Your fencing projects will always go easier when you take the time to build proper braces. In addition to the two-post horizontal brace we're building today, two other brace types can be used, although they are not as common. When you are short on materials, time or just want to try something different, a brace from New Zealand comes to mind.
This so-called kiwi brace requires only a single anchor post and a single rail. As with the two-post horizontal brace, you plant the kiwi brace's post at least three feet into the ground and set it with a slight angle away from the direction of pull. Next, you need to position the rail with one end against the post and the other on a smooth rock or concrete block at ground level — facing the direction of pull. Make some marks and trim the ends of the rail so that it will fit snug against the post and more or less flat on the stone. Pin the rail to the post, run a loop of nine or ten gauge brace wire from the lower end of the rail to the bottom of the post and tighten by twisting the wire with a stick.
The kiwi brace can withstand about as much pull as the two post horizontal brace. In rocky ground, you might not be able to dig a 3-foot post hole for your braces. In these conditions, you might consider building a rock-crib brace. These braces are theoretically easy to make, but there's still plenty of labor.
First, set two posts into the ground as far as you can and leave four feet of space between them. Next, cut a sufficient length of 4-foot-tall mesh fencing to form a 4-foot-diameter cylinder and place it between the posts. Now you want to wire the posts together with three evenly spaced loops of brace wire. Twist to tighten the wire, but be careful not to pull the posts so that they lean toward one another. Finally, fill the wire mesh cylinder with carefully placed fieldstone — the tighter you get it to fit, the sounder the brace will be.
In any event, if good fences make good neighbors, then good braces make good fences.
Watch the full episode! Hank shares hints like these in each episode of Tough Grit. Visit Tough Grit online to view this episode and many more. The hints above appeared in Episode 4, "Good Fences Make Good Neighbors."
Hank Will raises hair sheep, heritage cattle and many varieties of open-pollinated corn with his wife, Karen, on their rural Osage County, Kansas farm. His home life is a perfect complement to his professional life as editor in chief at GRIT and Capper's Farmer magazines. Connect with him on Google+.
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