Sun Pony Ranch

Diary of novice (clueless) ranch owners

Monday, October 03, 2005

Avoiding Disaster

Most days on the ranch are pretty hard work. I've said that I never knew it took so much physical strength to run a ranch! Well, Sunday was one of those days that stood out amonst so many other physical days.

We're still working on the kennel fence. Last weekend we had 4-5 people come out each day to help. Due in large part to having to figure out how to use the auger attachment accurately, neither day did we really get as far as we wanted to. But we got in a total of 28 posts, including all of the corners. This sounds fantastic, until we mention that we have over 1000 feet of fence and anticipate needing 150 posts.

Last week I worked from home one day and over a 2 hour lunch the three of us got 6 more holes drilled and then managed to set and fill those posts by the end of the day. So this weekend I was really hoping we'd have a plan, have experience doing it, and so could just crank through them. Not really.

Friday night Dave went to pick up the majority of the rest of the lumber for the fence. HA - he managed to get 1/3 of that order on the flatbed trailer. So he and I unloaded that. Saturday morning he went to get another 3rd of our order. And we had a party to go to in the evening, so on Saturday he and I only got another 6 posts in. (Ginger has a full set of lessons on Saturday, which keeps her busy from 8:30 am through to 5 nearly non stop.)

So Sunday - again we had such grand plans. Dave and I got 5 more in before stopping for lunch. This completed our longest single stretch - 365 feet.

After lunch with Ginger's help we were optimistic to complete that entire stretch along the east boundary of the property. We had about 8 posts to go. As Dave was refilling the hydraulic fluid in the tractor, Ginger and I were scoping out the new post line and what not. And Ginger asked if we knew exactly where the irrigation line was in that area.

I have to back up here briefly to explain that our neighbor Tom, before selling our section of his land to the previous owner, put in an irrigation and power line down the fence line for his new house he built subsequently and still lives in. So there is a 15 foot easement down that property line. We accounted for that on the first part of the fence, but because the upper section goes right behind the kennel barn and we wanted as much useable space as possible, we jogged the fence over to only 10 from the fence. As we knew the irrigation line futher down is only about 5 feet off the fence we thought that would be fine. Our first day of fencing, in fact, had put in the end posts for the 15 foot section and then also the one post that jogged over to just 10 foot clearance.

I looked around to prove to Ginger that Dave and my assumption that the line was closer to the fence was valid, but instead ended up finding the pipe's inlet from the irrigation ditch right smack dab where our fence posts were to go. We stopped Dave and called him over.

Well, that turned out to be a 2 hour boondoggle. There was a collapsed area we assumed had to be the irrigation ditch halfway down this particular run of posts, so I started digging there to locate the pipe, while Dave and Ginger started hand digging the first post hole in case the pipe really did run there. Well, they found pipe where we didn't want it, and I did not find pipe where we did want it. We did eventually relocate the pipe at the location where I was digging - but it was 2 feet over from where it appeared to be and was still right on our post line.

What was really scary is that all sections where we could see the pipe seemed to point directly at the one post we'd jogged in last weekend! We just couldn't believe that we'd drilled through the thing without knowing it, but also it was looking way too close for us to ignore. So we had to go open up the ground next to that one post. We eventually found the line there too:

Just a lot too close for comfort!

We really shudder to think what a mess it would be to have to repair that 10" irrigation line. As it really isn't flexible, to replace a section would mean to put in a u-shaped jog. Since a 90 bend in that line is over a foot long, the section would have to be about 4 foot or so on each side, requiring an 8 foot square hole... Not to mention the cost of those materials... So we decided our 2 hour bondoggle was ultimately very productive in avoiding that particular disaster.

Starting again to complete the fence at 15' spacing all the way, the tractor started making very ugly noises every time Dave put it into gear, so we decided we wouldn't risk running it any more. Several of those holes had to be hand dug anyways, so we did those, but in the end we only had 4 more posts in. We quit around 7:30 so as to be able to go in and partake of our weekly TV show: Desperate Housewives. Its the only show all three of us watch, and it makes for a good weekend-closeout, so it became a weekly ritual last year and is back this season. So we picked up the tools and stowed them in the truck, then walked through the barn to go back into the house.

Where upon we ran into the trailer with it's monster load of lumber still sitting on it. We'd forgotten we had to unload that so that Dave could use the truck on Monday to go pick up our new boarder's horse! Some 80 4x4 posts and nearly 800 pickets later, it was after 9 pm.

We agreed watching the recorded Desperate Housewives would wait for another night.



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