How Not to Install 5,000 ft of Farm Fencing

Our most monumental task to date has been installing all of our fencing.  I say that, and it’s true, but it’s actually still not finished! HA! It’s not funny, I’m laughing because I am slowly being driven insane over this monumental task.  If you can afford it, you should pay someone to do this for you!! I repeat, do not DIY a farm fence unless you absolutely have to because your poor like us!!!

For those who do wish to take on a task of their own like this, here’s what we did in a some more specific terms. You can emulate what we did, or learn from our pain and just pay the extra money to hire someone. We used both new and used fence posts, we interspersed them so that there wouldn’t be areas where the post were all old and all new.  Our neighbor was getting rid of a bunch of them and they were still in great condition.  We paid half price for them which really saved us on total cost. The fence posts we used were 6-7-8’s which means (if I remember correctly) that they are 6-7″ in diameter and 8′ long. This is plenty big enough to make our high tensile woven wire fence nice and strong.  We spaced our posts every 15′, with 8′ brace posts at the ends of each stretch and around some curves. If we had been using high tensile single strand wire, our posts could have been smaller.  We wanted to use the woven wire for our sheep though because that single strand wire fence is really only good for keeping in cattle and very well trained horses that aren’t like normal horses that spend their whole lives looking for a way to die and high tensile 6 strand fences look perfect for that job.

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We rented a trailer mounted post driver to drive the posts into the ground.  We did this for several reasons. First, the post driver is a faster method then the hole drilling and then putting post in hole and filling in hole followed by much tamping method.  1-2 whacks of the post driver, a stop to check level, another 1-2 more good whacks of the post driver, again stopping to check level, then whack it maybe 1-2 more times and thats it! your done, move on to the next post.  There are three versions of this contraption, one is a skid loader mounted version, tractor mounted version, and one is a trailer mounted version.  We could have gone with either the first or last option, since we do own a skid loader, but the trailer versions are more readily available for rental, and even with all the posts we had to put in, it was still cheeper to rent than it was to buy even a used one.  It did an amazing job in our rocky, loamy soil.  More than several times we had to stop and move a post because we hit a spot where the post would go down no further and it was no where near deep enough.  Only once did we hammer a post only to have it shatter (and that was because one of the used ones was half dry rotted).

After we drove all the posts it was time to stretch fence.  Now, you can buy a fancy fence stretcher that attaches to a come along, but *see above* we are poor, and so we just made a fence stretcher using two 2″x6″s and 6 bolts with washers and nuts on each side. A 2×6 was placed on each side of the woven wire fence and the bolts were put in place and tightened, then a chain was looped around the stretcher at the top and bottom and then around the bucket of the skid loader. The role of the skid loader can be played by any vehicle that is strong enough really. We ended up stretching several sections with our pickup truck, we just looped the chain around the hitch. Just be gentle if your the driver.  Pull until the fence is sturdy when you push on it, but still has a little give. Without releasing the tension, we hammered in the fence staples on the first 2-3 posts.  Then we could release the tension from the skid loader and I hopped out of my cushy dry seat to help Hubster and T finish stapling in the rest of the fence boards.  This is thankless, hard, back breaking work.

At this point, the fence is usable as a fence and you don’t HAVE to do anything else.  But we are glutens for punishment, so we kept going.  We added a single strand of electric wire to the inside of the fence.  This is actually a crucial step in you own animals like sheep or goats to help the longevity of the fence.  It keeps the animals from stepping up on the fence and stretching it out. Onto every post we nailed an insulator that would hold the hot (electric) wire out and away from the fence.

So while you are out there enjoying your weekends and going on vacation, we still have 1,500ish more feet of fence to go install. Nunight.

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Barn Raising in a Snow Storm

 

We paid someone to build our barn. I am aware that this option may not be open to everyone who is trying to start a farm from scratch as it did cost us a decent chunk of money. But we had planned for this, and seeing as we already had animals, and winter was fast approaching, we needed reliable shelter for them and fast. We had a small pot of money that we saved to start this project with and we had dedicated a decent amount to building a barn. While we did go the DIY route with a lot of our farm endeavors, we knew that a DIY barn would have taken too long and been far less than what we wanted or needed.

