The Forever Fence

Since moving into the Yellow House almost two years ago, putting up a fence has been on our project to-do list. It hasn’t just been on the list. It has been a big, looming, item on that list and has been repeatedly, intentionally moved down because….gulp….you have to dig deep holes in the rocky Texas soil (God Bless it)! You have to mix cement! Set the posts! You have to cut posts for goodness sake! It was a huge job. HUGE.

But, luckily for me, Mr. Yellow House is a project tackling beast. And just like you eat an elephant, we took on this intimidating project one attainable step at a time. First of all, I would like to mention that I am using “we” generously here. I did help, of course. But, Mr. YH deserves the credit, along with his parent’s, our friends, and anyone else who came and helped in the sweltering August heat. People love you if they’ll dig holes/cut posts/attach field fence in a Texas summer. We are so blessed.

If you have been a reader of this blog for a while (thank you), you may remember that we put up a barb wire fence about a year ago. You can read my post, “How the Cows Convinced us to Put Up a Fence” here. (Why are we always putting up a fence in the hottest part of the summer?) We knew that first fence wouldn’t last long, and it didn’t. So, you could say, the cows are to “thank” for the forever fence as well. Once that barb wire started to droop, they were in our yard like it was their job. Eating our garden, the kid’s soccer balls and chewing up our garden hose. To stay positive, we’ll say that they motivated us to get the ball rolling. In reality, we yelled at them and shooed them out with serious frustration. “There is literally grass everywhere!”

First, we needed deep holes for our support posts. We went through some trials, put the auger on my dad’s tractor and went to work. Nope. Maybe if we….nope…how about…nope. It’s a serious tractor, but it just wasn’t going to get through that hard ground. We went back to the drawing board, and this is where we got discouraged. We called someone out to give us a quote on building the fence for us. This decision caused some conflict, but also gave us some real insight, and tethered me back to our mission. I’ll talk more about that in a minute.

Obviously, we didn’t hire him and moved on with new vigor.

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Brian found this local guy who owns a skid steer with a rock auger.

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We let kids play in the deep holes. We did not make them wear appropriate clothing for a picture we intended to post publicly. 😉

Next, Brian and his dad (Thank you dad!!!) set the support posts-those on corners or those that would be supporting a gate, in the deep holes using cement. What has already been done at this point is, we have collected and/or cut all the posts already and they are in a pile by the house. (Big thanks to our friends, The Pearsons. They came out for a day and helped us harvest some posts!)

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Once the posts were set, Brian used the chainsaw to cut divots out of the support posts.

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The kids water-proofed the tops of the posts, and the fresh cuts.

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For posts set on the corners, or anywhere that could be supporting a gate, you have to create an H brace. This helps the fence stay upright when you put pressure on it by hanging a gate, or when you pull wire across. We shimmied/shoved a horizontal post into our divots.

I will not attempt to describe this process too thoroughly, because honestly I’m attempting to simplify months of work. If you’re looking to do this…YouTube.

 

We used 12 gauge galvanized wire  to wrap around the top of the outside post and the bottom of the inside post (closest to where the gate will hang). Friendly advice: invest in a serious, no messin’ around pair of wire cutters to cut this stuff.

We used barbed staples to attach the wire to the post. Then we used a piece of rebar to twist the wire and provide resistance and stability. We attached the rebar to the inside, and middle of the cross post with a staple.

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We did this a total of ten times. We have four gates (1-2 braces for each) and the rest are on the corners.

 

We set the rest of our posts using a tamper. If you don’t know, a tamper is a heavy, cumbersome, arduous pole that breaks up the ground on one end and smashes it compact on the other. It is hard, hard work and is how we stay “ranch fit”. It’s likely this is some kind of Cross Fit work out.

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Here we are using the tamper to dig a trench for the cattle guard.

We bought two rolls of field fence and ran it along all the posts, attaching with barbed staples.

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BIG thanks to Brian’s mom for helping us keep the posts in line. She did a great job!
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Planning a post about how we built that darling gate! I love it!

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One of my grandmother’s written goals for our ranch was, “To have an eager and willing spirit to learn” and ” To have the quest for knowledge…”

Hiring someone, who I’m sure would have done a great job, and saved our sore backs, would not have accomplished either of those goals. Not really. Do you know what we have knowledge about now? How to build an H brace, how to unroll a huge roll of field fence without smashing all our toes, and how to cut 12 gauge wire without breaking your hand.

