The Amarillo Pioneer

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Rosser's Ramblings: Fence Building 101

By Trent Rosser

Recently I had to help my brother and father put up a barb wire fence. I have constructed many fences in the past. I have built a picket fence for our old place when Hunter the dog was still small. Last summer, I built another fence for an old friend. I started from the beginning. Digging post holes 2 feet in the ground, putting the wooden post up and putting a 50 pound bag of concrete in to hold the post. A tornado might tear down the fence, but the post will still be there until the end of time! Then of course putting the cross beams on. Got to make sure that they are even across the entire yard. Last ,but certainly not least, you put up the pickets. Be sure to have a little space between each picket to account for swelling when it rains. That is the cheap, quick and easy way to put up a picket fence.

I have also put up an electric fence for the dogs. Of course, it is only a few inches high, but I did learn a lesson every time I put one up. What is the lesson for the electric fence you ask? It is one of the most important lessons. If the dogs don’t test out the wire, you will have to. Make sure that you do not grab the wire but use the back side of your hand. Electricity will make you muscles contract and so when you touch it with the palm of your hand…. Your hand will close around the wire and electricity will continue to flow until someone turns it off, or you knock the wire away as you’re on the ground flopping like a fish! You would think that I would learn that the first time!  I have done it twice already, I pray that I do not have to put up another electric fence. I still think that dog is laughing at me!

So, now I am out in the middle of nowhere putting up a barb wire fence. Since I have never done this kind of fence, I let my brother take charge. After all, he has done this kind of fence many times. Here are the lessons that I learned for that day:

1)       Wear proper clothing: I have usually worn my big brim hat, but for some reason, I decided to wear a cap. I also remember building the previous fences and have always worn a short sleeve shirt. This time, I was in a sleeveless shirt. The sun is pretty unforgiving on the ears and arms.  After the day was done, I looked like a lobster right out of the steamer. Then when I did take off my shirt, I looked like a vanilla and strawberry ice cream sandwich.

2)      Be aware of your surrounding: Did you hear that funny rattling noise? I didn’t. But someone did. We all froze, we never found out what was making that rattling noise, but you can bet we were looking for snakes after that noise. My brother especially, a few years ago he was bitten by a rattlesnake as he was walking across his pasture. He did not even know that he was bit. He just thought a stick broke and hit his leg. His leg swollen up and had to go to the E.R. the next day.  I tease my brother about a rattlesnake making his way to the vet with alcohol poisoning. I figured that was the snake that bit him.

3)      Communication: Make sure everyone is safe and knows where everyone is. I thought we were taking a break, so I sat on the roll of barb wire. It would not go through my back pockets and I wasn’t putting a lot of weight on it. My brother decided to go ahead and pull one more strand.  I did not tell him I was sitting on the barb wire and he did not tell me that he was about to pull. It almost got me. When he jerked that wire, I was up and away from that thing quicker than a babysitter’s boyfriend when he hears a car door!

4)      Wear MORE proper clothing: Again, we are working with barbed wire and I show up in a sleeveless shirt. At least I brought my gloves! Now barb wire is a little bit stouter that the regular electric fence wire. And we all know how sharp it is as I previously stated. As I was wrapping it around a fence post, it slipped and swung around. It caught my glove and ripped it right off my hand. It pulled it off and flung the glove about half an acre across the field. Then the wire kept coming around. I would estimate that it was going about 60 mph when it came back and hit me. Right across the arm and ribs.  It didn’t get me earlier when I was sitting on the barb wire, but this time it did.

This brings me to the final lesson learned...

5)      Be sure to have plenty of medical supplies: A couple of band aids is usually all anyone would need. But, you know me…. I’m an overachiever! So, a dozen band aids, three packs of gauze, 2 blood transfusions, a sleeveless shirt and pair of jeans that looked like it had a fight with a grizzly bear, I was done. Thankfully, they were done for the day as well!

There is still more fence to put up, but I believe I need to heal before I go back. Then again, getting cut and beat up is always worth spending time with my family. Next week I will be teaching you on how to screen phone calls, so you know when not to answer. For example, when someone calls to help build a barb wire fence!

Photo by Hercules Fence Company

Photo by Hercules Fence Company

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