See that nice line of fence posts in the picture below, just waiting for some cattle panels to be attached?
Nah, we couldn’t see them either, but we knew they were in there somewhere.
When we first bought the farm, there were t-posts and barbed wire all over the place. Take a look.
Wow, hard to believe that’s now a grassy field – also the fairway for hole #8 on my disc-golf course.
Anyway, one of the first things we did after moving in was get rid of most of the barbed-wire fences. They looked awful, and with two rambunctious girls running around the property, rusty barbed wire seemed like a bad idea.
Later we discovered another barbed-wire fence running along a dry creek-bed at the edge of our side pasture (same pasture in the first picture above). We didn’t attempt to dismantle that one because it was surrounded on both sides by one of those @#$%ing briar jungles that surrounded and crisscrossed our property. We figured we’d take care of that one when we paid someone to install a nice wooden fence around the land.
I’ve since changed my mind about the fence. I’d still like a nice wooden fence for the two front pastures. Pretty much all the fences in this area are either dark wood or iron, and I don’t want to own the one property with an ugly wire fence facing the road. (I’m guessing the neighbors were none too pleased with the previous owner of our land, with her chest-high weeds and rusty barbed wire everywhere.)
But after seeing estimates for a wooden fence surrounding the entire six-acre property, we decided we can go with cattle panels for the side pasture and the land behind the house. Nobody can see those areas except us anyway, and we’d rather put the considerable savings towards a tractor or something else useful.
We’d like to have the option of raising sheep next year, and we’d also like the dogs to have more room to run around. Rather than hire a fencing company, Chareva suggested we just jump in and start fencing off the side pasture and the back of the land ourselves. I agreed enthusiastically. As I’ve mentioned in some previous posts, I now look forward to those outdoor labor projects.
Step one was to remove the jungle that had grown up around the barbed-wire fence in the side pasture, then cut away the barbed wire. The t-posts are fine (most of them, anyway), so we’ll keep those and attach cattle panels to them.
Man, those jungles are wicked. Here’s a close-up of what we had to clear.
Believe it or not, there are some nice trees behind all that mess. You’ll see them in the pictures below.
Defeating the jungle required a multi-pronged attack. For each section, I had to start by walking in there with a chainsaw and swinging it back and forth like a slow-motion machete. The briar counter-attacked ferociously, and my arms got shredded even though I was wearing sleeves.
After I hacked my way up to the fence line with the chainsaw, Chareva stepped in to snip away the barbed wire, fold it up, and stuff it in a garbage can. Here’s what each section looked like with the jungle cleared just up to the t-posts.
We don’t want the jungle to grow back up through our eventual fence, so after Chareva snipped away the barbed wire, I stepped back in with the chainsaw and cleared a few more feet behind the fence line. When all that was done, I mowed down whatever was left with our Predator brush mower (a process we called “Feeding The Beast.”)
Between the density of the jungle and my protective facemask, it was sometimes tough to see exactly what I was cutting when I reached in there with the chainsaw. So even though I was trying to be careful, I caught some barbed wire on my second day out there, which caused the chain to fly off the bar. I’m no longer Chicken Man when it comes to working with dangerous power tools, but trust me, seeing a loose chain whipping around in front of you will wake you up in a hurry.
When I opened the chainsaw, I noticed some little part had gone flying off as well, forever lost in the jungle. I took the chainsaw to the Stihl dealer and was told the repair expert (a nice older fella I refer to as “Pepperidge Fahm” because of his thick New England accent) wouldn’t be back until Monday.
Well, what the heck, I thought to myself. Truth is, this 20-inch Farm Boss is great for cutting logs, but it’s a bit of a load to swing around in a briar jungle all day, and it’s extreme overkill anyway. Kind of like carrying a bazooka to hunt squirrels. So I bought a small chainsaw and left the big one behind for the repair.
Depending on where each section was located, we ended up whacking down somewhere between six and 10 feet of jungle to clear the fence line. In the picture below, the brown area was all jungle.
At first, I thought one of our biggest chores would be dragging all the saplings and vines we cut down to a new and massive burn pile. But then I hacked my way well past the fence line and nearly stumbled into a wide and very dry creek-bed. Two thoughts occurred to me: 1) When we get sheep, that dry creek-bed would serve as a convenient superhighway for any coyotes who decide to come down from the hills and sniff around, and 2) that looks like a convenient place to dump all the briar I’m cutting down … which would discourage coyotes from treating the creek-bed as a superhighway.
So I cleared a path to the creek in a few places, and that’s where we dragged the jungle-whackings. In the picture below, the creek curves pretty close to the fence line. If you look towards the right, you can see the creek-bed filled with briar.
See that thing that looks sort of like a snake hanging down in the picture above? That’s a vine that grew up and around a tree. We pulled down quite a few of them, but some — like that one — wouldn’t budge. So I just cut them as high up as I could safely reach with the chainsaw.
The job took three weekends, but the t-posts are now exposed and waiting for cattle panels. (Hey, look — trees! They’re a pretty sight when they’re not being strangled by a briar jungle.)
My camera doesn’t have a wide-angle lens, so I can’t snap a picture of the whole side pasture. This picture shows about half of the area we had to clear.
The good news is that the side pasture is done. The better news (now that I’m a fan of working myself into a state of Dog-Tired Satisfied on weekends) is that we still have the entire back of the property to go. Heaven forbid I run out of work.