Y’all it was hard work. Such hard work. But I think the fallacy is that hard is the same as bad. I have not found that to be true on this ranch, or in this life at all. I’m so thankful I had a partner in this adventure to remind me of that. Hard can be fun, and a learning experience…and a great story to tell. Thankfully, Brian kept his head on straight and helped us start, and finish this fence because I wasn’t sure I had it in me. I am so proud of him, and us, and this beautiful fence with it’s crooked gate. It brings a tear to my eye to look at it.

Thanks for reading,

Steph

How the Cows Convinced us to put up a Fence

A few weeks ago, Brian came home and caught a cow red-hoofed (y’all. I actually laughed at that. Thank you for understanding) eating his grill cover. Just chewing that thing like it was meant for her.

Can we pause for a moment to recognize the irony of a cow chewing on a grill cover that probably tastes like what we’ve been grilling? Uh huh. Like hamburgers, and steaks. Watch yourself Bessie-you could be next.

Anyway, he “hey-ed!!” that heifer just so she could regurgitate it for him. Which was cute.

So besides the slobber, and stomach contents (*gag), it had a few holes.

That same week, a frisky little calf knocked a handmade pot off the front steps and broke it. The nerve.

(Dear Aunt Sara, need new pot. XO) As if that wasn’t enough, it had a real live plant it it….. that I had kept ALIVE no less. Oh, now it’s on.

When we first moved in, almost 6 months ago, putting up a fence was one of the top three things on our list. But, it kept getting bumped down the list for things that were more imminent, maybe easier…..and let’s just be honest here,  we had some apprehension about working with barb wire. BUT, now that we’ve got these cows acting like those two naughty Siamese cats from Lady and the Tramp, we needed to get serious. I have enough trouble keeping my plants alive (Ok, it was a succulent), thank you.

First, we drew out some ideas of how we wanted to enclose the yard. We decided that the “fence of our dreams” looks something like this.

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Click picture for link 🙂

We have watched some videos and read some tutorials about how to make a fence like this. We are/want to be “do it yourself-ers” (read: gluttons for punishment) so all the plans we’ve made on the fence thus far are temporary. For now, they will keep the cows from trying to digest our property/kill themselves and buy us time to build our dream fence around the house weekend by weekend. Or maybe the kids and I can take a trip (ooooh. The beach maybe??) and  B can just tackle that fence while we’re gone (Like the deck). Just kidding. Unless you want to honey….

We technically have 10 acres, and we certainly didn’t want to fence out our whole section. So, we needed to decide what we considered our “yard”. Since we’ve lived here, we’ve referred to the cattle as our, “yard crew”.

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They kept the grass short for us and we haven’t spent a minute mowing. We took that into consideration when choosing the size of yard to fence in. Whatever is in the fence will be our job to keep mowed. We also didn’t want to take more grass than we had to for the cows, even though they are naughty.

We already fenced in our garden beds, also as a temporary solution, to rabbits, cows and deer, so we used that existing fence line to fence in the yard.

Using a t-post driver, we drove in the t-posts to create the fence line we planned out. (Read about how we drove the t-posts in my “Adventures in Fencing” post)

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Here are the materials we collected for the fence:

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All the how-tos we read about putting up barb-wire fences stressed the importance of planting a post firmly with cement to secure the line and keep it taut and straight. Like good little diy-ers, we ignored that advice.

Being a temporary solution, we didn’t want to permanently put in posts. Since we didn’t have as sturdy a corner brace as we should have, we decided not to use the wire stretcher contraption, pictured above. It’s purpose is the pull the wire as taut as possible. Which is great, except we knew that pulling it as taut as possible would lean our insufficiently supported corner posts too much.

We used our ranch muscles to pull that barb wire and attach it to the t-posts with the clips.

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The red box is it’s own project, which I’ll share with you later.


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We pulled three strands all the way around.

See that big roll of wire? We would unroll it, VERY carefully. One of us would unroll while the other went along the line, yes, VERY carefully, pulling it tight and taut. We would then use a clip to attach it to the post.

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Could we just call my lack of photography skills endearing? Thank you.

