Sun Pony Ranch

Diary of novice (clueless) ranch owners

Monday, February 28, 2005

Just Do It

This weekend we put up new fence. Again. No - we didn't have any more escapes and the pond fence seems to be doing well. No, this was the first cross fence to subdivide the pasture into sections. Being a boarding stable, it's going to be necessary to separate horses into groups, so we needed more than one pasture. We've planned for up to 3 sections eventually, but for now will see how the two suit us.

Last weekend we were doing some pre-fencing planning (unlike when we erected the pond fence). In the process, we came to the conclusion that our existing setup was not going to work. The main gate into the pasture is in one corner, because the seller didn't go to the effort to put in a gate in the midst of the fence line since that takes more posts, more burying of electric line to carry the charge from one side to the other, etc. Well, that resulted in a gate that isn't very convenient from the barn. It is about a 75 yard walk from the barn to the gate - and I have been dreading the day when we have a dozen or more horses that have to be hand walked from the barn to pasture every day. Also, because of the acute orientation of the gate, it only opens one direction, and you have to be careful to avoid the hot wire that forms the wall to which the gate latches. It really wasn't pleasant.

Sectioning off that main gate we had a panel fence set up so that there was a smallish corral in that corner of the pasture. This works well for a welcome pen to allow new horses to get introduced to their herds before putting them in pature together. Also for separating horses for any other reason. It also lets us easily set up three gates into three pastures, without having to modify the main fence line. The difficulty with where the welcome pen was, however is that it was already in a small triangle at one corner. Thus, running cross fencing from that corner radiating out across the pasture to make three long sections meant that each pasture section comes down to a very narrow corridor by the time it reaches the welcome pen. Narrow channels, electric fences, and horses are just the recipe to make me nervous. The last straw was probably the fact that currently we feed hay by throwing it over the fence. But, with the welcome pen in the corner, that means that two of the sub-pastures would no longer boarder the main fence and would thus require carrying hay by hand to them. This also was a rather unpleasant image come the day we are full with boarders.

Though I was trying to ignore these issues, stringing out the cross fencing brought it to a head. Finally we had admit that we had no choice but to move the main gate. Just like that our weekend's task shifted entirely. One of our challenges was how to cut the fence and not let the horses out while we were working. We pretty much decided to avoid that question by simply pushing the fence cables aside for as long as we could function that way. It turns out we were able to function that way until after the posts were all set and the gate hung! Actually, it looked pretty ridiculous to have an entire new gate mounted - but un-openable. I guess you could say we plugged the hole before we created it.

I am so thrilled. I love the new gate. It is in a much more reasonable place, and we also took the opportunity to put in a squeeze-through so that a person can step trhough without having to open the gate. We have used that squeeze-through way more than the gate in the past week - we've even used it to carry stock panels in. I LOVE IT!

Last Friday we moved the welcome pen to surround the new gate. Now there is room for three sub-pastures to abut the welcome pen with lots of space for each, AND two of them will always boarder the main fence for feeding.

This weekend our friend Mike, who helped us with the pond fence, was again renting a large compressor to continue sand blasting his car. (He's repainting his '76 Bronco in our dog barn.) He was getting the compressor early; Dave rented the post driver again and picked it up early, and we were to be driving posts by 9 am. If only. Mike and his dad had a whole host of trouble getting a compressor that worked and had all of the correct fittings. I don't know the details - don't really want to - but they managed to pull in about 11:30. Raring to go, we quickly attached the driver and went to go about putting the first post in. But there was a hole in the hose.
Thankfully, Mike had a second hose, so we replaced it, all took our positions again, and... the post driver wouldn't drive. Nada. OK, so we put it down again, verify that the hose was getting pressure, pulled out the tool box and took the darn thing apart.

They discovered it had seized up - probably because the traces of rust they found. A few good whacks of the hammer and voila, it worked. 75 posts and 3 hours later we had the true makings of a fence. Unfortunately due to the late hour we weren't able to complete the fence until the next morning, but all was good by noon.

The horses continue to crack me up. You should have seen their reaction to the moved welcome pen (which they observed and to some extent participated in moving!) and the new fence. You really would think they had just arrived on the property for the first time. Eyes wide and lots of snorting. Running back and forth. For about 15 minutes and then... nothing. Life went back to normal.



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