fences.” We couldn’t drive the tractor and trailer with all the tools and fence posts up into the steep hills of Kettle Hollow woods. So we carried our hammer, axe, staple box, a roll of barbed wire, and that blasted 16-pound post maul into the woods. If we needed a new post, we cut one from a nearby small tree.

With the end of the sapling sitting on the ground, the axe was used to give the wood a sharpened point. Dad or Phillip would drive post into the ground. The barbed wire stapled to the new post.

We were careful to maintain the line fences on the Scheckel farm. As the name implies, a line fence separates your farm property from your neighbor’s. Ownership of any line fence was established decades ago and the arrangement was passed down from land seller to land buyer.

 Wisconsin State Statue Chapter 90 covers line fences. Generally speaking, the rule of thumb says that if you stand on your property line, facing your neighbor’s property, you have the duty to maintain the half of the fence on your right, and your neighbor takes care of the half on the left. I guess all the farmers understood that. Property disputes and disagreements were unheard of out on Oak Grove Ridge.

Photo: Fotolia/Carbonbrain

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