Oh, the clips. I struggled with those frickin’, frackin’, dadgum @$#!&!!…I mean things. Brian would say, “let’s race!” igniting my competitive spirit. He would clip his strand and I would clip….but really just struggle to…Oh it was no competition, my friends. It was only frustrating….for me. B would ask, like a sweet husband, “want me to do it?” to which I would snap, “no. Go away!” I was sure THIS time I would clip that stupid, stupid thing on. Ugh.

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But, we did it. It was two days of hard work, in the hot sun, but we can now say we put up our own barb wire fence. I don’t want to sound like I’m not proud, but it’s pretty obvious when you see it that we did it ourselves. But it does the job we need it to do, and it’s another skill experience we can add to our “Adventure Life Resume”.  Which isn’t a real thing, and pretty much just means this blog. 🙂

If you happened upon this post in hopes of finding a DIY how-to on how to string your own fence, I am SO happy you’re here. But friend, fellow fence builder, please google or pin another post. I am not trying to advise anyone on fencing…But come back soon okay?!

Thank you for reading!! I am working on a special birthday post for next week, so don’t miss it! Put your e-mail into the “Follow our Adventures by email” box so you never miss a post! You can consider it my birthday present. XO, Steph

Summer, I love you.

Today is the last Friday of the school year for us and I am really excited for summer! Summer has always been my favorite season. Yes, I know, it’s hot. People always feel the need to tell me that.
“But it’s so hot.” Yes, it sure is. I’m a native Texan, this is my time. I love the heat, I love the pool, I love wearing flip flops, the lazy mornings, church camp, summer camp, fireflies, snow cones, running through the sprinkler, family vacations, grilling, keeping your pool pony tail for DAYS, reading tons of books, the beach, the lake….it’s just the best. I’ve always loved it.From my deep pit of teenage angst, I counted down the days until summer camp like a survivor on a desert island. Scratching a tally mark for each never ending day until I could finally be “rescued” and go back to where I “belonged” : Camp.  Mom, dad, sorry about being a dramatic and unreasonable teenager.

So, here are a few outdoor projects we’ve done just in time to be enjoyed this summer.

Bring on the Summer!

 

This swing used to hang out by my grandad’s pool. The tree we hung it from is a bit outside our dining room window and had a swing-worthy branch on it, for sure.

The swing is chippy, and a bit weathered but I liked the look so I gave it a sanding to smooth it out and sprayed it with water seal spray.

 

Brian did some research and found that the most humane way to hang something from a tree is actually by screwing your hooks into the branch. That way the tree can continue to grow around the screws. (Hanging chains over can dig into the branch) We screwed in the hooks, then used “s” hooks to hang our chain.

 

A “nature tea table where I can have a tea party with all my dolls” was requested by Ms. C. She and Brian drew up some plans, looked at some wood scraps and put this sweet little table and benches together in an afternoon. The benches are blocks of limestone, and the table is a stump with a board screwed into the top. C picked out a fabric scrap that we glued on and waterproofed. The animals and dolls have been talking about it ever since. It’s the best outdoor tea party any of us had ever been to. 😉

 

Over at the Ranch house, we re-mulched the bed and planted a few new native plants, like Mexican sage and rosemary, but also portulaca and sweet potato vine. This little chair has been broken for years, but we have had it stored away. We just knew we could think of something to use it for. I pulled out some screws, shimmied that pot in there and again, I waterproofed.

 

This old crock was another old treasure we’ve had for a while.

I just love that old fence. We are slowly replacing the fence around the house, but this fence stays. Since it’s elevated off the ground (it’s built on a rock wall), we’ll leave it for “looks” and sentimentality. There are pictures of us as kids, out by the pool and that fence is there. It looks much less “rustic”, but I just love how authentic it is and to me, it epitomizes the ranch house. “I’m hanging in there. I still work-kind of. I was built by hand, and built well.” Turns out even a well-built fence can’t remain functional for 60 years.

Anyone else favor summer? Do you like to be busy? Just hang out?

Whatever you do-remember, it’s hot. 😎

Thanks for reading!! -Steph

Adventures in Fencing

Hello little seedlings! Are you ready to go to your new home? You are?? I’m sorry, it’s not ready…

First, we have to drive in 7 T-posts.

 

We have to till up some soil.

 

 

Pull out  a hundred some freakin rocks

 

Roll out this wire fencing

 

Attach it with T-post hooks

 

Welcome Home!

Welcome babies! You are planted in nutrient rich soil, in a homemade raised bed, and protected inside a fence. Grow babies, grow!

(Originally Published April 4, 2017)