We chose a local, mennonite builder that was very reasonable (Fetterville, located in Southern PA). We decided to go with a three sided tractor/loafing shed style. It is 24’ x 60’ with five 12’ bays. One bay would be for the livestock, One bay for Hubsters “shop” and the other three bays for equipment and hay storage. Our big pie-in-the-sky plan would be to build a shop and another barn to dedicate totally for livestock, and completely transition this current barn to equipment and hay storage. There were several options, we got to pick the roof and siding color and added a side door. Grand total came to just under $15,000 which I know sounds like a lot, but if you look at what we got for that price, I think we did very well. Could we have built something similar ourselves and saved a lot of that money? I’m not entirely sure. The metal siding and roofing is guaranteed for 50 years, and it’s expensive. They used big, heavy, engineered beams to make the whole front open. I love it, it’s perfect, and it took them just over 1 week to build (which includes 3 days of an epic snowstorm which they were not working at all)

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Two guys with a skid loader set the support beams on Friday as the snow was starting to fall. We got almost 2 feet of snow in 4 hours (which is A LOT for Maryland, ya’ll….we are thin blooded people).

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It took Hubster and I two and a half days to get completely dug out to the road, which didn’t get plowed until the following day.

The workers were back on with one extra guy Tuesday and completed the bracing and rafters for walls and roofing, which went up on Wednesday. Thursday they came back out one more time for some finishing work, putting in trim, soffits, and cleanup. It was very impressive and I am quite pleased with their work.

The sheep moved in the following week and we haven’t looked back. There’s just some more fence to finish now. Ug, not more fence. See my follow up about fencing, and the end of the fencing saga.

Retiring the RV

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We have officially moved in to the house!  It’s all finished and we are getting pretty cold in our camper on these crisp late autumn nights, even with our tiny space heater.  We’ve had several frosts and I just want to get this thing winterized before we get a truly hard frost.  But we got to celebrate Ted’s first birthday in our new house and I couldn’t be happier.

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I have to admit that a tiny part of me that is sad to be leaving the camper though, just a tiny part though.

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SET DAY!!!!

Our house was set today!  The pieces were delivered last week and now we have a whole house. It’s not actually finished, but that is mostly due to the fact that we chose to have several upgrades added that must be done once the house is on site.

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It was quite the happening. We had invited a few of our friends to come and watch, and our builder invited several people too.

The four pieces were in place before lunch!  I made chili in the crock pot, 5 gallon coolers of tea, lemonade, and water, and we did burgers and hot dogs on the grill and we had all the workers over to the camper for lunch.  They were thankful to sit a spell and have some small amount of shade, and then they went straight back to work putting up the attic, roof, and porch.

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At the end of this not that long of a day, there is a house, where there was previously just a concrete foundation.  CRAZY!!

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Things are Happening

Lots of things have been happening with the house site, they came out to set the concrete molds, poured the concrete, and now the molds are off and the foundation looks great!!

We are building a modular home, which maybe I haven’t mentioned before. So at the same time that our foundation has been coming together, the house is on the production line at the factory.  We requested a tour while our house was in the process of being constructed, so we got to go do that today!!!  Our house will be delivered in four pieces and each of our pieces was at a different stage of the process when we toured.  They build the house pieces on the trailer platform that they will be delivered on. Each one is squared up perfectly so that everything in the house is perfect and square (oh, my little obsessive heart be still!) Piece D is just a floor.

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Then they add the inside walls and drill and run all the plumbing and electric. This is Piece C.

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Piece B had most of its walls and they were starting to finish off the inside. Some of the kitchen cabinets were hung up! They add the drywall on the inside before the outside plywood and run everything from the outside!  Interesting!!

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Piece A was almost finished and ready to roll out of the factory! They had finished off the outside, windows were in, and paint and molding were going up on the inside.

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The tour was so cool, and I am really glad we made the drive up for it.  We got to see our house at all stages in development. And now I am really pumped and anxious for our “set date”, when all the pieces are delivered and “set” on the foundation.

Anyone else out there building or thinking about building a modular home? Comment below!!